View of Salmon Bay Bridge
Boats and Trains
South side of NW 54th Street, just west of the Ballard Locks.
I’ve listed this as a viewpoint, but it’s a little view, not a big one. A Salish Welcome is a pocket park owned and maintained by Seattle Public Utilities in the Salmon Bay Natural Area.
This unique spot is a very short distance west of the Ballard Locks and is virtually unknown outside the Ballard area. You can add it to your list of “secret” Seattle locations with which to impress friends and out-of-town guests.
Turn south off of 54th into The Canal parking lot and you will see the park sculpture in front of you. There are three parking spaces on the left side of the park that can be used without intruding into The Canal’s parking.
The viewpoint is named for its sculpture, a 16-foot bronze, aluminum, and glass statue that celebrates the life-cycle of salmon and its importance to the indigenous people of Western Washington. The statue is wearing traditional dress and its face is inspired by the traditional Coast Salish woodcarving style.
The sculpture was created in 2010 by Marvin Oliver, an artist of Quinault and Isleta-Pueblo heritage. Oliver is Professor of American Indian Studies and Art at the University of Washington, and serves as Adjunct Curator of Contemporary Native American Art at the Burke Museum.
A Salish Welcome contains a tiny stone-paved plaza, two benches, the sculpture, and a view platform that juts out over the canal.
The view to the east towards the locks is blocked. To the west you get a close view of the Salmon Bay Bridge and partial view of the bay. This is a fun spot to watch boats of all types go by, from commercial fishing vessels to kayaks. Boat watching tends to be best on good weather weekends, especially if you’re wanting to see the bridge go up to allow sailboats through.
Commodore Park, directly across the canal in Magnolia, is a much better spot for bird watching, but A Salish Welcome will do if you don’t feel like leaving the Ballard side. During winter months a variety of water fowl use the area, and in the spring and summer great blue herons are all over the place. You can also occasionally see ospreys, bald eagles, or seals looking for dinner when salmon are running.
A Salish Welcome is a lovely little spot any time of year. In the summer one or both of the two benches is in shade for much of the day, in winter you get a better view with leaves off the trees, and as you can see in the photos below, the autumn color in late October is stunning.
This is mostly the kind of place to pause for a few minutes if you’re taking a walk, bike ride, or drive through the area. But from my own experience, it’s also a pretty neat spot to bring a book. You can read outside in the fresh air, looking up occasionally to watch birds, trains, and boats.
Things to Know
Open during daylight.
No picnic tables.
Public bathrooms are available at Golden Gardens Park, which is only a minute away by car to the west.
Three dedicated spots right next to the viewpoint.
If The Canal isn’t hosting an event you can also use the parking spaces in their lot. (The Canal is an upscale space that rents out for weddings, private parties, and corporate events.) If an event is in progress it’s possible the viewpoint parking spaces will be full.
Most of the time parking is very easy to come by.
A Salish Welcome is primarily used by locals who stop by while out for a walk or bike ride.
I was here on a gorgeous October Saturday morning and ended up staying for about an hour and a half, including time spent reading. During that period only one other car came and parked. Several people out for walks wandered through by ones and twos. They all stayed less than five minutes.
The upshot is, even on a lovely weekend day you can expect to have the place to yourself much of the time. But you should also expect to have your solitude occasionally intruded upon.
Salmon Bay Bridge, trains, train tracks, autumn leaves, boats, birds.
Best light: morning.