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Hiram M. Chittenden Locks Tours

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Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
Learn about the annual phenomenon of salmon spawning at Seattle’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, known locally as the Ballard Locks, where three types of Pacific salmon pass through the fish ladder during the summer months on the way upriver to their spawning grounds.
 
The Basics
The Ballard Locks are one of the most-visited attractions in Seattle, and there are several opportunities to visit on a city tour or even a boat cruise. If you go on your own, free walking tours are available on-site and last about an hour. 

During spawning season, sockeye, chinook, and coho salmon climb the Lake Washington Ship Canal Fish Ladder. You can watch this impressive feat either from underwater tanks or from above, where nets keep the fish from jumping too high and stranding themselves on the pavement.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Even during peak spawning season, there is no guarantee you’ll see salmon in the fish ladder due to low tides or low salmon numbers.
  • Water can be purchased at the visitor center; food is not usually available but picnics are allowed if you’ve purchased food from one of the nearby eateries.
  • Free parking can be found in the neighborhoods on the north and south sides of the locks, and metered parking is available at the north main entrance gate.
 
How to Get There
The locks are located about 15 minutes north of downtown Seattle, across the Ballard Bridge in the neighborhood of Ballard. Via public transport, take bus 29 or 44.
 
When to Get There
The best time to visit is during the salmon spawning season, from mid-June to September. The grounds are open every day; the visitor center is open daily from May to September and Thursday through Monday from October to April. For maintenance, the small locks are closed for two weeks in March, the large locks are closed for two weeks in November, and the fish ladder is closed for about two weeks in May.
 
Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden
Located outside the locks’ northern entrance, the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden hosts free concerts on summer weekends and features walking trails that wind through trees and flower gardens. A small museum and visitor center document the history of the locks.
Address: 3015 NW 54th Street, Seattle, USA
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15 Tours and Activities to Experience Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

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Premier 3-Hour Seattle City Tour

Premier 3-Hour Seattle City Tour

star-4.5
Seattle is famous for its bustling waterfront, numerous green spaces, and historic neighborhoods. Ideal for first-time visitors, this sightseeing tour provides an overview of top attractions such as Pioneer Square, the Space Needle, and Pike Place market. Sit back and relax while your guide provides historical and cultural background for each destination, and enjoy stops to walk and take photos.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$79.00
From
$79.00
Taking safety measures

4-Hour Seattle City Tour

4-Hour Seattle City Tour

star-5
It might seem a little bit intimidating exploring one of the largest cities in Washington and the Pacific Northwest region all on your own, but there’s no need to stress. This 4-hour guided tour helps you conquer all the hot spots of Seattle, including the Space Needle, China Town, and T-Mobile Park. Your guide knows all the quickest ways around, so you can see more in less time.  
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$66.66
From
$66.66
Taking safety measures

3-Hour Seattle City Tour

3-Hour Seattle City Tour

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Experience the best of Seattle on this small-group minibus tour in and around the Emerald City. Visit great attractions in downtown Seattle and at the Seattle waterfront. Travel to Pioneer Square, Chinatown and International District, plus Seattle Center (with the iconic Space Needle), hopping out for photo ops throughout the tour.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$80.29
From
$80.29

Pre-Cruise Tour: Transportation & Seattle City Tour

Pre-Cruise Tour: Transportation & Seattle City Tour

star-4.5
Waiting to take off on a cruise? Get to know the beautiful city of Seattle on a small-group guided sightseeing tour around town. Hop in a mini-coach and enjoy a relaxing ride to the city’s most popular attractions, like the iconic Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and many more, including a great view of Mt. Rainier. Hotel pickup and port drop-off are included. Luggage will be safely stowed during the tour, and a timely return to the cruise port is guaranteed.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$94.00
From
$94.00
Taking safety measures

Private Tour: Seattle Highlights

Private Tour: Seattle Highlights

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See the best of Seattle on this private, 3-hour, sightseeing tour. Pick and choose the sites and attractions with the most appeal and let an expert guide lead the way. Consider the many options: the iconic Space Needle, the famous Pike Place Market and the Elliott Bay waterfront. How about Pioneer Square, the birthplace of Seattle, or the Ballard Locks? Get sweeping views of Puget Sound and Mt Rainier. This customizable tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off.
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  • 3 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$251.29
Price varies by group size
From
$251.29
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Seattle Ballard Locks, Gas Works Park and Houseboats Tour

Seattle Ballard Locks, Gas Works Park and Houseboats Tour

star-5
Let's explore the busiest locks in the nation, the Hiram Chittenden Locks! We will watch boats "lock through" and watch for baby salmon (smolts) going out to sea, and adults returning to navigate the fish ladder on their way home to spawn. The resident harbor seals and herons are always fun to watch too! We will learn how this critical component of our maritime industry and history transformed Seattle, and it's role in managing our fresh water lake systems. Then we're off to Gas Works to learn about this one-of-a-kind park, where we will see float planes taking off and landing, and enjoy stunning views of the city. Finally we will visit to the houseboat communities along Lake Union, a uniquely Seattle experience! Kids aged 8 and up are welcome, as I do not have car seats for younger ones.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$107.89
From
$107.89

