Derived from the Native American word that means “split in the flat land”, Niagara falls are arguably one of the most beautiful and popular water falls in the world. Stunningly beautiful and breathtaking, no words can actually do justice to the magnificence of this natural wonder. Located at the international border between Canada and the United States, Niagara falls actually consist of three falls, which, from the largest to the smallest, are the Horseshoe falls, the American falls and the Bridal Veil falls.
The Niagara river drains four of the five Great lakes, Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie before emptying into Lake Ontario. Almost 90% of the water flows over the Horseshoe falls and the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. The ecosystem of the Niagara river has some diverse plant and animal species and the area around has been developed into the Niagara falls State Park which is one of America’s oldest parks.
The milky white waters pounding down relentlessly with a roaring sound is truly a sight to behold. During the peak flow time, a whopping six million cubic feet of water falls over the crest line every minute! An enchanting and captivating sight, an experience at Niagara can be quite like none other.
Here are five ways you can make your experience at the falls from the American side a truly memorable one.
1) Visitor centre at the Niagara Falls State Park: The best way to start exploring this wondrous beauty is to stop by the visitor center. Enjoy the documentary screened at the amphitheater which gives you an insight into the formation and various facts of the falls. The myths associated with them and the miraculous stories of survivors on these speeding waters are incredibly interesting.
Dating back thousands of years, the falls were originally formed seven miles downstream from where they are today, this “movement” being due to erosion. The visitor centre shares important perspectives on the “future” of the falls with respect to continuous geological and geographical changes.
2) Ride the Niagara Scenic Trolley: take a guided tour on board a vintage trolley and learn about several historical anecdotes, fun facts and important sights of the park including the Goat island and rapid viewing point.
A scenic island between the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls that has been named after a goat that was the sole survivor from a group of farm animals that crossed the falls in the early 1700s, the Goat island offers some fabulous views of the waters from the American side.
3) Take the iconic Maid of the Mist boat ride: An exhilarating experience, this legendary boat ride to the base of the falls has been in existence since 1846. Visitors are provided with blue raincoats (the raincoats on the Canadian side are pink!) so that you can enjoy the gentle sprinkles of the water that hit you across the face as you approach the falls.
This rapidly turns into a ‘downpour’ until you are completely drenched “soaking” in the grandeur of the falls. If you are lucky, you can even spot a rainbow!
4) Take a thrilling walk on the Cave of the winds and enjoy a shower under the falls at the Hurricane deck: This is definitely the best part of the Niagara experience where an elevator ride takes you 175 feet deep into the Niagara Gorge. Visitors are provided a yellow poncho and footwear and you can climb a wooden walkway that leads to the famous “Hurricane Deck”.
With the Bridal Veil falls gushing down torrentially at just 20 feet away, you are closer to falls than you can imagine! A shower here is sure to be a happy memory that you will not forget in a hurry! The decks are rebuilt every year to ensure safety of the visitors.
5) Enjoy the falls illuminated at night: Come darkness and the falls completely transform under the scintillating multi colored lights, that continue to enthrall visitors year after year.
With a spectacular display of fireworks that are watched by millions, the setting is resplendent, dazzling and utterly magical!