Crossing the Willamette River–by Ferry!

It’s old news that there are twenty million bridges that will get you across the Willamette River in Oregon. Heck, there are ten–almost eleven, once the new MAX bridge is finished–alone within a few miles of downtown Portland.

But perhaps lesser known are the ferries that will shuttle you across. Yes, there are still three different and awesome ferries that will take you across the water: The Canby Ferry in Canby, the Wheatland Ferry north of Salem, and the Buena Vista Ferry south of Salem.

buena vista ferry(the Buena Vista ferry, looking eastward)

The Canby Ferry is an excellent way to get to Canby or back toward Portland without having to go through Oregon City and the wending and weaving to avoid 99E, though at $2 for pedestrians and people on bikes, it’s the most expensive of the three. (Still an excellent deal:)

Both the Buena Vista and Wheatland ferries are free for pedestrians and only $1 for bicyclists.

All three are excellent adventures. Though after finally taking the Buena Vista Ferry this weekend on a ride back from Corvallis, I have to say that one’s my favorite. Probably only because it lasts the longest. :)

I’m not sure, honestly, why these ferries still exist, who uses them, or why these three in particular were never replaced by bridges like the other Willamette River ferries. What I do know is that there’s something so wonderfully quaint about taking any one of these across the river, a whisper of bygone eras (not to mention a chance to cross a river and actually sightsee without having to worry about swerving into traffic). And they’re all accessible via a loooong ride from Portland:) Totally worth the trip.


  1. Kathleen McKinney

    The Canby ferry is $4 one way for a car. Wheatland ferry is $2. Only difference that I could see is the Canby ferry issues a cardboard ticket.
    I often take the Wheatland ferry. If I go from McMinnville to Salem, I have to go down to the Marion street bridge to get to anyplace in Salem. If I’m going to north Salem or Keizer, it is MUCH faster to take the Wheatland ferry. A good number of cars use it.

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