Niagara Falls

Buffalo / Golden Horseshoe, New York / Ontario, USA / Canada

About Niagara Falls

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2007-06-13
Date last visited: 2013-10-11

Waterfall Latitude: 43.08065
Waterfall Longitude: -79.07633

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Niagara Falls is by far the most famous waterfall in North America (at least in our minds). It has been the backdrop to many honeymoons, proposals, daredevil stunts, and even key moments in the history of the United States. If you haven’t heard of this falls, it’s time for you to get out and start exploring the world around you!

To Julie and I, we visited this waterfall with a lot of expectations. But after having seen it (twice), we’d have to say we were quite impressed by its power and size (so much so that it not only topped our Top 10 USA Waterfalls List but also made our Top 10 Waterfalls of the World List). In fact, Niagara Falls is said to be the largest waterfall (by volume) in North America. The falls actually consists of three separate components – Horseshoe Falls (see photo above), American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Combined, the falls is said to have an average discharge upwards of a mind boggling 7,000 cubic meters per second or nearly 85,000 cubic feet per second. It’s said that over 90% of this volume is over the Horseshoe Falls.

The Niagara River marks the border between New York, USA and Ontario, Canada. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls lies on the American side while the Horseshoe Falls is considered Canadian even though my maps seem to indicate that the political boundary in the middle of the Niagara River also splits the falls. We felt the falls was easily experienced from both sides so it didn’t really matter which side we were on (though waiting in line at the border control could be a total pain, especially heading into the American side). Speaking of visiting both sides, we did a write-up of our trip logistics and nuances involved in visiting both sides of the falls.

Niagara Falls dwarfing onlookers
When we first visited the falls during the early Summer month of June, we had thought the water volume was probably either at its highest for the year or close to it. However, when we visited the falls during the Autumn month of October six years later, we saw even more mist wafting up from the base of the falls. So we couldn’t really say from our observations whether this could be explained by 2013 being a wetter year than 2007, or if the seasonal variations weren’t as pronounced as we would have expected (you can read this writeup we did discussing the various seasons and conditions at the falls for our thoughts on timing a trip to Niagara Falls). Whatever the case, the volume and power of the falls were so evident that the mist from the Horseshoe Falls segment seemed to aggregate into its own clouds as the mist cloud would rise higher than the 167ft plunge itself (by the way, I’ve also seen reported heights of 173ft and 176ft for the height of Niagara Falls’ drop).

The falls is said to contribute a large amount of hydroelectric power to the power grid in the Eastern US and Canada. Perhaps in recognition of this heritage of hydroelectricity, we noticed a statue of Nikola Tesla at the falls. It was he who was credited with being the first to successfully turn the energy of falling water from Niagara Falls into electricity that was distributed for private and industrial use.

Looking over the brink of the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls
Hydroelectricity has been controversial in terms of the environment, and it is especially a bane for waterfalling due to inundation, interruption of waterflow, and collateral damage to the natural surroundings to support hydroelectric infrastructure. However, there’s no denying the critical role it has played in allowing certain cities (and even whole economies) to be built up and thrive. In the case of Niagara Falls, human intervention has also meant that the flow of the Niagara River has been regulated in a way that actually slows down the erosion of the falls (roughly 3ft per year). Moreover, it has been said to play a critical role in the evolution of America into the country it is today.

We’ve been aware that the falls has been a tourist attraction since America’s early years (the mid 1800s). So it wasn’t surprising that over the last 200 years or so, the attraction has become heavily commercialized. This meant that we could experience the falls in numerous ways but we did feel that each waterfall “excursion” was like an amusement park or carnival ride where we paid to do a particular experience and then moved on to the next if we were so inclined. Indeed, like the tourists of days past, we got drenched at the Cave of the Winds as well as the Maid of the Mist, and we also got to hear and feel the ground tremble from the backside of the falls. You can read more about our experiences with these excursions here.

The commercialism at the falls also meant that for all intents and purposes, Niagara Falls was an urban waterfall. It was surrounded by plenty of concrete as well as high rises. Most of those high rises kind of reminded us of a Frankenstein-like hybrid of Las Vegas and a waterfall world wonder. In that sense, Niagara Falls had all the potential of rivaling the other waterfalls comprising what we called “The Big Three” in Iguazu Falls and Victoria Falls, but it just didn’t measure up to its international counterparts when considering its unnatural surroundings.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed the pleasant strolls on both the American and Canadian sides of the falls which were free if you don’t count parking. They allowed us to take in the scenery at our own leisure. And if that wasn’t enough, we were able to see the falls at night as they were floodlit with varying colors until midnight. In any case, it was hard to say which side was better as we felt each side was pleasant in its own way. However, we did compose a writeup comparing and detailing our impressions of both the American and Canadian sides, which you can read about here.

