You may not know there are many salmon fish hatcheries throughout Washington State. Fish hatcheries here and across the country help manage and restore America’s fish populations. Supporting a variety of fish species and issues, including habitat conservation, endangered species recovery, tribal fishing rights, and recreation opportunities for anglers.
The National Fish Hatchery System (NFHS) is comprised of a network of 71 National Hatcheries, 10 of which are located in Washington State. The national hatcheries are working facilities, focused on raising threatened species for restoration and recovery programs, as well as providing fish to benefit Tribes, federal water projects, scientific research, and other goals.
In Washington State, fish hatcheries typically raise freshwater trout, steelhead, and three species of Pacific salmon: Coho (aka silver salmon), Chinook (King salmon), and Chum (“dog” salmon). To see the natural spectacle of returning salmon, the best time to visit most hatcheries is late summer through fall. Some hatcheries have other interesting facilities to see year-round and many provide self-guided tour information.
Listed below are fisheries in many locations across the state you can visit. Admission and self-guided tours at most hatcheries are free.
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King County fish hatcheries
Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Issaquah, a quick drive up I-90 from Seattle, the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery makes a great getaway. Opened in 1936, this hatchery has been essential to restoring salmon to the area. Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH) have cultivated educational opportunities here. Not only will you see fish, you’ll also learn about how they impact the Puget Sound region. Chinook and Coho salmon species are raised here. The hatchery also highlights native plants, wetlands, and the Indigenous people of the area.
Self-guided tours available daily from dawn til dusk. Guided tours are available for $5 per person. Pre-registration is required at Guided Tours (issaquahfish.org).
- Location: 125 W Sunset Way Issaquah, WA 98027
- Hours: Grounds open daily from dawn ’til dusk. Office open Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm.
- Parking: Free parking is available in two lots. Additional parking across the street next door to the library.
- Website: https://www.cityofpuyallup.org/1204/Fish-Hatchery
Salmon Days Festival at Issaquah Hatchery
Issaquah Salmon Hatchery participates in the annual Salmon Days Festival in October hosted by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce. This two-day event every autumn celebrates the start of the spawning season. Festivities include artisan booths, food vendors, salmon exhibits, hatchery tours (registration required), games for the kiddos, live entertainments, and more.
- When: October 7-8, 2023
- More info: Annual Salmon Days (issaquahchamber.com)
The Puyallup Fish Hatchery
The 80-acre setting of the Puyallup Fish Hatchery is a park-like destination a few blocks from the Puyallup fairgrounds. It’s a beautiful spot to visit, offering lots of open space and walking trails to enjoy. The Puyallup Hatchery opened in 1949 to supply trout to area lakes. Recently they’ve begun raising Coho and Chinook salmon. Local school children also take part in learning opportunities here.
- Location: 1416 14th Street SW.
- Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm
- Website: https://www.cityofpuyallup.org/1204/Fish-Hatchery
Salmon Homecoming at Puyallup Fish Hatchery
An annual Salmon Homecoming is held in the fall. During the festival, enjoy events, educational programs, and opportunities to explore the watershed.
- When: TBA 2023, October
- More info: Puyallup Historical Hatchery Foundation | Facebook
Other Western Washington fish hatcheries
The Stillaguamish Tribe operates the Harvey Creek Hatchery and the Brenner Creek Hatchery. Brenner Creek opened in 1923 as a private hatchery. Now members of the Stillaguamish tribe operate the hatcheries to raise Chinook salmon for release into the south fork of the river. Harvey Creek opened in 1977 and raises Coho, Chinook, and Chum salmon species. These fish are released into the north fork of the river. Both locations tag fish for easier tracking.
