Watana Canyon on the Susitna River

I’d like to cross the Susitna River near Mount Watana. It looks as if the route of least resistance is by descending to the river near Kosini Creek, floating to Deadman Creek, and hiking north. Other routes look to be brushier and/or marshier.

The river between Kosini and Deadman looks wide and it has numerous islands, suggesting that it’s slow through here. But I understand that Watana Canyon is Class IV, which I can’t run. I’m assuming that the canyon is near the section I’d like to float since Watana Creek and Mt Watana are nearby, but it’s not named on the map and there are a few mile-long sections that could have this type of water. I could not see any obvious rapids via satellite images.

Can anyone tell me exactly where Watana Canyon is? And, while you’re at it, can you tell me anything about the section between Kosini and Deadman? Thanks.


If you look on the map, the Susitna heads south from the Denali Hwy, then bends hard West at Oshetna River. About 9 miles downstream from there you can see a prominent upside-down “w” (I guess that’s an “m”) before the river widens out, that “m” is Watana Canyon. That’s about 15 mi upstream from Kosina Creek. Karen Jettmar’s “The Alaska River Guide” book shows the whole upper Su from the road down to Watana Creek at class II to II+ besides Watana Canyon. Starting at Watana Creek continuing down past Deadman to Stephen Lake she cites as class III-IV, so that section might be a gamble! There is a gauging station at the downstream end of Watana Canyon to get an idea of what your section might be like (according to my Gazetteer).

Out of curiosity, where are you coming from to end up crossing the Su at Mt Watana? It looks sweet to fly out to Yellow Jacket Creek on the Talkeetna and take the Tsisi Creek pass to the Su at Mt Watana.