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I just got back from a recent trip from my town to another in Southeast Alaska.
We are an island chain, served by the Alaska Marine Highway, aka the Alaska Ferry. The road systems here are pretty much limited to one island at a time, until you get as far north as Haines or Skagway. Using the ferry lets me go from one town to another and have my bike when I get there. This is also open to touring bikers or adventurers, which is why I am posting this.

The driver of a vehicle gets a discount on their fare, mine was 50% on the last trip.
On the ferry, the bike stays on the car deck. You bring your own tie down straps, there are attachment points aplenty to secure to. The car deck is closed to passengers once the ship is underway, so the bike is secure. The crew helps spot you off in corners to be out of the way of larger vehicles.
Once your bike is secure, you take your bags and go up the stairs or elevator to the other decks. Staterooms with shower and toilet are available, or many camp out on the floor of the observation deck or solarium deck. It is best to reserve ahead if you want a stateroom. There are public restrooms and showers if you dont get a stateroom. There are coin operated storage lockers to secure your stuff.
There is a cafeteria serving three meals a day, plus sandwiches etc.
Towns along the route vary in the time of layover. Many are long enough to take a walk, many people traveling with dogs take advantage of this.
You can stop for a few days in any town, and then catch another ferry to go on. With a bike it is very flexible for space availability. If you are prepared to camp, it can be even more of an adventure on the backcountry road systems of each island.

The view as you cruise in the ferry is the inside passage of the Alexander Archipelago. Whales, eagles, porpoise, fish, fishing boats, yachts.and large tracts of forested wilderness.
Just want to advise of this option as a nice bike adventure, anywhere from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK. Google the Alaska Marine Highway for more details. It can be a round trip, or one leg with a more interior route through British Columbia on the other leg. Think about it, maybe see this special place...
 

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I just got back from a recent trip from my town to another in Southeast Alaska.
We are an island chain, served by the Alaska Marine Highway, aka the Alaska Ferry. The road systems here are pretty much limited to one island at a time, until you get as far north as Haines or Skagway. Using the ferry lets me go from one town to another and have my bike when I get there. This is also open to touring bikers or adventurers, which is why I am posting this.

The driver of a vehicle gets a discount on their fare, mine was 50% on the last trip.
On the ferry, the bike stays on the car deck. You bring your own tie down straps, there are attachment points aplenty to secure to. The car deck is closed to passengers once the ship is underway, so the bike is secure. The crew helps spot you off in corners to be out of the way of larger vehicles.
Once your bike is secure, you take your bags and go up the stairs or elevator to the other decks. Staterooms with shower and toilet are available, or many camp out on the floor of the observation deck or solarium deck. It is best to reserve ahead if you want a stateroom. There are public restrooms and showers if you dont get a stateroom. There are coin operated storage lockers to secure your stuff.
There is a cafeteria serving three meals a day, plus sandwiches etc.
Towns along the route vary in the time of layover. Many are long enough to take a walk, many people traveling with dogs take advantage of this.
You can stop for a few days in any town, and then catch another ferry to go on. With a bike it is very flexible for space availability. If you are prepared to camp, it can be even more of an adventure on the backcountry road systems of each island.

The view as you cruise in the ferry is the inside passage of the Alexander Archipelago. Whales, eagles, porpoise, fish, fishing boats, yachts.and large tracts of forested wilderness.
Just want to advise of this option as a nice bike adventure, anywhere from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK. Google the Alaska Marine Highway for more details. It can be a round trip, or one leg with a more interior route through British Columbia on the other leg. Think about it, maybe see this special place...
Sweet bro, thanks for sharing this!! +1 :D
 

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My brother and I did that trip from Haines after driving up the highway in '71 in a converted '67 VW bus. In those days you could go standby at a lesser cost, but you might get bumped off in a place like Petersburg for 2-3 days with nothing to do......we didn't care. We were gone for 7 weeks and spent $471 TOTAL for food, gas, camping and the ferry ride. I don't think you can do that anymore.:rolleyes:
 

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As Twilight brought up the idea of a ride to AK in 17, a ride to Haines in this fashion might be a bit more advisable. By doing a trip on the inside passage then hitting the road for a few days then a week or two to do the ride from Tok to Fairbanks to Anchorage and back might be fun. Would be able to see both the sea and land animals along with some glacier sights.

