Niagara Falls New York – Experience the Rush of the Falls

Niagara Falls New York - 1Niagara Falls New York was the highlight of my birthday trip to Buffalo in October of 2021.  To say they were breathtaking would be an understatement. They were phenomenal and we were lucky enough to see them from both the US side and the Canadian side. I absolutely love waterfalls and with all our traveling, I still can’t believe we hadn’t been to see these iconic falls before. So glad we finally made it to Niagara Falls New York for the first time!!

NIagara Falls New York - 3Before I share our visit and some suggestions, I think I will give you all a little history about the falls. I have to say I learned a lot as I didn’t know much about them living most of my life in CA and only hearing stories about people going over them in barrels, etc. Sadly I am embarrassed to admit for the longest time that I didn’t even know they were three different groups of waterfalls. I eventually figured it out through the years when I heard people name them Horseshoe Falls (aka Canadian Falls, which made me think four falls at one point), American Falls, and Bridal Falls. I never took the time though to figure out why they were collectively called Niagara Falls, they just looked pretty to me. Lol

NIagara Falls New York - 5I found this out when I learned that the falls were formed by the Niagara River which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. As you can imagine, the combined falls have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North America. I can tell you by experience these falls are quite impressive and very strong. We were drenched on our boar tour while in the area, but more on that in a bit. The falls have a vertical drop of more than 160 feet (50m), and an estimated more the 5.9 cubic feet (168,000 m3) of water goes over the falls every minute. Again I can say this is very intense and beautiful.  They state that Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America. I definitely believe it.

NIagara Falls New York - 2Geographically, the twin cities of Niagara Falls are located 17 miles (27 km) north-northwest of Buffalo in Niagara Falls New York, and 43 miles (69 km) south-southeast of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. These amazing falls were created when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation and water from the Great Lakes carved a path over the through the Niagara ridge en route to the Atlantic Ocean.

Niagara Falls New York - 6As I said earlier, I was very excited to go and see the falls and we went on the second day of our trip. You can see the mist from the falls miles away. It was impressive before we even got there. 🙂  I had called before our visit and found out the best place to see the falls, as well as many other attractions, is at Niagara Falls State Park. We went to the area several times while in Buffalo and this made it very nice to do a quick peak again if we were in the area. Here is a link to their website with more information and things to do in the park. We were so happy that we did the Maid of the Mist Tour (more on that in a bit) the day we did because it was the second to last day before they closed for the season. Yay!

NIagara Falls New York - 4Not only were we able to see the falls after taking a short shuttle ride from the parking lot, and a short walk, this is also where you can buy tickets and catch the Maid of the Mist boat tour, the Cave of the Winds tour, as well as checking out the gift shop.  This is also where we saw the cool-looking Rainbow Bridge for the first time.

NIagara Falls New York - Rainbow BridgeAs I also love bridges, I was in heaven seeing the falls and this beautiful bridge together. The construction of this steel bridge commenced in February of 1940 and features two lanes for traffic separated by a barrier, it opened in November 1941 and as you can see from my pictures, remains in use today.

NIagara Falls New York - Us1We both had been eager to do the Maid of the Mist tour (me since seeing Jim and Pam get married there on the Office, lol), so we bought our tickets and I took a BUNCH of pictures as we waited for our time to board the boat. We had fun and took a couple of fun pictures of us in our pink (usually blue, but they were pink for breast cancer awareness month) ponchos they gave us after we checked in. I brought little plastic ziplock bags from our phones and they worked great until we got drenched later on the ride. They protected our phones but were too wet to take more pictures. Anyway, we loaded our boat and we started toward the falls. They said you’ve never felt the power of Niagara Falls like this before, and they were right. It was an electrical experience that I will never forget. We truly experienced the rush from the 600,000 gallons of water falling per second as we stood right in the midst of the falls for a minute or so before we turned around.  Again it was an experience that I will NEVER forget. Like I said we were drenched but had a blast. Below is a video from our ride, plus a few other images of Niagara Falls. Hope you enjoy it.

We hung around a little after our tour and took some more pictures from the U.S. side hoping we would be able to make it to the Canadian side later in our trip. But either way, I was SO happy to finally experience the falls up close and personal. Later in the trip, we did make it to the Canadian side and it is definitely a different view and I think a little more impressive than from the U.S. side.

NIagara Falls New York - Us2While doing research for the post, I thought about the barrel jumps, deaths, etc. I also wondered if the falls ever froze completely.   This is what I learned. Apparenlty In October 1829, Sam Patch, who called himself “the Yankee Leapster”, jumped from a high tower into the gorge below the falls and survived; this began a long tradition of daredevils trying to go over the falls. On October 24, 1901, 63-year-old Michigan school teacher Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to go over the falls in a barrel as a publicity stunt; she survived, bleeding, but otherwise unharmed. Soon after exiting the barrel, she said, “No one ought ever do that again.” Sadly many have tried in several different forms and sadly did not survive. It is not worth the risk. The falls are serious.

NIagara Falls New York - Night 1The only recorded freeze-up of the river and falls was caused by an ice jam on March 29, 1848. No water (or at best a trickle) fell for as much as 40 hours. Waterwheels stopped, and mills and factories shut down for having no power.[54] In 1912, American Falls was completely frozen, but the other two falls kept flowing.

