Alaska Rivers: Susitina River

Alaska Marine Highway

Alaska's State Flower is the "Forget-Me-Not. Forget me not flowers are very fragrant in the evening and night time, though there is little or no scent in the daytime. They can be annual or perennial plants. Their seeds are found in small, tulip shaped pods along the stem to the flower.

The Susitna River  is a 313-mile long river in Southcentral Alaska. It is the 15th largest river in the United States of America, ranked by average discharge volume at its mouth. The river stretches from the Susitna Glacier to Cook Inlet. Between approximately October 19 and November 14 the Susitna River ices or freezes over for the winter and usually  between April 12 and May 10 the ice breaks-up for the summer.

The Susitna River appears to have been first explored in 1834, by a "Creole named Malakov", and the name may have been obtained by the Russians at that time. The Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers join the Susitna River at Talkeetna, an Indian (Tanaina) word meaning “river of plenty.” Originally the site of a Tanaina Indian village, Talkeetna was settled as a mining town and Alaska Commercial Co. trading post in 1896, before either Wasilla or Anchorage existed. A gold rush to the Susitna River brought prospectors to the area, and by 1910, Talkeetna was a riverboat steamer station, supplying miners and trappers. In 1915, Talkeetna was chosen as the headquarters for the Alaska Engineering Commission, who built the Alaska Railroad. Several of its old log buildings are now historical landmarks, and Talkeetna was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1993.

The Susitna River Bridge is a railroad bridge of the Alaska Railroad in south-central Alaska. It spans the Susitna River on the eastern edge of Denali State Park near Gold Creek. The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. Construction of the bridge took place from October 1920 to February 1921. The span is 503 ft., with a height of 71 ft. in the center; the steel weighs 2,000 tons, and rests on two concrete piers, each 50 ft. high and 70 x 40 ft. in cross-section, and each containing 1,500 cubic yards of concrete. The location was chosen, just downstream of a curve, after observing the pattern of ice jams through the preceding three years.

The Susitna River heads at Susitna Glacier, in Alaska Range, flows southwest to Cook Inlet, 24 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska Cook Inlet Low. There are several rivers flowing into the Susitna River including East Fork Susitna River and West Fork Susitna River. The Little Susitna River is a separate river system which flows into the Cook Inlet on the other side of Susitna Flats.The Susitna along with the Matanuska River, drains the broad Matanuska-Susitna Valley south of the Alaska Range. It rises in the Susitna Glacier on Mount Hayes in the Alaska Range near 63°30′N 147°15′W.

The Susitna River flows in winding course generally southwest to Curry, then south, along the west side of the Talkeetna Mountains, past Talkeetna, Chulitna River, and Susitna, and drains into Cook Inlet approximately 25 miles  west of Anchorage.It receives the Yentna River from the northwest approximately 5 miles north of Susitna. The Susitna River is navigable to 85 mile upstream from its mouth to Talkeetna.

The Susitna River is one of Southcentral Alaska's premier sport fishing streams, with significant runs of Chinook and Coho salmon, along with resident grayling, burbot, and rainbow trout. Located within a roadless area, access to the river is difficult and is made usually by power boat or by floatplane. The Denali Highway crosses the upper Susitna river Matanuska-Susitna Borough owns much of the land along the Susitna and Deshka Rivers.

The impacts of summer recreational use and tourists have caused loss of riparian vegetation and bank erosion along the Deshka River's lower reaches, which has been partially remedied through a restoration project in the summer of 2002. However, the borough currently lacks either regulations to prevent further damage or the means to enforce such regulations.

The proposed Susitna River hydro project in Alaska would involve building the biggest dam in the United States in 50 years and change the flow of one of the most loved rivers in the state.

In most places, especially the West, where dams are being torn down and not put up, building a $4.5 billion, massive concrete wall in the middle of nowhere would be unthinkable. But this is Alaska, and the Susitna hydro project is as close as it's ever been in the 30 years that the state has been talking about it.


visit alaskas susitina river

susitina river in Alaska

Alaska Rivers:

Alaska has more than 12,000 rivers including the nine major rivers listed below:

Learn more about Alaskan rivers

Colville River Copper River Gulkana River
Kuskokwim River Noatak River Porcupine River
Susitna River Tanana River Yukon River.