Niagara Falls

20220819_094110
American Rapids

So, inevitably, if you’re in the area, you really have to go and see Niagara Falls. We’d seen the great plume of spray which rises high above the falls the day before – it’s unmissable even from quite a distance away.

We’d had some good advice, from our local guides, about free parking by the river. This meant that we had an opportunity to walk by the river, and the rapids, which were pretty awe inspiring in their own right.

20220819_094519
American Rapids
20220819_094127
American Rapids – this one is a film – click on it to watch it on flickr.
20220819_093729
Route map.

I can’t remember, unfortunately, where I got this map from. I took a screenshot, so still have it on my phone. We parked in the lay-by on the bottom right of the map, followed the riverside paths to the pedestrian bridge then circled the island, anti-clockwise, visiting the Three Sisters Islands, eventually returning to the car for a picnic lunch. After lunch we walked back towards the falls and the Observation Tower in the top right-hand corner of the map, for our final treat of the day.

20220819_102052
A gulp of Cormorants clustered by the river.
20220819_102145
A glimpse of Horseshoe Falls.

The tall buildings are on the Canadian side of the river, which I’m told is ‘tacky’. The US side was, at one time, heavily industrialised, due to all of the free power available, but after a public campaign and subscription, was purchased and turned into a park.

The boats here are Maids of the Mist which offer an excursion right into the cauldron of Horseshoe Falls. On the American boats everybody wears a blue coat – I say coat, but really polythene bag is closer to the truth – whereas the Canadian boats offer their customers red bags. I’m not sure why the colour-coding is deemed necessary.

Because we were relatively early, TBH was convinced that we could avoid having to queue for the Cave of the Winds and she was absolutely right. A lift takes you down to the bottom of the Falls…

20220819_102432
American and Bridal Veil Falls from below.

For this experience, the ponchos are yellow. Here we are before we got thoroughly drenched…

20220819_102509
B almost breaks a smile.
20220819_102523
The base of the Falls.

The noise and the wind are phenomenal.

20220819_102548
Looking toward Horseshoe Falls.
20220819_102608
I can’t say I was entirely convinced about the structural integrity of the rather rickety looking platforms.
20220819_103050
The Hurricane Deck below Bridal Veil Falls.

In places the platforms were awash. The Hurricane Deck was particularly wet. As the name suggests, a powerful blast of wind was driving across the deck, carrying a great deal of water with it. I was happy to watch the others take a cold shower.

20220819_103517
Soaked!

Here they are afterwards. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but they were drenched. B was having a wail of a time and almost broke into a smirk.

20220819_104541
TBH with a statue of Nikola Tesla.
20220819_104846
Looking down from Luna Island on the Cave of the Winds platforms. Bridal Veil Falls on the left, American Falls to the right.
20220819_105008
Bridal Veil Falls from above.
20220819_104926
A rainbow below American Falls.
20220819_105233
Looking across American Falls from Luna Island.
20220819_110810
Approaching Horseshoe Falls.
20220819_111011
A rainbow beneath Horseshoe Falls.
20220819_111149
Looking across Horseshoe Falls.
20220819_111106
Horseshoe Falls pano.
20220819_112825
One of the channels between Three Sisters Islands.
20220819_113103
Canadian Rapids.
20220819_124326
Across American Falls to Horseshoe Falls.
20220819_125531
Rainbow International Bridge.

The penny-pinching side of my nature asserted itself and I declared myself satisfied with what I’d seen. Somewhat to my surprise, the DBs agreed. Thankfully, TBH told us we’d wouldn’t be coming back this way any time soon, and that she was going on the Maid of the Mist, with us or without us. We rapidly changed our minds and were soon queueing for a trip. Thank goodness we did.

20220819_131922
American Falls.
20220819_132011
American Falls.

We weren’t very close to the front of the group going on to the boat. Lots of people were rushing to try to get a spot near to the front on the top deck, but hardly anyone was stopping on the lower deck, so I suggested we try that. It was a great choice, there were hardly any people there, we were able to stand right at the front, but also had space to wander about and to find other vantage points.

20220819_132036
The wind turned the ponchos into massive air-bags.
20220819_132122
American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
20220819_132304
Approaching Horseshoe Falls.
20220819_132436
Part of Horseshoe Falls.

As we approached the maelstrom of Horseshoe Falls, the the falls themselves disappeared into the drenching mist. The roar of the falls was deafening, the boat swayed on the surging waters. It was chaotic, and my attempts to take photos were doomed to failure, but the immense power of the falls has left a lasting impression.

20220819_132825
Hoseshoe Falls – sort of.

I was amazed to see gulls and diving ducks swimming on the surface of the river – it seemed incredible that anything could survive on or in the river – or that there could be any food there for the birds to find.

When you get off the Maid of the Mist, you have the option to climb a set of stairs at the side of American Falls – you can see them in the photo below. On a fine sunny day, full of very wet and windy experiences, this may well have been the wettest and windiest. Near the top, there was a bit of a queue to climb the last few steps – we decided that we really had now had enough and beat a hasty retreat back down the waiting lift.

20220819_135747
American Falls and Horseshoe Falls.
Advertisement
Niagara Falls

11 thoughts on “Niagara Falls

  1. Fabulous! That really has brought back some wonderful memories although we only saw the Canadian side. I can confirm it was tacky as far back as the 80’s although I loved that. The power of the river above and below the falls as well as the falls themselves is astonishing. Glad you did the Maid of the the Mist, TBF was right that’s it’s just something you can’t miss. The US side looks more park-like and understated which is kind of surprising. I would absolutely love to go back some day. Great post.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes, it’s not a wilderness, but an open grassy park, with quite a bit of wildlife – I forgot to mention the large, dark squirrels we saw and the Canada Geese. They’ve done a good job of preserving it. It’s busy, but frankly not as busy as I expected and away from the Falls, very quiet.
      The Maid of the Mist is incredible – what an experience!
      Prof A tells me that a huge amount of water is extracted both to us as a water supply and to feed the two big hydro plants, so that the falls would be even more impressive otherwise – but would also be eroding back upstream at an alarming rate. What a thought.
      Are you planning this into your next big tour then?

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes, it looks very different now. The BBC have even featured footage of the falls. Fortunately, our relatives are not in Buffalo at present, but they must be concerned for their friends and neighbours – they’ve shared photos of their local streets and it looks horrendous.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s