Niagara Falls

A force of nature


Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, NY 14303, USA

GPS: 43.083301928395, -79.073441826175

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Niagara Falls is arguably the most famous waterfall in the world. Located on the border of Canada and the United States, the falls form a spectacular group of three distinct waterfalls along the Niagara River, bordering Lake Erie and Lake Ontario: the Canadian Falls, also known as Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the less popular Bridal Veil Falls.

Impressive both for its natural splendour and high-water flow (a few million m³ per second), Niagara Falls attracts more than 14 million visitors every year. And because of its romantic setting, lovers from around the world have made it their favourite honeymoon spot on the North American continent. On both sides of the natural border between Canada and the United States, the immediate vicinity of the falls has a modern and varied tourist infrastructure (hotels, restaurants, amusement arcades, boat trips close to the falls aboard the Maid of the Mist, commercial and leisure activities, entertainment sites, light shows, fireworks, etc.). Plunging from a cliff more than 50 metres high, the waters of Niagara Falls create a perpetual mist with rainbows and deafening noise at its edge. In winter, it’s a different story. The polar cold that regularly falls on the region envelops the waterfalls in ice, which become partially frozen. This natural phenomenon reveals a striking landscape for the most courageous visitors (temperatures can drop to -45°, as was the case at the beginning of 2018).

Niagara Falls is a nearly inexhaustible source of power generation in the region. Niagara Falls contributes about 30% of Canada’s hydroelectric generation. This figure is more than 50% for the US state of New York (the falls provide about 20% of the US drinking water). They are also a sensitive natural site threatened by erosion, as the force of the water moves the falls back an average of one metre per year.

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From Canada :

  • The Maid of the Mist boat to experience the thundering sound of the falls
  • The underground tunnels to see Niagara Falls from the inside
  • The Skylon and Konica Minolta observation towers
  • Cable cars over the falls
  • The floodlights that illuminate the Niagara Falls site after dark
  • Queen Victoria Park

From the United States :

  • Prospect Park observation tower
  • Niagara Scenic Trolley along Niagara Falls
  • Hiking trails, including the Cave of the Winds series of bridal veil trails (sandals and mackintosh provided so you don’t end up soaked)
  • The steep Niagara Gorge below the falls marks the border between Canada and the United States

  • Niagara Falls formed at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation about 12,000 years ago. This period corresponds to the last ice age and the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet that covered most of the North American continent. This same phenomenon was responsible for the creation of the Great Lakes above Niagara Falls. The river then managed to cut a passage (Niagara Gorge) to end its course in the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River, which forms the largest estuary in the world.
  • Niagara Falls was once called Ongiaras, after a Native American tribe that lived in the area. According to a legend, a young girl named Lelawala was to be sacrificed by the tribal chief to marry the thunder god Hinum. To escape her fate, she joined her lover He-No in a cave just behind Horseshoe Falls and called herself the Mist Maiden.
  • In the history, several experienced amateur stuntmen tried their hand at descending Niagara Falls from a height of about 50 metres. Among them, Sam Patch, in 1829, without any significant protection, succeeded in being the first person to escape unscathed. In 1901, on her 63rd birthday, adventurer Annie Edson Taylor attempted to descend in a homemade wooden barrel. She successfully survived the fall, despite a few bruises to her head, fortunately not serious. A decade later, Bobby Leach also miraculously survived a dizzying fall in a homemade steel barrel. He spent six months in hospital after breaking both kneecaps and fracturing his jaw. However, unlike Annie Taylor before him, Bobby Leach made a living from his feat by putting on shows with his barrel or posing for photographs. In 1926, while on a publicity trip to New Zealand, he slipped on an orange peel and broke his leg. The leg became infected and was amputated. His health deteriorated due to complications, and he died two months later.
  • A series of themed videos allow you to virtually immerse yourself in the Niagara Falls environment without leaving your couch or getting wet (helicopter flight, exploration behind the falls, boat trip, zip line ride, light show).
  • The Canadian Falls are the preferred choice, as they are much higher and wider than the American Falls (and have better accommodation and recreational facilities).
  • With a passport, you can enjoy Niagara Falls on both sides of the border.
  • The Cave of the Winds viewing platform is ideal for enjoying the ice environment of the Falls in winter. On the American side, the falls are accessible via a series of trails and a lift.

Where to eat

  • Milestones
    (beautiful view of the falls)
  • Scoops Restaurant
    (small family restaurant)
  • Tide and Vine Oyster House
    (oyster bar)

Where to go

  • Niagara Parks Butterfly...
    (fascinating butterflies)
  • Niagara Glen Nature Areas
    (nice walk)
  • Niagara Helicopters Limited
    (original view of the Falls)

Where to stay

  • Ellis House Bed and Breakfast
    (quiet bed and breakfast)
  • Country Inn & Suites By Carlson
    (very conveniently located)
  • Ambiance by the Falls B&B
    (charming bed and breakfast)