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Kootenay Lake Ferry

Balfour/Kootenay Ferry offers ferry services between Balfour Terminal (west side), located 35 km from Nelson, BC on Highway 3A and Kootenay Bay Terminal (east side), located 70 km from Creston, BC on Highway 3A.

The distance of the sailing is 8.8 km and the crossing time is about 35 minutes plus 15 minutes of loading/unloading.

Health Regulations do not permit smoking anywhere on the vessel.

There is a coffee bar on board MV Osprey.

The Balfour terminal is serviced by various food outlets, bakery, a pub, fishing tackle store with fuel pumps.

The Kootenay Bay terminal has one food outlet.

There are public washrooms and picnic tables at both terminals.


MV Osprey:  80 passenger cars, 250 passengers

MV Balfour: 28 passenger cars, 150 passengers

Extra Sailing Service

During periods of high traffic volume or overload conditions, additional service may be provided.

Summer Traffic – Peak Periods

Cars and trucks are loaded on a first-come first-served basis and for most of the year you will usually get the next ferry after you arrive.  However, on busy holiday weekends and during the peak summer season, the vehicle traffic increases dramatically and ferry sailing waits are not uncommon.

When approaching the terminals look for ferry line ups along the highway and position yourself accordingly.

During the peak summer season, the terminals have attendants in high-visibility vests which will direct you into specific lanes for boarding.

Winter Pass Closures

When Kootenay Pass closes due to avalanche conditions, the MV Osprey will run 24 hours until the pass re-opens.  Check with the Ministry of Highway and Transportation Road Information Website for updates.

Dangerous Goods

Owing to the alternate route available, dangerous goods are not permitted aboard this sailing.

Safety regulations

Safety regulations prohibit the transport of gasoline and propane gas in excess of the following quantities:


A – Propane

B – Gasoline

Vehicle Type # of Cylinders


# of Cylinders Max
Recreational Vehicles 2 65L 1 25L
Towed Trailers/Toy




25L each
Motor Boats


2 25L each

All Other Vehicles

1 25L 1 25L
Portable BBQ 1 25L




Vehicle Restrictions and Cautions

Drivers must be aware of their vehicle height, width and under-carriage limitations and clearances.

The angle of the ferry ramp with the shore ramp may cause difficulties for low clearance vehicles and over-length vehicles such as fifth wheels and motor-homes or long trailers.  Western Pacific Marine Ltd. assumes no risk for the same.

The following will be denied passage:

Vehicles without valid license plates

Vehicles with any excessive oil leaks or with any gasoline leaks

Vehicles cannot shut down the engines for the crossing.

Any unlicensed vehicles (e.g. dirt bikes and ATV’s) must be transported on a licensed trailer or other licensed transport vehicle.

RV/Trailers – road legal are accepted for passage.


There is no priority boarding for motorcycles.

Pedestrians and Cyclists

Foot passengers can walk on at any sailing, and some people leave their cars at the terminal and just enjoy the lake cruise.

Foot passengers and cyclists are directed to wait in the appropriate and signed walk-on pre-boarding areas.  Bicycles must be walked on/off the ferry.  Please be mindful of the vehicle traffic embarking and disembarking the ferry.

Children and Safety

Children must be accompanied by parents at all times.  Roller blades, skateboards and other forms of self propelled devices are not permitted to operate on the ramps to/from the ferry.

Persons with Disabilities

If you require placement close to the washroom or require extra room to exit your car, please stop your car when you board the vessel and request assistance from the deck officer in charge of boarding.  You will have to display a valid “Person with Disability” card and the deck officer will accommodate you as best he/she can.


Dogs are permitted on vehicle deck and must be on a leash at all times.

Dogs are not permitted in passenger compartments.


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