Inside Passage: Prince Rupert to Ketchikan

If you’ve followed along at home, you know Alaska (the 49th state in the Union) is my 49th state in the Airstream. I think it technically counted when I passed through U.S. Customs and boarded the M/V Matanuska (a ferry owned by the state of Alaska) in the waters off Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. But I didn’t count it until I rolled off the ferry into the port of Ketchikan, Alaska and onto dry land.

And I’m not even to the main part of Alaska yet. I’m in southeast Alaska, a part only accessible by sea or air. In fact, to get to the rest of Alaska, I will have to hop on another series of ferries, and then drive through another part of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory before reaching the main Alaskan border. From Ketchikan to Anchorage: 1,120 miles.

Originally wanting to take the Airstream on a ferry (or even a barge) through the entire Inside Passage starting in Washington state, I reluctantly decided to drive the entire way because of insane ticket prices. I got delayed in some pretty wet weather in the middle of B.C., and to find some sunshine, headed completely out of my way to the coastal city of Prince Rupert. Bt the way, if you’re ever in Prince Rupert, be sure to head down to Cow Bay, a few square blocks of shops and restaurants right on the water. After seeing all the ships in Prince Rupert heading to Alaska, I decided to research the Alaska Marine Highway System and the Inside Passage again. I was happy to find the prices much more reasonable for just the Alaskan part of the Inside Passage, so I booked a spot on the next ferry heading north. With something called the See Alaska Pass, I can stop off at a few cities along the route, stay for a few days, and board the ferry again without having to endure the almost 30-hour journey from Prince Rupert to Haines in one sitting.

The ferry itself was pretty comfortable; I had a really good meal in the cafeteria, walked around outside taking photos, and spent most of my sitting time in the forward observation lounge. I had intermittent cellular internet service, but unfortunately no Wi-Fi on the ferry itself. Because it was only a 5-6 hour crossing, I chose not to get a private cabin, but that could be an option for the next trip–at least 18 hours if I choose to go straight to Juneau. Unfortunately, passengers are not allowed to go down to the auto deck (and sleep in comfortable beds) while the ferry is moving.

The first leg from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan was in somewhat open waters. The scenery was good, but honestly, I’m expecting it to get better as the passage narrows. That is, if the weather cooperates. Unfortunately, the forecast calls for more rain in this part of the state. For now, I’m happy in Ketchikan, where there just might be a floatplane for every person on the island, and where bald eagles are as plentiful as pigeons in Chicago. I’ll hang out in Ketchikan, try to find some good weather in the forecast, and then I’m off…exact port unknown.

Waiting for ferry at Kinnikinnick Campground
Waiting for ferry at Kinnikinnick Campground
Port Edward, B.C.
Port Edward, B.C.
Waiting to board M/V Matanuska
Waiting to board M/V Matanuska
Waiting to board M/V Matanuska
Waiting to board M/V Matanuska
Snug fit on the Matanuska auto deck
Snug fit on the Matanuska auto deck
Massive lifeboats on Matanuska
Massive lifeboats on Matanuska
Matanuska solarium
Matanuska solarium
BC Ferries heading other direction
BC Ferries heading other direction
Matanuska
Matanuska
Matanuska forward observation lounge
Matanuska forward observation lounge
Matanuska
Matanuska
Typical view of open sea
Typical view of open sea
Overnight camping on the Matanuska helipad
Overnight camping on the Matanuska helipad
Matanuska
Matanuska
Matanuska
Matanuska
Green Island Lightstation
Green Island Lightstation
Typical view of open sea
Typical view of open sea
Evening lights of Ketchikan
Evening lights of Ketchikan
View at Clover Pass Resort
View at Clover Pass Resort
Totem Bight State Park
Totem Bight State Park
Creek Street in Ketchikan
Creek Street in Ketchikan
Ketchikan
Ketchikan
View from Safeway parking lot in Ketchikan
View from Safeway parking lot in Ketchikan
Snow above Ketchikan
Snow above Ketchikan
View from Safeway parking lot in Ketchikan
View from Safeway parking lot in Ketchikan
View at Clover Pass Resort
View at Clover Pass Resort
One of many seaplane bases in Ketchikan
One of many seaplane bases in Ketchikan
Inside Passage near Ketchikan
Inside Passage near Ketchikan
Enormous cruise ships in Ketchikan
Enormous cruise ships in Ketchikan
Bald eagle
Bald eagle
Sushi for dinner
Sushi for dinner
Sunset at Clover Pass
Sunset at Clover Pass
Prince Rupert Seabase
Prince Rupert Seabase
  • Calbrown

    Cool!!!!

  • Tom Schabarum

    This is amazing, Kyle. Love seeing the pics and taking notes for my journey someday!

  • Jerry

    Your photos are spectacular. Someday I might try the trip in my Bambi. Glad to have you lead the way. Happy trails.

  • I’ve never been to Alaska or British Columbia yet, I’m planning on heading to BC in the summer of 2014, hopefully by car or train. I also want to take a cruise in Alaska, the pictures look amazing, really like the “boardwalk” where the Totem Duty Free shop is, it feels so warm and welcoming.

    I was born in Nunvavut (but moved to Montreal when I was 3), I’m looking forward to exploring a lot of the Canadian arctic one day, and would include Alaska even if it’s part of the United States.

    Do they not let people in the cars while the ferry is moving because they are afraid you’ll do something crazy? I remember being allowed in the cars on the PEI ferries although they weren’t as big and the ride wasn’t as long.