Rainbow Falls in Ausable Chasm was a powerful segmented waterfall with a reported height of 91ft. Prior to our visit, we were warned about the steep price of the paid tours and that we would be better off seeing the falls from the road bridge spanning Ausable Chasm. When we made our visit in early October 2013, we opted to see the falls first from the bridge, then determine whether or not we should do the paid tours.
From the official car park before the welcome center (see directions below), we walked up alongside the highway towards the long bridge spanning Ausable Chasm. There were dedicated walking paths flanking the road while on the bridge so it made for easy viewing without the fear of getting hit by a motorist zooming by. And it was from there that we could look right at the thundering Rainbow Falls somewhat in the distance sandwiched between some dam gates further upstream and a large hydro house a short distance downstream of the falls. From the looks of things, it didn’t seem like any paid tour would improve the view of Rainbow Falls unless the tour would actually take us somewhere into that hydro structure within the chasm. But whatever the case, we thought the view from the bridge was good enough.
There was also a bonus waterfall right below the bridge, which was called Horseshoe Falls because it was shaped like a horseshoe. This particular waterfall wasn’t particularly tall, and it was far enough away from the main waterfall that it was awkward to try to photograph the two waterfalls together. Although we didn’t do any of the paid tours, it was said that they would take you downstream of the bridge and besides 4 to 5 more waterfalls within the chasm.
When we saw the prices of the tours, it looked like it was only $5 per adult for the cheapest option. It could very well be that they reduced the price from back in 2011 (something like $16 per adult) or they changed up the options for touring the chasm. It also appeared that there were whitewater adventures in addition to the hiking trails. Nonetheless, we were time constrained so we merely had a lunch here before we continued on with our self-driving tour.
Even though we saw the falls in a voluminous state as you can see in the photo at the top of this page, I’ve read trip reports stating that the falls could very well be disappointing due to low flow from the regulation by the hydro facility. I can’t say exactly what the timing would be to guarantee a satisfactory sighting so it could very well be the luck of the draw. That’s why the advise we were given (and we’re passing along to you) would be to check out the waterfall from the bridge first, then evaluate how you’d want to spend the rest of your time here.
From the I-87 entrance from Hwy 3 in the south end of Plattsburg, take I-87 south for about 8 miles to the exit for Hwy 442 by Keeseville (or Peru Town). Then, we turned left to go onto Hwy 442 due east and we followed it for near 3 miles before turning right onto the US Hwy 9. We then stayed on Hwy 9 for about 3.6 miles before we took a signposted offramp on the right for Ausable Chasm, which curved underneath the road bridge towards a small car park by the Welcome Center. There appeared to be more parking on the way out of this facility as well as some additional parking by the US 9 Highway near both sides of the road bridge.
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