Niagara Falls is the second largest waterfalls in the world. It is a true sensory delight with visual impact, exciting sounds, and the sweet smell and embrace of the ever-present mist. It is a great place to take the family, any time of year.
Each year 12 million tourists travel thousands of miles from all corners of the earth to look at, and be amazed as 750,000 gallons of water per second drops 170 feet from the upper Niagara River to the rock-strewn canyon below.
Almost twenty percent of all the fresh water in the world lies in the four ‘upper’ Great Lakes of Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior. Most of the outflow from those upper lakes empties into the Niagara River, and eventually rolls over the falls and into Lake Ontario.
Niagara Falls – a Shared Heritage
People who have not previously visited the region are often surprised to learn that there are two towns in different countries, with the name “Niagara Falls.” The US town is in New York – the other is in Ontario, Canada. The Niagara River separates the towns and countries, and the Rainbow Bridge unites them.
Three cascading water formations make up Niagara Falls. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are both on the American side of the river and are separated by a tiny island. One third of the Horseshoe Falls is on the American side, and two-thirds is in Canada.
View it dry or wet
Niagara Falls is the best water watching experience in North America, and you can do it one of two ways – dry or wet. The dry experience is available from either the Canadian side or the US side. Both countries have extensive park systems adjacent to the falls.
The ‘wet’ methods interact with the grandeur of the falls. There is the “Cave of the Winds” on Goat Island on the American side, and “Journey Behind the Falls,” at Table Rock on the Canadian side. Both these adventures have elevators that descend 175 feet to the base of the falls. Each requires dressing in a raincoat and boots, because you can get very wet as tons of crashing water sprays up from the rocks before you.
The Maid of the Mist boat tour is another ‘wet’ adventure available in both parks. Starting in April (depending on river ice) and into October, powerful diesel engines propel boatloads of thrill seeking tourists past the American Falls and to within vibrating distance of the majestic Horseshoe Falls.
For several exciting minutes as the Maid of the Mist approaches the Horseshoe Falls, it labors to stay in place against the rushing current and winds caused by the mighty cataract.
Passengers stand steadfast on the deck in shiny blue raincoats, soaked to the bone by waves of pounding mist, and mesmerized by the magnificent hurricane that rages directly in front of them – and just yards off the boat’s bow.
It is a ride you and your family will not soon forget.
Getting to Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is easy to reach by air. It is conveniently situated 25 miles from the Buffalo International Airport, and 75 miles from the Toronto International Airport. Many major airlines serve both cities, and there are excellent bus, shuttle, limousine, and rental car services available at the airports.
Accommodations near the Falls
Everything from large hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts exists on both sides of Niagara Falls. There are thousands of rooms to suit every budget. Click here for information about State-side lodgings and here for Canadian side lodgings.
Our personal favorite place to stay is a B&B on the Canadian side – just a few minutes’ walk from the Falls. It is called Villa Alexandrea. If you inquire, tell Maria that Wayne and Judy sent you.
Photos © Wayne and Judy Bayliff