Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
Bodies of Water • Points of Interest & Landmarks • Piers & Boardwalks
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7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Monday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Tuesday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Wednesday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Thursday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Friday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Saturday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
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About
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.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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Top ways to experience Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
3,235 reviews
Excellent
1,986
Very good
1,061
Average
174
Poor
10
Terrible
4

radx4
Ellicott City, MD2,243 contributions
Aug 2021
The Chittenden Locks are a cool place to visit. The locks provide access to Lake Washington from the Puget Sound, and they are very active with boats coming and going at all times of the day. When we visited we saw at least a dozen boats come and go into and out of Lake Washington. The process of raising and lowering the water in the locks is fun to watch.

There is also a salmon hatchery and ladder on site. At a time of our visit we were able to see some salmon in the tank, but they were not actively climbing the ladder. This may be different at different times of the day or times of the year.

Still, for a free experience this was a lot of fun, and I highly recommend visiting for anyone who is in the area. There is a decent amount of parking on site, although payment is required.
Written September 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Melody O
3 contributions
Jun 2021
We loved it! The problem is that we had a family member that really needed to get to the bathroom quickly and we didn't see that it was a place you had to pay for parking. As a result, when we got back to the car, we had a ticket that cost $66, or $88 if not paid for within 7 days. I called the number on the ticket and explained what happened. Nothing. They couldn't change it but they did give us a discount if we paid that day, so it ended up costing $56. Really expensive mistake.

The fish ladder was closed, it is on the south side of the locks. You could look down at the ladder but we didn't see any fish.
There is a restroom, thank goodness.
We watched quite a few smaller boats and a few large tugboats go through the locks. It was fun seeing the water raise and lower the boats to move them on their way.
For larger sailboats coming into the locks they have to raise the railroad bridge so that was a fun extra.
You will also see seaplanes flying over.
A great stop that we would go to again.
Written June 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

wireless_in_CA
United States4,696 contributions
Oct 2022 • Family
We took a walk over to the Locks after a filling breakfast. It was good to see that the previous construction was completed and we could walk across the locks and over to the salmon ladder without any issues.

We did manage to catch the lock getting filled to lift some kayakers up and then a bunch of boats were dropped down when it was their turn in the opposite direction. Watching the lock fill or drain took some time….

The path above the lock was good for single file and no one was supposed to stop.

We did get to see a couple seals frolicking in the water next to the locks.

The salmon ladder was quiet except for one lone sockeye salmon that the ranger said had been there for a couple weeks waiting for a male (?) before continuing into the lake. She was a late arrival while most had already passed into the lake.

The visitor museum nearer to the parking lot was also open this time. A 15 minute movie about the locks was playing and on the second floor were most of the exhibits. It was rather small.
Written October 23, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

seanworc
New York City, NY716 contributions
Aug 2022 • Family
The Ballard Locks is a lock system on Lake Washington in Ballard, Seattle. There is a beautiful, tranquil, and small garden next to the Locks on the Ballard side. If you are fortunate, visitors can see the salmon climb up the ladders to help them spawn. Magical. It is free. Also, there are 8 major brewers in Ballard to sample.
Written August 30, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

wireless_in_CA
United States4,696 contributions
Oct 2020 • Couples
Visiting the locks in October was a lot less crowded and parking meters were turned off. The drawback was one set of locks were under early renovation (thought it wasn’t supposed to start until November) and the pathway to the locks and salmon ladders were blocked off.

I remember during our previous summer visit watching the salmon make their way up the ladder which was a sight to see. Also the girls and I spent awhile watching the lock get loaded with boats and raised or lowered depending on the direction of travel. For now it was not so interesting just watching the tops of the boats.

Due to COVID-19 the museum was closed along with the pedestrian bridge and all restrooms so take that into consideration when planning your winter visit.

This is a great example of engineering in action.
Written October 25, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

urbanguy
Richmond, VA4,459 contributions
Jul 2021
I've seen several of these locks in my life, and they're all fascinating to watch. There is a "method" to filling up each lock with watercraft, and the folks that do that have it down to a "science."

Just outside the locks, there were some seals (or sea lions) swimming around. Interesting to watch.

If you're a tourist in the Seattle area, this is one attraction not to be missed. It's free!
Written August 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Karim Maarouf
Cairo, Egypt758 contributions
Sep 2022
Nice to spend some time here. It was interesting to watch the mechanism that raises or lowers boats. There is also a very cool salmon ladder, which is like a bridge to help the salmon cross. There are glass windows so you can see them swimming. Also spotted some seals in the water.
Written November 26, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Wtravelers2120
Wisconsin Dells, WI229 contributions
Sep 2021
The ladders to view the salmon were very cool. It is a very large area to spend some time. Make sure you look closely to look for the harbor seals. The botanical gardens are also located here so take time to see them also. It was nice to see how they moved many different sizes of boats at the same time.
Written October 13, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Diana Z
Phoenix, AZ64 contributions
Sep 2021
We took a tour boat over to the Ballard Locks. It was interesting to actually pass through the locks from the water level as opposed to just viewing from the shore. Saw sea lions catching salmon close by. Tour ends at South Lake Union where there are lots of restaurants and the Museum of History and Industry.
Written September 29, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Timzorrr
Edmonds, WA1,542 contributions
Mar 2020 • Couples
The Hiram M. Chittendon Locks are a Seattle landmark. The Locks are located in a beautiful park setting with plenty of room, grass and benches to relax. Uou can stroll around and learn about native trees and plants which are all marked.

The Locks themselves are beautiful and interesting as well. Watching the boats or all sizes going through as well as making your way to the fish ladder to see if there any salmon coming through, everyone will enjoy something about the place.
Written March 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Seattle) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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