It’s called home, you know? When the city’s pulp mill closed in the late nineties, more than 500 people lost their jobs overnight – a fate mirrored in other small communities up and down the Inside Passage. Travel Alaska onboard the Alaska Marine Highway State Ferry and cruise from Bellingham (Seattle) throughout the magnificent Inside Passage via Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell, Juneau and Glacier Bay to Skagway and Haines. Walk one block north for a nightcap of Alaska’s best gin and tonic at the Amalga Distillery tasting room. Although it is large, it is much smaller than todays cruise ships which generally carry 2,000 to 3,000 passengers. Travel the world’s most scenic Inside Passage routes by ferry with a vehicle or as a walk-on passenger. I want emails from Lonely Planet with travel and product information, promotions, advertisements, third-party offers, and surveys. Vancouver’s airport, across the border in Canada, is closer – just over an hour’s drive from Bellingham. The largest pink salmon run in the southeast part of the state, and it’s a magnet for brown and black bears. The ship carries vehicles and up to 499 passengers. With its southernmost port in Bellingham, WA, the Alaska Marine Highway extends more than 3,500 miles to Dutch Harbor, with over 30 stops along the way. Also what route the cruise ships take so we can avoid that. Alaska is beautiful. 2-5 day small ship explorations. ", There have been changes even in the town’s more traditional industries. In town, stay at the Squawking Raven B&B with its wrap-around deck, or Stikine Inn – its restaurant is the best in Wrangell. 7-day Alaska Cruises . Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage Aboard an Alaska Ferry. Set at the southernmost entrance to Alaska's famed Inside Passage—a network of waterways that snake through some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful wilderness in the world—Ketchikan is best known for three things: feisty salmon, idyllic scenery, and an incredibly rich Alaska Native culture. Grab breakfast at The Salty Pantry before touring LaConte Glacier Bay via kayak or in the comfort of a heated powerboat, with guide Scott Roberge. Founded in the middle of the 20th century, the AMHS now runs a total of 3500 miles and serves visitors and locals alike. Before departing, have a hearty breakfast from local favorite Homeskillet. It was the start," he says, and starts scraping again. Back at the harbor, we bump into Scott’s bearded nephew, Eric Grundberg, who is selling fresh fish directly from his troller boat. Enjoy the charms of the Silverbow Inn, a downtown boutique hotel. There are roads within the communities themselves, but most of them are small enough to roam on foot. With its southernmost port in Bellingham, WA, the Alaska Marine Highway extends more than 3,500 miles to Dutch Harbor, with over 30 stops along the way. Traveling Alaska by ferry is an excellent option for independent travelers and families, and allows you to bring your car, RV, bicycle or kayak along for the ride. Choose a round-trip Inside passage or one-way Gulf of Alaska Cruise. Alaska Ferry, Reservervations, specials, and reservation services on all Alaska State ferries from Bellingham Washington to Anchorage Alaska. The rest of the winter months become something else. Taking a ferry is an excellent way to see a huge swath of Alaska's coastline while visiting unique communities along the way. Taking a ferry is an excellent way to see a huge swath of Alaska's coastline while visiting unique communities along the way. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage. For slightly longer distances in Juneau, you can also use taxis or public buses. Her memoir, which explores – in part – the relationship between southeastern Alaska’s native people and their environment, has influenced my time on the Inside Passage. Ter­mi­nal loca­tion in Haines for the Alas­ka Marine High­way Fer­ry System. Would love some advice on what towns are the most interesting and are missed by the cruise ships. Welcome to Ketchikan. If you opt to miss the two-night trip starting from the contiguous US, you can also fly into Ketchikan from Seattle or Anchorage, and back to either of those bigger airports from Juneau at the end of the ferry route. But today she stands tall in her brown rubber boots, a living embodiment of the Alaskan state motto, "North to the future.". Overwhelmed by choices? We pull ashore an hour later, walk the half-mile boardwalk to a viewing platform over the creek. Suddenly the multicolored homes of Wrangell appear on the shore ahead, and minutes later, the crew is working in lock-step to secure the ship to the dock with ropes as thick as telephone poles. Alaska Railroad: Adventure Class or Goldstar Dome Car Service? Bellingham is under two hours’ drive from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a major hub. Alaska Airlines is the main carrier, with Delta also operating some flights. "They say this job is 99 percent boredom and one percent terror," he says. Which one is right for you? The only marine route recognized as a National Scenic Byway, for Alaska’s coastal communities it’s much more than a pretty way to get around. PETERSBURG Ferries to Alaska travel from Bellingham Washington