Niagara Falls, description and many photos

Niagara

Niagara is a river in North America connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and separating New York State from the Canadian province of Ontario.

Niagara in the Mohawk language means “Thunder Water”. Niagara Falls are among the most famous natural wonders of the world. The height of this famous waterfall is not so high – only 53 meters, which is much lower than, for example, Victoria Falls (108 meters) or Angel Falls (807 meters). However, in terms of beauty, visibility, power and volume of falling water it has no equal in the world. Its convenient location in a region with well-developed transportation infrastructure makes Niagara Falls especially attractive and accessible to millions of tourists.

Niagara Falls Complex on the River

There are many Native American legends and lore associated with the majestic Falls. One of the most famous legends tells of a beautiful girl named Lelavalaya who fell in love with the Thunder God He-No, who lived in a cave under the falls. To defy the will of her cruel father, who planned to marry her off to one of the Indian warriors, Lelavalae sailed her canoe to the top of the waterfall and threw herself into the raging stream. But the mighty God of Thunder prevented the beauty from dying by picking her up in flight. Since then their souls have dwelt forever in the sanctuary of the Thunder God, hidden beneath the waterfall.

Not everyone knows that Niagara Falls is a generic name for the complex of three separate waterfalls – Horseshoe, American and Fatha. They are located on the Niagara River, which crosses the border between Canada and the United States. It is believed that the Horseshoe is on the Canadian side, while the Fata and the American are on the U.S. side.

In fact, the Niagara is a channel between two of the Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie.

Interestingly, in close proximity to the falls on different banks of the river are the “namesake” cities: the American Niagara Falls and the Canadian Niagara Falls, also known as “Canada’s Las Vegas”.

Niagara Falls.

The closest major population center on the American side is the city of Buffalo. It takes about 8 hours by car or less than an hour by plane to get to the falls from the administrative center of the state, New York. From Toronto, Canada, Niagara can be reached in two hours by shuttle bus.

Both Canada and the United States are proud of this amazing creation of nature, and from time to time they carry out reconstruction works to help preserve the falls in its original form. In the second half of the last century, for example, several cost-effective projects were implemented, and one of them required a temporary change in the riverbed, so that one of the falls, the American Falls, remained dry for several months.

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American Falls, Fata and Horseshoe are separated from each other by two small islands. Goat Island, connected to the neighboring Moon Island and to the mainland by bridges, is very popular with tourists. Goat Island offers a magnificent view of the waterfalls. Thrill seekers can visit the “Cave of the Winds” located on the island, which allows you to get as close as possible to the streams of falling water. Visitors to the cave splashing from head to toe from the waterfall, so everyone is given a raincoat and waterproof shoes at the entrance.

You can also admire the beauty of Niagara from a special observation deck or from the deck of the romantically named Maid of the Mist cruise boat.

The area around Niagara is rich in natural and historical attractions, not as famous as the waterfall itself, but also quite interesting. For example, the Botanical Gardens of Niagara have the world’s largest flower clock. Fragrant floral “dial”, updated twice a year, consists of 19 thousand plants. This amazing show rivals the beauty of the Niagara Greenhouse with its rare tropical plants and over 2,000 species of exotic butterflies. Also noteworthy is the Queen Victoria Park, arranged in ancient style. Among the most popular tourist destinations are also the Wax Museum and Aviation Museum located in Niagara Falls.

Niagara on a map

In close proximity to the falls is a museum dedicated to the history of the discovery and conquest of Niagara. As you know, at all times Niagara Falls has attracted fans of risk and spectacular stunts. The museum exhibits a variety of items on which desperate madmen tried to overcome the stormy waters of the river: boats, barrels, life belts, and more.

Many of their ventures ended tragically. Some of the first known lucky men who managed to conquer the dangerous Niagara were Sam Patch, who in 1829 managed to survive after a mind-boggling jump from the Horseshoe, and the Italian equestrian Maria Spelterenni, who crossed Niagara on a rope stretched directly over the falls.

Niagara Falls.

We traveled to the U.S. in April-May 2015, we had a big trip of about 5,000 miles all along the East Coast, with Niagara Falls as our first destination.

Where is it

Niagara Falls is located in upstate New York on the border with Canada in a little town called, oddly enough, Niagara Falls. The closest more or less major city with an airport is Buffalo. To get there, you have to make a huge detour across the state, where there are essentially no more prominent attractions. However, we had no doubts. There are none now: it was worth the trip, and worth going again.

