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Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, locally known as the Ballard Locks, is a complex of locks at the west end of Salmon Bay, in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. It’s a critical infrastructure for maritime traffic between the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of the Ship Canal, which then connects to Lake Union and Lake Washington.


The Locks are situated at:

3015 NW 54th St,
Seattle, WA 98107,
United States

Features of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

  • Locks System: The complex includes small and large lock chambers that manage the safe passage of recreational and commercial vessels.
  • Fish Ladder: A fish ladder is integrated into the locks, allowing salmon to migrate between fresh and salt water, with viewing windows for visitors to observe the fish.
  • Botanical Gardens: The Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden surrounds the locks with beautifully landscaped gardens that feature over 500 species and 1,500 varieties of plants from around the world.
  • Visitor Center: The visitor center provides information about the locks’ history, operations, and the surrounding environment.

Visiting the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

  • Hours: The Locks are open year-round, but hours vary by season. It’s best to check the official website for the most current information.
  • Tours: Free guided tours are often available, providing insights into the engineering marvel and its significance to Seattle’s maritime history.
  • Accessibility: The grounds, locks, and fish ladder are wheelchair-accessible.
  • Activities: Watching boats pass through the locks, observing salmon migration, and enjoying the gardens are popular activities.
  • Facilities: Restrooms, picnic areas, and benches are available for public use.

Events and Activities

  • Salmon Migration: The annual salmon migration through the fish ladder is a significant draw, especially during the summer months.
  • Concerts and Events: The Locks host summer concerts and other community events in normal years, bringing live entertainment to visitors.
  • Educational Opportunities: The Locks provide educational programs about the importance of this maritime infrastructure and the local ecosystem.


The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are not only a vital component of Seattle’s maritime industry but also a place of recreation, education, and natural beauty. They offer a unique opportunity to observe an intersection of human engineering with the natural environment, making it a popular attraction for both locals and tourists. The botanical gardens and the fish ladder also contribute to the appeal of the Locks, creating a diverse experience that is both enlightening and enjoyable.

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