Description - The Alaska Marine Highway System was designated an Alaska State Scenic Byways on September 12, 1997. The state-owned fleet of nine ferries travel scenic coastal routes totaling 3100 miles. From the southern terminus in Bellingham, WA, the ferries ply waters lined with the lush, green rainforests of British Columbia and Alaska's Inside Passage, glaciers and fjords in Prince William sound, and windswept Aleutian Islands, rich in cultural, archeological and seismic history. The Alaska Marine Highway System has historical significance as the main transportation link between many of Alaska's small, isolated coastal communities. In many of these towns, there is no road in or out, and the only way to travel is by boat or airplane. There are two main systems: Southeast Alaska (the Inside Passage), and Southcentral/Southwest Alaska (Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska). It is important to know that these two systems are linked only once a month, from May through September, only.
In Southeast Alaska, northbound travelers can end their sail in Haines or Skagway to connect to the Yukon or other Alaska scenic highways, such as the Haines Highway and the Taylor/Top of the World Highway. The mainline vessels are the Taku, Matanuska, Malaspina, Kennicott and Columbia. These workhorses of the Inside Passage travel from Bellingham, Washington; Prince Rupert, BC, Canada; and Southeast Alaska coastal communities.
The Bartlett travels routes in Southcentral Alaska and Prince William Sound. The Tustamena travels the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands. Once a month during the summer, the state's newest ferry, the M/V Kennicott, provides several Gulf of Alaska crossings to the Southcentral communities of Valdez and Seward. From Seward, travelers drive Alaska's National Scenic Byway, the Seward Highway, to Anchorage, or ride north on the Alaska Railroad, another Alaska State Scenic Byway. From Valdez, drive toward Interior Alaska on the State Scenic Byway, the Richardson Highway.
Travelers can walk, drive or ride on to the ferries, which accommodate walk-ons, bicycles, motorcycles and automobiles. The mainline ferries provide food service. Some vessels have staterooms, but travelers often rest in sleeping bags or, in some cases tents.
- The Alaska Marine Highway System is known for it's Archeology, Cultural, Historical, Natural and Scenic Attractions.
The Alaska Marine Highway System runs along the southeast and southcentral coasts of Alaska.
Directions from : Inside Passage: Ferries can be reached from mainline roads that connect to other highways in Bellingham, WA, Prince Rupert, BC, or Haines and Skagway, Alaska.