Photo Credit: Traci Sackett

Alaska’s Most Photo-Worthy Bridges

These bridges of the Last Frontier anchor some of the most spectacular views in the world, with uncanny potential for great photographs. They range from engineering marvels that span gorges to historic structures that invite exploration on foot—all worthy destinations all on their own. Think of them as a gateway into history and local lore. Because Alaska has far fewer roads and highways than other states, bridges become exceptionally important to local transportation. Any given bridge might offer local travelers the only way across a river or gorge with no practical alternative route. As a result, many Alaska bridges are known by their names rather than their locations!

Alaska hurricane gulch fall bridges

Overlook Hurricane Gulch from the bridge on a vibrant autumn day

Hurricane Gulch

About 150 miles north of Anchorage on the Parks Highway and Alaska Railroad

These two steel arch bridges cross Hurricane Gulch about halfway between Anchorage and Fairbanks, one on the Parks Highway and the other on Alaska Railroad.

The train bridge may be the most famous and scenic bridge in Alaska, subject of many iconic photographs. It reaches 296 feet above Hurricane Creek for a full span of 918 feet—the longest and tallest bridge on the Alaska Railroad. For the first eight years after its completion in 1921, it was the tallest bridge in the United States. Even now, it’s a major highlight for passengers on the Hurricane Turn Train, where the train slows crawl as it eases out over the gorge to allow for photos and sheer amazement.

The highway bridge crosses the gulch at Mile 174.3—about three-quarters of a mile due east of the railroad bridge. Built in 1971, the bridge reaches 558 feet across the gorge—254 feet above the creek—offering a setting almost as stunning as its railroad sister down the hill. Park in a lot about 150 yards north of the bridge on the west side of the highway. You’ll find good overlooks for photography a safe walk from parking.

NOTE: Is it possible to hike from the highway bridge to find an overlook of the railroad bridge to recreate one of those fabulous shots of the train crossing the trestle? Not recommended. While less than a mile apart as the raven flies, the two bridges are not really directly accessible. It’s not impossible, but people who have hiked in from the Parks Highway report that they spent hours bushwhacking across very rugged terrain. There’s no designated trail and no obvious overlook.

Old Knik River Bridge

About 46 miles from Anchorage on the Old Glenn Highway

The span built in 1936 for the first highway connection between Palmer with Anchorage is now a walking path, closed to vehicle traffic, just upstream from where the present Old Glenn Highway crosses the Knik River at about Mile 8.7. It runs parallel to the new Knik River Bridge that replaced it, itself an interesting span. Park to the side in the first yards of the Knik River Road on the west side or in a pullout on the east side of the river, and scramble onto the old concrete deck. You’ll find a dramatic stroll, with mile-high Pioneer Peak looming above and the roiling, glacier-fed Knik River hissing a few yards below. Guerilla street art festoons the bridge’s beams and trusses, too, beguiling you with strange characters, abstract images and cryptic aphorisms. A weird and wonderful place.

Kuskulana Gorge

East of Chitina on the McCarthy Road

This single-lane, wooden decked bridge crosses the gorge of the Kuskulana River about Mile 17 of the McCarthy Road in Wrangell St.-Elias National Park east of Chitina. For many heading to McCarthy and Kennecott, creeping across the narrow bridge at an idle—238 feet above the raging river—is the most harrowing part of their trip. Built during the winter of 1910, the bridge was a key element in the railroad linking the port at Cordova with the copper mining operation at Kennecott.

Placer River Bridge

Alaska lamont hawkins jr spencer glacier overlook trail chugach national forest bridge bridges

Enjoy a stroll across Placer River Bridge

On a trail near Spencer Glacier along the Alaska Railroad

One of the most remarkable and striking footbridges in Alaska crosses the Placer River about a mile or so from the Spencer Glacier Whistlestop on the Alaska Railroad, about 10 miles from Portage on the Seward Highway. The 280-foot bridge—made largely from Alaska yellow cedar—was placed 25 feet above the water to make room for icebergs and floes flushing from Spencer Glacier Lake. The bridge (which currently leads to a dead-end trail) is the longest single-span bridge of its type in North America. It will eventually be a key crossing on the backcountry Glacier Discovery hiking route from Spencer Glacier to Grandview Whistlestop and Trail Glacier, under gradual construction by Chugach National Forest. Just off Spencer’s main path between the train station and the lake, the bridge is already one of the most photographed attractions at the Spencer Glacier recreation area.

Cushman Street Bridge

In downtown Fairbanks

Right in downtown Fairbanks, this historic concrete and steel bridge has spanned the Chena River since 1917 (and will be upgraded in a few years.) The state flags of all 50 states flutter over its two sidewalks, raised in 1984 to commemorate Alaska’s 25th year of statehood.

E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge

About 140 miles north of Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway

The only road crossing of the Yukon River in Alaska, this 2,290-foot girder bridge carries both vehicle traffic and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, at Mile 55.4 of the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay. Built as part of pipeline construction in 1974, the bridge is named for the project’s supervisor. It has an unusual and perhaps startling six-percent grade—descending south to north—and soars 200 feet above the river at its highest point.

