The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is a ferry service operated by the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the longest ferry system in the world, covering over 3,500 miles of coastline and providing service to over 30 communities. The AMHS is a vital part of Alaska’s transportation infrastructure, connecting communities that would otherwise be inaccessible by road.
The AMHS fleet consists of five mainline ferries and two shuttle ferries. The mainline ferries are large vessels that can carry up to 300 passengers and 150 vehicles. They operate on long-haul routes, connecting major communities such as Ketchikan, Juneau, and Sitka. The shuttle ferries are smaller vessels that operate on shorter routes, connecting smaller communities within each region.
The AMHS operates year-round, but the sailing schedule varies depending on the season. In the summer, the AMHS offers more frequent sailings to popular tourist destinations such as Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and Denali National Park and Preserve. In the winter, the AMHS reduces the number of sailings to some communities, but it continues to provide essential transportation service to all of the communities it serves.
History of the Alaska Marine Highway
The AMHS was established in 1947 to provide transportation to remote communities in Alaska. The first ferry service began in 1948, and the system has grown steadily since then. In 1964, the AMHS was designated as a National Scenic Byway for its scenic, cultural, and archaeological qualities. In 2005, the AMHS was named an All-American Road by the Federal Highway Administration, the highest designation awarded by the National Scenic Byway Program.
Using the Alaska Marine Highway
The AMHS is a popular way to travel in Alaska, both for residents and tourists. The ferries offer stunning views of the Alaskan coastline and mountains, and they are a great way to experience the state’s unique culture.
To book a passage on the AMHS, you can visit the Alaska Marine Highway website or call the reservations line at 1-800-642-0066. You can book a passage for yourself, your vehicle, and/or your pet.
The AMHS offers a variety of accommodations, including cabins, staterooms, and reclining seats. You can also choose to camp on deck. The ferries also have restaurants, snack bars, and lounges.
Things to do on the Alaska Marine Highway
There are many things to do on the Alaska Marine Highway. You can relax on the deck and enjoy the scenery, or you can participate in activities such as whale watching, fishing, and hiking. The ferries also offer a variety of educational programs and events.
Here are some of the most popular things to do on the Alaska Marine Highway:
- Whale watching: The AMHS sails through some of the best whale watching waters in the world. You can see humpback whales, orcas, gray whales, and minke whales from the deck of the ferry.
- Fishing: The AMHS sails through some of the best fishing waters in Alaska. You can fish for salmon, halibut, cod, and other species.
- Hiking: Many of the communities that the AMHS serves offer access to hiking trails. You can hike to waterfalls, glaciers, and mountain peaks.
- Educational programs and events: The AMHS offers a variety of educational programs and events, such as ranger talks, wildlife presentations, and cultural performances.
Tips for traveling on the Alaska Marine Highway
Here are some tips for traveling on the Alaska Marine Highway:
- Book your passage in advance: The AMHS is a popular way to travel, so it is important to book your passage in advance, especially if you are traveling during the summer months.
- Bring a camera: The AMHS offers stunning views of the Alaskan coastline and mountains. Be sure to bring a camera to capture your memories.
- Be prepared for all types of weather: The weather in Alaska can change quickly, so it is important to be prepared for all types of weather. Bring a rain jacket, sunscreen, and a hat.
- Pack for all activities: The AMHS offers a variety of activities, such as whale watching, fishing, and hiking. Be sure to pack for all of the activities that you plan to participate in.
- Relax and enjoy the journey: The AMHS is a great way to experience the beauty of Alaska. Relax on the deck and enjoy the scenery.