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Tips and Tricks for Seeing Niagara Falls

 

If your RV travels take you to upstate New York, you definitely want to put Niagara Falls on your list of stops. While not the tallest or largest waterfall, it does have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North America. You will be amazed to hear the massive roar as 600,000 gallons of water rush over the edge…every second!

Over 13 million people flock to this famous attraction each year. Even if you have seen pictures of the falls, I guarantee that it doesn’t compare to seeing it in person. You can take a commercial tour of the sights, but it really isn’t necessary because the area is so easy to get around on your own. The Niagara Scenic Trolley runs on a 3-mile loop and stops at all of the attractions and viewing spots.

Guest Post by Robin Buck

Niagara Falls

We were surprised to learn that Niagara Falls is actually 3 separate waterfalls. Horseshoe Falls is the largest of the 3 and forms a semi-circle between the US and Canada. It is probably the most photographed of the falls. The other two falls, the American Falls and the smaller Bridal Veil Falls, are right next to each other on the US side. It is astonishing to realize that 66% of North America’s freshwater flows over the falls on its 15-hour journey from the Great Lakes all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

Niagara Falls State Park

Most of the main sights can be found within Niagara Falls State Park, which is proud to be the oldest state park in the United States. The park itself is open 365 days a year and is free to enter, although there is a small parking fee. A great place to start your exploration is at the main parking area on Goat Island within the park.

From here you can walk a short distance to Terrapin Point for your first glimpse of Horseshoe Falls. In the morning hours the sun creates a rainbow in the mist as the beautiful blue-green water thunders over the edge. You can then either walk or take the trolley to Three Sisters Island. This pretty area has a series of 3 small bridges that you can walk over to view the Canadian rapids as they head towards Horseshoe Falls.

Cave of the Winds

Right next to Terrapin Point is the entrance for Cave of the Winds. This is the only timed ticket attraction, so it is good to go early in the day. Inside, there are exhibits and a short film on Niagara Falls through the years. We were surprised to learn that people used to pay money to look through a peephole to see the falls. We also heard how Nikola Tesla used the power of the falls to create alternating current and then built the first hydroelectric power plant to supply electricity (beating out Thomas Edison).

After the film, you ride an elevator down 180 feet to the base of Bridal Falls to a series of wooden walkways, stairs, and decks. It’s a good thing they issue you a yellow poncho because you can get really wet, especially if you stand on the Hurricane Deck. This spot is just 15 feet in front of the falls where winds can be whirling up to 68 miles per hour. (Note: The decking is not open year-round. Amazingly it is taken down each fall and rebuilt each spring because the winter ice would tear the deck apart.)

Afterwards, a hop on the Trolley will take you off Goat Island and over to the other side of the park. On the way you will get a look at the American Rapids where water races towards the American Falls. Get off at the stop for Prospect Point and Maid of the Mist.

Maid of the Mist 

Maid of the Mist involves another poncho (blue this time) and another elevator trip down 200 feet to the boarding area. This crowd-favorite attraction gives you a great look at the American and Bridal Falls area as you cruise smoothly by on the all-electric boat. Then it continues up to the brink of Horseshoe Falls where the water gets choppy, the falls are massive, and the roar is spectacular. The boat does a 360 degree turn so that everyone gets a good view…and a good soaking!

Observation Tower

Right next to Maid of the Mist is the Prospect Point Observation Tower. This is a great spot to get a panoramic view of all three waterfalls from the US side. From here you can also climb a series of stairs to the Crow’s Nest viewing area where you are close enough to feel the spray from the American falls. Prospect Point is also a great place to view the nightly color changes of the falls and the fireworks that follow.

Canada

If you bring your passport, it is fun to venture over to Niagara Falls, Ontario, on the Canada side. The best way to arrange your trip is by using the ArriveCAN app where you will need to upload your passport and Covid-19 immunization information. This allowed us a hassle-free and quick crossing via the International Rainbow Bridge, which allows both pedestrians and cars.

The Canadian side of Niagara Falls is more urban than the less developed US side. Of course, there are many attractions and viewing sites on this side as well. At night, we got a great view of the falls from the 525-foot-tall Skylon Tower observation area and also watched the fireworks. While you don’t need to go to Canada to see Niagara Falls, I do think the panoramic view is better from this side.

Enjoy the Beauty

These sights are easily doable in one day, especially if you use the Niagara Scenic Trolley. All of the viewing spots are free, but it is definitely worth the money to do the Maid of the Mist boat ride. The views from the water are spectacular and more than make up for getting a little wet. Visiting the Cave of the Winds is informative and fun, plus it provides an up-close look at the mighty power of the falls. You will be amazed at the awe-inspiring natural wonder that is Niagara Falls.

Robin and her husband, Mike, are Air Force veterans and empty nesters who travel full-time in their Entegra Anthem motorhome. Always ready to explore, they love nature and wildlife, meeting new friends, and discovering America’s many hidden gems. Robin chronicles their adventures and experiences on her travel blog RVing with Robin.