Hiram M Chittenden Locks

sights / Other

Hiram M Chittenden Locks information

Seattle , USA
3015 NW 54th St
Getting there
Bus: 62
Opening hours
locks 24hr, ladder & gardens 7am-9pm, visitor center 10am-6pm May-Sep
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Seattle shimmers like an impressionist painting on sunny days at the Hiram M Chittenden Locks. Here, the fresh-waters of Lake Washington and Lake Union that flow through the 8-mile-long Lake Washington Ship Canal drop 22 feet into salt-water Puget Sound. Construction of the canal and locks began in 1911; today 100,000 boats a year pass through them. They are situated a half-mile west of Ballard, off NW Market St and act as a bridge across the canal for pedestrians.

On the southern side of the Locks, the fish ladder was built in 1976 to allow salmon to fight their way to spawning grounds in the Cascade headwaters of the Sammamish River, which feeds Lake Washington. Visitors can watch the fish from underwater glass-sided tanks or from above (there are nets to keep salmon from over-leaping and stranding themselves on the pavement).

Sea lions munch on the salmon while the fish attempt to negotiate the ladder. The best time to visit is during spawning season, from mid-June to September.

On the northern entrance to the lock area is the Carl English Jr Botanical Gardens, a charming arboretum and specimen garden. Trails wind through gardens filled with flowers and mature trees, each labeled. Flanking the gardens is a small museum and visitors center documenting the history of the locks.