I do have a piece of land just out of Palmer to camp on. There are places that Tinywheels200 has shared with us with his rides that are close by. A ride in AK is epic and no way can you take it all in in one summer. Still incorporating the ferry system along with some nice easy riding would be a better way to go.

The wife came up for a week when I was working and I took her to Hatcher Pass. It is just out of Palmer and there is some great riding in that area. The pass has a gold mine camp that they are restoring. They had taken tailings from the mine and used them for an area for visitors to check the area out from. She spotted a small glimmering speck in the sand and asked me it it was the real thing. Yes, I told her, it was about a millionth of a gram of gold. She looked like a barnyard chicken scratching around looking for more lol.
 

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Peterb, you may want to give yourself a bit more time. The end of August can start to get cold up north. We spent 52 days travelling through the north in our truck and camper and were rushed.

The bike and Ferry sounds intriguing.

Thanks boznarras
 

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Peterb, you may want to give yourself a bit more time. The end of August can start to get cold up north. We spent 52 days travelling through the north in our truck and camper and were rushed.

I will be leaving August 6 for 4 weeks and ya I would have liked to leave earlier but I works says no. The other night it went down to 0 Celcius here so I tried out my new tent and sleeping bag in the back yard and was ok. Just installed heated grips and getting gear so I can survive any weather. 2 new sets of tires, chain and sprockets etc. Becoming an expensive trip and I haven't left yet lol
 

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boznarras, its like you're reading my mind. :eek: I've been looking at a route leaving Salt Lake City about July 7th, up the IBDR and entering BC at Creston. Then up to Skagway, returning via the Marine Highway. Still speculative at this point. Is it easy to get on the ferry without reservations for 2 bikes and 2 riders? How about a cabin...are they available?
 

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Another nice thing about doing an 'inside passage' trip on the Alaska Marine Highway System is that you are wasting less time and seeing a lot more very scenic country. You can waste quite a bit of time traveling in some pretty boring country up there.....lots of flat area covered in willow scrub that you can't see over or through and filled with LOTS of mosquitos!
 

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Last year I came down from the Yukon via the Top of the World hwy thru Tok to Valdez to Whittier. Then the peninsula south of Anchorage. On the way back I made connections for the Haines/Skagway jump but screwed up and missed it. If I was coming up to the southern route I would hit Skagway to Haines then up and around to catch the Valdez heading the same way I did before and end up coming out at Dawson. Skagway is not real necessary for that but bein there for the scenery, ya just gotta see it! And the ride to Haines? The Glaciers? Outstanding!
 

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All laidout for you Roadtrip.

Utah to Alaska
Hey, thanks! While I knew of the Mule's trip, I didn't put the 2 together. I will have to read it more thoroughly. An interesting note from the bit I just read... there is no longer gas available in Ibapah, Ut. ...since the Mule refueled there. We rode some of that same area last Fall.
 