Scenic Seattle Panoramic Tour

Scenic Seattle Panoramic Tour

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On this tour you will experience why Seattle came to be known as the “Emerald City”. The Scenic Seattle tour provides views of lakes, locks, mountains, and forest vistas, all without leaving Seattle's city limits.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$60.52
From
$60.52

Afternoon 3-Hour Seattle City Tour

Afternoon 3-Hour Seattle City Tour

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Get personalized attention on this small-group tour of Seattle, limited to just 14 people or fewer. Traveling with a small group means you'll get personalized attention and the chance to ask questions of your guide during the journey to several top landmarks, such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$75.57
From
$75.57

Pre-Cruise Seattle Sightseeing Tour

Pre-Cruise Seattle Sightseeing Tour

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Transfer from your airport hotel to the cruise terminal — and tour Seattle in between — on this 3-hour pre-cruise city tour. See Seattle's most popular attractions, including the Space Needle and the original Starbucks, on this fully narrated excursion that includes pickup from your airport hotel and drop-off at the cruise terminal around noon.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$86.54
From
$86.54

Seattle Shore Excursion: Private City Tour

Seattle Shore Excursion: Private City Tour

star-5
See Seattle like a local on a private shore excursion that takes in all the highlights of this famous Northwest city. While your ship is in port, take private transport to must-see locales such as the Chinatown-International District, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, the Ballard Locks and Queen Anne Hill. The 3-hour tour includes stops to explore Seattle’s food, shopping and entertainment. You can even get out to view Puget Sound, Mt Rainier and the Olympic Mountains from the top of the Space Needle (own expense).
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  • 3 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$251.29
Price varies by group size
From
$251.29
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Seattle in One Day: Sightseeing Tour including Space Needle and Pike Place Market

Seattle in One Day: Sightseeing Tour including Space Needle and Pike Place Market

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See the best of Seattle on this sightseeing tour. Sit back and relax in a spacious coach as a knowledgeable guide presents Seattle’s neighborhoods and attractions. See the iconic Space Needle (admission included) with stellar views of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, including majestic Mt Rainier. There’s Pike Place Market and the Elliott Bay waterfront, plus Pioneer Square. The list goes on. This tour includes convenient hotel pickup.
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  • 5 to 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$148.00
From
$148.00
Taking safety measures

Private 3-hour City Tour of Seattle with driver/guide - Hotel or port pick up

Private 3-hour City Tour of Seattle with driver/guide - Hotel or port pick up

Firstly your licensed driver/guide will pick you up in your desired place in Seattle. Get a chance to visit unique sites like Pioneer Square, Kerry Park, The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and much more during this private tour of Seattle. You can customise the itinerary with your guide in case you are interested in visiting a particular place.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$488.15
Price varies by group size
From
$488.15
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Private 3-hour City Tour of Seattle with driver & guide - Hotel or port pick up

Private 3-hour City Tour of Seattle with driver & guide - Hotel or port pick up

Firstly your licensed tour guide and your private driver will pick you up in your desired place in Seattle. Get a chance to visit unique sites like Pioneer Square, Kerry Park, The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and much more during this private tour of Seattle. You can customise the itinerary with your guide in case you are interested in visiting a particular place.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$863.85
Price varies by group size
From
$863.85
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Private 5-hour City Tour of Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls with driver/guide

Private 5-hour City Tour of Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls with driver/guide

Firstly your licensed driver/guide will pick you up in your desired place in Seattle. Get a chance to visit unique sites like Pioneer Square, Kerry Park, The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and much more during this private tour of Seattle. After Seattle you will drive to Snoqualmie Falls. Located 30 minutes outside of the city the falls are the most famous waterfall in Washington and most popular attraction. After visiting the waterfall you will drive back to Seattle. You can customise the itinerary with your guide in case you are interested in visiting a particular place.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$803.29
Price varies by group size
From
$803.29
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Private 5-hour City Tour of Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls with driver and guide

Private 5-hour City Tour of Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls with driver and guide

Firstly your licensed tour guide and private driver will pick you up in your desired place in Seattle. Get a chance to visit unique sites like Pioneer Square, Kerry Park, The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and much more during this private tour of Seattle. After Seattle you will drive to Snoqualmie Falls. Located 30 minutes outside of the city the falls are the most famous waterfall in Washington and most popular attraction. After visiting the waterfall you will drive back to Seattle. You can customise the itinerary with your guide in case you are interested in visiting a particular place.
More
  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$1,093.71
Price varies by group size
From
$1,093.71
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Frequently Asked Questions

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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What's the best way to experience Hiram M. Chittenden Locks?