up the Inside Passage stopping at Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Skagway. Below, the circle of life is compressed into a single setting. If you’re open to a chillier journey, you might avoid peak tourist season by waiting until after mid-August. It’s an attitude shared by their friends Bo Varsano and Marja Smets of Farragut Farms, an off-grid enterprise 25 miles northwest of town. The eagles and ravens swooping down to steal the scraps and retreat to their perch. After an overnight journey on the Malaspina, I close in on my last stop: Juneau. JUNEAU Carson Vaughan visited southeastern Alaska with support from Travel Alaska. "A professor at the university who’s been studying this glacier for a long time thinks it’s pinched," says guide Scott Roberge. They also do business with small cruise ships that travel up the bay, delivering produce by water using a small skiff. We offer unbeatable priced Itineraries packed with activities, transportation and accommodations beginning in Bellingham, Washington or Anchorage, Alaska. Plan your journey with this gorgeous printed map. Ferry Travel and Independent Tours using the Alaska Marine Highway Ferries and the Alaska Railroad as the main mode of transportation throughout Alaska. Not as much water comes out. Cruises and land tours are great ways to see Alaska. On nearby Franklin Street, grab dinner and beers at Devil’s Club Brewing Company. The next town I visit, Petersburg, is similar in size to Wrangell, but the streets feel a little busier, the shops a little brighter. We believe it’s the most beautiful place on Earth. If this view was cleverly framed, you might think you were looking at a port city in the Caribbean; the sun, the jade waters, the glistening white cruise ships ushering visitors down the gangplanks. Spend a quiet evening before your trip at the Fairhaven Village Inn,  a quaint old hotel in the Historic Fairhaven District, and less than a ten-minute walk from the AMHS ferry terminal. Book ahead for a flightseeing tour of Misty Fjords National Monument with Misty Fjords Air. Southeast Alaska — a network of sheltered waterways, spruce-covered islands, snow-capped mountains, glacier-fed rivers, and small, beautiful coastal communities, all within America’s largest national forest and connected by the topnotch Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. 7-10 days is the most common. Alaska Marine Highway System. Rowdy teenagers jumped from the red-iron trestle bridge and into the harbor below. The entirety of the Inside Passage is considered a temperate rainforest, and southeast Alaska experiences distinct seasons comparable to Seattle or Vancouver further south. Our main goal is to go where the cruise ships are not. See the famous Inside Passage, Glacier Bay, Denali, Katmai and the Kenai. Afterwards, hike the Hungry Point Trail, a gravel path cut through a spongy and surreal muskeg (Arctic bog). Look out for the Dungeness crab grilled cheese. Welcome to Alaska’s Inside Passage. Book entire boat for your family or group, or opt to bunk with other guests. NOTE: AMHS fall, winter and spring schedule information will be available mid-summer. I’m 2000ft in the air, staring through the portside window at a wall of granite shorn by glaciers during the last Ice Age. There was a problem with your submission. The ferry is big enough to comfortably navigate the waters, yet small enough to pass through the most scenic and direct routes. One of the rainiest cities in North America, Ketchikan was bathed in sunshine on the day I arrived, the temperature well into the 20s. "I’ve met so many cool people. A DIY trip through Alaska’s Inside Passage Following in the footsteps of John Muir — and millions of modern cruise ship passengers — one marine ferry at a time. Our Alaska Ferry Packages focus on the best Alaska has to offer. Travel the world’s most scenic Inside Passage routes by ferry with a vehicle or as a walk-on passenger. See Alaska's highlights by railroad or motorcoach in a group of up to 50, Travel in small groups, stay at exclusive wilderness lodges, and spend more time outdoors, All-inclusive multi-day vacation packages at a remote wilderness lodge, Travel with a professional photographer to the best photo locations around the state, Trips range from backpacking, rafting, to upscale remote lodge retreats, Cruises depart Juneau or Sitka. No part of this site may be reproduced without our written permission. Though internationally recognized for his work, his temperament suggests he’d be just as happy carving away in complete obscurity. Tour the Alaska Inside Passage on a custom vacation. The primary forms of transportation in areas without roads are by air or sea, so the Alaska Marine Highway is a big part of the 'highway system.' Traveling the Inside Passage is especially pleasant in summer and early autumn, with temperatures around 59°F–77°F. For a simple room with easy downtown access, book at the Tides Inn. There are no free stopovers allowed along the route and there are extra charges for Pets, and vehicles unaccompanied by a driver or over 8.5 foot wide. When to go Free personal GPS–driven travel guide to Alaska. This article originally appeared in the free ebook entitled Out There. My knees are pinned to my chest in