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I took a work truck all the way up on the Marine Highway once. Was like a cheap cruise ship with outstanding views the days weather was clear. Still plenty of driving to be done once off-loaded from the ferry. Really a great way to get around but I hear reservations need to be booked well in advance these days.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
boznarras, its like you're reading my mind. :eek: I've been looking at a route leaving Salt Lake City about July 7th, up the IBDR and entering BC at Creston. Then up to Skagway, returning via the Marine Highway. Still speculative at this point. Is it easy to get on the ferry without reservations for 2 bikes and 2 riders? How about a cabin...are they available?
RT, you never know without reservations. It is always better to have reservations especially in the summer season when usage is up. Typically they can squeeze in bikes, and almost never turn away more passengers.
Staterooms sell out fast. Especially northbound in early summer and southbound in late summer.
If you carry sleeping bags you can camp on the floor, but it is much more restful to have a stateroom. You have a bed, a private space for all your stuff, your own shower instead of the public one. There is also the consideration that you can sleep when you want in a stateroom, not always true in public areas, especially in summer when it is light until midnight and sunrise is only a few hours later.
Of course reservations can be a pain if you are trying to be free and spontaneous...If you have the flexibility to make your plans as you go, and bend a few days you may get away with a lot of the free spirit approach.
Hanging out with the campers on the solarium deck can be fun. Some good music gets played. Then there are migrating turkeys sometimes too, intoxicated or just goofy.
It is common to carry aboard snacks to eat, not just use the cafeteria. There are rules on alcohol, not in public areas, and no bar on board anymore, closed due to budget. If you have a stateroom, and have a drink in your duffle, no one seems to know...unless you invite them over.
Do check their website. There are pictures. You can make your reservations online and pick your tickets up when you arrive at the terminal, no need to carry them.
Oh, last tip. I carry some small springed clamps made for woodworking, like giant clothespins. I use them to clip a tarp over the bike when parked in the rain, which is nice to do, it rains a lot here. Those same clamps are excellent to clip the issued vehicle pass on my Jimbo shield when boarding the ferry. This gives the crew my destination, and lets them spot me on the car deck in the best place. With the tag visible they just wave and point, no need to shout and talk on the noisy car deck.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Another option yall might not discover ahead of time:
One of the terminals for the Alaska Ferry is Prince Rupert BC. This is an excellent road destination from the US, great roads thru pretty country, camping or lodging available. You can go up to Prince George then west to Rupert. Very pretty towns, and the BC campgrounds are spotted along the way in good order. It is also a good access point from the north, down from the Yukon in the drier interior corridors. You can start your alaska ferry trip in PR going either way.
The other thing that happens at Rupert is the Canadian Ferry comes there. It is possible to arrive via Alaska ferry, get off and then eventually get on a Canadian ferry.You can catch one of their ferries and go to Vancouver Island, drive the length of it to Victoria, or you can get passage to Haida Gwai, formerly Queen Charlotte Islands. Your bike will get you around fine, and kayaks etc are available to rent. Two friends and I have this trip in our sights, with full camping gear for the bike and the kayak parts.
You can return to the US eventually by continuing south on the Canadian ferry out of Victoria. Victoria has a bit of a European feel to it, and is a fun spot for a big city.

Lots of options combining ferry and motorcycle!
 

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boznarras - awesome write-up on the ferry travel! The only thing I would reinforce is making reservations, budget cuts have changed the number of sailings, even ferry staff are not sure how this year will go. A great poor man's cruise of Southeast Alaska is to get off in each community for a day or two. It can be wet, and still an awesome tour of Southeast Alaska.
 

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Yeah, boznarras....that sounds exactly like what we did. By the time you get to Prince Rupert from Haines, you're about ready to get off the ferry anyway. We did catch a rock about the size of Grade AA egg on the passenger side of the windshield near Prince George, though......a swatch of duct tape plugged the hole.:rolleyes:
 

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Another option yall might not discover ahead of time:
One of the terminals for the Alaska Ferry is Prince Rupert BC. This is an excellent road destination from the US, great roads thru pretty country, camping or lodging available. You can go up to Prince George then west to Rupert. Very pretty towns, and the BC campgrounds are spotted along the way in good order. It is also a good access point from the north, down from the Yukon in the drier interior corridors. You can start your alaska ferry trip in PR going either way.
The other thing that happens at Rupert is the Canadian Ferry comes there. It is possible to arrive via Alaska ferry, get off and then eventually get on a Canadian ferry.You can catch one of their ferries and go to Vancouver Island, drive the length of it to Victoria, or you can get passage to Haida Gwai, formerly Queen Charlotte Islands. Your bike will get you around fine, and kayaks etc are available to rent. Two friends and I have this trip in our sights, with full camping gear for the bike and the kayak parts.
You can return to the US eventually by continuing south on the Canadian ferry out of Victoria. Victoria has a bit of a European feel to it, and is a fun spot for a big city.

Lots of options combining ferry and motorcycle!
Yes, I was looking at Prince Rupert as a shorter alternative. It was confusing looking at the ferry...I now get it...2 different lines. Didn't even consider Vancouver Island... that's an interesting idea.
 

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One thing about the ferries is cost. And it can add up. It's all about the distance. The biggest expense is probably the one from Rupert. You might not realize it till you do it but it IS a LONG way. Even from Hardy (top of Van. Is. to Rupert is a LONG way. But the eye feast can make it worth it.
 
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