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Burlington to Twisp

  • Distance: 142 miles
  • Routes: SR 20
  • Estimated Driving Time: 3 hours

Tour Overview

The tour traverses rock spires, hanging valleys, waterfalls and alpine glaciers, evoking the nickname “North American Alps,” then skirts the emerald waters of Ross Lake before descending into Methow Valley’s high desert. Visitors enjoy remnants of the old west lifestyle and an abundance of outdoor recreation.

The soil of the lower Skagit River Valley, enriched by alluvial deposits from periodic floods, has been scientifically tilled; and fertile acres that are being intensively farmed may be seen from the road. SR 20 follows the winding river through bottom land, checker-boarded with commercial vegetable gardens, poultry ranches, and dairy farms. In the upper valley are vast stretches of logged-off land, where occasionally an effort was made to carve out a farmstead. Some distance from the highway are substantial stands of timber in which logging is in progress.

Rolling foothills become increasingly rugged and wooded as the highway approaches the Cascade Mountains. From Rockport the narrow-gauge railroad winds upward through the rocky canyon of the Skagit River to Diablo Dam. Here the great Skagit River Power developments of Seattle City Light may be seen amid natural grandeur. Ross Dam, completed in 1949, stands 540 feet tall and creates Ross Lake, which extends into British Columbia and rises 1,600 feet above sea level when full.

Key Waypoints along Burlington to Twisp


A shipping center and local supply point for the fertile Skagit Valley. First settled in 1882 by John P. Millett... Visit


The center of a region that has accomplished successfully the transition from large-scale logging and lumbering to farming. Once covered... Visit


The site of the huge Portland Cement Company Plant, the products of which were used in all major construction work... Visit


A community at the junction of the Methow and Chewack rivers in west central Okanogan County, it is an entry... Visit

Side trips along Burlington to Twisp


This 52-mile trip features lakes and Skagit Valley communities that began as farming and sawmill towns, including Clearlake, Montborne, McMurray, Bryant, and the biggest, Arlington.

Northern State Hospital

This campus was built in 1909 as a mental institution with a working farm and other production facilities that made it largely self-sufficient. Now part of it is a park that you can walk through to see a fascinating—and a...

Gorge Dam

Drive out to Gorge Dam, a concrete combination gravity-arch dam. The 300-foot high Gorge Creek High was dedicated on January 6, 1961.

Reflector Bar

Drive out to the confluence of Stetattle Creek and the Skagit River just below Diablo Dam to learn more about the history of the area and hydroelectric power generation.

This tour has 1 leg, 21 waypoints, 4 side trips, and covers 142 miles.