We stumbled upon the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (aka The Ballard Locks) on a recent exploration. We had just finished lunch and headed towards the shore and saw the sign for the locks and a botanical garden and decided to check it out.
Although parking is limited we lucked out on the second drive around the lot and paid a minimal parking fee at the meter and headed in.
Entrance is free and guests are welcome to walk around and explore on their own but you can also head to the visitors center to see a film and meet with a guide.
The grounds were beautiful and the aromas of flowers were definitely in the air. At the ‘locks’ we weren’t immediately sure what to do but followed the metal dock walkways (and other people) and found ourselves in the middle of the locks. We were lucky to see a boat proceeding through the locks while we were there and it was really great to witness the process. In short it was a new experience that we enjoyed.
The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are the Nation’s busiest with nearly 50,000 vessels/year ‘locking through’. In addition, there are significant salmon migrations through the Locks that, in a good year, total over 500,000 salmon.
The Locks are a Seattle Icon, National Historic Site and a top tourist site attracting over 1.3 million visitors/year. The Grounds are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., 365 days a year.
Check out http://www.ballardlocks.org for more information and special event details including the upcoming “Dancing for a View” on July 3rd from 5 p.m.-9 p.m.