Southeast Alaska / Inside Passage

The Inside Passage is a protected waterway on the northern Pacific coast of North America, replete with spectacular rain forests, mountains, and glaciers. AMHS's service through the Inside Passage is served from road connections at Bellingham, Washington and Prince Rupert, British Columbia. in the south to Haines and Skagway, Alaska, in the north.


Bellingham, Washington, southernmost terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System, is a minimum 2 hour drive north of Seattle and one hour south of Vancouver, British Columbia. It is the traditional gateway to the San Juan Islands and Alaska. Bellingham's new multi modal facility offers train, bus, Alaska, Victoria and San Juan Island ferry service, all in one location. The ferry terminal and visitor information center are adjacent to the historic Fairhaven district. Shuttle services are available for travel between the terminal and major airports.


Haines connects the Inside Passage with the Alaska Highway at Haines Junction, in Canada's Yukon Territory. While in Haines, visit historic Port Chilkoot, the Native arts center, or camp within sight of glaciers at Chilkat State Park. The highlight of autumn is viewing the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve just outside the town. Many travelers board the ferry at Haines and sail to nearby Skagway, birthplace of the Klondike Gold Rush.


Juneau, Alaska's bustling capital and gateway to Glacier Bay, nestles between towering mountains and the Gastineau Channel. Although a modern city, Juneau wears its romantic Gold Rush past proudly. Exhibits, museums, and enchanting performances are waiting to entertain you. The Mendenhall Glacier and U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center offers programs, a naturalist to answer questions, trails and nature walks, and a panoramic view of the glacier face. Nearby Admiralty Island National Monument shelters the largest brown bear population in Southeast Alaska.


Ketchikan is Alaska's southernmost major city. Its waterfront buildings rise above Tongass Narrows supported by a forest of pilings and joined together by a picturesque boardwalk. Visit the world's largest collection of totem poles at Saxman, Totem Bight, and the Totem Heritage Center.


Petersburg is off the beaten path of cruise ships and is famous for its Norwegian heritage which shows so beautifully in the decorative designs found on its homes and shop fronts. Local tours await you, too, offering spectacular views of the LeConte Glacier, the southernmost tidewater glacier in North America.

Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert, British Columbia, is an ideal starting point for drivers wishing to cruise up the Inside Passage. Take an archaeology tour, or visit the Museum of Northern B.C. with its carving shed and settlement history of the B.C.'s north coast. Tour the North Pacific Cannery Village Museum, a restored heritage site which offers a live performance to highlight its history. Viking Travel, Inc. also handles reservations and ticketing for the mainline B.C. Ferries sailings.


Sitka was the seaside capital of Russian America and a visit here is like stepping back in time to the 18th century. Visit St. Michael's Cathedral, one of the finest examples of rural Russian architecture. Stroll through the town's quaint shops and enjoy performances of Russian dancing. All of this entertaining history is presented under the shadow of stately Mr. Edgecumbe, a 3,201-foot-high, Fuji-like extinct volcano.


Skagway, the "Gateway to the Yukon," owes its birth to the Gold Rush of '98. The U.S. Park Service and the City of Skagway have made this one of the best historic sites in Alaska. The Klondike Highway follows part of the White Pass route and connects with the Alaska Highway at Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.


Wrangell, a half-mile walk from the Wrangell Ferry Terminal, is Alaska's fourth oldest city and its only community to have existed under four nations: the Tlingit, Russian, British, and American. Its even more ancient history is revealed by mysterious, centuries-old petroglyphs that are easily seen along the beaches at low tide. You will also enjoy the Chief Shakes Community House with its many totem poles, the replica tribal Chilkat blanket, and other historic items. Wrangell is the "Gateway to the Stikine River", the fastest free-flowing navigable river in North America. Wrangell also hosts the largest springtime concentration of bald eagles in the world. Local tours are available to both the river and the Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory.

