Day Trips: Texas Ferry Rides: Texas Ferries Are the Best Free Rides in the State – Columns

Port Aransas Ferry (Photos by Gerald E. McLeod)

The Best Free Rides in Texas are the three state ferries: the Lynchburg Ferry, the Port Aransas Ferry and the Galveston-Bolivar Ferry.

the Lynchburg Ferry is the oldest free ferry operating in Texas. Dating back to pre-Republic of Texas, it was launched in 1822 just below the confluence of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou, now the Houston Ship Canal. The five-minute ride runs from Independence Parkway one mile south of I-10 to San Jacinto Battlefield State Historic Site.

Lynchburg Ferry

Operated by Harris County from 1888 to 2020, the two-boat system is now operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority. Most traffic moved downstream to the Fred Hartman Bridge. The ferry runs Monday through Friday from 4:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

the Port Aransas Ferry crossing the Corpus Christi Canal began in 1911 at the end of a flatbed wagon system that brought vehicles from the Aransas Pass to the landing stage where the six-car “Mitzi” awaited. A toll road eventually replaced the train, and in 1968 the state highway department took over operation and removed the tolls.

The Port Aransas ferry operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Texas Department of Transportation operates six boats that can carry up to 20 cars on a quarter-mile, 10-minute trip.

Ferry Galveston-Bolivar

the Ferry Galveston-Bolivar began in 1930 to drive across the bay from town to Bolivar Peninsula. During the 18-minute, 2.7-mile mini-cruise, passengers watch ocean-going vessels enter Galveston Harbor. Along the way are the scuttled remains of the SS Selmaa World War I tanker made of reinforced concrete when steel was in short supply.

TxDOT operates the free ferry system 24 hours a day, weather permitting.


1,602nd in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a weekly travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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