Suiattle River


Sauk River & Valley, photographer Martha Rasmussen


The Suiattle River, north of Darrington, is a long mountainous river flowing 45 miles. Its headwaters begin on the southern slopes of Glacier Peak at the Suiattle Glacier, an elevation of about 7000 feet.  The Suiattle Valley is accessed by the Suiattle River Forest Road, FSR #26, which travels along the river taking you to whitewater, camping and hiking destinations.

The Suiattle River in winter, photographer Kim Brown

It courses east, then north and finally west to nearly encircle the massive Glacier Peak an elevation of 10,541 feet, the most isolated of the  stratovolcanoes of the Cascade Volcanic Arc.  This river is fed by three glacial tributaries that will seasonally determine the color of its waters. In the upper reaches it picks up the tributary of Chocolate Creek turning the waters a chocolate brown.

Suiattle River in summer with logs piled up, a reminder of the swift high waters of winter & spring, photographer Ken Larson

As it flows down close to 2500 feet it is joined by Dusty Creek, upstream of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Later Milky Creek will flow into the Suiattle River.  The names of the these creeks refer to the colors given to their waters during the spring and summer snow melt of the glaciers that feed them.

The Boundary Bridge over the Suiattle River, photographer Nels Rasmussen, D.C.

The  river winds through the Suiattle Valley and at 45 miles enters the Sauk River  where it often adds color and silt to the waters.  The specially designed Boundary Bridge with no center supports is the only bridge crossing over this wild wilderness river.  Notice the concrete portion of this bridge which is part of the original bridge, at one time there was a sign-in kiosks for whitewater users there.  They would stand on the shore and write when they were putting in the river so records could be kept keeping track of who was using the river for safety issues.