Can You Drive to Juneau, Alaska?

Getting to the state of capital of Juneau, Alaska can be tricky, since the city is surrounded by rough mountains on one side and the Gastineau Channel on the other.

So, can you drive to Juneau?

The short answer is no. The long answer is yes… sort of.

Confused? I’ll explain. There are no roads connecting Juneau to the rest of Alaska or to Canada. The mountains and ice fields surrounding Juneau make that impossible. So you can’t drive there on the highway.

However, you can drive to nearby port cities, and from there you can take a car ferry to get to Juneau. Therefore, it is possible to get to the city with your vehicle if you’re willing to pay to use the ferry system.

can you drive to juneau alaska

Flying to Juneau is easier and much faster than taking the ferry. But if you’re set on driving to Juneau, read on for our guide on how to get there.

We’ll tell you everything you need to know about traveling to Juneau, Alaska, including descriptions of the most common ferry routes and current ferry prices. Keep reading to prepare for your Juneau trip!

How to Get to Juneau Alaska

As noted, while Juneau is the capital of the largest U.S. state, it has no direct road access to the rest of North America.

The city and borough of Juneau sit at the base of Mount Juneau, which completely surrounds it on one side. Building roads through those rough terrains would be impossible.

This doesn’t mean you can’t make a road trip out of your journey to Juneau. You can still travel from the mainland U.S. or Canada by car until you reach the ferry terminal.

Here are all the available ways to travel to Juneau, Alaska.

By Car

If you want to get to Juneau by car, your best bet is to start by driving to Haines, Alaska. This is the location of the nearest ferry terminal to Juneau.

You can reach Haines from Anchorage with a drive of about 800 miles, or 15 hours.

Driving up from the lower 48 states? From Seattle, the drive to Haines covers about 1800 miles and 33 hours of driving. Give yourself a few days to get there safely.

You’ll likely drive on the Alaska-Canada highway (ALCAN Highway). This route connects British Columbia and Alaska. From there, you’ll continue through the Yukon territory into Alaska.

This is a well-maintained highway that stretches more than 1300 miles.

Be sure to bring all the proper documentation to drive through Canada. These include:

  • Valid U.S. passport
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Car registration documents
  • Proof of insurance

Once you reach Haines, drive onto the ferry to Juneau. See the next section for ferry info.

driving in juneau
Cars outside an airport hotel in Juneau.

By Ferry

Travelers with vehicles will have to take the ferry to reach Juneau. The Alaska Marine Highway System operates numerous ferries across Southeast Alaska.

Ferries are incredibly popular in Alaska, especially since Juneau is only accessible by ferry. For this reason, you’re unlikely to find ferry tickets the same day you’re traveling.

So it’s best to prepare by checking the Alaska Marine Highway System’s schedule.

The closest ferry terminal to Juneau is through Haines. Expect a trip with a standard-sized car from Haines to Juneau to cost at least $184 USD.

It’s actually possible to take your car on the ferry all the way from Bellingham, Washington to Juneau, Alaska, via Haines. But transporting a car from Bellingham to Juneau will cost a whopping $1,622 USD!

Keep in mind that ferry rides are long, even ones departing from Haines. A ferry ride from Haines to Juneau takes about six hours.

Note: After loading your car on the ferry, you won’t have access to the car deck while the vessel is in motion. Avoid leaving any items you’ll need in the car.

You’ll arrive at Auke Bay Ferry Terminal, which is 13 miles from the center of Juneau.

Since the voyage is extensive, here are a couple of helpful tips to guide you through getting to Juneau by ferry:

  • Arrive early on the day of departure, as ferries operate on a strict schedule.
  • Check the ferry’s itinerary to estimate your arrival time and all the stops on the way.
  • Pack warm clothes as the temperature drops on the water.
  • Bring a camera to snap pics of the scenery, including Stephens Passage.
  • Prepare your vehicle for the journey, ensuring proper tire pressure, fluids, and brakes.

By Plane

juneau alaska city view
Airplane view flying into Juneau, Alaska.

Flying the the easiest and most affordable way to visit the capital city. Juneau International Airport (JNU) is the main airport serving the city.

This isn’t a particularly busy airport, but you can often find reasonably-priced flights on Alaska Airlines and sometimes Delta.

Juneau International Airport isn’t a large terminal. So, you might need a connecting flight through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) or Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC).

See our guide to Juneau Airport and several other small airports in Alaska.

FAQs About How to Get Your Car to Juneau

Are there paved roads in Juneau itself?

Yes, absolutely. Once you get your vehicle here, you’ll be able to drive around town.

Visitors may want to check out attractions like Mendenhall Glacier, the Alaska State Museum, Mount Roberts Tramway, Eaglecrest Ski Area, and Old Glacier Highway, which runs for 40 miles north of the city.

How many vehicles are in Juneau?

Exact numbers aren’t known, but in the mid 2010s, Juneau had about 30,000 combined passenger vehicles and pickup trucks, according to the Division of Motor Vehicles.

The city has had problems with discarding junk vehicles. That’s understandable, since it’s so expensive to ship out abandoned vehicles, and the city impound lot is limited in size.

How can you get from Auke Bay Ferry terminal to downtown Juneau?

The Auke Bay Ferry Station is about 13 miles from downtown Juneau. Drive your car off the ferry, and head straight into town.

If you need an alternate travel method, there aren’t any bus routes passing through the marine station, so call a taxi or Uber.

Do ferries to Juneau, Alaska offer boarding and dining?

The ferry trip to Juneau is rather long. Luckily, you can book a cabin, which provides adequate resting and sleeping space. You’ll also have a private bathroom and shower.

If you’re on a budget, you can bring a sleeping bag and utilize the ferry’s public “recliner lounge.” You can even pitch a tent and sleep on the upper ferry deck outside!

As for dining options, the ferries have vending machines and self-service dining rooms that offer salads, sandwiches, and more.

For further reading, see our posts about the perfect Alaska road trip, budgeting for an Alaska trip, and 35 fun facts about the state.

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