With the calendar reading March, spring is in the air. Soon the remaining piles of snow will begin to melt, the days will grow longer, and our favorite Sault Ste. Marie shops and restaurants will sprout back to life following their winter hibernation. While spring may officially start on March 20th, in the Soo the season truly begins on March 22nd when the Soo Locks open for the season. Yes, you heard that right. March 22, 2024. This year marks a special early opening of the locks Friday, March 22, 2024 at 6 p.m.

As per federal orders, normally the Soo Locks close on January 15 and re-open March 25 every year. During this time maintenance is performed on the chambers. Although there are occasional exceptions, such as ice, these two dates are pillars for shipping season in the Great Lakes. As soon as the clock strikes midnight on March 22nd, freighters, tugboats, luxury crafts and more can resume lockage between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

Indiana Harbor at the Soo Locks

The opening of the Soo Locks is a momentous occasion, signaling the start of a new chapter in maritime history. The first freighter to navigate the locks on March 22nd is greeted with fanfare and celebration, a testament to its significance. With community dignitaries and eager spectators in attendance, the Soo Locks Park becomes a hive of activity, buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Stay updated on our Facebook page for details on the 2024 Soo Locks opening ceremony.

Joe Block Boom

Once the Soo Locks re-open, the waterways come alive with bustling freighter traffic. Over 70 million tons of cargo pass through annually, supporting a vast network of jobs. With no time to spare, freighters maintain a busy schedule, ensuring the smooth flow of goods through the locks. While there’s no fixed schedule for freighter passage, our handy guide helps you track your favorite vessels from the Soo Locks Observation Deck. Despite lingering snow, the park welcomes visitors daily, offering front-row seats to maritime marvels.

As temperatures rise, the Soo Locks Park blossoms into a vibrant hub of activity. Extended visiting hours coincide with the reopening of the Soo Locks Visitors Center in early spring. From Mother’s Day until October, guests can immerse themselves in the world of shipping, with estimates on freighter traffic available at the center or through the Soo Locks hotline at 906-202-1333.

Whether you plan on visiting Sault Ste. Marie in the spring or in the summer, the opening of the Soo Locks signifies a fresh year for tourism is about to begin. As soon as you can hear echoing baritone horns sending out salutes along the St. Marys River, you can rest assure that there will be good times to be had in the Soo.