Niagara Falls is by far the most famous waterfall in the world. 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, you may not be an American!
Niagara Falls is collectively made up of three separate waterfalls straddling the American and Canadian borders where the great lakes of Ontario and Erie meet. The largest of the falls, Horseshoe Falls lies almost completely on the Canadian side, while the American Falls and smaller neighbor Bridal Veil Falls all lie completely on the American side.
While not exceptionally high, Niagara Falls are still very wide. Even though Niagara does not near the top of any list as one of the highest falls in the world; combined they do however form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world and is the most powerful waterfall in North America. Horseshoe Falls has a vertical drop of more than 165 feet and more than six million cubic feet of water falls over the crest line every minute! Because of this, they are a great source of hydroelectric power for the region. But this is not why millions flock to the falls each year, we go for their remarkable beauty, roaring waters, and to experience the “mist”.
I started my exploration of the falls from the Canadian side, arriving in the ultra touristy town of Clifton
Hill. Clifton Hill is the major tourist promenade near the falls built specifically for those wishing to stay near the falls. The street reminded me a lot of Pigeon Forge TN, as it contains loads of gift shops, their very own Madame Tussauds wax Museum, haunted houses, video arcades, mini golf, restaurants and of course a Ripley’s believe it of not. But I have come for the falls, parking was remarkably easy near the falls and the main strip in Clifton and reasonably priced at $10 CAD for the whole day. There are no real directions needed for the falls, you can hear the rushing water from the strip. Approaching the falls the first thing I saw was the American Falls, spanning the hillside and covering 1,060 feet in width. Turning the corner you see the magnificent Horseshoe Falls. If I am to be honest, since you are almost eye level with the top of the falls from the street they do not appear as high as I thought it would.
Niagara offers several activities on and around the falls, but the most popular of these is a ride into the falls on the infamous Maid of the Mist. Maid of the Mist is the boat that takes tourists on a ride near the American Falls and into the Horseshoe itself. Recently the Canadians opened a similar boat ride called the Hornblower. Loads of research left me undecided on which to take prior to arriving at the falls, but once there I decided to take the Hornblower being that I was already on the Canadian side of the falls. Truth be told, the tours are exactly the same so choose however you like. After embarkation it is only a short journey from the dock and you are approaching the American Falls. I am eating my words now; here at water level these falls are huge! I snapped a few photos then quickly placed my camera back under my iconic poncho as the mist has set in, but I think ok I can handle this. (One of the things I hate most in life is wearing wet
clothes) Cameras back out snapping a few more quick photos as we approach the Horseshoe. Coming in from this angle you can also see the sheer force the water has coming off the top-it shoots several feet outwards over the top before starting its downfall-truly remarkable and would not have been noticed if not from the boat. Once in the Horseshoe you cannot even look straight into the falls. Mist is nowhere near an accurate description; I was getting drenched! I imagine this is exactly how news reporters feel when a hurricane is approaching landfall! All we can do is laugh, as a view of the falls is almost impossible. However, you can turn your back to the mist and from within the Horseshoe looking out the falls surrounds you creating a spectacular view in every direction. If you are going to Niagara a boat ride is a must.
Ledges run all along the falls on both sides, so a walk up and down is in order as well. The full frontal view of the falls is far different from being at the top of the falls, where you see the water rushing down the river and roaring over the top. At the top I discovered two things; first on the boat I was sure we were right next to the falls in the horseshoe as we were getting soaked, however from this angle you see they only barely enter the falls but it sure didn’t feel that way; and second, how unmistakably high the mist is, it rises almost as high as the top of the falls! It is hard to believe all the people that have risked their life in stunts going over the falls in barrels. Yet, it was these attempts that helped put Niagara on the map. A barrel ride over the top has been attempted by 14 people starting as far back as 1901, a few have even performed the stunt twice and
survived; although others were not so lucky. Personally I believe they all had to be mad to attempt such a stunt.
No one can discount the absolute beauty of the Falls. Personally, I found the color of the water to be surprisingly stunning; it hailed beautiful hues of emerald and jade green. You are also almost guaranteed to catch a glimpse of a rainbow while at the falls. It must be something with the sun and rushing water, and mist that produces so may rainbows and if you are lucky you will catch one on camera!