inland passage

Inside Passage

The Inside Passage of the Alaska Panhandle and coastal British Columbia is a coastal route for oceangoing vessels along a series of passages between the mainland and the coastal islands. Ships using the route can avoid some of the bad weather in the open ocean, and visit the many isolated communities along the route. It is heavily travelled by cruise ships, freighters, tugs with tows, fishing craft and ships of the Alaska Marine Highway and BC Ferries systems. The name Inside Passage is also used to refer to the ocean and islands around the passage.

While the Alexander Archipelago provides some protection from the Pacific Ocean weather, much of the area experiences strong semi-diurnal tides which can create extreme differences between high and low tide, so careful piloting is necessary in many places in order to not collide with underwater obstructions.

The Inside Passage is also sometimes referred to as the Inland Passage which is in turn a reference to early explorers' quest to locate the Northwest Passage between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Alaskan portion of the Inside Passage, in the north, extends from north to south and from east to west. The area encompasses 1,000 islands, of shoreline and thousands of coves and bays. British Columbia's southern portion of the route is of similar extent, with up to of coastline, and includes the narrow, protected Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland, the Johnstone and Queen Charlotte Straits between Vancouver Island and the mainland, as well as a short stretch along the wider and more exposed Hecate Strait near the Queen Charlotte Islands, though from Fitz Hugh Sound northwards the route is sheltered via the various large islands in that area such as Princess Royal Island and Pitt Island.

The Inside Passage is a destination for kayakers and canoeists from all over the world. Each year groups and individuals paddle along the fjords from British Columbia to Glacier Bay in Alaska.


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