Welcome Aboard – Setting Sail with Inland Ferries

inland ferry
Needles Cable Ferry

When ferries and the words “British Columbia” come up in conversation, you’re probably thinking of the commercial company, B.C. Ferry Services Inc. that services coastal communities.  But did you know, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also manages 14 inland ferry routes?

These routes cross interior lakes and rivers throughout the province. The ferries are operated by hard-working private contractors who make sure travellers get from “Point A” to “Point B” safely. Ever thought about taking one or wanted to know more about these inland routes? Here’s a little information to get you started:

  1. Adams Lake Cable Ferry sails across Adams Lake, north of Highway 1 between Chase and Sorrento
  2. Arrow Park Cable Ferry sails across the junction of Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes at Arrow Park
  3. Barnston Island Ferry sails across Parsons Channel on the south side of the Fraser River between Barnston Island (north bank of channel) and Port Kells (south bank of channel)
  4. Big Bar Reaction Ferry sails across the Fraser River, west of Clinton
  5. Francois Lake Ferry sails across Francois Lake from the community of Francois Lake to Southbank
  6. Glade Cable Ferry sails across the Kootenay River from Highway 3A (west of Nelson) to Glade
  7. Harrop Cable Ferry sails across the Kootenay River to the communities of Harrop and Procter
  8. Kootenay Lake Ferry sails across Kootenay Lake between Balfour and Kootenay Bay

    Osprey 2000 crossing Kootenay Lake
  9. Little Fort Reaction Ferry sails across the North Thompson River on Highway 5
  10. Lytton Reaction Ferry sails across the Fraser River, north of Lytton
  11. McLure Reaction Ferry sails across the North Thompson River, north of Kamloops off Highway 5
  12. Needles Cable Ferry sails across the Lower Arrow Lake between Fauquier and Needles

    MV Columbia, Upper Arrow Lake, 2014
    MV Columbia, Upper Arrow Lake
  13. Upper Arrow Lakes Ferry – Galena Bay & Shelter Bay sails across Upper Arrow Lake between Shelter Bay and Galena Bay.

    Usk Reaction Ferry
  14. Usk Reaction Ferry sails across the Skeena River between South and North Usk.

Altogether, our freshwater fleet consists of five powered cable ferries, five reaction ferries (attached to cables and pulled across by the river’s flow) and five free-running ferries (no cables required). We also have two aerial tramways (for winter use), tugboats and barges. Annually, the system transports more than 2.3 million passengers and more than 1.5 million vehicles. Carrying that many passengers and vehicles equals a lot of ferry trips, and our ferry operators are here to make sure everyone travels safely to their desired destination on the other side.

If you’d like to learn more, visit our Inland Ferries page, which has a lot of great information, including schedules and a series of useful maps to help you plan which ferries you want to take on your next trip.

Page 1 of 29 comments on “Welcome Aboard – Setting Sail with Inland Ferries”

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  1. Good day I understand at one time on the shelter bay ferry side there was food truck services. I’m interested in conducting this service once more. Please direct myself with the information required for this service : permits, regulations requirements.

    Thank you

    Reply
  2. Hi,

    BCF publishes numbers of vehicle and passengers, as well as the various costs broken down into the individual routes. Can you supply the same information for the interior ferries, at least for more heavily used and more expensive routes?

    Reply
  3. Hello,

    My fiance and I, along with our dogs, are planing on completing our first excursion into British Columbia this coming summer. I have not been able to find any conclusive information on whether our dogs can travel on the inland ferries. We are specifically planning on using the Ferry on Upper Arrow Lake. Would you be able to assist?

    Thank you,

    Reply
    • Hello Heather – yes, dogs are allowed on inland ferries. They do need to be on a leash on deck or in a vehicle for the crossing. Hope that this helps! Have a great trip in BC and don’t forget to check DriveBC.ca – our traveller information website.

      Reply
    • Hi Emmanuel,

      Thanks for your question about ridesharing or carpooling, to travel from Revelstoke to Shelter Bay.

      We don’t offer these kinds of services. You could ask Tourism Revelstoke at 250.837.5345 or Toll Free 1.800.487.1493; email: info@revelstokechamber.com if there is a local shuttle bus or if they have any other suggestions. Another option would be to check or post on a community page — eg. Craigslist or Kijiji for Revelstoke.

      Reply
  4. We were on the osprey ferry on Kootenay Lake you don’t want to eat up in passengers section the windows were so dirty with spider webs you didn’t even want to look out or set down and eat anything disscusting very bad first impression obout bc inland ferry services and I always like going on the ferry and when I have company we like to take them on the ferry very beautiful scenery if you can see out the windows

    Reply
    • Hi Bonnie,

      Thanks for letting us know that cleanliness on the Osprey 2000 was less than desirable.

      I am forwarding your comments to our folks who manage the ferry contracts, so they can look into your concern with that vessel.

      Reply
  5. Is there any restrictions regarding RVs on the ferry? We were looking at going across the shelter bay ferry with a 44ft toy hauler.

    Reply
    • Hi Jenn,

      Good question! We suggest you connect directly with the folks at the Shelter Bay Ferry Terminal for a decisive answer on this one. The website says the ferry has a vehicle capacity of 80 vehicles. Here is the terminal phone number: 250 265-2105

      Reply
  6. We would like a suggested route from Revelstoke to Wasa via Shelter lake Ferry to Kootnay bay ferry.
    We intend going between August 6th to Aug 12th. We will be travelling by 29ft Motorhome.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi John,

      Thanks for connecting with us here.

      BC Highway 23 runs south of Revelstoke to Shelter Bay (Upper Arrow Lakes Inland Ferry)and then take BC Highway 31 to the Balfour Ferry terminal, cross over to Crawford Bay and continue on BC Highway 3A to Creston. From Creston, you would need to take BC Highway 3 for a short trip until you reach BC Highway 95. Follow 95 north to Wasa. An alternate route, which would save time would be to travel along BC Highway 1 past Revelstoke to Golden and then follow BC Highway 95 south to Wasa.

      Reply
      • Hi again Shelly,

        We have gathered some more information for you.

        Both services are important elements of B.C.’s transportation network but they are very different ferry systems. The annual cost of inland ferry service through 2014/15 was roughly $29 million, while the coastal ferry service exceeded $750 million. The provincial taxpayer
        contribution per vehicle is comparable between the two systems. For example, in 2014/15, the contribution per vehicle for the coastal ferry system was around $23; for the inland ferries it was $21 per vehicle. The high cost of operating the coastal ferry system (more ferries, specialized salt water maintenance etc.) means that the coastal ferries charge users for the cost above and beyond the taxpayer contribution, while the inland ferries remain free.

        Hope that this helps!

        Reply
  7. Does Upper Arrow Lakes Ferry run regularly in the winter, any delays that are regularly experienced or can I expect to make Nelson-Revelstoke itin via this ferry in March?

    Reply
  8. Recently crossed on the Adams Lake cable ferry, found out the hard way that commercial vehicles are now restricted to 5000kg GVW on this ferry until it is replaced. I may well have been the last 7-ton Moving Van to go to Adams Lake ….

    Reply