Southeast’s Smaller Outlying Communities

Angoon, Hoonah, Kake, Metlakatla, Pelican, and Tenakee are all linked to mainline AMHS ports by connecting vessels. Cultural sites complement a variety of outdoor activities and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.


Angoon, located on Admiralty Island some 60 miles south of Juneau, is surrounded by miles of picturesque waterways noted for fishing, hunting, and sightseeing opportunities.


Hoonah was once the major village of the Huna Indians, a offshoot of the Tlingit tribe. Fishing boats line the harbor, and seafood processing is the major industry. Pleasure fishing in the area is excellent for Silver and King Salmon, as well as Cutthroat, Rainbow, and Dolly Varden trout.


Kake is named for the tribe of Tlingit Indians which has occupied Kupreanof Island since prehistoric times. It is the site of the world's largest totem pole -- 132.5 feet high -- and enjoys a brisk logging and fishing trade.


Metlakatla is located on Annette Island, at the southern tip of Alexander Archipelago in Southeastern Alaska. Originally a religious colony, Metlakatla's population first consisted of 800 Tsimshian Indian converts who had moved from British Columbia. The native name means, "a passage joining two bodies of water."


Pelican, in the mid 1930's, was nothing more than two large barges serving as cold storage for locally-caught salmon. Pelican grew with the fishing industry, and now consists of a main boardwalk and a cluster of weather- worn buildings that cling to the side of Chichagof Island. Besides great fishing and beautiful scenery, Pelican's main attraction is Rosie's bar, where fishermen have been carving their initials in the ceiling since the first beer was served.

Tenakee Springs

Tenakee Springs was once a leading Alaska spa, with early miners coming from around the Territory and the Yukon to "take the waters" of its warm mineral springs. Today, the year-round residents are joined by summer visitors who still come to "take the waters" but who have also discovered the excellent saltwater fishing in the area.

South Central

The coastal communities of this region are the outdoor playgrounds for more than half of the state's population. The Alaska Marine Highways’ ferry routes take you through beautiful Prince William Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska, around the Kenai Peninsula and into lower Cook Inlet.

Chenega Bay

In 1996, the Alaska Marine Highway began "whistle-stop" service to the small communities of Tatitlek and Chenega Bay, made possible by the construction of new docks to provide staging areas for oil spill response capabilities in Prince William Sound.


Cordova is a fishing port where you can watch commercial fishermen bring in their catch or try your hand at Alaska-style sportfishing. Tour the salmon canneries, visit the famed "million dollar bridge", walk on Sheridan Glacier, or ride the chair lift to the top of Eyak Mountain. The activities and adventures are endless.


Homer sports a lively recreation scene along the 5-mile long, world-famous Homer Spit, and offers travelers an unbelievably spectacular view of Kachemak Bay. The harbor is lined with charter boats for hire, and fresh halibut, crab and shrimp can be purchased from seafood shops along the docks.


Kodiak was the first capital of Russian America (1783-99), and remnants of the Russian occupation are still evident today. Kodiak also harbors Alaska's largest commercial fishing fleet and is home to the mighty Kodiak Brown Bear. Close to 3,000 of these giant bears live in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Port Lions

Port Lions, in Settler Cove on the northeast coast of Kodiak Island, offers the amenities of larger destinations such as full-service hunting and fishing lodges, the beauty of waterfalls tucked away in spruce-filled coves, beach combing, and sea kayaking through the still, blue waters of Kizkuyak Bay.


Seldovia is accessible only by air or water and, therefore, has been able to maintain many of its age-old Russian traditions. Seldovia offers a view of Alaska's fishing industry with vessels moving in and out of Kachemak Bay, fresh catches in live tanks and fish processing at a local salmon plant.


Seward is the principal port of the Kenai Peninsula and a favorite recreational spot for sportfishing. Charter flights can be arranged to Harding Icecap, the third largest ice field in the world. Embark on a two-hour walking tour and see more than 30 attractions, including homes and businesses that date back to pioneer days.


In 1996, the Alaska Marine Highway began "whistle-stop" service to the small communities of Tatitlek and Chenega Bay, made possible by the construction of new docks to provide staging areas for oil spill response capabilities in Prince William Sound.


Valdez began as a trading station in the early 1890s and served as a port of entry for gold seekers bound for the Klondike. The old city was destroyed by the 1964 earthquake, but its spirit lives in a new Valdez. This ice-free, saltwater port is the terminus of the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline, which carries oil from the North Slope.


Whittier is nestled between the glacier-capped Chugach mountains and Prince William Sound. Built by the U.S. Government during World War II as a hidden port, today Whittier is the gateway to a recreational wonderland. In May of 2000, a highway from Whittier to the Interior opened to the public. This spectacular drive from the edge of Prince William Sound through the Chugach mountains winds through a series of tunnels, and connects Whittier to Anchorage only 45 miles to the south. Travelers also have the option of taking the famed Alaska Railroad from Whittier all the way to Fairbanks.

Passengers traveling to and from Whittier, and especially those departing on the M/V Kennicott from Whittier, are advised to check forWhittier Tunnel Information for a schedule of when the toll-tunnel is open to vehicle traffic. You may be unable to make your sailing if you do not arrive at the tunnel at a time when it is open. Bicycle and foot traffic is prohibited through the tunnel, and there are vehicle size and other restrictions of which you should be aware before traveling through the tunnel. Vehicle tolls start at about $10 for passenger vehicles and $25 for RV's. Commercial vehicle tolls are substantially higher. For a recording of the base schedule, call the Whittier Tunnel information line toll-free at 1-(877) 611-2586.

Aleutian Islands & Alaska Peninsula

The Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula sweep more than 1500 miles from Cook Inlet toward Asia. This region sits atop the "Ring of Fire," a string of volcanoes along the Pacific Rim, and boasts several wildlife refuges. The harsh weather precludes ferry service in the winter, but each spring the Alaska Marine Highway resumes its regular sailings to the seven westward communities of Chignik, Sand Point, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass, Akutan, and Unalaska/Dutch Harbor.


Akutan is located in the center of some of the most productive fishing grounds in the world, and huge amounts of seafood products -- primarily crab, halibut, cod, pollock --are processed in the shelter of its deep bay and at a large shore-based processing plant. Although the Aleut population of the local village remains at 90-100, it grows to about 1,000 during certain fishing seasons.


Chignik is actually three villages: Chignik Lake, Chignik Lagoon, and Chignik Bay, where the State ferry docks at one of two canneries at its first stop on the run out the Aleutian chain. Like the other Aleutian Island communities, Chignik provides a fishing lifestyle for its residents in a rugged but beautiful environment. In the Aleut language, "chignik" means "windy".

Cold Bay

Cold Bay, located 634 air miles from Anchorage, is surrounded by the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Abundant seabirds and waterfowl, as well as caribou and brown bear, make it a popular spot for sportsmen and naturalists. Two active volcanos provide a spectacular backdrop for the community.

False Pass

False Pass is a picturesque Aleutian community in a strategic location. The town sits on the south side of Isanotski Strait, the shortest transit route between the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Its economy is based on fisheries: mostly for salmon, herring, halibut and crab.

King Cove

King Cove rests on a sand spit and adjacent uplands which are located at the north end of a natural bay nestled between high mountain ridges. The community of 1,000, mostly Aleuts, has developed around one of the largest fish processing centers in the United States.

Sand Point

Sand Point was originally founded as a cod fishing station in 1887, and today it continues to support the regional fishing industry. The city's harbor is home to a locally based fishing fleet, and is also heavily used by transient vessels during and between fishing seasons. Its population is mostly of Aleut and Scandinavian descent.

Unalaska/Dutch Harbor

Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, at the end of the Aleutian Chain, is also its largest community, with over four thousand residents. A busy fishing and seafood processing port, Dutch Harbor is also a tourist destination, with sportfishing, bird and wildlife viewing, cultural and historical exploration, or hiking and beachcombing awaiting the adventurous traveler.