Category   BC Ferries: Port Hardy to Prince Rupert & Inside Passage
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Ferry discharging cargo

Port Hardy is the southern ferry terminal for B.C. Ferries to Prince Rupert, with connections to Alaska and Skidegate in Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands

Vehicles and Passengers

Sailing Time: 15 hours (May-Sept)

Information on Port Hardy
View map of Port Hardy

Information on Prince Rupert
View map of Prince Rupert

Click on the map to view a large scale map of Vancouver Island and Coastal British Columbia Ferry Routes.
Check current schedules, fares, vehicle reservations and additional information directly with BC Ferries. Reservations are required for passenger and vehicle travel between Port Hardy, Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).

Prince Rupert, British Columbia's northernmost port, is the terminus for the Alaska Marine Highway System and VIA Rail. Visitors will find many whale watching charters and fishing vessels selling their wares at the busy dock - try the crabs and fresh halibut! Head down to quaint old Cow Bay for a cappuccino, or out to the rugged beauty of the Khutzeymateen reserve. Take a tour of the historical North Pacific Cannery in Port Edward, the oldest surviving cannery on the coast - well worth a visit. Ferries from the harbour take visitors up the coast to ports on the Alaska panhandle and north, and across the Hecate Strait to the breathtaking islands of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).

Numerous cruise ships ply the waters of the 314-mile (507-km) Inside Passage en route to Alaska. BC Ferries may not rival the QE II in size, but is majestic enough to carry freight trailers, family sedans, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and touring bicycles. Passengers boarding in Port Hardy for the trip to Prince Rupert include the usual manifest of adventure-hungry world travellers you'd expect to find boarding a ferry in British Columbia, bolstered, depending on the season, by a contingent of tree planters. By the conclusion of the journey, you'll probably be on nodding, if not full-blown speaking, terms with many of your fellow passengers.

Aside from a short stretch of open ocean between Vancouver Island and Rivers Inlet, where the Central Coast archipelago begins, the route north to Prince Rupert leads through a narrow maze of channels, passes, and reaches. Snow and ice coat the peaks of the mountains, and their shoulders plunge to the tideline. So rugged is most of this coast that if you were exploring here by kayak, you'd be challenged to find a welcoming landing site. Passengers should keep their eyes peeled for a whale or dolphin in Queen Charlotte Sound. With luck you might even see a white-coated Kermode bear on Princess Royal Island's lengthy shoreline.

M/V Northern Expedition is BC Ferries' newest vessel to ply the waters of British Columbia's Inside Passage. The new 150 metre ship accommodates 130 vehicles and 600 passengers. Among its many features, the Northern Expedition will offer 55 modern staterooms (cabins are reserved in advance and usually book up fast) for customers and an expanded range of food services and other amenities to delight local residents and tourists alike.

Passengers will enjoy the spacious cafeteria, called Canoe Cafe, as well as the Vista Restaurant. The Raven's Lounge offers TV viewing while the reserved seating Aurora Lounge boasts wonderful view and reclining chairs, perfect for taking in the sweeping vistas of northern B.C. You'll find a great selection of unique treasures that capture the essence of the north coast including gifts, clothing, books, jewellery and treats for everyone at the Passages Gift shop. Together the Northern Expedition and the Northern Adventure will deliver a cruise-like travel experience on the northern routes.

Stops at Klemtu, Bella Bella (McLoughlin Bay), Denny Island (Shearwater) and Ocean Falls in early spring and late fall prolong the daylong journey, but also lead to enjoyable scenery as the ferry threads her way through the Inside Passage.

Come the end of May, when ferry service to ports on the Central Coast is shouldered by the Queen of Chilliwack (on the Discovery Coast Passage route), there are no stops between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert, with its connections to the Queen Charlotte Islands and Alaska. That's a good thing. The ferry has become so popular with summer travellers that everything needs to click in order to keep to the demanding schedule.

If you are travelling with a vehicle, reservations are a must. For more details and reservations, contact BC Ferries in Canada at (888) 223-3779 or (250) 386-3431.

Eagle Carving on the coastal road between Skidegate and Tlell

They lie on the edge of the province's collective memory like a dream scarce remembered, mythical and elusive, full of meaning and beauty, yet incomprehensible to the waking mind. Impossible not to marvel at, and revel in, this is Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, arguably one of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world.

The Haida Gwaii Islands are about 60 miles (100 km) off the mainland, and are made up of about 150 islands. Two islands, Graham to the north and Morseby to the south, comprise the majority of the land mass.

View map of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).

The ferry lands at Skidegate, dropping visitors at the midpoint of the island. Lush, primordial rainforest and virgin beaches that change with every tide or storm, this is a naturalist's paradise. All kinds of boating, kayaking, diving, hiking, exploring adventures and excellent fresh and saltwater fishing await the curious.

From the Skidegate terminal on Graham Island, another 20-minute ferry ride takes you to Alliford Bay on Moresby Island, where the spectacular Gwaii Haanas, or "place of wonder," truly lives up to its ancient name. Alliford Bay is 15 km (9 miles) south of Sandspit and the airport.

Haida culture and history are rich here. From the past, visit old villages and sacred sites and, from the present, tour museums and galleries showcasing the works of internationally renowned native artists.

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