Niagara Falls

Location: Niagara, Ontario

Webpage: Ontario Provincial Park

General Description: Known as the premier honeymoon destination, Niagara Falls, has a rich history as a tourist attraction since the early 1800s.  With the completion of the Erie Canal in the 1830s, it provided relatively easy transportation for tourists from New York City and other eastern population centers.  Today Niagara Falls consists of two main falls, the American Falls and Horseshoe or Canadian Falls.  Due to a natural forces a small secondary fall splits off from the American Falls and is known as the Bridal Veil Falls.  As the name implies the American Falls is on the American side and is 180 feet high and spans 1100 feet.  While impressive it is dwarfed by the Horseshoe Falls which is 170 feet high and over 2500 feet long.   Over 90% of the 5.5 billion gallons of water per hour that flows over the falls is at Horseshoe Falls.   It is estimated that when the falls formed 1200 years ago after the last ice age, these falls were about 7 miles further downriver from their present location.  There are over 12 million tourists that visit the falls each year so be ready for a crowd whenever you go.  Along with the falls are a number of other attractions such as the Maid of the Mist excursion that get you up close to the Horseshoe Falls.

Impressions:

1) This is truly one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  As expected, the crowds were immense but the views of the falls are well worth it.  We were advised not to bother with the American side as you really cannot get a good view of the Horseshoe Falls, and they were correct.  You can only visit Goat Island, which splits the Niagara River into the two falls, from the American side and you can take a ride on the Maid of the Mist for a view from the bottom of both falls.  Still I would recommend crossing the border and spending the day in Canada.  The views along the promenade along the river are stupendous.

2) We did pay for the Hornblower Niagara Cruise that, like the Maid of the Mist on the American side, takes a boat load of tourists right up to the base of Horseshoe Falls.  Especially since the boat holds 250 passengers at a time and their were two boats running continuously, the wait time for the cruise was less than half an hour.  This is an experience you should not miss!!  The falls may look impressive from the promenade up top, but seeing the falls from below and getting close enough to be surrounded on three sides and drenched in the mists is worth every penny.

3) There are a number of tourist attractions in the city of Niagara ranging from restaurants and bars to museum and amusement rides.  After visiting the falls we spent the afternoon checking out some of these attractions.  The most impressive sight however, was the juxtaposition of looking down a busy city street that suddenly ends with a view of the American Falls and wilderness around it.

4) Another attraction that provides a different viewpoint of the falls can be found by riding up the elevators of the Skylon Tower.  This 775 foot tower opens onto an observation platform where you can view the falls and river from above.  We were there celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary with our family who took us to a wonderful dinner in the restaurant on top of the tower.  This restaurant rotates about once an hour so you get a ever changing view of the falls and surrounding landscape as the sun sets and the falls are lit up.

5) Be sure to stay until the nightly fireworks show after dark.  With the backdrop of the falls all lit with colored lights, the impressive fireworks display is well worth the late night.