The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Kuskokwim River

The Kuskokwim River is a river, approximately 650 mi (1,110 km) long, in southwest Alaska in the United States. It provides the principal drainage for an area of the remote Alaska Interior on the north and west side of the Alaska Range, flowing southwest into Kuskokwim Bay on the Bering Sea. Except for its headwaters in the mountains, the river is broad and flat for entire course, making it a useful transportation route for many types of watercraft.

Kuskokwim in Yupik means cough, probably a reference to the sound made by running water.



It rises in several forks in central and south central Alaska. The North Fork (250 mi/400 km) rises in the Kuskokwim Mountains approximately 200 mi (320 km) WSW of Fairbanks and flows southwest in a broad valley. The South Fork (200 mi/320 km) rises in the southwestern end of the Alaska Range.west of Mount Gerdine and flows NNW through the mountains, past Nikolai, and receiving other headstreams that descends from the Alaska Range northwest of Mount McKinley. The two forks join near Medfra and flows southwest, past McGrath, in a remote valley between the Kuskokwim Mountains to the north and the Alaska Range to the south.

In southwest Alaska in emerges from the Kuskokwim Mountains in a vast lake-studded alluvial plain south of the Yukon River, surrounded by vast spruce forests. It passes a series of Eskimo villages, including Aniak, and approaches within 50 mi (80 km) of the Yukon before diverging southwest. Southwest of Bethel, the largest community on the river, it broadens into a wide marshy delta that enters Kuskokwim Bay approximately 50 mi (80 km) SSW of Bethel. The lower river below Aniak is located within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge .

It receives the Big River from the south approximately 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Medfra. It receives the Swift , Stony , and Holitna rivers from the south at the southern end of the Kuskokwim Mountains before emerging on the coastal plain. It receives the Aniak River from the south at Aniak. Approximately 20 mi (32 km) upstream from Bethel it receives the Kisaralik and Kwethluk rivers from the south. It receives the Eek River from the east at Eek near its mouth on Kuskokwim Bay.


The principal economic activities along the river have historically been fur trapping and fishing. Subsistence fishing for chinook salmon provides a staple of the Eskimo diet along the river. The discovery of gold along the upper river in 1898 led to the Placer Gold Rush in the early 20th century. The total production of gold through 1959 was 640,084 ounces. The primary route of the Iditarod Trail crossed the upper river at McGrath.

See also

External link

  • Aniak, Alaska
  • Iditarod National Historic Trail

Last updated: 02-07-2005 15:47:19
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55