NIagara Falls New York - Night 2I think I will end this post like we did our last night in Buffalo, at Niagara Falls. This is something you HAVE to do if you are in the area. They are so phenomenal all lit up with different colors and the mist rising up gives it a whole different feel than during the day. We purposely waited until the last night to end our trip on a high note. So glad we waited as it was beautiful. Cold, but beautiful, lol. We regretted not going back into Canada to see them, but maybe the next time we are in the area. Something to look forward to next time I guess. As I said earlier, Niagara Falls New York is something I will never forget. Again, check out the Niagara State Park website for more information if you are planning your own trip to the area. If you can’t make it to the East Coast, you can always check out Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho. Not quite as impressive as Niagara Falls New York, but also beautiful and often called the “Niagara of the West”.

Niagara Falls New York Visitor Information

Niagara Falls State Park

Address:

332 Prospect St Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Phone:

716-278-1794

Park Hours:

24/7/365

Maid of the Mist Boat Tour

Schedule – Closed for the season. Opening again in Spring 2022

Prices:

Adult: $25.25
Child (ages 6-12): $14.75
Child (Ages 5 and Under): Free – with accompanying adult

Cave of the Winds

Dates Times
January 2 – March 31 9:00 AM to *4:00 PM
April 1 – May TBD 9:00 AM to *4:15 PM

Prices:

Adult: $12
Youth (Ages 6-12): $9
Child (Ages 5 and Under): Free

Directions:

From Buffalo Niagara International Airport
From Buffalo Niagara International Airport, take Route 33 to Interstate 90. Take Exit 50 and merge onto Interstate 290 to Interstate 190 North Exit and cross the South Grand Island Bridge (toll), continuing across Grand Island. After crossing the North Grand Island Bridge, immediately take Exit 21 to Niagara Scenic Parkway. Continue on the Parkway as it turns into Prospect Street. Signs will direct you to Niagara Falls State Park’s parking lots. On weekends or holidays, consider exiting the 290 at Exit 3 North/ Niagara Falls Blvd and heading into the city that way. While this route adds a bit more travel time, you may avoid long waits in traffic. You will find many parking options in the city that are just steps from the Park while avoiding a great deal of traffic.

From Albany & Areas East
For Niagara Falls directions from Albany and areas East, take the Interstate 90 West to Interstate 290 West to Interstate 190 North Exit and cross the South Grand Island Bridge (toll), continuing across Grand Island. After crossing the North Grand Island Bridge, immediately take Exit 21 to Niagara Scenic Parkway. Continue on the Parkway as it turns into Prospect Street. Signs will direct you to the state park’s parking lots. On weekends or holidays, consider exiting the 290 at Exit 3 North/ Niagara Falls Blvd and heading into the city that way. While this route adds a bit more travel time, you may avoid long waits in traffic. You will find many parking options in the city that are just steps from the Park while avoiding a great deal of traffic.

From the West
Driving in from the West, take Interstate 90 East to Interstate 290 West to Interstate 190 North Exit and cross the South Grand Island Bridge, continuing across Grand Island. After crossing the North Grand Island Bridge, immediately take Exit 21 to Niagara Scenic Parkway. Continue on the Parkway as it turns into Prospect Street. Signs will direct you to the state park’s parking lots. On weekends or holidays, consider staying on the 290 and using Exit 3 North/ Niagara Falls Blvd to head into the city that way. While this route adds about 10-15 more minutes of travel time, you will avoid long waits in traffic. You will find many parking options in the city that are just steps from the Park while avoiding a great deal of traffic.

From the South
For Niagara Falls directions from the South, take either Interstate 90 West through New York or Interstate 90 East through Pennsylvania to Interstate 290. Take the Interstate 190 North Exit and cross the South Grand Island Bridge, continuing across Grand Island. After crossing the North Grand Island Bridge, immediately take Exit 21 to Niagara Scenic Parkway. Continue on the Parkway as it turns into Prospect Street. Signs will direct you to Niagara Falls State Park’s parking lots. On weekends or holidays, consider staying on the 290 and using Exit 3 North/ Niagara Falls Blvd to head into the city that way. While this route adds about 10-15 more minutes of travel time, you will avoid long waits in traffic. You will find many parking options in the city that are just steps from the Park while avoiding a great deal of traffic.

From Toronto, Canada
To get to Niagara Falls, USA, from Canada, take the Gardiner Expressway to the QEW South. Enter the USA via the Rainbow Bridge, crossing the Niagara River onto Niagara Street. Turn right and follow the signs to the Park.

Parking:

They have 4 lots and some are free, some are $10. Check out this link with maps and prices for the 4 lots.

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7 thoughts on “Niagara Falls New York – Experience the Rush of the Falls”

  1. I took my kids to Niagra Falls when they were little. We loved it, but we didn’t need a full week there. We added on a side trip to Toronto to see the Hockey Hall of Fame. Still it was one of my favorite trips.

  2. We’ve been to Niagara Falls twice. Once on a foggy and drizzly day, the other time we were lucky to catch a blue sky and sunny kind of day. Lots of rainbows were forming at the falls, spectacular!
    We didn’t take the Maid of the Mist Tour though. You and your husband look adorable in your ponchos, and I can tell you had a great time.
    Thanks for bringing up fond memories!

  3. We have been to the falls two times now. Once ages ago with my in-laws who were visiting us in the US, and more recently in 2019 (which was incidentally, our last trip by flight since then!). Each trip was wonderful and left us with treasured memories. The Maid of the Mist is thrilling and rejuvenating!

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