Niagara Falls

near Buffalo / Niagara County, New York, USA
Niagara Municipality, Ontario, Canada

Rating: 5     Difficulty: 1
Niagara Falls and the Maid of the Mist
Niagara Falls is by far the most famous waterfall in North America. It has been the backdrop to many honeymoons, proposals, daredevil stunts, and even key moments in the history of the United States. If you haven't heard of this falls, it's time for you to get out and start exploring the world around you!

To Julie and I, we visited this waterfall with a lot of expectations. But after having seen it (twice), we'd have to say we were quite impressed by its power and size (so much so that it not only topped our Top 10 USA Waterfalls List but also made our Top 10 Waterfalls of the World). In fact, Niagara Falls is said to be the largest waterfall (by volume) in North America. The falls actually consists of three separate components - Horseshoe Falls (see photo above), American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Combined, the falls is said to have an average discharge of a mind boggling over 7000 cubic meters per second. It's said that over 90% of this volume is over the Horseshoe Falls.

The Niagara River marks the border between New York, USA and Ontario, Canada. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls lies on the American side while the Horseshoe Falls is considered Canadian even though my maps seem to indicate that the political boundary in the middle of the Niagara River also splits the falls. We felt the falls was easily experienced from both sides so it didn't really matter which side we were on (though waiting in line at the border control could be a total pain, especially heading into the American side). Click here to read about some of the trip logistics and nuances we had to figure out when visiting both sides.

Niagara Falls dwarfing onlookers When we first visited the falls during the early Summer month of June, we thought the water volume was probably either at its highest for the year or close to it. Then, when we visited the falls during the Autumn month of October six years later, we saw even more mist wafting up from the base of the falls. So we couldn't really say from our observations whether this could be explained by 2013 being a wetter year than 2007, or if the seasonal variations weren't as pronounced as we would have expected (Click here to read a writeup we did discussing the various seasons and conditions at the falls). Whatever the case, the volume and power of Niagara Falls were so evident that the mist from the Horseshoe Falls segment seemed to aggregate into its own clouds as the mist cloud would rise higher than the 167ft plunge itself (note I've also seen reported heights of 173ft and 176ft for the height of Niagara Falls' drop).

The falls is said to contribute a large amount of hydroelectric power to the power grid in the Eastern US and Canada. Perhaps in recognition of this heritage of hydroelectricity, we noticed a statue of Nikola Tesla at the falls. It was he who was credited with being the first to successfully turn the energy of falling water from Niagara Falls into electricity that was distributed for private and industrial use.

Looking over the brink of the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls Hydroelectricity has been controversial in terms of the environment, and it is especially a bane for waterfalling due to inundation, interruption of waterflow, and collateral damage to the natural surroundings to support hydroelectric infrastructure. However, there's no denying the critical role it has played in allowing certain cities (and even whole economies) to be built up and thrive. In the case of Niagara Falls, human intervention has also meant that the flow of the Niagara River has been regulated in a way that actually slows down the erosion of the falls (roughly 3ft per year). Moreover, it has been said to play a critical role in the evolution of America into the country it is today.

We've been aware that the falls has been a tourist attraction since America's early years (the mid 1800s). So it wasn't surprising that over the last 200 years or so, the attraction has become heavily commercialized. This meant that we could experience the falls in numerous ways but we did feel that each waterfall "excursion" was like an amusement park or carnival ride where we paid to do a particular experience and then moved on to the next if we were so inclined. Indeed, like the tourists of days past, we got drenched at the Cave of the Winds as well as the Maid of the Mist, and we also got to hear and feel the power of the falls from its backside. You can read more about our experiences with these excursions here.