the back seat of a tiny Cessna 185 Skywagon. She’s waiting for me when I arrive at the University of Alaska Southeast, where she teaches English; a short woman with greying hair and the sort of charming self-assurance that comes from a life of challenges overcome. We finally land in a small, unnamed pocket of the Misty Fjords National Monument, and pilot Dave Doyon, whose white-toothed grin betrays his amusement, kills the engine. The large cruise liners do stop … Discover the optimal month due to daylight, temperature, and rain. The Islands, wilderness and wildlife will capture your spirit. KETCHIKAN All rights reserved. I sleep at an inn where water laps at a dock outside my window then, with a dozen others, board a small jetboat headed for Anan Creek. Alaska Ferry, Reservervations and up to date schedules, specials, and reservation services on all Alaska State ferries from Bellingham Washington to Anchorage Alaska. Find how many days you need based on what you want to see and do in Alaska. I am sweating. At Ketchikan’s Ferry Terminal, I board the MV Malaspina, one of the three original ships belonging to the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS). I’ve come here to begin a journey north through Alaska’s Inside Passage: a 500-mile stretch of the Pacific which courses through the Alexander Archipelago and is studded with more than 1000 forested islands. ", Explore Juneau: Juneau Shore Excursion: Whale-Watching Adventure. Contact Information Travel on a set itinerary with lodging and tours booked in advance. Alaska is over 650,000 square miles and much of that has no road access. From a jetboat I see the small icebergs known as ‘bergy bits’, glowing blue in contrast to the grey above, and feel the air grow colder as the fjords rise up. Getting there and around Many of the Inside Passage towns and locations are not accessible by road, it’s either fly or ferry. Access to these cities via Haines require a drive through Canada. Unlike the other ports, I can’t even say I’ve been to Alaska’s capital Juneau … Please try again. I recall a line from local writer Ernestine Hayes’s unique memoir, Blonde Indian: "The smell of the ocean, the feel of the spray, the sound of the gulls, the taste of the salt, the sight of mountain behind mountain behind island behind island, falling back and back in shadows and grey and dark green… It was a good life, being on a boat.". 7559 N. Tongass Highway Ketchikan, Alaska 99901. At Totem Park in nearby Saxman, a small Tlingit village, 24 towering poles tell stories of the area’s history. Most of the communities within the Inside Passage are located on islands, accessible only by boat or plane. The further north I travel on the Inside Passage, the more this emphasis on place, community and environmental stewardship comes to the surface. Take a sunset hike to Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park and ponder the mysteries in the rocks. Your must-have activity guide + map while in Alaska. Born in Lebanon, he fits his native shakshuka (eggs poached in a tomato-based sauce) onto the menu whenever he can, alongside a host of other locally-sourced specials. Ketchikan, Alaska is truly the beginning of the last frontier. We'll match you with a local itinerary expert to help you plan your trip. JUNEAU | ALASKA. Stops include Seward (Kenai Fjords), Girdwood, Whittier & Spencer Glacier, Stops include Wasilla, Talkeetna, Denali National Park & Fairbanks. He and his wife Malena run Schoolhouse Fish, and say their relationship with their customers is the aspect of their work they most cherish. Book a stateroom on the AMHS for maximum comfort. For the most scenic experience, cruise the Alaska Marine Highway System from Bellingham in Washington state. Waiting for her "crab guy" to arrive at the dock and unload his haul, she explains the obstacles she’s overcome to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated industry: the competition, the cold-shouldering. Stay at the Cape Fox Lodge, overlooking Ketchikan from a hilltop reached by an old-school funicular. He speaks slowly, taking comfort in the silence he often lets fill the room. The scent of cedar fills the air, and his scraper rattles as he draws it up and down the log. The inside passage is a beautiful transition from USA to Canada to the Coast of Alaska. Juneau is impossibly scenic, and the launchpad for a litany of adventures – but one thing I really want to do before I leave is meet with Ernestine Hayes. This is the gateway to the LeConte Glacier, which lies 25 miles east of town. She has a brawn and sturdiness that commands respect, and soon the white masts in the harbor are little more than pixels on the horizon, giving way to awe-inspiring wilderness. Boutique, small ship adventure cruises in Alaska's Inside Passage, Cruises depart from Whittier, a 1 hr drive from Anchorage. The Inside Passage (French: Passage Intérieur) is a coastal route for ships and boats along a network of passages which weave through the islands on the Pacific Northwest coast of the North American Fjordland.The route extends from southeastern Alaska in the United States, through western British Columbia in Canada, to northwestern Washington state in the United States. 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