Ferry travel is an often underrated way of seeing the natural beauty of the United States. From the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast, there are ferry rides that offer unique and stunning views of the country’s landscapes.
Some are short, like the J-Mack cable ferry, which only travels about 400 feet and takes 3 minutes to cross. Other routes are longer, like Vallejo ferry, which takes 60 minutes, or 75 minutes if departing from Mare Island. Finally, there are some routes which take a day or more to complete the journey.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the longest ferry rides in the United States of America. Whether you’re traveling up the Inside Passage or down the Atlantic Coast, these ferry rides have one thing in common – they are long.
What is the longest ferry ride in the USA?
The Bellingham-Ketchikan ferry route is the longest ferry ride in the USA. It is over 2,200 miles long and takes 38 hours to complete. It is operated by the Alaskan Marine Highway System and connects the cities of Bellingham, WA and Ketchikan, a city located on the Inside Passage in Alaska.
In fact, Alaska is home to many of the longest ferries in the US including the 22-hour long Yakutat – Whittier ferry, 20-hour long Ketchikan – Juneau ferry, and the nearly 19-hour long Kodiak-Chignik ferry.
Longest ferry rides in USA
The following table lists the longest ferry rides in the United States of Americas. It is based on data from the National Census of Ferry Operators (NCFO).
|Route||Average Trip Duration||Terminals||Operator|
|Bellingham-Ketchikan||38 hours||Bellingham, WA||Ketchikan, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Yakutat-Whittier||22 hours||Yakutat, AK||Whittier, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Ketchikan-Juneau||20 hours||Ketchikan, AK||Juneau, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Kodiak-Chignik||18 hours and 45 minutes||Kodiak, AK||Chignik, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Juneau-Yakutat||17 hours||Juneau, AK||Yakutat, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Chenega Bay-Kodiak||14 hours||Chenega Bay, AK||Kodiak, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|False Pass-Akutan||10 hours and 30 minutes||False Pass, AK||Akutan, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Juneau-Sitka||9 hours and 30 minutes||Juneau, AK||Sitka, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Chignik-Sand Point||9 hours and 25 minutes||Chignik, AK||Sand Point, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Homer-Kodiak||9 hours||Homer, AK||Kodiak, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Petersburg-Juneau||8 hours||Petersburg, AK||Juneau, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Prince Rupert-Ketchikan||7 hours||Prince Rupert, AK||Ketchikan, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Grand Portage-Isle Royale||7 hours||Grand Portage, MN||Rock Harbor, MI||Grand Portage-Isle Royale Transportation Line, Inc.|
|Sand Point-King Cove||6 hours and 45 minutes||Sand Point, AK||King Cove, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Whittier-Cordova||6 hours and 45 minutes||Whittier, AK||Cordova, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Ketchikan-Wrangell||6 hours||Ketchikan, AK||Wrangell, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Whittier-Valdez||5 hours and 45 minutes||Whittier, AK||Valdez, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Martha’s Vineyard Ferry||5 hours||Highlands, NJ and New York, NY||Oak Bluffs, MA||SeaStreak, LLC|
|Whittier-Chinega Bay||4 hours and 30 minutes||Whittier, AK||Chinega Bay, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Juneau-Haines||4 hours and 30 minutes||Juneau, AK||Haines, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Cold Bay-False Pass||4 hours and 25 minutes||Cold Bay, AK||False Pass, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Lake Michigan Car Ferry||4 hours||Ludington, MI||Manitowoc, WI||Interlake Maritime Services|
|Akutan-Dutch Harbor||3 hours and 30 minutes||Akutan, AK||Dutch Harbor, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Wrangell-Petersburg||3 hours and 30 minutes||Wrangell, AK||Petersburg, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Juneau-Hoonah||3 hours and 30 minutes||Juneau, AK||Hoonah, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|CAT Ferry||3 hours and 30 minutes||Bar Harbor, ME||Yarmouth, NS||Bay Ferries Limited and Northumberland Ferries Limited|
|Ventura Harbor-San Miguel Island||3 hours||Ventura, CA||San Miguel Island in Channel Islands National Park||Island Packers Corp.|
|Seattle-Victoria, B.C.||2 hours and 45 minutes||Pier 69, Seattle, WA||Victoria, B.C.||Clipper Vacations|
|Ocracoke-Swan Quarter||2 hours and 40 minutes||Ocracoke, NC||Swan Quarter, NC||NCDOT|
|Lake Express Ferry||2 hours and 30 minutes||Milwaukee, WI||Muskegon, MI||Lake Express, LLC|
|Key West-Dry Tortugas||2 hours and 30 minutes||Key West, FL||Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park||Yankee Freedom III, LLC|
|Ocracoke-Cedar Island||2 hours and 15 minutes||Ocracoke, NC||Cedar Island, NC||NCDOT|
|Rockland-Matinicus Island||2 hours and 15 minutes||Rockland, ME||Matinicus Island, ME||MaineDOT|
|Hyannis-Nantucket||2 hours and 15 minutes||Hyannis, MA||Nantucket, MA||The Steamship Authority|
|Ventura Harbor-Santa Rosa Island||2 hours||Ventura, CA||Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park||Island Packers Corp.|
|King Cove-Cold Bay||2 hours||King Cove, AK||Cold Bay, AK||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Beaver Island Ferry||2 hours||Charlevoix, MI||Beaver Island, MI||Beaver Island Boat Company|
|Tangier Island Ferry||2 hours||Reedville, VA||Tangier, VA||Tangier Island Cruises|
|Quonset Point-Oak Bluffs||1 hour and 35 minutes||North Kingstown, RI||Oak Bluffs, MA||Rhode Island Fast Ferry|
|Provincetown Fast Ferry||1 hour and 35 minutes||Boston, MA||Provincetown, MA||Bay State Cruise Company|
Longest Ferry Rides in Washington
Washington state is home to the largest ferry system in the USA – Washington State Ferries (WSF). WSF currently operates 10 ferry routes, two of which are the longest ferry rides in Washington.
Anacortes-San Juan Islands
The Anacortes-San Juan Islands ferry is one of the longest ferry rides in Washington state. The ride can take 65-85 minutes and covers a distance of approximately 19 miles. Non-stop trips from Anacortes to Friday Harbor take approx. 65 minutes. Trips that make stops at the other islands — Lopez Island, Shaw Island, and Orcas Island — take upwards of 85 minutes to complete.
The Seattle-Bremerton ferry is the longest uninterrupted ferry ride in Washington. The ride is 60 minutes and covers a distance of approximately 16 miles. It is also one of the best ferry rides in Seattle because of the gorgeous scenery and landscapes you see along the crossing.
Longest Ferry Rides in California
California has a vast network of ferries throughout the state. In Northern California there’s Golden Gate Ferry and San Francisco Bay Ferry — two ferry operators that shuttle commuters and tourists around the San Francisco Bay Area. In Southern California, there is the historic Balboa Island Ferry and the Catalina Express. But, what is the longest ferry ride in California?
What is the longest ferry ride in California?
The Ventura Island-San Miguel Island ferry is the longest ferry ride in California with a crossing time of 3-3.5 hours. It is not uncommon to see Humpback whales and dolphins during the crossing.
The route is operated by Island Packers Cruises whom also operates the second longest ferry ride in California — the Ventura Harbor-Santa Rosa Island ferry which takes between 2-3 hours to complete.
Other notably long ferry rides in California include the Larkspur Ferry, which can take 80 minutes for some trips, and the South San Francisco Ferry which takes 55 minutes to cross from South San Francisco to Alameda.