No doubt about it. The falls can be experienced and seen in countless ways. We’re living proof of that as you can see from the pictures and videos on this page. And with that said, I’m willing to bet there are even more ways to see and experience the one and only Niagara Falls than what we’ve done. So take a virtual tour by scrolling further to see more photos, videos, links, and more! See if this doesn’t inspire your own trip to the Granddaddy of waterfalls in the USA!


There are many ways of getting to Niagara Falls. If you’re interested in reading about our accounts of how we managed to get to the falls, you can read about it in this writeup by clicking here.

To give you some geographical context, on the Canadian side, Niagara Falls was 74km (an hour drive) east of Hamilton and 129km (under 2 hours drive) south of Toronto. On the American side, the city of Niagara Falls was 20 miles (about 30 minutes drive) north of Buffalo and 408 miles (about 6.5 hours drive) northwest of New York City.

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In the hotel room sweeping back and forth between the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. This was taken in October 2013 on a more recent trip here.

Right to left sweep starting with Horseshoe Falls and giant mist cloud then panning to American Falls

Right to left sweep from brink of Horseshoe Falls showing bold double rainbow before panning to American Falls then ending with Maid of the Mist by the rainbows

Sweep of Horseshoe Falls from the Maid of the Mist Tour

Tagged with: niagara, buffalo, new york, canada, ontario, waterfall, transnational, history, electricity, niagara river, developed, urban waterfall, vegas, horseshoe falls, american falls, bridal veil falls, tesla, edison, upstate

Visitor Comments:

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Getting Ready for a Wedding December 10, 2011 12:17 pm by Diane - Neither of us have ever been to the falls and are planning to elope there. Is there an area of the falls that you could recommend to do this? I would love the night lights but not sure if I could get a place to conduct one at night. ...Read More
Favourite place on earth! May 6, 2011 11:43 pm by Melanie - I go to Niagara Falls, Canada at least twice a year with my twin sister. We could write books with all the fun and harrowing facts we've learned. We're addicted to the falls and sometimes go there just to escape the chaos of life. Love it so much! ...Read More
Niagara Falls Canada November 10, 2010 7:02 am by Jenny Lenavena - Peak numbers of visitors occur in the summertime, when Niagara Falls are both a daytime and evening attraction. The oldest and best known tourist attraction at Niagara Falls is the Maid of the Mist boat cruise, named for an ancient Ongiara Indian mythical character, which has carried passengers into the rapids immediately below the Falls… ...Read More
Proposal at Niagara Falls April 20, 2010 5:04 pm by Peter Morgan - I proposed to my partner while on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara. We are civil partners from England. He said yes and the rest is history. It will always have a special place in our hearts. ...Read More
Lost Memory March 30, 2010 7:04 pm by Daniel J Gould - Hi, Can anyone help me? I'm looking to identify a waterfall. I have a pic of me but I don't remember when or where I was when it was taken. If you can help, thanks everyone ...Read More
Favourite Day Trip April 27, 2009 11:30 pm by Wendy - I lived in southern Ontario for the first 45 years of my life and visited the falls many, many times. It was always a favourite day trip. It's fun to go in the summer and get wet as you approach them on a windy day. Just the sound of the water itself is pretty amazing. ...Read More
Been There A Couple Of Times… December 19, 2008 4:49 am by Webwatch - That's a wonderful collection of photos of the Niagara Falls. Been there a couple of times. Can't help but be in awe of the falls - especially as seen from the "Maid of the Mist" Also the American Falls up close is awesome. It however does get really crowded during the holidays. ...Read More
Natural State December 19, 2008 4:46 am by Kevin - I think it is a crime that they have not kept the falls in a more natural state. The falls are an amazing sight, no doubt, but it is too bad they have built so many hotels, casinos and other structures around this natural wonder. ...Read More

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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

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Been there, live here September 14, 2011 1:11 pm by Chuck - I live in Niagara Falls, and head down for a peak two or three times a week. Try to go when the number of tourists is low like early morning. A couple of comments in regard to others that have commented. I too would like it if the Falls were in a more natural state.… ...Read More
Niagara Falls – It Depends on your Environment Preference July 9, 2011 3:23 am by Adjoa - I just came back from Niagara Falls, and my conclusion is the general one. Yes, each side has it's benefits that makes it just as good as the other side. Instead of comparing the view of the Falls however, I compared what one's personal preference of environment around the Falls is. If you are a… ...Read More
“About the Falls” – Correction April 28, 2009 7:33 am by Brian - All 3 components of the falls are quite beautiful, but the Horseshoe Falls are, in fact, Canadian. Here is some dry, but interesting history: The International Boundary line was established by the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783 and later in the Jay's Treaty of 1794. The was also agreed to at the Treaty of Ghent… ...Read More

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