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How Long Is The Dorena Hickman Ferry Ride


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Raeann Koss



The Dorena-Hickman Ferry is a unique transportation experience that offers locals and visitors the opportunity to cross the majestic Mississippi River between the towns of Dorena, Missouri, and Hickman, Kentucky. As one of the few remaining operating river ferries in the region, it holds a special place in the hearts of residents and serves as a cherished connection between these two vibrant communities. While the primary purpose of the ferry is to provide a convenient mode of transportation, it also offers a glimpse into the rich history and stunning natural beauty that the Oregon area has to offer.


Whether you are a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a scenic drive, the Dorena-Hickman Ferry is an experience not to be missed. This article will guide you through the fascinating history of the ferry, provide information on its schedule and operating hours, highlight the route and duration of the ride, showcase the scenic views and points of interest along the way, and offer some valuable tips for making the most of your Dorena-Hickman Ferry ride.


History of the Dorena-Hickman Ferry

The history of the Dorena-Hickman Ferry dates back to the early 19th century when the need for a river crossing became apparent for the growing communities on either side of the Mississippi River. Originally, the crossing was facilitated by small boats, canoes, and later on, a steam-powered ferry. However, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that a more reliable and efficient ferry service was established.


In 1919, the first official ferry service was launched by Captain O.K. Hicks, hence the name “Hickman.” The ferry initially operated using wooden barges pulled by a cable system. Over the years, the ferryboats underwent several improvements and upgrades to enhance safety and accommodate the increasing number of vehicles and passengers.


The Dorena-Hickman Ferry has played a significant role in the local economy and transportation infrastructure. It has been a vital link for farmers, commuters, and tourists, connecting the two states and streamlining trade and commerce. The ferry has witnessed many changes and developments throughout its history, including the transition from manual operation to modern hydraulic systems.


Visiting the Dorena-Hickman Ferry allows you to step back in time and appreciate the historical significance of this mode of transportation. The operators are proud custodians of this legacy and are always ready to share stories and anecdotes about the ferry’s past.


Today, the Dorena-Hickman Ferry stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of the Oregon area and the importance of preserving our heritage. It continues to serve as a symbol of community resilience, connecting people and fostering the spirit of togetherness even in the modern era of bridges and highways.


Ferry Schedule and Operating Hours

The Dorena-Hickman Ferry operates year-round, providing a convenient and reliable means of transportation across the Mississippi River. While the schedule may vary slightly depending on the season, the ferry remains a dependable service for both locals and tourists alike.


The ferry operates from early morning to late evening, ensuring that commuters, visitors, and motorists can make use of this unique mode of transportation at their convenience. It is important to note that the ferry operates on Central Standard Time (CST) in the winter months and Central Daylight Time (CDT) during daylight saving time.


During the summer season, typically from April to October, the ferry operates from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm, with crossings departing every 15-30 minutes. The extended operating hours during this time are particularly ideal for those looking to explore the area, enjoy the stunning views, or simply make a leisurely river crossing.


In the winter season, from November to March, the ferry operates from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, offering a reduced but still convenient schedule for commuters and visitors. It is advisable to check the official website or contact the ferry operators for the most up-to-date schedule, as it may be subject to change due to weather conditions or maintenance.


As the ferry operates on a first-come, first-served basis, it is recommended to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to departure to ensure a spot on the ferry. During peak travel times, such as holidays or weekends, there may be a slightly longer wait, but the operators efficiently manage the ferry to accommodate as many vehicles as possible.


Whether you are planning a quick commute or a scenic drive through Oregon, the Dorena-Hickman Ferry provides a reliable and memorable crossing experience. Rest assured that even if you miss a scheduled departure, another ferry will be along shortly to carry you across the majestic Mississippi River.


Ferry Route and Duration

The Dorena-Hickman Ferry follows a picturesque route that takes passengers across the mighty Mississippi River, providing a unique perspective of the surrounding natural beauty. The journey begins in Dorena, Missouri, and concludes in Hickman, Kentucky, covering a distance of approximately one mile.


As you board the ferry, you will have the opportunity to witness the skilled ferry operators maneuvering the vessel and preparing for the river crossing. Once the ferry sets sail, you can relax and enjoy the breathtaking views of the river and its surroundings.


The average duration of the ferry ride is around 10-15 minutes, depending on river conditions and vessel traffic. This shorter duration makes it an ideal choice for commuters and offers a refreshing break for travelers looking to soak in the natural splendor of Oregon.


During the crossing, you can marvel at the expanse of the Mississippi River and the impressive steel truss bridge that spans the water, connecting Kentucky to Missouri. The ferry route also provides an opportunity to witness the diverse wildlife and thriving ecosystems that thrive along the riverbanks.


It’s worth noting that the ferry ride can be affected by various factors, such as weather conditions and the river’s water level. During periods of high water or inclement weather, the ferry may temporarily suspend operations to ensure the safety of all passengers. Therefore, it is advisable to check the official website or call the ferry operators in advance, especially during periods of unpredictable weather.