Canyon Creek bridges

On the Seward Highway in the Kenai Mountains about 70 miles from Anchorage

Two very striking bridges—one old and now used as a bike path and walkway, the other a technically difficult feat from 1997—curve over Canyon Creek where it emerges from a gorge at the junction of the Seward and Hope highways about Mile 56. The new bridge—about 90 feet above the creek—reaches 885 feet in a span supported by concrete pillars. It won a national engineering award upon its completion. The old bridge—accessible from the southbound Canyon Creek Rest Area—used to be one of the most harrowing, white-knuckle curves on the Seward Highway, notorious among winter drivers. Now it’s a fun stroll with a postcard worthy view of the gorge.

Mears Memorial Bridge

Where the Alaska Railroad crosses the Tanana River in Nenana, about 57 miles from Fairbanks

Alaska million dollar bridge tom nothstine bridges

The historic Million Dollar Bridge

Built between 1921 and 1923, this old-time steel truss bridge marked the completion of the Alaska Railroad, allowing trains to roll from tidewater in Seward and Anchorage to Fairbanks for the first time. Its 700-foot-long reach made it the longest bridge of its type in the United States (and still remains the third longest.) President Warren G. Harding tapped home the ceremonial golden spike at the bridge’s north end on July 15, 1923. On the east side of town, see the bridge from the beach along the Tanana or from Front Street. It is about 1,250 yards upstream from the Alaska Natives Veterans’ Honor Bridge of the Parks Highway.

Miles Glacier Bridge (the Million Dollar Bridge)

This 1,550-foot steel truss bridge over the Copper River about 48 miles east of Cordova on the Copper River Highway earned its nickname for a $1.4 million price tag—a colossal sum when it was built in 1910. At the time, the bridge was the crux of the 196-mile railroad connecting the port of Cordova with the copper mining operation at Kennecott in what is now Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Later, after the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 knocked its northern-most section off supports, photos of the off-kilter span became iconic of the temblor’s damage, one of the most famous images of modern Alaska. Listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places in 2000, the bridge was reopened to traffic in 2005. Note: A bridge at Mile 36 is currently impassable (2020.) Contact the Cordova Ranger District for information about venders offering access to the Million Dollar Bridge area.

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Bridges

This bridge is the con­nec­tion between south­cen­tral Alas­ka and the inte­ri­or of the Ter­ri­to­ry. The bridge rep­re­sents an engi­neer­ing mar­vel for the day and age it was con­struct­ed, and is as strong today as when it was con­struct­ed near­ly a cen­tu­ry ago.

With moun­tains over­head and a rush­ing riv­er below that reflects the light in its swirling pat­terns, this bridge makes for a scenic cross­ing. You have to dri­ve the old Glenn High­way to get here, but it’s a nice alter­na­tive to the main Glenn Highway. 

For many, cross­ing the Kusku­lana Bridge is the most nerve-rack­ing part of their dri­ve down McCarthy Road. Men­tal­ly pre­pare your­self to dri­ve across this old sin­gle-lane rail­road bridge 238 feet above the rag­ing Kusku­lana Riv­er! The Kusku­lana bridge was built dur­ing the win­ter of 1910. You will see for your­self what a remark­able achieve­ment this was. 

All 50 states are rep­re­sent­ed by their state flag on this con­crete and steel bridge built in 1917. Fes­ti­val Fair­banks, Inc. and the Down­town Asso­ci­a­tion of Fair­banks, both local com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions, raised the flags to com­mem­o­rate Alaska’s 25th year of state­hood in 1984. The first bridges in that loca­tion were tem­po­rary wood­en con­struc­tions that were destroyed every year by the pow­ers of spring breakup. Open to the public. 

This ½‑mile-long span is one of only four vehi­cle-car­ry­ing bridges across the mighty Yukon, the longest riv­er in Alas­ka and the Yukon Ter­ri­to­ry, and a pri­ma­ry means of trans­porta­tion dur­ing the Klondike Gold Rush.

Con­struc­tion of this ear­ly-1900s bridge cost a whop­ping (at the time) $1.4 mil­lion, which earned it the nick­name Mil­lion Dol­lar Bridge. But the bridge quick­ly earned its keep, allow­ing the rail­road to haul cop­per from Ken­ni­cott to the port of Cordova.

Vet­er­ans’ Memo­r­i­al Bridge opened with fan­fare in Novem­ber of 2012. A pro­ces­sion of antique cars bor­rowed from the Foun­tain­head Antique Auto Muse­um and pri­vate col­lec­tions were the first wheels to cross the bridge, keep­ing in the tra­di­tion of his­toric bridge open­ings in Fair­banks. Vet­er­ans from Fair­banks marched in step and pre­sent­ed the col­ors at the mid-way point. Local, state, and fed­er­al dig­ni­taries were on hand for the event and the  ...more

Pel­i­can Creek Bridge is just a few min­utes from Pelican’s har­bor. This is a great place for view­ing salmon that are head­ed upstream to spawn­ing sites. Check it out in July and August for the best view­ing opportunities.

