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“Fascinating Stop”

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
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$49.69*
and up
Seattle Locks Cruise
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$70.00*
and up
Seattle Shore Excursion: Private City Tour
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$70.00*
and up
Private Tour: Seattle Highlights
Ranked #9 of 457 things to do in Seattle
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Attraction details
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 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.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed September 19, 2013

Watching the locks fill with boats and either raise or lower them to the next water level never grows old. It's pretty cool. And the salmon ladder is pretty amazing, too.The grounds around the locks are park-like so it's a great place for the whole family - especially on a sunny day.

Thank Joe D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,907 - 1,911 of 2,705 reviews

Reviewed September 19, 2013

A free guided walking tour of one hour will tell and show you all, but the experience is priceless! Nice little gift shop, the grounds covered with trees from all over the world, and to see and almost touch the boats transiting the canal will impress you. The docent, I prefer this term to guide, was a very informative, friendly and caring lady. Along side the large and the small locks is a salmon ladder with underground viewing windows. I loved seeing these large 5-15 pound salmon fighting there way to spawn up in the mountain streams where they were born. Paid parking was out front. We saw 2 good sized tugboats and several personal and luxurious boats transit the canal in both directions. Definitely bring your camera and kids.

Thank Lloyd B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 17, 2013

We came here on a fluke, not knowing what to expect. Luckily we got to see some small boats going through the locks. Having previously been through the Panama Canal, it was fun to explain to my friends what was happening. Great photo ops. If you go during salmon season you can see the fish heading upstream!

Free to walk around the locks, just had to pay the meter for parking.

Thank jbergma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2013

For those driving, seek parking on the right, which is maintained by the city. The left parking lot is a private lot, and I made the mistake of parking there. In addition to being more expensive, the machine was broken, so I had no receipt to prove that I paid. I called the parking company and followed their instructions to put a not on my dash. I was successful in avoiding a ticket, but it was not an ideal experience. My partner and I arrived in between guided tours, so we didn't wait for the tour to start our adventure. We crossed the locks rather quickly as it was not all that interesting to us (your millage may vary). We were much more interested in the salmon, which in mid-September, were moderately active. We observed dozens of salmon jumping in the water trapped by the locks. In my mind, these jumping salmon realized that they got lucky when they got into the locks where they can chill with the boats rather than climbing the salmon ladder. The salmon ladder is quite ingenious way for the salmon to transverse the elevation change in a series of small hops. There is an observation area where you can watch the salmon while they are underwater. The signs help you identify the type of salmon you see. We saw the Steelhead and Chinook Salmon. In the summer, I can imagine that you would want to hit this attraction first thing in the morning to avoid crowds. There was a moderate crowd in mid-September. Finally, we walked back towards the entrance and picked up the twice-daily tour. We didn't go through the full tour, but we watched the intro video and I would think it worthwhile to anyone with the slightest interest in history of the area. I thought it was well-done. After the video ended, we exited.

Thank FirstOnes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2013

It's quite the spectacle to see the boats chambered up and waiting for water to be added or removed in order to pass into a body of water with different elevation. This is what I would imagine the Panama Canal to look like in a much samller scale of course.

Thank goophirg1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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