If you are visiting Niagara Falls for the very first time, you will want to learn more about the many ways you can see the Falls. These five adventurous options represent five unique vantage points to view the mystery and power of Niagara Falls. It is also worth noting that most Niagara Falls lodging is located very close to each of these activities.
Niagara Falls: A Brief History
Niagara Falls is actually a collection of three separate waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls. Placed as they are on the border between the United States and Canada, Falls tourists often speak of visiting the “American side” or the “Canadian side” of the Falls. However, both sides refer to the same Falls but provide different vistas to enjoy. Not only is Niagara Falls beautiful, but it is responsible for generating close to 2.5 million kilowatts of electricity and providing much of the power needed in the state of New York. During the day, the Falls remain at full strength but at night (through a provision in an international treaty) a portion of the water flow is diverted to two power plants that use it to generate hydroelectric power.
Journey Behind the Falls
First time visitors are often delighted to learn that there is a tunnel that goes back behind the Falls, offering a unique vantage point for first-timers and experienced Falls tourists alike. Located behind the Horseshoe Falls part of the falls, you can walk in just a few feet of the rushing power of the Falls. Wear a raincoat because you’ll get wet from the spray!
White Water Walk
A boardwalk that follows the Falls allows visitors to view the entire panoramic view of the Falls “in action.” This self-guided scenic tour includes views of the rapids and the gorge, and there are several places to capture photo memories. You can also stop at the various posted signs to read more about the history and development of the Falls, and take an elevator down to stand right next to category-six rushing rapids.
Whirlpool Aero Car
If you love cable cars, you won’t want to miss this special whirlpool aero car that takes you from Thompson’s Point to a spot directly over the whirlpool in the center of the Niagara River. While the original car system was built in 1916, it has been completely updated and conforms to the most rigorous safety requirements. You won’t get a vantage point like this from any other Niagara Falls attraction.
The Niagara Helicopters have been a fixture of the Falls tourist scene for nearly 50 years. You can enjoy rides from morning until sunset, traveling between the American and Canadian side of the Falls to see the Whirlpool Rapids, the Canadian side of Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the Niagara River. Best of all, commentary is offered in 12 different languages to accommodate visitors from all over the world.
Whether you have ever “ridden the rapids” before, no other activity can get you as close to the raw surging power of Niagara Falls as the Whirlpool Jetboats. These whitewater adventure tours last for one hour and are guaranteed to give you 60 minutes of pure excitement on some of the most powerful rapids in the world. You will be given life jackets and water sandals (if you need or want them) to wear. You may also want to bring a change of clothes, especially if you are visiting in cooler seasons.
In addition to viewing the Falls from every angle, you may want to learn more about the history of the area, including past daredevils who went “over the falls,” why the Falls are such a popular destination for couples and what other flora and fauna share the region with the Falls.
- Niagara Falls Discovery Center
- Daredevil Museum of Niagara Falls
- Niagara Wedding Chapel
- Whirlpool State Park
- Niagara Gorge Trail
You will want to plan ahead so you have time to see and do everything Niagara Falls has to offer!
Photo credit: Diego3336 / Foter / CC BY
About the Author: Kerry Marshall has led tour groups to Niagara Falls for 20 years. She loves showcasing the natural wonder, biological diversity and power generation capabilities of the Falls to those visiting for the very first time.
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