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When to go

The season, in my opinion, the most successful to visit the waterfall – from mid-May to mid-October. This is due to the local climate and the desire of tourists to look at the waterfall during the warm season.

The main advantages of this time of year:

  • It is warm and you can safely walk in the fresh air, even with a strong wind (which is almost constant here).
  • All the viewing platforms are open, including the tower and the Horseshoe viewing platform on the American side.
  • You can sail up to the falls from below on a riverboat as part of a world-famous tour.
  • You can rent a helicopter for a panoramic bird’s-eye view.
  • You can go down the manhole and stairs on Goat Island to the very foot of Fata Falls and feel its splashing.
  • It will be easier with the choice of snacks, because in addition to stationary cafes, there will be open street fast-food outlets.
  • A lot of intrusive tourists, interfering with the peace of mind to enjoy the view and take pictures.
  • Queues for rides to souvenir shops and cafes.
  • Lack of a giant iceberg below the American Falls.
  • Less power to the waterfall due to high summer power plant activity.
  • Higher accommodation prices.
  • There may be problems finding a parking spot in close proximity to the park and waterfall.

How to get there

  • By Car . We traveled by rental car, the drive total from John F. Kennedy International Airport takes about 8 hours. The car can be parked at a free parking lot near Niagara Falls State Park. This is a very convenient and spectacular option.
  • By bus or train . From New York City, you can travel directly to Niagara Falls in 9 hours by Amtrak train from Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, or by bus, such as the one starting at 625 8th Avenue. If you buy your ticket in advance, a one-way train will cost about $60, a bus $40.
  • By plane . There are also planes from New York (JFK or Newark airport) to Bufallo, where you can get to the falls by cab for $20-$30. Round-trip flights cost about $200-$250.

History and Description of Niagara Falls

Geology

The Falls, along with the Great Lakes and the Niagara River, were formed by the movement and melting of a huge glacier about 6,000 to 11,000 years ago. Interestingly, the falls were originally located a few miles to the north in what is now the town of Lewiston. But as a result of erosion of the riverbed, it gradually moved south. Now Niagara Falls are actually not one, but three:

  • American Falls (21 m high).
  • The Fata (about 25 m high).
  • The Horseshoe (53 m high).

Until very recently, Niagara Falls receded southward at a rate of 0.6-3 meters per year, which was due to the destruction of the rock by the flow of water. Thus, in 1954 there was a landslide that resulted in the American Falls today breaking into a mountain of rocks and visually appearing lower. To slow down the erosion, Canada and the United States adopted the Niagara Water Accord. By then, there was already a hydroelectric plant operating on the river, which slowed down the erosion of the river bed, but it was not enough. In 1969, a joint effort was made to re-route the river, and the American Falls were further strengthened.

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As for the power plant, it is still in operation today. About 50-75% of Niagara’s water is sent through several tunnels to turbines, generating enough energy to power several nearby American states and parts of Canada.

Since time immemorial, this area in northern modern-day New York State (USA) and southern Ontario (Canada) has been home to the Ongiara Indian tribe. Scientists suggest that the name of the waterfall comes from a word meaning “bifurcated land”. According to a beautiful Native American legend, He-No, the god of thunder, lived under the Horseshoe Falls. One day a young Lelawalae, forcibly betrothed to a warrior she did not love, got into a canoe and swam straight to the raging stream, wishing to sacrifice herself to the god she truly loved. It is said that He-No caught her right on the fly and her soul has been living with him in his sanctuary ever since.

According to various sources, Europeans discovered the waterfall in the 17th or early 18th century. This place became widely popular in the 19th century, when tourism began to develop rapidly.

American Falls

So, in Niagara Falls we booked the Aashram Hotel by Niagara River in advance. By the way, the hotel is not bad, a standard room costs $60, breakfast included. After arriving around lunchtime and checking into the hotel, we immediately went to the waterfall, perhaps the main attraction of this town. Thanks to the bad time of year, there were virtually no tourists, and we had no trouble finding free parking near Niagara Falls State Park and proceeded to explore the park (see map).

Despite a fairly strong wind, which drowned out even our voices, the sound of the river came from somewhere in the distance. The park itself, to my mind, is nothing special, we walked a few dozen meters past the Niagara Falls Observation Tower and came to the first observation deck, here the sound of our voices merged with the sound of the giant waterfall, stretching for many thousands of years.

