Take a drive down the world’s most crooked street

Don’t be fooled, the world’s most crooked street isn’t in California, it’s in Iowa. In 1940, Robert Ripley visited the street in person and proclaimed it the most crooked street in the world due to the total degrees within its curves.

Where is Snake Alley?

Address: N. 6th Street, Burlington, Iowa

Aerial view of Snake Alley, which according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, is the most crooked street in the world.

How can Snake Alley be more crooked than Lombard Street in San Francisco?

It’s all about the curves and total degrees. Although Lombard Street is longer and has more turns, when you add up the total number of degrees turned, you’ll find that Snake Alley wins. 1,100 degrees of curves for Snake Alley to Lombard Street’s 1000 degrees. In other words, Lombard has more turns, but Snake Alley wins for most extreme curves. Take a drive down Snake Alley to feel the curves, as your hands will be cranking on the steering wheel the entire time.

The crazy hairpin turns of Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa

When is it open to the public?

During the warm weather season, Snake Alley is open to auto traffic. Otherwise, it is open to pedestrian traffic year-round.

Snake Alley is only open to auto traffic during the warm weather months and traffic must go one direction, which is down Snake Alley.

What do I need to know if I’m heading to Snake Alley?

It’s only one way heading downhill. And that’s only during warm weather seasons. Keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times, as you’ll constantly be turning the wheel – and watch for pedestrians and cyclists as they are allowed to travel on Snake Alley in both directions.

YouTube video
Watch this quick video which shows what its like driving down Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa

Who built Snake Alley?

Three German immigrants were responsible for building Snake Alley: Charles Starker, an architect and landscape engineer; William Steyh, the city engineer; and George Kriechbaum, a paving contractor. The street was originally considered part of North Sixth Street, but it didn’t take long for citizens to refer to it as Snake Alley and the name immediately stuck.

A view looking down on Snake Alley and all of its 1,100 degrees of turns.

Did Burlington build Snake Alley to compete with Lombard Street?

Nope, that is not the case at all. Snake Alley was completed in 1898, some 20 years before Lombard Street was built in San Francisco.

What else is nearby that I should also see when I visit Snake Alley?

Cobblestone Alley

It’s located a quarter block east of the top section of Snake Alley. It is only open to pedestrian traffic and consists of large blocks of native limestone

The entrance to the Cobblestone Alley which is just to the east of Snake Alley
Close up of the large limestone blocks that make up the Cobblestone Alley.

Garrett-Phelps House Museum

It’s located at the very top of Snake Alley, 512 Columbia Street. This Victorian style house was built in 1851 and features a nine-room display of local history.

Garrett-Phelps House is a nine-room museum that sits at the top of Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa
Snake Alley has great lighting at night to allow you to comfortably check out the location.

If walking up or down the actual street isn’t your thing – there’s a sidewalk with steps along the side.

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