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.
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...?
But, there are several WSF routes that are extremely helpful for navigating to and from the Olympic Peninsula.
If you're coming to Port Angeles from the Seattle, WA, area, the most efficient way to get here is to cross the Puget Sound by ferry on one of these three routes:
We'll list all the ferry routes below, but these three are the ferries I've ridden the most in order to travel from Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula to the greater Seattle area on the mainland, and then back again.
NOTE: Foot passengers traveling from the Olympic Peninsula to Seattle travel for free; toll is required for the return trip. Motor vehicles pay both ways.
If you choose not to use a ferry to travel to Port Angeles from Seattle, your only other option for getting to Port Angeles by car is to drive south through Tacoma, then take the Tacoma Narrows bridge (no toll if headed west) onto the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas.
(Travelers headed to Port Angeles from Olympia WA and points south won't need a ferry; they can take Hwy 101 west from Olympia along the west shore of the Hood Canal all the way to Port Angeles.)
(Reservations are possible for only a few routes - the Reservations link is here and below)
Ferries run between these locations:
Also available at the WSF Schedule link:
Make a Reservation: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/TakeaFerry/
Reservations are HIGHLY recommended for these routes:
Reservations are for vehicles only. Walk-on passengers never need a reservation.
Other routes other than the above are operated with larger ferries; reservations are not available. (Nevertheless, traveling during high traffic times may result in wait times of an hour or more.)
Take a peak at the ferry wait area of your choice in real time...
Ferry transit times are typically 30 - 40 minutes (occasionally longer) 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 (though this is rarely if ever required; there is almost never wait times for walk-on passengers), 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 ride on the Washington State Ferries, if possible!
Washington State Ferries are a very typically Northwestern
mode of transportation throughout the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands. Ferries
are necessary, but they are also very enjoyable!
The perspective of the surrounding land as viewed from the water is special, and it's a fairly cheap way to snag a boat ride through some of the best boating waters in the U.S.
The Washington State Ferry (WSF) System is a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation.