How to Take the Ferry from Whittier to Valdez, Alaska: Practical Guide

If you are looking for information on how to take a ferry from Whittier to Valdez, you are in the right place. After having done a lot of research prior to my road trip to Alaska, and taking the ferry during my trip, I am here now to share all you need to know.

Catching the ferry from Whittier to Valdez has a ton of benefits! Not only will it save you hours of driving, but you’ll get to admire the epic scenery along the way. It’s also a great opportunity for wildlife watching!

Dock to dock from Whittier to Valdez is a cruise of around six hours, and you can make a reservation for your car too. This means you can continue your epic road trip to visit the best of Alaska once you reach Valdez. However, just make sure that you book your tickets in advance! This route gets extremely busy during the summer months so keep an eye on the timetable and prices.

In this article, you will find all you need to know about travel from Whittier to Valdez by ferry, plus all the logistics to help you to book your trip. Here you will also find an overview if you decide to travel by car from Whittier to Valdez. So, without any further ado, dive into this article.

If you are planning an Alaska Itinerary, these are a must-read:

ferry from Valdez to Whittier

Read More: What to Pack for Alaska + FREE Printable List

Quick Facts from Whittier to Valdez by Ferry

This journey is considered to be one of the top 1,000 ferry crossings in the world due to public interest!
The ferry from Whittier to Valdez takes around 6 hours, although this will change based on the weather conditions and season. The Prince William Sound tends to be calm, but the weather can happen.
The route between Whittier to Valdez only operates three times a week in the summer and less in the shoulder season, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when planning your trip.
This ferry gets extremely busy during the summer months so you’ll want to book in advance – especially if you have a car!
The distance from Whittier to Valdez by ferry is around 100 nautical miles so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the views.
You might get to spot a ton of wildlife on this ferry crossing but more on that later…
It’s transportation, not a tour. But that being said, it’s very scenic transportation. You leave your vehicle on the car deck and go up top. You can sit in the lounge inside or stand out on the deck.
ferry from whittier to valdez

How to Go from Whittier to Valdez by Ferry

The journey from Whittier to Valdez by ferry is a wonderful one! The ferry route is part of the Alaska Marine Highway which takes you to some of the more hard-to-reach areas in the state. It travels along some of Alaska’s most beautiful coastlines, so as you can imagine the views are spectacular.

There are many interesting facts about Alaska, and one of them is that Valdez is known as a Little Switzerland, with 5 glaciers and surrounded by the Chugach mountains, home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Alaska and some amazing hiking trails. Valdez offers plenty of things to do and I really recommend adding it to your Alaska bucket list destination.

So, if you are planning to get to Valdez by ferry, first of all, you’ll want to book your ferry ticket in advance. This is especially the case if you’re traveling through Alaska during the summer and you’ve got a car as ferry reservations fill up quickly! You can find information about ferry schedules on the Alaska Marine Highway website!

What to Expect from the Ferry Trip

When you arrive at the port, you will need to check in at the Ferry administration office to pick up your tickets and check your vehicle in if you are bringing it. Vehicle passengers can start boarding the ferry as soon as they have their tickets.

If you are bringing your vehicle on the ferry, the driver will join the queue for vehicles. In the queue, someone will check your pass and your vehicle for safety (e.g. if you are in an RV, they will make sure propane is turned off, etc.).

Once they start loading vehicles, the driver will follow the procession onto the ferry and be guided to a parking spot. Once parked, the driver can secure the vehicle and head up to meet the rest of the party on the upper decks.

From Whittier harbor, you’ll cruise through the Passage Canal out into the Prince William Sound towards the Valdez Arm. This canal offers striking views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers so take some time to enjoy the views as you head out into the Sound.

During your journey on the Whittier to Valdez ferry, you’ve got plenty of time to dine in the onboard cafe (they have a delicious beef stew), admire the views from the observation deck, and relax in the outdoor seating areas (although you’ll need some layers).

Read More: Things to do in Valdez, Alaska + Complete City Guide

Logistics for Whittier to Valdez Ferry

Time from Whittier to Valdez Ferry

The ferry takes around 6 hours to travel from Whittier to Valdez. However, this will depend on the current weather conditions, the season, and the other ships that are currently on this route. Don’t worry though as you’ll be kept up to date with any changes to the schedule.