- Location: Arlington, WA
- Hours: Guided walks and hatchery tours are available. More info: Outreach & Education Program – Stillaguamish Tribe
- Website: https://www.stillaguamish.com/natural-resources/fisheries-program/
Makah National Fish Hatchery
The Makah Fish Hatchery on the northwestern tip of the Washington peninsula raises Coho, Chinook, Chum, and Steelhead salmon species. Over 2 million fish per year come from this location alone! This is enough fish to supply local rivers and lakes as well as the annual catch by the Makah Tribe. The self-guided visitor center provides an interior tour of the facility and features engaging media to explain hatchery operations and the cultural relevance. There are no designated trails on the property, but you’re welcome to walk around the facility to see the fish ponds, fish ladder, fish weir, and Tsoo-Yess River.
- Location: Makah National Fish Hatchery, 897 Hatchery Road, Neah Bay,WA98357
- Best time to visit: mid-September through the end of December
- Hours: Not listed. Call ahead to confirm. Phone: (360) 645-2521.
- Website: https://www.fws.gov/fish-hatchery/makah
Quinault National Fish Hatchery
Located 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Quinault Fish Hatchery is a unique destination. Located near Olympic National Park, it’s one of the only hatcheries located in a rainforest. The hatchery is off of Cook Creek on Quinault tribal lands. Over 3 million fish are raised here annually. The fish are released into coastal streams in the surrounding area. The self-guided visitor center provides helpful and interesting information about hatchery operations, the fish, and their cultural relevance to the Quinault people. There are no designated trails on the property, but you’re welcome to walk around the facility to see the fish ponds, fish ladder, fish weir, and Cook Creek.
- Location: Quinault National Fish Hatchery, 3 Sockeye Road, Humptulips,WA 98552
- Hours: Not listed. Call ahead to confirm. Phone: (360) 288-2508.
- Website: https://www.fws.gov/Quinaultnfh/
Tumwater Falls Hatchery
Located at Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls (former site of the Olympia Brewing Company) the Tumwater Falls Hatchery underwent updates in 2020, including new holding ponds, modifications to the existing fish ladder, and a viewing area for the public. The peak season for viewing returning salmon at Tumwater Falls is usually late-August to late-October.
Brewery Park covers 15 acres and is filled with natural beauty year-round for all ages. A wide variety of native trees and shrubs line both sides of the river as it pitches and eddies through a gorge of boulder rapids and deep pools, its course culminating in a mist-filled plunge over Tumwater Falls. Walking trails are highlighted by cascading waterfalls, reflective pools, and massive rocks. Footbridges across the river at both ends of the gorge connect the network of trails. At the upper reaches, visitors find wide expanses of beautifully maintained lawns, picnic facilities, children’s play area, restrooms, and parking.
- Location: 114 Deschutes Way SW, Tumwater, WA 98501
- Hours: daily 8am-8pm
- Website: Tumwater Falls Hatchery | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and Brewery Park | Olympia Tumwater Foundation (olytumfoundation.org)
Columbia River Gorge fish hatcheries
Across the country, the network of National Fish Hatcheries work with states and local tribes to conserve, restore and enhance the fish and aquatic resources of America for future generation. Since 1871, National Fish Hatcheries have been applying science-based approaches to conservation challenges. Conservation is at the heart of what they do—their work is for the American people, both the present and future generations who will inherit the legacy of conserving America’s aquatic resources.
The Columbia River Gorge National Fish Hatchery Complex includes the Carson, Eagle Creek, Little White Salmon, Spring Creek, Warm Springs, and Willard National Fish Hatcheries. The complex propagates, releases, and transfers over 25 million salmon to meet the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s goals to alleviate problems due to hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River. The complex of hatcheries along the Columbia River Gorge partners with local Tribes to produce over 22.5 million salmon per year to mitigate fishery losses, restore fish populations, and provide Tribes with an important cultural resource. Details for visiting several of these hatcheries are listed below.
Carson National Fish Hatchery
Carson National Fish Hatchery is a crucial hatchery for the Columbia River as well as for the Walla Walla River Basin. Over 3 million salmon are released annually from this location. The fish ladder opens May through August, offering great viewing of adult spring Chinook salmon. Other raceways have juvenile salmon all year. Adult holding ponds with 1,200 trout just waiting to be caught! Pole, tackle, bait, and fish cleaning is provided. Kid’s Fishing Day is held the last Saturday of September.
