The Kootenay Lake Ferry operates between Balfour, on the west side of the lake, and Kootenay Bay, on the east side. It is the longest free ferry in the world. Two ferry vessels are used, one of them the MV Osprey 2000 and the other being the MV Balfour.
The ferry operates under contract to the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and is free of tolls. A single vessel operates throughout the year, with 10 departures from Balfour between 6:30am and 9:40pm, returning from Kootenay Bay between 7:10am and 10:20pm. The second vessel operates in summer only, providing an extra 5 crossings in either direction. The crossing is about 8km (5.0 mi) in length, and takes 35 minutes.
The Osprey 2000 normally operates the main service, and carries a maximum of 80 vehicles and 250 passengers. The smaller Balfour usually provides the additional summer sailings, and carries up to 28 vehicles and 150 passengers.
The Kootenay Bay Ferry is one of 3 South Central BC ferrys you may ride, the other 2 being the Needles Ferry between Needles and Fauquier across Lower Arrow Lake at #6 Hwy and the Glade cable ferry. A free-on-demand cable ferry that services Glade across the Columbia River. For those used to the coastal ferrys, it will be odd not to see muscles and barnacles covering the dock pylons.