US Army Corps of Engineers
Seattle District

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3015 NW 54th St

Seattle, WA  98107

The north parking lot adjacent to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is city-owned. Pay stations ensure adequate parking turnover of the limited spaces and minimize all-day parking by non-locks visitors. 

Parking is $2.00/hour for a maximum of three hours. Pay stations accept debit and credit cards, and coins. Payment is required for parking Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

For information about parking pay stations in Seattle, visit the Department of Transportion website at www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/paystation.htm. For questions about using a parking pay station, please call the Seattle Department of Transportation at (206) 684-ROAD. To report a problem, please call (206) 684-5260.

  • Take Denny Way westbound, continue onto Western Ave W and continue onto Elliott Ave W.
  • If you are on Hwy 99 (Alaskan Way Viaduct), exit onto Western Ave W. Follow Western until it merges with Elliott Ave W.
  • Once on Elliott, follow it northbound and merge onto 15th Ave W.
  • Turn left onto NW Market Street, .
  • Follow NW Market westbound through the Ballard business district.
  • At Taco Time bear left onto NW 54th Street.
  • Turn left immediately after the Lockspot Cafe
  • Follow Interstate 5 southbound taking Exit 172.
  • Merge onto N 85th Street heading westbound.
  • Continue on N 85th Street to end (32nd Ave NW).
  • Turn left onto 32nd Ave NW and follow it southbound to end (NW 54th St). A 7-11 Store is on your right and Totem House Restaurant is on your left.
  • Turn left on NW 54th Street, then turn right before the Lockspot Cafe.
  • Take Interstate 5 northbound and get off at Exit 169
  • At stop light, turn left onto NE 45th Street going westbound.
  • Follow 45th Street through intersection.
  • Take a slight right onto N Midvale Place, then continue onto N 46th Street. Stay in right lane and go under the Aurora overpass.
  • Continue West on 46th, which curves into NW Market Street.
  • Follow NW Market westbound across 15th Ave NW and through the Ballard business district.
  • At Taco Time bear left onto NW 54th Street.
  • Turn left immediately after the Lockspot Cafe.
  • Take Interstate 90 or Highway 520 (toll) westbound, to Interstate 5.
  • Take Interstate 5 northbound taking Exit 169
  • At stop light, turn left onto NE 45th Street going westbound.
  • Follow 45th Street through intersection.
  • Take a slight right onto N Midvale Place, then continue onto N 46th Street. Stay in right lane and go under the Aurora overpass.
  • Continue West on 46th, which curves into NW Market Street.
  • Follow NW Market westbound across 15th Ave NW and through the Ballard business district.
  • At Taco Time bear left onto NW 54th Street.
  • Turn left immediately after the Lockspot Cafe.
May-September: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. open daily
October-April: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Vessel Traffic: 24/7

Grounds: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Fish Ladder Viewing Room Hours: 7 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Tours last approximately one hour.

Free guided tours are given March 1 through November 30. Visit the Calendar or call the visitor center (206) 783-7059 for times.

For school or organization free guided tours of the locks, fish ladder or botanical garden, contact the visitor center staff at (206) 783-7059

Water Safety

Water safety icon

HOT INFO

Large and small lock to close 8 hours September 18

The large and small locks will close to all marine traffic eight hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. September 18 to inspect and open the saltwater drain structure.

Large and small lock to close 8 hours September 19

The large chamber will close to all marine traffic eight hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., September 19 for inspections in preparation for the upcoming large chamber extended closure October 12 through December 3.

Large Lock Extended Closure Schedule

The next couple years will see extended closures of the large chamber. .The 2019, 2020 and 2021 closures include replacing the valve gates, which are original to the locks.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

Aerial view of Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

 

Construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Hiram M. Chittenden Locks was completed in 1917 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Connecting the waters of Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Salmon Bay to the tidal waters of Puget Sound, the canal and locks allow recreational and commercial vessels to travel to the docks and warehouses of Seattle's busy fresh water harbor.

The complex of locks sit in the middle of Salmon Bay and are part of Seattle's Lake Washington Ship Canal. They are known locally as the Ballard Locks after the neighborhood to their north. (Magnolia lies to the south.)

The locks and associated facilities serve three purposes:

  • To maintain the water level of the fresh water Lake Washington and Lake Union at 20 to 22 feet above sea level.
  • To prevent the mixing of sea water from Puget Sound with the fresh water of the lakes (saltwater intrusion).
  • To move boats from the water level of the lakes to the water level of Puget Sound, and vice versa.

The complex includes two locks, a small (30 x 150 ft, 8.5 x 45.7 meter) and a large (80 x 825, 24.4 x 251.5 meter). The complex also includes a (235-foot, 71.6 meter) spillway with six (32 x 12-foot (3.7 m), 9.8 x 3.7 meter) gates to assist in water-level control. A fish ladder is integrated into the locks for migration of anadromous fish, notably salmon.

The grounds feature a visitors center, as well as the Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Gardens.

Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the locks were formally opened on July 4, 1917, although the first ship passed on August 3, 1916. They were named after U.S. Army Major Hiram Martin Chittenden, the Seattle District Engineer for the Corps of Engineers from April 1906 to September 1908. They were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Video

This video is a comprehensive look at the history of the Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks and their impact to the Seattle area. Learn how early Seattleites envisioned a waterway between Lake Washington and the Puget Sound and how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made it a reality.. 

 

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks were designed and built for the nation with commerce in mind. For years logs and coal traversed the now 100-year-old locks. Today, a large portion of the Alaskan Fishing Fleet moors in Seattle's fresh waters and use the Locks, but it's the smaller recreational boats that make us the busiest Lock in the nation in terms of vessel traffic. Nearly 50,000 boats lock through each year. This video tells the story of how the Locks in Ballard make Seattle a hot spot for recreational boating. 

 

Who was Hiram Chittenden and what does the Army have to do with the locks? In this video you can learn about the history of the Locks and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ role building them. Also, you will learn about Chittenden and meet his great-grandchildren. 

 

If you've ever come to the Chittenden Locks in Ballard, you've probably visited our fish ladder, and you may have seen salmon in our viewing windows. Did you know salmon have been coming through our fish ladder for a hundred years now?

 

This video tells the story of how Native American Tribes in the Seattle area were affected by the building of the Chittenden Locks and the Lake Washington Ship Canal in 1917.

 

Nearly 50,000 vessels lock through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard, with many of the Alaskan fishing fleet docking at Fishermen’s Terminal.  This episode is about the terminal and the fleet's boats that come through the locks all year long. 

 

At the Chittenden Locks, locally known as the Ballard Locks, we see many boats and ships coming through every day.  Many are visiting one of the shipyards along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, where they get re-fitted and repaired. As part of our centennial, we teamed up with a local film teacher and his students to tell stories about our history and impact on Seattle.