Back in January 2011 I wrote about the top 10 falls to see in the world. Who would have known that in less than 2 years I’d be visiting one on that list?
When I was invited to a wedding in western New York, I immediately got out the map to see if I could squeeze in a day trip over to Niagara. Only a quick 3 hour drive away, I set about making plans to not only see the Falls for the first time, but to also visit Canadia for the first time.
Everything I read told me to start the day on the American side and explore that side before going over to Canada for the better view (as well as the light show in the evening). The American side is a State Park and it was delightful following along the bank of Lake Erie, seeing the swiftly flowing water quickly turn into terrific rapids before plunging off the edge. I bought my ticket for the Maid of the Mist, which also got me access to an Observation Tower for some pretty epic views of both falls (the Maid of the Mist runs on both sides and costs the same but the American side gives you access to the Observation Tower and the Crow’s Nest below the American Falls so leaving on the American side is the slightly better choice).
On the Maid of the Mist you pass by the American Falls and are able to get a pretty good view but as you approach the Horseshoe Falls, you might as well be entering a torrential rain storm with the amount of water that is pouring down. You feel as if you are actually under the falls and while the boat does get close, you’re still a good bit away. The whole trip only lasts 15 minutes or so and boats are constantly leaving so there’s not much worry of not getting a spot on a boat.
After the Maid of the Mist, I headed up the Crow’s Nest, which is a path the leads up to the base of the American Falls. Even with my trusty Maid of the Mist poncho, I managed to get the front and back of my shirt wet, as well as my tennis shoes. Nothing like walking around in squelching shoes for the rest of the day. Luckily, I prepared for this and made sure I got all of the potentially wet stuff out of the way early in the day to make sure I had time to dry out before the night air set in.
I walked a good bit around the American side and then it was time to head to Canadia over the Rainbow Bridge. After paying the toll and sitting in line for 30 minutes, I had made it through the border into Canada. I was prepared for Niagara being a tourist trap but was still surprised at being charged $20 to park. The entire Canadian skyline is full of casinos and hotel skyrises so looking across from the American side is a bit sad. The American side isn’t innocent, boasting their own solitary casino tower, but by and large, looking back at the Falls from the Canadian side is the better, clearer view of the Falls, especially in regards to mist not blocking your view.
I arrived on the Canadian side at about sunset so I strolled around and took photos of the falls and then caught dinner at a riverside restaurant to view the light show that began after dark, with giant spotlights casting different color lights onto both the American and Horseshoe Falls.
It was incredible to see the sheer volume of water going off the edge. My favorite spots to view the falls was not in front of the falls but behind it slightly to get the full impact of seeing quickly flowing water and then…nothingness. I could imagine early explorers making this terrible discovery much too late.
I headed back to America that night following a small two-lane road that hugged the lake’s bank on the Canadian side. There was no one else on the road and it was a nice drive with the lights reflecting off of the water. Plus, there was no line of cars (or tolls) waiting for me at the Pearl Bridge that quickly got me back into America by unceremoniously dumping me directly into downtown Buffalo, NY, which, from the little bit that I saw of it, seems like a sad place where hopes and dreams go to die (no offense to anyone who lives in Buffalo, NY but honestly, there are a LOT of people from Buffalo that have moved to Raleigh and I can only imagine they moved here for something more than just a mild winter).
So I enjoyed my little trip to the falls (as well as the wedding!) and was glad I took advantage of roughly being in the area. Nothing like taking advantage of an adventure when the opportunitye presents itself.
Have you been to Niagara Falls? How could you not love waterfalls in general?!