Look close­ly in the lime­stone out­crop­pings to the north­east of the bridge, and you will spot frag­ments of fos­sil coral. This lime­stone was formed on the floor of a shal­low sea about 400 mil­lion years ago. Pieces of a coral reef, bro­ken by storm waves, came to rest in the soft lime mud. They even­tu­al­ly turned to rock and were uplift­ed into fold­ed moun­tains about 150 mil­lion years ago. As always, please leave the fos­sils for oth­ers to see, and…  ...more

Sur­prise! This bridge over the Susit­na Riv­er appears with­out warn­ing, so if you want to stop and see this huge drainage, slow down and pull off the road at either end. Alaskans call it the Big Su. We fish it, pad­dle it, and snow machine its frozen braids. Bush pilots even nav­i­gate by this riv­er. The Susit­na Riv­er winds its way over 313 miles of South­cen­tral Alas­ka; this old rail­road bridge cross­es the water on the east­ern edge of Denali…  ...more

This unique bridge spans 110-foot over Moore Creek Gorge. Named for Cap­tain William Moore, a pilot, prospec­tor, pack­er, trad­er and river­boat cap­tain. He played an impor­tant role in the found­ing of Skag­way and helped pio­neer the route over White Pass. Cap­tain Moore was one of the first peo­ple to real­ize the poten­tial for a rail­road over the pass.

The moun­tain range to the right is Devil’s Prongs and Barom­e­ter Moun­tain is to the left.

This bridge, con­nect­ing down­town Juneau with Dou­glas Island, was built in 1981, though the orig­i­nal bridge dates to 1935. Today you can walk, bike, or dri­ve across this bridge for a very scenic view.

Alas­ka has a fas­ci­nat­ing arche­ol­o­gy. The fos­silized remains of many species of pre-glacial Alaskan mam­mals have been dis­cov­ered here. These fos­sils are on dis­play at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alas­ka Muse­um in Fair­banks as well as the muse­um in Central.

A pop­u­lar place for view­ing win­ter­ing Emper­or Geese.

Watch for cat­tle as you dri­ve through open range. You can admire the views from the bridge, or take the trail up Sharatin Cirque & Moun­tain and explore flow­ery slopes and signs of wildlife, includ­ing Moun­tain Goats, Pip­its, and Ptarmigan. 

Rock Creek is the first of many water­ways that the Denali Park Road cross­es. In con­strast to many glacial fed rivers, Rock Creek is con­tained in a defined chan­nel at this point. Just upstream of the bridge is C Camp, a main­te­nance site for the area that has had ongo­ing clean-up efforts to con­tain and dis­pose of con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed soil. 

It’s not just floods and avalanch­es that shut down remote roads in Alas­ka. In this case, a bridge was heav­i­ly dam­aged by a rogue truck­er with an over weight load! Accord­ing to local leg­end, after near­ly destroy­ing the bridge, the (alleged) cul­prit drove away and was nev­er seen again.

This pedes­tri­an-bicy­cle bridge con­nects the north bank near Doy­on, Lim­it­ed to the south bank of the Chena Riv­er adja­cent to the Alas­ka State Court House as part of the Chena Riv­er Path­way system.

Sheer cuts along riv­er bank reveal a heavy vol­canic ash lay­er from the erup­tion of 1912.

Recent­ly recon­struct­ed from two lanes of traf­fic to four, this is one of only three bridges that span the Kenai River.

Arc­tic grayling, north­ern pike and dol­ly var­den are com­mon in the Ogilvie Riv­er. William Ogilvie was a promi­nent Cana­di­an land sur­vey­or who began work­ing in the Yukon in the sum­mer of 1887. His first task was to deter­mine the loca­tion of the bound­ary between Cana­da and Alas­ka at the Yukon River.

This 1255-foot-long bridge has reserved its place in his­to­ry by being Amer­i­ca’s first cable-stayed gird­er spanned bridge. Today, it con­nects Sit­ka, on Bara­nof Island, to the town’s air­port, which is on Japon­s­ki Island. Fin­ished in 1972, it was named after a for­mer may­or of Sitka.

At Mile­post 67 Tay­lor High­way you will find the Chick­en Creek Bridge. This is the site of a dredge that was oper­at­ed by the Fair­banks Explo­ration Com­pa­ny from 1959 until 1965. In an aver­age run of the dredge, it was oper­at­ing 24 hours a day for 2 weeks. At it’s peak, one run would bring in $40,000 in gold. 

You’ll see a water gaug­ing sta­tion in the mid­dle of the bridge. This was part of a flood con­trol project built by the Army Corps of Engi­neers in response to the 1967 flood that dev­as­tat­ed Fairbanks.

This short wood­en bridge cross­es a pop­u­lar salmon fish­ing creek. Down­riv­er you’ll see deep chan­nels that the creek has carved into the mud flats. In late sum­mer, salmon migrate up to the estu­ary to spawn.