The commercialism at the falls also meant that for all intents and purposes, Niagara Falls was an urban waterfall. It was surrounded by plenty of concrete as well as high rises. Most of those high rises kind of reminded us of a Frankenstein-like hybrid of Las Vegas and a waterfall world wonder. In that sense, this falls had all the potential of rivaling the other waterfalls comprising what we called "The Big Three" in Iguazu Falls and Victoria Falls, but just didn't measure up to them when considering its unnatural surroundings.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed the pleasant strolls on both the American and Canadian sides of the falls which were free if you don't count parking. They allowed us to take in the scenery at our own leisure. And if that wasn't enough, we were able to see the falls at night as they were floodlit with varying colors until midnight. In any case, it was hard to say which side was better as we felt each side was pleasant in its own way. However, we did compose a writeup comparing and detailing our impressions of both the American and Canadian sides, which you can read about here.

No doubt about it. The falls can be experienced and seen in countless ways. We're living proof of that as you can see from the pictures and videos on this page. And with that said, I'm willing to bet there are even more ways to see and experience the one and only Niagara Falls than what we've done. So take a virtual tour by scrolling further to see more photos, videos, links, and more! See if this doesn't inspire your own trip to the Granddaddy of waterfalls in the USA!

Directions: There are many ways of getting to Niagara Falls. If you're interested in reading about our accounts of how we managed to get to the falls, you can read about it in this writeup by clicking here.




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PHOTO JOURNAL
Full rainbow spanning over Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls
Double rainbow from Terrapin Point at the brink of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls from the observation tower
Crazy misty scene at the Cave of the Winds
Twilight at Niagara Falls
Looking out of a hotel room with a view of Niagara FallsLooking out of a hotel room with a view of Niagara Falls. This was taken in October 2013 - six years after our first trip here in June 2007

Our first look at Niagara Falls from a hotel roomOur first look at Niagara Falls from a hotel room. Notice how the mist rises higher than the height of the falls itself! We also noticed how that mist cloud tended to break off into their own clouds, which pretty much acted like real clouds! I wondered if there was some kind of accelerated atmospheric effects being observed here...

Looking towards the American Falls from the hotel roomLooking towards the American Falls from the hotel room

Looking down at the little ants peering into the Horseshoe Falls abyssLooking down at the little ants peering into the Horseshoe Falls abyss

Now we're one of the ants peering into the Horseshoe Falls abyssNow we're one of the ants peering into the Horseshoe Falls abyss

Expect to be sharing Niagara Falls with plenty of other onlookoersExpect to be sharing the falls with plenty of other onlookers

Looking downstream at American Falls and the Rainbow Bridge from the Canadian sideLooking downstream at American Falls and the Rainbow Bridge from the Canadian side

Looking down at people by the base of Horseshoe Falls as part of the Journey Behind the Falls tourLooking down at people by the base of Horseshoe Falls as part of the Journey Behind the Falls tour

More distant view of the Horseshoe FallsMore distant view of the Horseshoe Falls

Looking across the Niagara River towards Bridal Veil FallsLooking across Niagara Falls towards Bridal Veil Falls

Comprehensive look at both the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls from an elevated lookout deck on the Canadian sideComprehensive look at both the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls from an elevated lookout deck on the Canadian side

Floodlit Horseshoe FallsFloodlit Horseshoe Falls

Floodlit American FallsFloodlit American Falls

Looking back at Horseshoe Falls in white light with the Canadian skyline to the rightLooking back at Horseshoe Falls in white light with the Canadian skyline to the right

View of Horseshoe Falls from Terrapin Point on the American SideView of Horseshoe Falls from Terrapin Point on the American Side

Closer to the edgeCloser to the edge

Profile view of American Falls towards Rainbow Bridge from the American SideProfile view of American Falls towards Rainbow Bridge from the American Side

Getting a serious drenching at the Cave of the WindsGetting a serious drenching at the Cave of the Winds

Looking down at onlookers by the brink of American FallsLooking down at onlookers by the brink of American Falls

Looking over the brink of Bridal Veil FallsLooking over the brink of Bridal Veil Falls

