Both sides of the River have gorgeous falls. Clearly the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side are the most dramatic with a 2200 foot crest and a 177 ft. drop. At 700,000 gallons per second, the falling water creates so much mist and wind that the bottom of the Falls are completely obscured, and the mist wets you with rain well down river. Unfortunately, seemingly “Un-Canadian” in style, the overwhelming and ugly tourist dreck on the Canadian side is a big drawback to viewing the Falls. We would not have minded a reenactment of the 63 year old school teacher Annie Taylor’s ride in a bucket over the Canadian Niagara Falls, or the swims/dives of 10 other survivors. As two have died (a kayaker and a jet skier), your ride now would result in arrest when you resurface.
The Falls in New York are not as wide, with less water volume and mist, and leave the piled rocks at the bottom visible about 1/4 of the way up the waterfall, making our falls look shorter, and certainly less dramatic. However, we’ve got a really beautifully landscaped old state park on Goat Island, that allows you to scamper all over for birds-eye views of the Canadian horseshoe falls. Also, we’ve got the most awesome tourist attraction of all, and it beats the Maid of the Mist boat trip in all ways, as the boats are not allowed to approach close to the falls due to submerged rocks.
There is no better way to experience the force of the water than the, “Cave of the Winds Tour” in the New York State Park. It also costs 50% less than the boats and you get silly souvenir sandles to boot!
“Cave of the Winds” starts with the provision of souvenir sandles and ponchos, before an elevator ride 179 feet down to the base of the falls. The cave collapsed several years ago, and now there are staircases and platforms directly under Bridal Veil Falls. If you climb to the “Hurricane Deck”, you will stay less than a minute with the pounding of the falls on your back and the intense gale force winds created by the falls. You will get soaked if you go there, even briefly. Some silly people, eg. Sally (circled in the photo above) and a busload of visiting foreign students, stayed on the Hurricane Deck for half an hour. Sally huddled in place grabbing onto the rail enjoying the pounding “massage”, while the students danced like dervishes. Thus we found another very refreshing way to beat the heat on our travels this summer.