The popular Migration Golf miniature golf course is always there, as is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers featuring a Water Safety booth. Light refreshments are available. The Carson Hatchery is located near the small town of Carson, Washington, in the heart of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest that encompasses over 1.3 million acres of forest lands, wildlife habitat, watersheds & mountains, including Mt. Adams and the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. There are many recreational opportunities, including hiking, biking, camping, fishing, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, and picnicking.
Their Facebook page provides updates on what current salmon numbers are like as well as any closures or schedule changes: https://www.facebook.com/CarsonNationalFishHatchery/
- Location: 14041 Wind River Highway Carson, WA 98610
- Fish ladder hours: May-August
- Hours: Open Monday-Friday 8:00am – 3:30pm
- Website: Carson National Fish Hatchery | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov)
Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery
Founded in 1896, Little White is the oldest Columbia River hatchery and a pioneer of salmon propagation. The hatchery raises and releases roughly 7.2 million young spring and up-river bright fall Chinook salmon each year. In addition, they collect eggs for other facilities in the region bringing the total egg collection to around 16.5 million annually. You can see adult spring Chinook salmon May through August; and fall Chinook salmon October through November.
Their Facebook page provides updates on what current salmon numbers are like as well as any closures or schedule changes: https://www.facebook.com/LittleWhiteSalmonNFH/
- Location: 56961 WA-14, Cook, WA 98605
- Hours: Open Monday-Friday 8:00am – 3:30pm
- Website: Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov)
Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery
Established in 1901, Spring Creek is one of the first fish hatcheries in Washington State. The current location opened in 1972 with the help of the Army Corp of Engineers. Over 10 million salmon are released here annually. Visitors can come to explore the grounds and beautiful surroundings. The salmon enter the hatchery by climbing up the fish ladder (more like a staircase than a ladder). Juvenile salmon are in the outdoor raceways January – April.
Their Facebook page provides updates on what current salmon numbers are like as well as any closures or schedule changes: https://www.facebook.com/springcreeknfh
- Location: 61552 State Road 14 Underwood, WA 98651
- Best time to visit: late-August through September
- Hours: Open Monday-Friday 7:30am – 4:00pm
- Website: Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov)
Willard National Fish Hatchery
Willard is a rearing facility only; adult salmon cannot make it back to the hatchery due to large waterfalls on the Little White Salmon River. The hatchery returns many more young salmon than would occur through natural spawning alone. Currently the hatchery produces two million upriver bright fall Chinook salmon annually, released into the Little White Salmon River. Around one million coho salmon are transferred to the Yakama Nation in north central Washington. The closest stations with adult salmon are the Little White Salmon and Spring Creek National Fish Hatcheries (listed above).
Located adjacent to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest that encompasses over 1.3 million acres of forest lands, wildlife habitat, watersheds & mountains, including Mt. Adams and the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. There are many recreational opportunities, including hiking, biking, camping, fishing, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, and picnicking.
Their Facebook page provides updates on what current salmon numbers are like as well as any closures or schedule changes: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Willard-National-Fish-Hatchery/258781814178148
- Location: 5501B Cook-Underwood Road Cook, WA 98605
- Hours: Open daily from 8:00am – 3:30pm
- Website: Willard National Fish Hatchery | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov)
Eastern Washington fish hatcheries
When Grand Coulee Dam was built on the Columbia River in the 1930s, hundreds of miles of river were closed to salmon and steelhead. The Grand Coulee Fish Maintenance Project includes Entiat, Leavenworth, and Winthrop National Fish Hatcheries, built to compensate for anadromous fish losses above Grand Coulee Dam. All three hatcheries produce spring or summer Chinook salmon, and the Winthrop hatchery produces steelhead.
Entiat National Fish Hatchery
The Entiat hatchery is a 37-acre location that has undergone a lot of change in its 80-year history. The hatchery plays a vital role in salmon management for the surrounding area. Reconstructed in the 70s, today the hatchery supports modern technologies. Photographers love this area with wide sweeping views and lots of wildlife. Use the self-guided tour brochure during your visit.
