The Copper Rivering Entering the Gulf of Alaska60.3N 144.9W
The Copper River or Ahtna River is a 300-mile (480 km) river in south-central Alaska in the United States that is seen here spilling tan sediments into the Gulf of Alaska. It drains a large region of the Wrangell Mountains and Chugach Mountains into the gulf.
It is known for its extensive delta ecosystem, as well as for its prolific runs of wild salmon, which are among the most highly prized stocks in the world. It is the tenth largest river in the United States, as ranked by average discharge volume at its mouth.
The Copper River rises out of the Copper Glacier, which lies on the northeast side of Mount Wrangell, in the Wrangell Mountains, within Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park.
It begins by flowing almost due north in a valley that lies on the east side of Mount Sanford, and then turns west, forming the northwest edge of the Wrangell Mountains and separating them from the Mentasta Mountains to the northeast. It continues to turn southeast, through a wide marshy plain to Chitina, where it is joined from the southeast by the Chitina River.
The Copper River drops an average of about 12 feet per mile (2.3 m/km), and drains a total of 24,000 square miles (62,000 km2). The river has 13 major tributaries and runs at an average of 7 miles per hour (11 km/h). It is a mile (1.6 km) wide at the Copper River Delta, near Cordova. Approximately 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Cordova, it enter the Gulf of Alaska.