This ferry runs less frequently during fall and winter time, so it can be difficult to find a ferry that matches your schedule. Check here for the ferry schedule. This is very important if you are creating your own itinerary and don’t have much flexibility. You will want to make sure you know which day the ferry runs, and if there is space for you and your vehicle.

Price from Whittier to Valdez Ferry

The price may vary depending on the season, but generally, you’re looking at around $63 per person without a vehicle. If you’re traveling as a couple and you’ve got a vehicle, then expect to pay around $250 for the journey.

Discounts are available for children and senior citizens so, of course, the price will vary depending on your group size and age!

Crossing the Whittier tunnel

If you are traveling from Valdez to Whittier or Whittier to Valdez, you will go through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel – the longest highway tunnel in North America at 2.5 miles, and the first tunnel to be designed for -40 Fahrenheit temperature and 150 mph winds! Pretty impressive, right?

The Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a one-lane tunnel and as you can guess, it has to be shared by cars and trains going in both directions.

With that said, I recommend arriving at least 10-15 minutes in advance, before the tunnel opening, and waiting in line while you soak in the scenery. The last thing you want to do is miss your Ferry because you missed the schedule for the tunnel.

You will have to pay a one-way toll for a private vehicle that starts at $13. This is the only way to get to the Whittier port.

It takes around 20-30 minutes to get through the tunnel, even though the drive is only 10 minutes, considering that the opening of the tunnel can be delayed, or the line can be pretty long. It has different scheduled opening hours for summer and winter, click here for the tunnel schedule and plan accordingly.

ferry from whittier to valdez

Facilities on the Ferry from Whittier to Valdez

Like other ferries along the Alaska Marine Highway, you’ll benefit from plenty of facilities along this route. However, just keep in mind that nine ferries run along the Alaska Marine Highway. Naturally, the facilities will differ depending on which ferry you’re traveling on!

Roomy comfortable cabins are available for rent, or camping areas are available for those who choose to camp on board. You will find cafeterias, theatre areas, and playrooms available on all ships. Cafeterias are available to serve beer and wine, and some ships even offer a restaurant.

ferry from whittier to valdez

Keep an Eye on the Wildlife

One of the best reasons to catch the ferry between Whittier to Valdez is the chance to spot wildlife!  The area is a premier ecosystem with diverse wildlife habitats. 

This ferry route will take you through Prince William Sound which is one of the best places in Alaska for wildlife watching.

During your time on the ferry, you’ve got a chance of spotting bald eagles, humpback whales, minke whales, orcas, and sea otters among others. On the surrounding cliffs, mountain goats, and black and brown bears contribute to making the area a photographer’s and wildlife lovers’ dream.

So, make sure you spend some time out on the observation decks and have your camera ready!

ferry from whittier to valdez

Car vs. Ferry from Whittier to Valdez

Although this guide is dedicated to catching the ferry from Whittier to Valdez, you can always drive if you wish!

The journey is around 360 miles and will take you between 6.5-7.5 hours on average. However, if you decide to make some stops along the way then add on an extra hour or two! Also, check the weather conditions as you will be driving through high mountain passes that typically have extreme weather.

From Whittier, or from the Seward Highway you will pass through Anchorage and follow Glenn Highway (AK-1) over the mountains. This road follows the Matanuska River so it’s incredibly scenic. You will then turn south on Richardson Highway (AK-4) passing over the mountains until you reach Valdez.

Catching the ferry between the two locations is very convenient and you’ll get to look out for wildlife along the way. It also cuts out a long day of driving, but for many, that is part of the fun!

If you decide to drive between Whittier and Valdez, you won’t be restricted to the ferry crossing times. You’ll also be able to visit some of the incredible spots along Alaska’s famous highways, so it allows you more flexibility with your trip.

ferry from whittier to valdez

Ferry from Whittier to Valdez Conclusion

One of the facts is that Alaska is known as a very vast and remote State, but with good logistics and planning, it is possible to travel around to catch the main bucket list items!

As you can see catching the ferry from Whittier to Valdez has a ton of benefits! Not only will it save you hours of driving, but you’ll get to relax and admire the epic scenery along the way. It’s also a great opportunity for wildlife watching too! And depending on weather conditions in the mountains, the Ferry may be a safer option than driving.

Hopefully, this guide has given you all the information you need to know for traveling between Whittier and Valdez by ferry! You’re going to have an incredible time in this beautiful state so be prepared for the adventure of a lifetime!

If you’re planning a trip to Alaska then here are some other guides that you may find useful:

ferry from whittier to valdez in Alaska

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