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Niagara Falls

27 Apr, 2009

Admiring the Niagara Falls Two-fold

Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls attracts hoards of tourists in the summer because it’s an instant daytime and night time attraction. Both the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls are lit with floodlights at night, creating a magnificent view of the twin rapids. The Niagara Falls is located at the border of New York and Canada. The American Falls and its surrounding viewing points are currently protected by the New York State Parks. The Horse Shoe Falls and its surrounding viewing points, on the other hand, are protected by the Canadian State Parks.

The twin falls are accessible to both American and Canadian viewers. To date, there is no need for passports when you enter both the territories. Guests can choose from a generous number of viewing points, parks, hotels and lodgings that surround the natural spectacle. While the rapids were mostly used for hydraulic power even in the early days, the twin falls never failed to captivate its viewers. The beauty of the falls triggered the building of numerous viewing parks around the area. On the Canadian side, one can even go through a viewing tunnel which creates the illusion of being under the falls. Your travel guide will surely recommend this destination.

While they’re not the highest falls in the world, the Niagara twins are impressively wide. Entertainers like Maria Spelterini crossed the Niagara Fall’s gorges through tightrope in 1876. The falls have also been used as setting for some contemporary movies. It was the backdrop of Niagara starred by Marilyn Monroe, and the Pirates of the Carribean: at Word’s End. In 1990, the illusionist David Copperfield also performed his trick here, wherein he appeared to be traveling over the Horse Shoe Falls.

Between the two falls, the Horse Shoe Falls on the Canadian Side is wider, sitting at 2,200 feet in girth. The American Falls, on the other hand, is 1,060 feet wide. For a whole summer in 1969, the American Falls had to be “shut down” to prevent erosion. All of the water coming from Niagara Fall’s tributaries had to be diverted to the Canadian Horse Shoe Falls. Today, though, both falls are up and running. They drew as many as 20 million viewers in the year 2008 alone.

Visitors can choose from different viewing points in Canada and in New York when they visit the natural wonder. The most popular viewing points from the US side are the Goat Island, the Discovery Center, The Rainbow Bridge (shared with Canada), The Maid of the Mist (shared with Canada), the Cave of the Winds, and Prospect Point. From Canada, one can view the falls from Clifton Hill, Queen Victoria Park, Sky Wheel, Oakes Garden Theater, Birds of the Lost Kingdom, Fallsview Waterpark, Behind the Falls, Skylon Tower and the Imax Theater.

Goat Island

From New York, the Goat Island is accessible to people who plan to bring their cars and/or view the Niagara Falls on a recreational vehicle. The fitter visitors might also want to explore the viewing spot on foot. A pedestrian bridge is located a few feet away from the brink of the American Falls.
The island is called “goat island” because its pioneer inhabitant, John Stedman, kept a herd of goats in the territory. While it’s one of the most popular viewing points of the Falls now, it wasn’t preserved as a tourist spot until Augustus Porter, who bought the island in the middle 19th century, recognized the value of the Niagara Falls as an attraction. In 1885, the Goat Island was also included in the Niagara State Park. This park is the oldest state park in the US today. A travel guide can lead you through an educational tour of the falls, pointing out the best parts including the bridal veil and the gorges.

Discovery Center

From the Niagara Discovery Center, a tourist guide can lead you through one of the best hiking trails in the US. The Niagara Gorge Trail is great for hiking, walking, and cycling, and it allows for a great view of the twin rapids. Four guided hikes are offered in the summer, including the Great Gorge Scenic Overlook Hike, the Upper Great Gorge Hike, the hike over Devil’s Hole Rapids and Giant Rock, and the Whirlpool Rapids Adventure Hike. Fees cost between $2 and $7 each, depending on where you plan to go in the map. Big group discounts are also available.

If you wish to hike here, you should be well prepared. Make sure that you’re wearing proper footwear, because you will be facing steep stairs and slippery rocks.

Maid of the Mist

If you want enjoy the best of both worlds, that is, to go in between the two cities of the Niagara Falls, the best way to do this is to ride the Maid of the Mist. The boat traverses the US and Canadian docks every 30 minutes, and is a common transportation for visitors who want to skip from one island to the other.

During your ride in the diesel-run boat, a travel guide will brief you about the history of the falls. It’s best for families traveling with kids for the first time, and grown-ups who are simply fans of the great falls.

Cave of the Winds

If you want to get up, close and personal with the Niagara Falls, you should go to the Cave of the Winds. As a tourist, you’ll find yourself lodged on an elevator 175 feet deep into the Niagara Gorge, clad in yellow poncho and special footwear. Your travel guide will then take you up a series of wooden pathways to the Hurricane Deck, where you can view the Bridal Veils from only 20 meters away. You’re bound to see rainbows in the falls for the entire day, so this trip is totally worth it. A deck has also been build here for the handicapped and for parents with children in tow.

While the original Cave of the Winds was built behind the Bridal Veils, the viewing decks are now positioned in front of the veils for safety reasons. Tour fees start at $7 for children, and $10 for adults. The cave is open from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm everyday of the week.

Prospect Point

If you want a good overview of the Niagara Falls by a safe distance, you should for to the Prospect Point Park. The New York State Observations Tower sits here, offering visitors a very unique angle of the Niagara Falls. The Maid of the Mist also drops and picks up passengers from the base of this observation tower. If you’re bringing kids along, this could be a safer viewing option compared to the Cave of the Winds.

Table Rock House

If you want to see the world from behind the Niagara Falls, the best place for you to visit is Canada’s Table Rock House. This journey behind the Niagara Falls runs for about 30 to 45 minutes with a guided tour. It’s best to visit this place in the spring and summer months. As a souvenir, you will be getting a yellow rain poncho, which you’re also supposed to wear during the half-hour-or-so-trip.

The viewing tunnels here are at least 150 feet deep into the gorge of the falls, offering a unique view behind the massive sheets of water coming from the falls. From the tunnel, you will be lead to Upper and Lower viewing decks situated at the foot of the falls.

The “Journey Behind the Falls” cost $12 for adults, and $7.20 for children 6 to 12 years of age.

Skylon Tower

If you’re looking for a good view of the Niagara Falls as well as a spectacular dining experience, a visit to the Skylon Tower in Canada is good for you. The Skylon Tower is for people who want to enjoy the Niagara Falls, but aren’t all that outdoorsy. It is one of the most popular landmarks in Canada, and is known globally because it’s one of the few lodgings actually close enough to the Niagara Falls.

The Skylon Tower is situated at the heart of the Niagara Falls hotel. The hotel itself has restaurants that offer the finest of Canadian cuisine, casinos, and other forms of entertainment. During some seasons, the hotel gives all of its guest free admissions to the tower. If you to view the Niagara Falls day in and day out, there’s no better way to do it than to set your bases here.

Sky Wheel

If you’re traveling with kids, it’s almost a sin not to bring them to the Sky Wheel. The Sky Wheel in Canada takes you on a giant Ferris wheel ride which provides a spectacular view of the Niagara Falls. Who says your viewing experience needs to be limited to towers and tunnels? You can also view the giant rapids riding one of Canada’s biggest wheels. Admission for the Sky Wheel costs $9.99 for adults and $5.99 for children. It’s also conveniently located near the Movieland Wax Museum, the Dinosaur Park Miniature Golf, and the Butterfly Observatory. It’s probably one of the first places you should visit if you’re traveling to Niagara Falls with a child.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

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