Looking down at the Cave of the Winds walkwayLooking down at the Cave of the Winds walkway

Getting a very close look at the American FallsGetting a very close look at the American Falls

Looking towards the Canadian side from the American sideLooking towards the Canadian side from the American side

In-your-face view of American FallsIn-your-face view of American Falls

In-your-face view of the torrent of Horseshoe FallsIn-your-face view of the torrent of Horseshoe Falls

Walkers dwarfed by American FallsWalkers dwarfed by American Falls

Full rainbow as seen near base of Horseshoe FallsFull rainbow as seen near Horseshoe Falls

Almost in front of the thunderous wall of waterAlmost in front of the thunderous wall of water

Behind Horseshoe FallsBehind Horseshoe Falls

So close to Horseshoe Falls that you can feel the ground trembleSo close to Horseshoe Falls that you can feel the ground tremble

Last look at Horseshoe Falls with bright rainbow before we called it a dayLast look at Horseshoe Falls with bright rainbow before we called it a day

Looking down at Niagara Falls being floodlit at night on our last nightLooking down at Niagara Falls being floodlit at night on our last night

Another night view of Niagara Falls, except this one was taken in 2013Another night view of the falls, except this one was taken in 2013


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS

In the hotel room sweeping back and forth between the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. This was taken in October 2013 on a more recent trip here.


Right to left sweep starting with Horseshoe Falls and giant mist cloud then panning to American Falls


Right to left sweep from brink of Horseshoe Falls showing bold double rainbow before panning to American Falls then ending with Maid of the Mist by the rainbows


Sweep of Horseshoe Falls from the Maid of the Mist Tour


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MAP OF THE FALLS

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TRIP REPORTS
For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES



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NEARBY WATERFALLS


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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Getting Ready for a Wedding 
Neither of us have ever been to the falls and are planning to elope there. Is there an area of the falls that you could recommend to do this? …

Been there, live here 
I live in Niagara Falls , and head down for a peak two or three times a week. Try to go when the number of tourists is low like early morning. A couple …

Lost Memory 
Hi, Can anyone help me? I'm looking to identify a waterfall. I have a pic of me but I don't remember when or where I was when it was taken. …

What do you think about the waterfalls? (Niagara Falls) 
Wow amazing dude it speechless gorgeous. Well it is a creation of The Almighty God who created it. That's why Go to Niagara Falls

Natural State 
I think it is a crime that they have not kept the falls in a more natural state. The falls are an amazing sight, no doubt, but it is too bad they have …

Favourite place on earth! Not rated yet
I go to Niagara Falls , Canada at least twice a year with my twin sister. We could write books with all the fun and harrowing facts we've learned. …

I'm Very Lucky To Call Niagara Falls Home! Not rated yet
Been to Niagara Falls ? I live on the USA side! For living there my whole life I've only been to the falls about 7 or 8 times. It's beautiful though! …

Niagara Falls Canada Not rated yet
Peak numbers of visitors occur in the summertime, when Niagara Falls are both a daytime and evening attraction. The oldest and best known tourist …

Proposal at Niagara Falls Not rated yet
I proposed to my partner while on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara. We are civil partners from England. He said yes and the rest is history. It will always …

Why Isn't Niagara Falls #1? Not rated yet
I think it's ridiculous to not put Niagara falls on top. It is the most voluminous of any of the real falls (not just rapids or uncontinuous falls). …

"About the Falls" - Correction Not rated yet
All 3 components of the falls are quite beautiful, but the Horseshoe Falls are, in fact, Canadian. Here is some dry, but interesting history: The …

Favourite Day Trip Not rated yet
I lived in southern Ontario for the first 45 years of my life and visited the falls many, many times. It was always a favourite day trip. It's fun to …

Been There A Couple Of Times... Not rated yet
That's a wonderful collection of photos of the Niagara Falls . Been there a couple of times. Can't help but be in awe of the falls - especially as …

Click here to write your own.



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