Spring is in the air - the first day of spring is tomorrow - and the sun is actually shining in Seattle today. A perfect morning to walk around the Ballard Locks. If you're new to the area, the locks are great for tourists - it forces you to get out and explore more of the city (it seems like most tourists get stuck downtown for most of their trip). They're free, and you could easily spend from 1 hour to a half-day watching salmon, boats, taking a guided tour, and maybe having lunch nearby or a picnic on the grounds.
The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are located in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. This is where the saltwater meets the freshwater - the lakes in the middle of the city empty out to the Puget Sound (and then eventually to the ocean). The locks were built between 1911 and 1917 to regulate the water level in Seattle's lakes (lake Union and lake Washington), to prevent the saltwater of the Sound from intruding into the freshwater of the lakes, and to allow boats to move between the waters.
There is a nice park/botanical garden at the Locks, restaurants and coffee close by, lots of parking (park a block away for free), and a cool fish ladder to watch migrating salmon. Migrating juvenile salmon (sockeye, chinook, coho, and steelhead) leave lake Washington watershed for the Pacific ocean. Mature salmon return 3-5 years later to spawn and die. It's basically get born in the freshwater, swim and live life in the saltwater, then return to make babies and call it quits - not a bad way to live I'd say.
The real fun at the Locks however, is just watching all of the boat traffic. I've been lucky enough to have lived right across the street from the Locks years ago, and have been through on a boat several times too (and I'm sure I'll go through many times in the near future). Wanna see more pictures from the Locks? Check out the slideshow below, and get out and go see the Ballard Locks!
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