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Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

3015 NW 54th St, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)
206 783 7059
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As featured in Seattle for free
Ranked #15 of 206 attractions in Seattle
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Type: Landmarks/ Points of Interest, Wharfs/ Piers/ Boardwalks, Bodies of Water
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (locally known as the Ballard Locks) is a waterway system that connects the saltwater of the Puget Sound to the fresh... more » Owner description: The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (locally known as the Ballard Locks) is a waterway system that connects the saltwater of the Puget Sound to the fresh water of the Ship Canal, which sits about 20 feet above sea level.  Boats enter the locks, the gates close and the water rises or falls to the level of the destination waterway.  Watching boats pass through the locks, exploring the 7 acres of botanical gardens and looking for fish on the fish ladder is fun and free entertainment that draws locals and tourists alike. « less
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
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865 reviews from our community

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English first
San Francisco, California
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
30 attraction reviews
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2014 NEW

It's a slow process and probably sounds cooler than it actually looks as the whole process takes about 30 minutes for the water to fill and then drain but when the boats finally rise/lower, it's pretty quick. Nice to marvel at technology. We went in April so did not see any salmon.

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Danville
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
18 attraction reviews
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2014 NEW

Parking. Always the most important factor for anyone who gets to these slightly out of the way attractions. Easy, plentiful and quite reasonable. You walk through the gardens, following these plaques promising the salmon. Until they just peter away.... Never mind, it gets easier as you walk along. If you're lucky and patient enough, you'll get to see the locks... More

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Houston, Texas
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
5 attraction reviews
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2014 NEW

Great way to learn about the different water bodies of Seattle and the fishes especially Salmon. Do start your tour by visiting the gift shop and viewing a small movie on the locks. You can also bring a sandwich and have a little picnic in the botanical gardens. Great spot to come with kids. While we were here we saw... More

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silverdale
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
11 attraction reviews
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2014 NEW

Having lived here all our lives, it was a treat to stop and treasure this local tradition so many never experience! It's a great way to spend a little or a lot of time, depending on what you have...you will enjoy whatever you can spare! We didn't have any kids with us, but you could tell it was a delight... More

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Seattle, Washington
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
17 attraction reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2014 NEW

Hiram Chittendem Locks; not the Panama Canal but a complex piece of WWI era U.S. Army Corps of Enigeer's magic which finally connected fresh water Lake Washington with Puget Sound via the Ship Canal, Lake Union, that retention dam which is part of the locks, keeping the salt water from entering Lake Union or the much larger Lake Washington. In... More

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Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
14 attraction reviews
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2014

this is a great little place on the ship canal from where you can walk a pleasant garden, watch the boats go through the locks, and at various times in season watch Salmon or salmon-fry go up / down the fish ladder. there is an underwater viewing area for the ladder so great for kids to see these great fish... More

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Seattle, Washington
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
7 attraction reviews
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2014

So, they are really old, funky and sometimes smelly but the were an engineering feat in their time and they still provide a valuable service to marine traffic, salmon runs and people watching! Don't miss it and spend some time in Ballard on the way in or out...ya sure you betcha!

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Seattle, Washington
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
14 attraction reviews
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

The fish ladder. The locking procedure so well done. The price, FREE. The contrasting neighborhoods on either side: Ballard and Magnolia. The landscaping. The wildlife.

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Seattle, Washington
Top Contributor
90 reviews 90 reviews
29 attraction reviews
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

Expect to see fishing trawlers, tug-boats, cabin-cruisers, NOAA ships (well, not so much anymore), kayaks and sailboats. In the fish ladder, you can see Chinook salmon or other salmon, depending on the season. Make no mistake about it, this is both a tourist attraction and a working part of the transportation system. Near to Fisherman's Terminal, there is constant boat... More

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Seattle
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
11 attraction reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

You can watch the boats passing through on their way to Lake Union inland or going out to the Sound. But there is much more. You can watch the salmon climb their ladders or just enjoy the beautiful surrounding gardens. Good for picnics or lazy afternoons.

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