Niagara Falls

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niagara  001Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve wanted to visit Niagara Falls.  And even though we lived in New York City for awhile, my family didn’t have the opportunity to take the trip at that time. Later in life, other places captured my interest, and I moved on.niagara  002

But now that we’d spent some time on the east coast, it was time to take care of this childhood wish.  So Hector and I planned a short stop in Niagara Falls on the way from Southern Vermont to Cincinnati, Ohio.niagara  028

Four Mile Creek Campground in Youngstown, New York, just north of Buffalo, was quite lovely and our site looked out over Lake Ontario.

niagara  006niagara  003niagara  007Niagara Falls is actually three waterfalls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the American side, and Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.

Walking into the park from the parking lot on the American side, I was surprised to immediately hear the sound of the falls, and to actually see them shortly after that.  I’m used to hiking to waterfalls and had no idea what to expect.  But this area is very developed with a sidewalk along the side of the Niagara River and by the waterfall, parking lots, gift shops etc.

niagara  004In spite of the highly developed surroundings, the falls are a very impressive sight.  The sound alone makes you appreciate the power of the water tumbling down from the river.   And the rapids just above the falls are pretty impressive as well.  But at times the falls seem surreal in this “theme-park” like setting.niagara  015

niagara  010We purchased tickets for the Cave of the Winds, one of the “attractions”.  The name of the attraction refers to a cave that collapsed years ago.  The attraction now includes an elevator ride down to a series of walkways designed for a very close look and feel of the American and Bridal Veil Falls. niagara  014

The highest portion of the boardwalk is about ten feet from Bridal Veil Falls.  And since the walkways would be damaged by ice in winter they are torn down and rebuilt every season!niagara  013niagara  012

A rain poncho and rubber sandals (mandatory) are included with the entry to Cave of the Winds, but I highly recommend wearing a rain jacket underneath the poncho.  If you climb to the top walkway, it’s a very, very wet experience, so it’s also important to be mindful of camera equipment.niagara  009niagara  008

niagara  016niagara  017It was a very cloudy day but we signed up to go out on “Maid of the Mist” boat cruise anyway, a longtime tradition at Niagara Falls. niagara  040

niagara  018niagara  019niagara  020These boats cruise past the American and Bridal Veil Falls (too rocky to get too close to), and over to the Canadian side, where the boat stops for a few exhilarating minutes right in front of Horseshoe Falls.  Horseshoe Falls are known for the mist they generate, sometimes creating a cloud above the waterfall.niagara  022

It’s relatively short, but highly recommended.  And in spite of the ponchos you WILL get absolutely drenched.  So plan accordingly.niagara  021

niagara  023Maid of the Mist boats leave from both the American and Canadian side and have the same exact route, but the tickets from the American side are a little less expensive.niagara  025

While on the boat, we heard the “Miracle of Niagara” story of a boy who’d fallen off a boat above the rapids (there is literally a line way up river where the water goes from calm to rapids).   He came down the rapids and falls unprotected except for a life vest and was rescued by someone on the Maid of the Mist.  And survived.   Unbelievable.niagara  026

A tradition of people who intentionally went down the falls started in 1829 when someone who called himself “the Yankee Leapster” jumped from a high tower to the gorge below the falls and survived.  Then, in 1901, a 63 year old teacher was the first person to go over the falls in a barrel.  It was a publicity stunt and she survived.niagara  049

niagara  029niagara  050niagara  048We’d heard that the views from the bridge across to Canada and from the Canadian side were even better than the views from the American side.  So the next day, we walked over to Canada across the bridge, figuring that going through immigration and customs on foot would be much easier than doing so in a car.  Especially since we always carry a lot of “stuff” piled up in our car.

And we were right, after the approximately ¼ mile walk across the bridge, it only took a couple of minutes to get through immigration.  And there were some great views from the bridge.  Not to mention that “walking to Canada” was kind of cool.

There is a bus you can take that tours the falls and a couple of other sites, it’s one of those “hop on, hop off” affairs.  We didn’t want to pay extra for stuff we weren’t going to see, so we took the approximately one mile walk over to Horseshoe Falls.niagara  051

niagara  049niagara  044On the way, there are great views of the American and Bridal Veil Falls.  And Hector and I agreed that Horseshoe Falls were even more impressive than American Falls.   Surprisingly, the Canadian side is just as touristy (if not more so) than the American side, and we opted out of the “attractions”.  So we just walked around to different viewpoints to gawk at the falls.
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niagara  034niagara  033niagara  042niagara  041niagara  045niagara  046And we learned more about daredevil traditions.  Wire walking across the gorge began in 1859 and continued through 1896.  Then, in June, 2012, Nik Wallenda became the first person to walk across the falls in 116 years.  He walked across 1,800 feet of tightrope near the brink of Horseshoe Falls, further upstream than previous walkers.  According to Mr. Wallenda, it was the longest unsupported tightrope walk in history.  He carried his passport on his walk, and was required to present it when he reached the Canadian side of the falls. Amazing.niagara  039niagara  043niagara  038

niagara  032Walking back towards the bridge to the U.S., we stopped by the Skylon Tower to explore the possibility of riding to the top, but it got really cloudy once again, and we held off for a possible return trip that evening.  At 775 feet in height, I imagine the view must be fantastic on a clear day.  While in the tower, we succumbed to a touristy activity, having a photo taken of us “going down the falls”.

It was quite a full day but we still maintained the possibility of returning later that evening to see the falls lit up with colored lights.  And once again getting through immigration on the U.S. side of the bridge was a cinch.niagara  047

That evening it rained quite a bit, and we didn’t return to Canada.  But I finally got to see Niagara Falls and they were beautiful.

~ Brenda

7 thoughts on “Niagara Falls

  1. Like you I had been dreaming of seeing and experiencing Niagara Falls and it did not disappoint.
    After seeing Niagara falls, all other falls will just be a mere ….We had a blast getting wet too on both Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist.
    Love the green tinge on the falls.

  2. I don’t even know what to say. Your photos are just amazing…absolutely perfect. That header is spectacular.

    So glad you finally got your visit to Niagara Falls:) Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    • Thank you, I actually had a couple of videos of the drenching but we weren’t successful in uploading them to the blog :(. I just looked at your photo of the geyser, it really does look like a waterfall :). We can’t wait to go back to Yellowstone, the geysers are fascinating and we love the wolves. So many beautiful places.

  3. Double wowee!!! Incredible photos, Hector! Absolutely magical images! And Brenda, your narratives are so vivid and entertaining. I feel like I’m right there with you!!! Thanks so much, my friends, from the bottom of my heart!

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