A walk in the park.

It is very difficult to describe the sensation of what we saw, but as a resident of Volgograd in the past, the first thing that came to my mind was that the river as wide as the Volga in the middle course falls in two streams into a fifty-meter abyss.

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In fact, it is approximately so – the total width of the waterfalls “Horseshoe” and “American”, constituting in our understanding of the Niagara Falls, 1115 meters (although there is also a small trickle – “Fata”), the depth, of course, is less than the largest river in Europe, but the maximum flow of the Volga near Volgograd is 8060 m3 / s, and Niagara Falls can reach 5720 m3 / s!

Anyway guys, you have to see it with your eyes, hear it with your ears and feel it with your skin! But here are a couple of pictures for refreshment.

View of View of

After we recovered from what we saw, we noticed another impressive thing – right under the “American” waterfall a huge iceberg was looking at us from the abyss, icing up from the spray during the winter (by the way, about once in a hundred years the waterfall freezes completely).

Iceberg

If you go upstream along the rapids, you can get to the bridge on Goat Island. To be honest, I was not much less impressed by the rapids than by the waterfall itself.

Thresholds Embankment and rapids

Three hundred yards upstream there is a bridge over this part of the Niagara River that leads first to a small Green Island and then to Goat Island. Judging by the number of cars and the parking lot marked on google maps, you can drive up there. It is from there that we have a great view of the second part of the waterfall, Horseshoe Falls, which is where we headed.

Horseshoe Falls

While Horseshoe Falls is only 21 meters high due to the rock face at the bottom, the water flow in this section reaches up to 53 meters. During the season it is possible to get directly to the waterfall. However, here was our first disappointment, because of which I consider the time of our trip not the most successful: the passage to the observation platform was blocked, as it was almost completely hidden under a layer of ice.

Frozen observation deck at

The second disadvantage of our spring visit to Niagara Falls was the closure of the manhole leading to the area below the “veil” – Cave of the winds, where you can find yourself in a cloud of spray in close proximity to the jets of water falling from a height. Another disappointment we experienced when we learned from the local staff that the world-famous boat ride under the falls had not yet started for this season. So on the one hand it was nice that there weren’t too many tourists and their cars, but the extra rides were left without our presence, unfortunately.

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We didn’t find anything particularly interesting on Goat Island anymore.

View from the Canadian side

There is an opinion that the view of the Falls is better from the Canadian side. Connecting the United States and Canada is the Rainbow bridge. But without a Canadian visa to go to Canada, of course, absurd. So you don’t have to do what we did: drive out onto the bridge that connects the countries’ borders and look at the falls from there. After exiting on the bridge, it is impossible to turn around without thus crossing the Canadian border! Not for nothing is there a huge sign CANADA ONLY at the entrance to the bridge.

Canada only

By the way, there really is an impressive view of the entire waterfall from the bridge.

View from the bridge during daylight hours

So if you want to enjoy the gorgeous view from the Canadian side, get your Canadian visa. In the absence of the latter, you can see something similar (or even cooler) from a helicopter or a boat, about which we will tell a little later.

By the way, the cunning Canadians probably decided to additionally attract tourists by making a part of the waterfall illuminated, which can be fully enjoyed only from their side. Although you can understand from the American side that it was a great idea. The evening illuminated waterfall looks magical, what a pity we only saw a piece of it.

Night Falls from the U.S. side

Niagara Falls tours and excursions

Additional in-season activities (in 2016 it was from May 18 to October 18) include Maid of the Mist Boat Tours on the Niagara River, which allow you to view the falls from below and feel the freshness of its spray and the power of the falling stream for only $17 per person.

Helicopter tours are $100 for a 10-minute flight. You can also visit the Niagara Adventure Theater and the previously mentioned Cave of the Winds with access to The cave of the winds under the Fata. Remember, however, that this is only available in season: from about mid-May to mid-October.

Tickets can be purchased either on site or online, where there are also package deals that, in addition to the waterfall, allow you to visit more aquarium, adventure movie center and discovery center, there are collective discounts.

Of course, do not forget that from New York organized tours to Niagara Falls, including with Russian guides. These tours are not difficult to find on the Internet, they cost around $ 300 and already include not only transportation and accompaniment, but also accommodation. In the end there are a couple of pictures of views from the Canadian side, which we didn’t get to see.

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