- Location: 6970 Fish Hatcher Dr, Entiat, WA 98822
- Hours not listed
- Website: Entiat National Fish Hatchery | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov)
Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery
Located along the beautiful Icicle creek, the Leavenworth area is a stunning location. Established in 1938, the hatchery was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. At the Leavenworth Hatchery, you can see Chinook salmon. A self-guided tour brochure (English, Spanish) will help guide you around the hatchery grounds and trails. The hatchery also offers a variety of seasonal outdoor recreational activities. Each fall the two-day Wenatchee River Salmon Festival at the hatchery celebrates the fall return of the salmon.
Their Facebook page provides updates on what current salmon numbers are like as well as any closures or schedule changes: https://www.facebook.com/LeavenworthFisheriesComplex/
- Location: 12790 Fish Hatchery Rd Leavenworth, WA 98826
- Hours: Office, daily 7:00am- 3:00pm. Grounds open 24 hours.
- Website: Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov)
Wenatchee River Salmon Festival Community Day
Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is a three-day natural resource education event held each fall at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery to celebrate the return of the salmon to the Wenatchee River. The first two days are for students only. The third day is for the entire community and is full of salmon-centric activities like the popular 40 x 40 foot Salmon Maze, to the meticulously crafted Native American Village complete with a traditional canoe, salmon bake, drumming & dancing, arts & crafts, and outdoor recreation like archery and a climbing wall. There’s something fun for everyone! Free of charge to the public and is made possible by the many supporting agencies and organizations, 100’s of volunteers, and a dedicated core team of event organizers.
- When: September 23, 2023
- Where: Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery
- More info: Community Day – Wenatchee River Salmon Festival
Winthrop National Fish Hatchery
The 42-acre hatchery is located outside the town of Winthrop WA (winthropwashington.com). Salmon returning to the Winthrop hatchery travel over 500 miles on their way to and from the ocean. The hatchery raises steelhead, Chinook, and Coho salmon for release into area locations. Take a self-guided tour. A salmon viewing window allows you to see returning adult salmon from May to late August. Kids (under age 14) Free Fishing Day happens the second Saturday in June. The area surrounding the hatchery offers a hiking and biking trail. The Methow River flows through the northern edge of the property.
- Location: Winthrop National Fish Hatchery, 453 Twin Lakes Rd, Winthrop, WA 98862
- Hours: Daily 8am – 4pm
- Website: https://fws.gov/fish-hatchery/winthrop
Winthrop Kids Fishing Day
Activity booths will be scattered around the site. Check out live macroinvertebrates, have a look at how humans imitate beavers, practice your water conservation skills, play with a stream model, and more! Collect stamps for each activity in your own “passport.” Once you’ve collected enough stamps, children under age 14 can use one of the fishing rods (or bring your own!) to angle for trout. Volunteers and staff are ready to assist. They’ll clean your catch for you, too! This year’s fish are courtesy of Entiat National Fish Hatchery and are big and beautiful!
- When: National Free Fishing Day, 2nd Saturday in June, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome!
- More info: Events | Winthrop National Fish Hatchery | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov)
Spokane Tribal Hatchery
The Spokane Tribal Hatchery raises the land-locked kokanee salmon (a type of sockeye). These salmon are released into area lakes. The Spokane Hatchery is a key part of the restoration and conservation efforts to bring back salmon to the eastern region of Washington State. Rainbow trout are also raised here and released into tribal lakes. The hatchery has a self-guided tour featuring posters and artifacts that explore the history and explain the purpose of the hatchery program.
- Location: 5629 Hatchery Rd, Ford, WA 99013. The entrance is located approximately one mile south on Martha Boardman Road.
- Hours: Open daily from 8:00am – 3:00pm
- Website: https://spokanetribe.com/resources/dnr/air-quality/fisheries-and-water-resource-division/spokane-tribal-hatchery/