Washington State Ferries: All important details to
navigating the Pacific Northwest on the Wa State ferry system - including fares, schedule,
reservations, pet info, tips.
The Washington State Ferry (WSF) is a very fun way to traverse the Puget Sound area. Every ferry comes equipped with restrooms, snack bars, and places inside and out to relax and enjoy the view. You can take your car - and even your dog - with you.
Why take the ferry in the Pacific Northwest?
Well, first, the ferry is sometimes the only way to get where you need to go. Other times, the ferry is the most efficient way to arrive at your destination. Taking the ferry might trim an hour or more from your travels.
And how else are you going to see views like this...?
Tips for traveling on the Washington State Ferries
Route times change with the seasons. Ferries sail more frequently during busy long summer days, and make fewer crossings during short winter days.
Secure reservations for the routes between Port Townsend/Coupeville and Anacortes/San Juan Islands.
High winds very occasionally result in sailing cancelations until the wind dies down sufficiently. The Port Townsend/Coupeville ferry is the route most likely to be affected, though cancelations may not be limited to this one route. Thankfully shut-downs are very rare, but they DO happen every few years. The Washington State Ferry posts travel alerts here.
Your pet CAN sail with you on the ferry, with restrictions. Pets in kennels are allowed in the interior passenger areas. Pets, restrained, are allowed on the car deck with owner present; and in outside area shelters and decks on leash with owner present. Leashed pets and their owners are allowed to move through interior passenger areas on their way to outside deck areas. Leashes or kennels are always required. Click here for all the details.
Fares also vary drastically according to how many people are traveling, their ages, vehicle particulars, route, and direction. Generally, fares run between several dollars for a walk-on passenger up to twenty dollars; vehicles run from less than fifteen up to several hundred dollars. (See the Fares link above, or download the PDF version: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/pdf/CurrentFares.pdf. This is the Current Fares list available in every ferry terminal.)
Washington State Ferries Transit and Wait Times
Ferry transit times are consistently 30 - 40 minutes between points in and around Seattle to their destination points.
Ferry wait times are most likely to affect those boarding in vehicles. Walk-on passengers can board the next ferry, whereas vehicles travel on a first-come, first-served basis. Summer and weekends are highly traveled, especially if it's summer AND a weekend. Wait times can vary from, "It's your lucky day," to "Come back tomorrow - early!" Meaning, a 15 minute wait, or a wait time of several hours or more.
If you pull up late at night and encounter a ferry wait line that is still very long, you may be spending the night in your car, as the ferries stop running for the night.
Sometimes you can "drive around," as we say, depending on where you are headed. If you are traveling from the Seattle area to the Kitsap or Olympic Peninsulas, for example, you can drive down to Tacoma, take the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and then make your way to your destination.
DO experience a Pacific Northwest ferry ride, if possible!
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