Alaska’s Marine Highway
Length: 8834 miles / 14216.9 km
Time to Allow: Numerous itinerary options include one-day excursions, two to five day itineraries, or see the entire byway over the course of several weeks.
The Alaska Marine Highway takes up 3,500 miles making it one of the longest byways in the country. On this byway, you can travel from Bellingham, Washington, to Dutch Harbor with thirty stops along the way on a ferry. It’s the perfect way to view the Alaskan coastline with unique communities along the way. From indigenous to modern culture while also seeing whales, rare birds, sea lions, and glaciers. Take a week or longer to fully enjoy the ferry ride.
A ferry is not quite as fancy as a cruise ship but is ideal for getting off the beaten path with an itinerary filled with big-name ports. Explore the villages off the tourist grid and move around the towns with the locals. The ferry makes for a unique trip for those in a car, RV, backpackers, or even those traveling with pets. Pitch a tent or book a cabin and enjoy some onboard amenities like an arcade, reading room, and children’s playroom.
Along the route, the park rangers teach about the wildlife you will see along the way. They even announce when a whale emerges from the water. Of course, the route travels through a lot of Canadian coast along the way. Do check to make sure the ferry is open before going. The first Alaskan stop is at Prince Rupert, where you can visit the Museum of Northern British Columbia or visit the Sunken Garden Park.
Make sure to visit Cordova for the History Museum, the Miles Glacier Bridge, and the Ilanka Cultural Center. With a long enough visit, you can even visit the Kayak Island State Marine Park, perfect for camping, hiking, and viewing wildlife. Cordova also offers skiing and helicopter tours. Stay at the Alaskan Hotel and Bar before visiting the local glacier.
Campers will also go to spend some time at the Chugach National Forest and the Tongass National Forest. Both with options for camping and cabin rentals perfect for connecting with nature and enjoy the peace and wonder of wildlife. Also, make sure to stop in the town of Yakutat, where you can sightsee, kayak, walk the beach, or even surf. Go fishing, or go out on a boat for an epic adventure.
Next, make sure to stop in Skagway, where you can stay at the Westmark Inn with Gold Rush-era decor. The town offers a lot of history, too, with impressive beauty and ruggedness, making this a stunning location in Ketchikan where you can enjoy a nightly campfire with other ferry passengers. You can stay in your RV or at a local resort, many of which are located close to the ferry. The town is walker-friendly, with tons of shops and self-guided walking tours. Visit the Tongass Historical Museum while there. Bring an umbrella as the town gets a lot of rain and the town celebrates the falling water.
With over three thousand miles, there is no way to discuss every sight along the way. Instead, make this a necessary destination to explore this exotic location. Take the family and a few weeks to fully enjoy the joy, wonder, and beauty of Alaska via a fun cruise with adventure available at every corner.
More Alaska Byways
You can check out additional Byways in Alaska by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the Alaska Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.