If you are here in late summer the salmon are running, and in addition to watching the boats go up and down in the locks (connecting seawater to freshwater) you can watch the salmon jump around and you can see them through special viewing windows.
Visitors watch as boats make the transition from the fresh water of Lake Washington and Lake Union to the salt water of Puget Sound through Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard, Seattle's Scandinavian neighborhood.
I've always loved watching ships. It conveys that sense of travel, departure and homecoming. The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are found in the Ballard district, providing a channel for boats between the Puget Sound and the waters of Lake Union and Lake Washington. They were originally built in 1911 to transport coal and timber into Seattle. Anyone can stop by and watch the sailboats, motorboats, kayaks, barges and yachts of all shapes and sizes passing through the locks. The mechanism of the locks is interesting... the water pumped in to help raise the boats to the inland levels, or dropped to let them out. And they are completely free. So if you are on a kayak or a boat, feel free to make use of this to peruse the Sound (or the lakes, depending on which way you're going).
There is also a the fish ladder, built to allow salmon to migrate inland from the salt water. There are glass panels to view the fish as they navigate their way through the ladder, adjusting to different levels of salt each step of the way. It's a lot of fun to watch during the salmon run in the summertime.
Boats may use locks 24 hours a day year-round.
Grounds are open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Fish ladder is open 7 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.
More formally known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, this engineering marvel is a fascinating thing to watch. Located on the north western side of Seattle, the locks provide a simple, effective way to raise boats between the Pacific Ocean up 20 - 22 feet to freshwater Lake Union.
The most common way to access the locks is from the Ballard neighborhood north of the channel. Walking from the street, there's also a wonderful Botanical Garden that's worth seeing all on its own.
There's also a fish ladder, which enables fish to jump up in a somewhat more tiring way than the boaters have to!
Formally known as the Hiram Chittenden Locks, this park also includes a salmon ladder and botanical garden.
The locks provide and connection for vessels of all sizes travelling between Lake Washington and Puget Sound. Many of the Alaskan fishing boats leave through here and its fun to talk to the crews and watch the line handlers as the boats move through the lock.
The salmon ladder provides a means for sallmon who are swimming upstream to bypass the dam and locks as they make their way back to their breeding grounds in Lake Washington. There is even a viewing window where you can watch them swim by in season.
The botanical gardens have series of paths leading through various landscapes. We were there in Autumn, so the flowers weren't in bloom but the leaves were changing and it was still quite beautiful. Grounds open daily 7-9.
It interesting to see the locks, the fish ladder and the garden. Be mindful where you stand so that you are not in the way when they open the gates.
It is best not to do a city tour because they do not take you deep into the garden.
This is the #3 attraction in Seattle after the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. We took a cruise around Elliott Bay and Lake Union, which is connected by the locks and transitions from salt to fresh water. Doors close in back of the vessel and fresh water is pumped into the section. The fresh water raises the boat up to the level of Lake Union. There is also a fish ladder at the locks where you can see the migratin of salmon from the salt water to fresh water, where they spawn.
The Ballard Locks is worth visiting. It is the canal waterway with its locks between Lake Washington and the Puget Sounds.
Often times you can observe beautiful boats using these locks going to and from the Puget Sounds. Witnessed a couple in their kayak within one of the locks. The guy whipped out from his pocket a ring and proposed to his lady companion, who promptly accepted his proposal! How romantic! Another interesting feature is within a side building underground, there's an observation room which has glassed windows showing the water channels through which various species of salmon swim upwards toward Lake Washington during spawning season.
If the Salmon are spawning I think this is a cool activity. You can go "underground" and watch the salmon as they attempt to swim through the locks. Additionally, the locks provide an interesting glimpse into how Seattle has altered its natural environment being squeezed between salt and fresh water.
Watching boats going through the locks, as they cross from Lake to Lake to the ocean. You can also see salmon through an underwater window
Locks is the gate between George Washington lake and the Ocean.
Salmons jump out of the surface for the lake water is not salty as the oceans waters : ))
While you're visiting the Locks, go across to the other side and descent down the steps. It's worth it, you can see the fish actually swimming upstream.....