Overall, the Dorena-Hickman Ferry offers a pleasant and efficient river crossing, allowing you to embrace the charm of the Mississippi River while saving time compared to alternative routes. Whether you are commuting between the two towns or simply exploring the area, the ferry ride provides a memorable experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Scenic Views and Points of Interest

The Dorena-Hickman Ferry offers not only a means of transportation but also a unique opportunity to witness the stunning natural beauty and points of interest along the Mississippi River in Oregon. As you embark on your ferry ride, be prepared to be captivated by the picturesque landscapes and noteworthy sights.


One of the most striking features of the ferry ride is the panoramic view of the mighty Mississippi River itself. The wide expanse of water, flowing gently or swiftly depending on the river’s current, creates a serene and awe-inspiring atmosphere. The continuous movement of the river and the interplay of light and shadow on its surface make for an ever-changing visual spectacle.


As you approach the middle of the river, you will have the opportunity to see the impressive steel truss bridge that spans the Mississippi River. Known as the Dorena-Hickman Bridge, it serves as a vital transportation link between Kentucky and Missouri.


The riverbanks surrounding the ferry route are teeming with abundant wildlife and flourishing ecosystems. Keep an eye out for graceful waterfowl, majestic bald eagles, and various species of fish and mammals that call this area home. The ferry ride provides a unique vantage point to observe and appreciate the diverse flora and fauna that thrive along the riverbanks.


For history enthusiasts, the area around the ferry offers a glimpse into the past. Take the opportunity to explore nearby historical sites and landmarks, such as the nearby Columbus-Belmont State Park, which played a significant role during the Civil War. Here, you can immerse yourself in the history of the region and learn about the strategic importance of the river during this turbulent period in American history.


As you reach the end of the ferry ride in Hickman, Kentucky, take a moment to explore the charming town. Hickman is known for its small-town charm, friendly locals, and historic buildings. Visit the local shops, cafes, and restaurants to experience the warm hospitality of the community and savor some delicious southern cuisine.


Whether you are a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking a unique experience, the Dorena-Hickman Ferry provides a front-row seat to the captivating natural beauty and points of interest along the Mississippi River in Oregon. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the scenic views and create lasting memories of your ferry ride.


Tips for the Dorena-Hickman Ferry Ride

Planning to take a ride on the Dorena-Hickman Ferry? Here are some helpful tips to ensure that you have a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  • Check the Schedule: Before heading to the ferry, make sure to check the schedule, especially during winter months and holidays. Being aware of the ferry’s operating hours will help you plan your journey accordingly.
  • Arrive Early: To secure a spot on the ferry, it is advisable to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time. This will help you avoid any potential wait and ensure a timely crossing.
  • Be Prepared for Wait Times: During peak travel times or weekends, there may be a slight wait to board the ferry. Use this time to relax, soak in the surroundings, or strike up a conversation with fellow passengers.
  • Observe Safety Guidelines: Follow the instructions provided by the ferry operators and adhere to safety guidelines. This includes keeping your vehicle secure during the crossing and following any designated pedestrian areas.
  • Enjoy the Scenery: As you embark on the ferry, take the opportunity to enjoy the scenic views and stunning landscapes of the Mississippi River. Don’t forget your camera to capture the picturesque moments along the way.
  • Respect the Wildlife: The riverbanks are home to various wildlife species, so make sure to observe from a distance and avoid disturbing their natural habitats. Remember, safety and conservation go hand in hand.
  • Explore the Surrounding Area: Once you reach your destination, take some time to explore the nearby attractions, historical sites, and local establishments. It’s a great way to fully immerse yourself in the culture and charm of the Oregon area.
  • Come Prepared: Depending on the time of year, it’s always a good idea to come prepared with essentials such as sunscreen, water, snacks, and weather-appropriate clothing. Being well-prepared ensures a comfortable journey.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your Dorena-Hickman Ferry ride. Enjoy the unique experience, soak in the natural beauty, and create lasting memories as you cross the majestic Mississippi River.



The Dorena-Hickman Ferry is more than just a means of transportation; it offers a unique and memorable experience for locals and visitors alike. The ferry’s rich history, scenic views, and convenient schedule make it a cherished connection between the towns of Dorena and Hickman, and a gateway to the stunning natural beauty of the Oregon area.


As you embark on the ferry ride, you’ll be transported back in time, learning about the ferry’s fascinating history and the important role it has played in the local community. The ferry’s schedule and operating hours provide flexibility, ensuring that commuters and travelers can utilize its services conveniently.


During the short but delightful ferry ride, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Mississippi River, the Dorena-Hickman Bridge, and the abundant wildlife thriving in the surrounding riverbanks. Exploring the nearby points of interest and immersing yourself in the charm of the towns of Dorena and Hickman are also worthwhile experiences.


Before embarking on your journey, remember to check the ferry’s schedule, arrive early, and follow safety guidelines to ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride. Take advantage of the scenic views by capturing memorable photos, respecting the wildlife, and embracing the sense of community that the ferry fosters.


In conclusion, the Dorena-Hickman Ferry offers an unforgettable adventure, connecting people, history, and nature. So, hop on board and let the ferry carry you across the Mississippi River, providing you with an extraordinary experience that truly embodies the spirit and beauty of the Oregon area.