Pull off on the north side of the road as you approach the east side of the bridge, where a path leads to the shore. It’s a young river here, roiling with whirlpools and bulges. It hisses as it surges past. It’s disconcerting to realize this powerful current descends toward some of the most dangerous and challenging river rapids in the world.
The Big Su is one of Alaska’s great rivers, dominating the immense valley south of the Alaska Range and Denali at the head of Cook Inlet near Anchorage and Wasilla. But that stretch—popular as a sports fishing and hunting corridor—lies more than 180 miles downstream from where it passes beneath this bridge relatively close to its Alaska Range source.
Between the Denali Highway and the Su Valley community of Talkeetna, the Susitna traverses more than 100 miles of rugged, uninhabited wilderness. Along the way, it transits some of the most challenging whitewater on the continent, with a mile of Class IV rapids in Watana Canyon and 11 miles of Class V+ in Devil’s Canyon.