Spring snow melt out of the Lake Chelan - Sawtooth Wilderness makes the Twisp a great class III whitewater run with nearly continuous action. Typical trips start by gathering at the bakery in Twisp. The river corridor is largely in private ownership but it is mostly forested with a few cabins along the riverbanks.
From the upper put-in at Buttermilk Creek the river begins with fun class II. Be aware of wood hazards which can occur anywhere along the run but particularly in the first couple miles.
As you pass Little Bridge Creek (an alternate put-in location) the action begins to pick up as the run transitions to class III. For the next 4.5 miles you will enjoy continuous intermediate whitewater. Midway along this section you will reach the fish collection dam (a sign warns of the approach). It's an easy portage on river left but can be run in the right location at certain flows.
Downstream of the dam is a great rapid and some more fun bedrock headwalls. As you pass under the Poorman Cutoff Road Bridge (a possible take-out for those looking for a short run) the action tapers off and transitions to class II.
You can continue on the river all the way into town and take out at the park where the Twisp joins the Methow River. It's a nice grassy park to dry out your gear and hang out or just walk up the street to local establishments in town while the shuttle drivers pick up the put-in cars.
Logistics: You can take-out at Twisp Park at the Methow River confluence. Head east off Highway 20 at mile 201.4 and turn onto Twisp Avenue in the middle of town. Continue two blocks then turn left on Lincoln Street and follow it a block to the Twisp Park and public swimming pool where the Twisp River joins the Methow (from here it is walking distance to the bakery or other businesses in town).
To reach the put-in and alternate access points upstream, head west off Highway 20 mile 201.4 on 2nd Avenue which becomes Twisp River Road. At 1.2 miles up this road, Poorman Creek Road turns off to the left and Twisp River Road crosses the river. This bridge makes a good take-out. Access is available on the downstream river right side of the bridge and you can park off Poorman Creek Road.
The next alternate access is reached by heading 3.8 miles up Twsip River Road to Poorman Creek cutoff which turns off to the left and heads 0.2 miles down to a bridge across the river. Access and parking for a few cars is available on the river left side of the bridge. The class III ends at this bridge.
You will pass the fish collection dam at mile 5.9 on Twisp River Road.
An alternate put-in access is at Twisp River Road mile 8.1 where LIttle Bridge Creek joins the Twisp. The class III action begins here.
A Forest Service recreation site that provides camping is at Twisp River Road mile 9.8. You can camp at the site and also use it as a put-in.
The upper put-in is at Buttermilk Creek. It is located at Twisp River Road mile 10.8. Turn on to West Buttermilk Road and follow it 0.2 mile to the bridge across the river and a parking area and put-in on the upstream river right side of the bridge.
On July 4th, 2018 we paddled the Twisp at 277cfs to 280cfs. We ran from Little Bridge Creek to Poorman Rd. Cutoff. It was bony (rocky) but doable. We had a couple of short-term rock pins and high sides that we overcame quickly. There were no log issues and we had a clean run over the fish weir.
Good times at 2000 cfs--continuous class III+ for most of the run with fast current at few eddies. One channel-spanning log just upstream of Little Bridge Creek. We were able to boat over it at 2000 cfs (barely) but much lower and it would be a portage. Fish collection dam was no problem down the middle at this flow.
Very runnable down to 550 CFS or even slightly lower. Some wood on the river - one log we were able to sneak under at low water.
Had a good run over Memorial Day weekend with flows of 1100 cfs. We had channel-spanning log that had to be portaged a couple miles into the run. We also portaged the fish collection dam although it looked like you could run it just right of center at the flows we experienced. Lots of wood in play and along the banks but nothing that gave us any trouble. This is a fun intermediate run.
Flows of approximately 800-1000 cfs are generally considered to be optimal. It's a fun ride at higher flows with faster current and fewer eddies. The river can be run at 600 cfs or even a bit lower.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Twisp River from bridge
Headwall rapid downstream of fish weir
Twisp River whitewater
OC1 on Twisp
Poorman Creek Cutoff Road
rapid below fish weir
Little Bridge Creek Confluence
Rapids on the upper section
Channel-spanning wood hazard
Buttermilk Creek Access
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
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The Forest Service is developing a new Forest Plan for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and has released a Proposed Action. The Forest Service is accepting public comment on this plan that will guide management for the next decade or more.
American Whitewater is reaching out to our membership to encourage participation in a study of boating conditions and recreation safety conducted by consultants working with the Yakama Nation Fisheries program. The study reaches include Nason Creek, Twisp River, and Chewuch River. The overall purpose of the study is to identify known and anticipated river users and evaluate riverine hazards as habitat restoration projects are planned and implemented.
The Bureau of Land Management is currently accepting public comment on a proposal to protect the Methow Headwaters from an industrial-scale copper mine above the town of Mazama. The proposed mine would negatively impact the incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Methow Valley. A strong show of public support will be required to secure protection for this river valley.
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