Niagara Falls

Exploring Niagara Falls Independently

Niagara Falls is a famous group of waterfalls, which straddles the border between the US and Canada. The falls consist of three main sections: the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls is the largest and most recognizable of three. I experienced the magic of Niagara Falls in the winter from the Canadian side – talk about a unique adventure! Ready to feast your eyes on this incredible natural wonder? I’ve got both sides of this breathtaking waterfall covered in this article. So, let’s discover the mighty Niagara Falls from every angle!

Where is Niagara Falls on the map?

Niagara Falls is situated on the border between the United States and Canada. The falls are primarily located between the state of New York in the United States and the province of Ontario in Canada. The Niagara River connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.

7 Interesting Facts About Niagara Falls

  1. Glacial Beginnings. The Wisconsin Glacier’s retreat 12,000 years ago shaped the Niagara River and the Great Lakes, altering landscapes by dragging along rocks and soil. This geological dance led to the creation of new rivers and lakes as old channels filled and new ones formed. The Niagara River flows out of Lake Erie, marking the start of this remarkable journey.
  2. Impact of Erosion. Beneath the captivating falls lies softer rock, susceptible to erosion from the water’s force. In 1954, a significant collapse of the dolomite rock under the American Falls occurred, resulting in a diminished free fall height.
  3. A Moving Wonder. Niagara Falls is a wanderer. Every year, it surrenders about 6.6 feet of its rocky edges, slowly inching upstream at a pace of of 3.3 to 4.9 feet annually.
  4. Harnessing Power. The introduction of power plants along the Niagara River has curtailed the water flow, reducing erosion. As a result, the waterfall’s movement has slowed to the 11.8 inches per year. These power plants function mainly in summer, allowing for a more robust flow during the off-season.
  5. Hallowed Ground. Inhabitants have surrounded Niagara for millennia, dating back to nearly 9,000 BC, right after the glacier’s retreat. The Ongiara, Iroquois, and Huron tribes competed for territory by the water. These native groups considered the magnificent falls a sacred site. It was a place of worship and reverence.
  6. Origin of the Name. The term “Niagara” finds its roots in the self-designation of the Onguiaahra tribe. Their term “ongiara” could possibly signify “land divided in two” or “thunder of water.” This tribe was eventually wiped out by the Iroquois in the 17th century during conflicts over valuable lands for trading European goods, particularly furs and beaver skins.
  7. Continued Legacy. Following the decline of the Onguiaahra tribe, the Tuscarora, Mississauga, and Seneca tribes established their presence in the area. These tribes still thrive near Niagara, a testament to the enduring connection between humans and this awe-inspiring natural wonder.

Exploring the Numbers of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is made up of three parts: the big Horseshoe Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls. They are is not super tall – just 174 feet high. It might seem modest compared to the tallest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls in Venezuela, which is 3,212 feet high. However, Niagara Falls is the strongest waterfall in North America. Every second, a huge 5.7 cubic meters of water rush through!

The American Falls are really wide – about 1,060 feet across. The Horseshoe Falls, though, are even wider – a whopping 2,598 feet! It’s hard to see it clearly because of all the water spray. But you can definitely hear the powerful roar of the water.

How to get to Niagara Falls

Some of the world’s most stunning waterfalls often find themselves right where two countries meet. Victoria Falls is shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe, Iguazu Falls stretches between Brazil and Argentina, Ruacana lies on the border of Angola and Namibia. The mighty Niagara serves as a natural boundary between the USA and Canada.

Read also: Iguazu Falls — the most impressive waterfalls of South America

From Canada

Reaching Niagara Falls from Canada involves making your way to the city of Toronto. Departing from the central bus station, Coach Canada buses offer three daily trips. You can check out the schedule on their website. The fare for this journey is $20, covering a distance of 81 mile. Once you reach Niagara Falls, the observation deck is a mere 4 km from the bus terminal. Getting there can be done by taking a local bus or simply strolling.

From the US

On the US side, the waterfall lies to the north of New York State, close to Buffalo City. The neighboring town, also named Niagara Falls, accompanies the falls. You have a few choices to get there from New York. You can take a bus (around $40), train (approximately $60), or plane (starting at $200).

Check the cheap flights here:

The connection between these two countries comes in the form of the Rainbow Bridge.

I visited only the Canadian side only due to not having a US visa at that time. However, It’s commonly believed that Canada offers a more picturesque angle, placing you right in front of the majestic waterfall.

The Best Time to Visit Niagara Falls

Waterfalls hold their charm year-round, but each season offers a unique experience at Niagara Falls.

☀ The peak time for visitors is during summer, from May to October. This is when the crowds flock to the falls, and the city is bustling with activity. Tour agencies provide exciting boat rides beneath the falls and helicopter tours. However, keep in mind that the observation decks can get quite crowded during this period.

🍂 Autumn brings a breathtaking transformation as the surrounding forests paint themselves in shades of gold and red.

🍃 Early spring marks the break of ice, revealing a harsher side of Niagara’s beauty. The low tourist season brings solitude, but it’s also accompanied by a lack of entertainment options.

❄ Winter doesn’t disappoint either, with frozen trees covered in spray and massive ice formations in the river adding to the picturesque beauty. While the falls usually don’t freeze entirely, it’s not unheard of. In 2014 an exceptionally cold winter turned Niagara Falls into a stunning ice wonderland.

In a nutshell, Niagara Falls has something captivating to offer in every season. Whether you’re chasing the liveliness of summer, the colorful transformation of autumn, the frozen magic of winter, or the raw power of spring, there’s a time that’s just right for your Niagara adventure.

Fun Things to Do on the Canadian Side of Niagara Falls

Maid of the Mist: A Watery Embrace with the Falls

Embark on the iconic “Maid of the Mist” boat trip for an up-close and personal encounter with the roaring cascade. Feel the mist on your face and the thunderous power of the falls as you navigate the churning waters. At just 28$ (as of August 2023), this budget-friendly adventure promises memories that will last a lifetime.

Whirlpooljet: A Thrilling Dance with the Rapids

For the adventurous at heart, the Whirlpooljet promises an extreme experience. Buckle up for a heart-racing boat ride that takes you close to the tumultuous waters. Get soaked and feel the adrenaline rush as you conquer the rapids. This unforgettable adventure comes at a price of 65$ (or 75 CAD). It it a must for thrill-seekers.

Golf Among Dinosaurs

Step into a world of dinosaurs as you tee off in a prehistoric landscape. The Dinosaur layout offers a 36-hole mini-golf course surrounded by towering models of these ancient creatures. It also has caves, and even a steaming volcano! Immerse yourself in a Jurassic adventure, all for just 12 CAD.

Niagara SkyWheel: Panoramic Views from New Heights

Soar above the falls on the Niagara SkyWheel! This Ferris wheel that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. With the falls as your backdrop, you’ll enjoy a captivating perspective of this natural wonder. For 15 CAD, this enchanting ride is perfect for capturing stunning photographs.

Hard Rock Cafe: Rock ‘n’ Roll Vibes in a Legendary Setting

Experience the vibrant energy of the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls. Dine surrounded by rock memorabilia and enjoy delectable cuisine in an iconic atmosphere. With the falls as your backdrop, this legendary restaurant is a must-visit for music lovers.

Zipline through Niagara: Soaring Over the Falls

For a truly exhilarating adventure, take a zipline ride at Wild Play that will have you soaring over the falls. Descend 670 meters, zoom past the American Falls, and touch down on an observation deck at the base of the Horseshoe Falls. At 70$, this thrilling experience offers a unique perspective of the falls like no other.

Botanical Garden: Tranquil Oasis Along the Niagara River

When you’re ready to unwind, the Niagara Botanical Garden awaits. Stroll through beautifully landscaped grounds along the Niagara River and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature’s beauty. And guess what? The entrance is absolutely free!

Enchanting Light Show

The captivating light show is best experienced from the Canadian side. However, you can still capture great photos from the US. The illumination is active year-round, with the Winter Festival of Lights (mid-November to late December) being the most spectacular.

Niagara Glen Nature Reserve

Situated adjacent to the boulevard, the Niagara Glen Reserve offers a serene escape. Overlooking the Niagara River, this park features a 3 km trail through the Caroline Forest. You can spot badgers and squirrels along the trail.

Fun Things to Do in the US side of Niagara Falls

Exciting Boat Excursions

For those on the US side, you can also enjoy boat trips like the Maid of the Mist and Whirlpooljet.

Cave of the Winds

On the American side, visitors can get up close to the falls, feeling the sheer power firsthand. You can even touch the water! Admission to the Cave of the Winds is 21$.

Historic Fort

Discover a 17th-century fort situated on the American side. This site that witnessed exchanges between French, British, and American forces. It survived the American Revolution and the French and Indian War. Inside, explore underground powder rooms, old army barracks, and ancient cannons. Tickets are priced at 20$.

Aquarium Exploration

The aquarium features penguins, seals, rays, and even sharks. Many of these creatures can be fed under the watchful eye of a guide. Admission to the aquarium is $20.

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