2010 Race 2 Finish travel blog

parking at the American Falls

Rainbow Bridge to Canada

Niagara River Gorge downriver from the falls

the State Park Visitor Center

beginning of the rapids upriver of the falls

the water gets more turbulent as it picks up speed

rapids and the bridge to Goat Island

a cloud of mist rises over the falls

our first view of the falls from an 8th floor observation deck...

a lot of the restaurants are Indian and so are a lot...

a city parking garage - not busy because the kids aren't out...

the obligatory casino a block away

it was a relief to get out of the trashy area and...

flags of the United States, Canada and the State of New York

a resident squirrel

the Orin Lehman Visitor Center

from the Visitor Center it's a short walk to the falls

our first real view of the falls

American Falls in the foreground and Horseshoe Falls in the distance

the people across the river are on Goat Island

down in the gorge a Maid of the Mist boat heads for...

what would this look like if half the water had not been...

the water is still turbulent quite a ways down river

Maid of the Mist has docks on both sides of the river...

top of the observation tower and a Canadian tower in the background

there's a safety net for the 10 percent who need that kind...

the Canadian boat heads up river

nearly obscured by a cloud of spray




edge of the abyss

the sheer face of Horseshoe Falls


time to take a boat ride and get up close

the trip starts with an 18 story ride in the Observation Tower...

you board the boat down there

at the dock everyone is handed a poncho

the ponchos come in all sizes

the Observation Tower from the top of the bank

and viewed from the boat dock


looks like we're ready

the boat casts off and heads up river

looking back at the dock and tower

looking ahead at American Falls

the rubble at the base of the falls is called talus and...

since the talus breaks off and accumulates faster than the water can...

it is estimated that eventually the falls will cease to exist and...

a very steep rapids!

we're starting to get wet now

and the mist is producing a rainbow at the base of American...

the cataract on the right is Bridal Veil Falls

the people in the yellow slickers are going into the Cave of...

whoever put up that No Smoking sign either had a great sense...

it would probably be impossible to light a cigarette there even if...

falls and gulls

gulls and more gulls

there are even some ducks



people give scale to the talus rocks

the boat heads next for Horseshoe Falls

the largest and most powerful of the three


this is also the one putting out the most spray

look at the people in the top left corner

another rainbow and later a double rainbow

now it's really getting wet out there!

the view back downriver toward Rainbow Bridge and American Falls

the volume of spray comes and goes with the wind


the boat stays here a long time - but even so it's...


starting back and the hoods come off

our cameras got wet but they're still working

a look at Canada from this end

and American and Bridal Veil Falls once more

American Falls shows off one last rainbow for us

wouldn't want to be the stone mason on that job!

back at the dock the next group of bluecoats are getting ready...

ashore this sign shows the sedementary layers of shale only the top...

next to the dock there's a stairway to a viewing area on...

if you're willing to climb it you can get up close and...

we did - and it was worth every step

people who had taken their ponchos off were putting them back on

this is as high as we could get


then it was back down for a ride up to the top...

the striped glass is to make it safer and more visible to...

back on top we walked out on the Observation Deck and looked...

looking down though the safety net to the dock below

Canada in the background

an explanation of why the striped glass was necessary

Canadian trade sign

the distance you would drop if you went over the falls

your last hope would be to catch that rock

the stairway we climbed showing the size and power of the torrent

going down river there is a lot more whitewater and most of...


it's late and the tower is closing

a last look at the falls before heading back to the RV

with a stop at the gift store on the way

from our parking place we could relax and take a nap

or watch the tourists of many nationalities - these were Chinese

when it got dark we moved our RV to a more level...

when we first got there the lighting was blue

then it changed to white - the floodlights are on the Canadian...

if you don't hold the camera very still you get this

kind of a nice effect though

as we left the colors were changing again

the Border Patrol is very active here

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 2.71 MB)

American Falls

(MP4 - 2.52 MB)

aboard Maid of the Mist

(MP4 - 2.21 MB)

the trail to American Falls

(MP4 - 1.49 MB)

trail to American Falls

(MP4 - 1.74 MB)

view from the tower

(MP4 - 3.01 MB)

night view - blue light special

(MP4 - 2.20 MB)

white light on American Falls

Beauty and Power in perfect harmony

When I was a toddler my parents took me to Niagara Falls. I have no recollection of that day, but I’m told I didn’t like the noise. I kept asking my mother to ‘make it stop!’ That was 70 years ago.

Today I returned to Niagara Falls for the first time and discovered that the cataracts are no longer where they were back then. Since 1940 all three have moved several feet farther up the river. They are quieter now too - half to three quarters of their flow having been diverted to provide electricity to Canada and the east coast of the United States. Still, the remaining 45 million gallons a minute put on quite a show, and if I had to summarize that show in a single word it would be ‘Stupefying’!

No words or pictures can prepare us for Niagara - for it’s exquisite beauty, or for it’s thundering power. You see the spray as you approach the town, rising like a column of white smoke over the gorge. You pass the power company’s ‘intake’ structures and beyond them you see the rapids, a stretch of white and increasingly turbid water that speeds up to twenty-five miles an hour as it races toward the falls.

You first start to hear the falls when you’re still a block or two away, and the sound is so steady and constant you barely notice it at first. Traffic and the chattering of tourists drown it out, but as you walk the shaded path to the overlook the sound builds. By the time you get to the rail conversation is difficult. You have to shout to be heard.

We approached from the American side and everyone says the Canadian side is better. American and Bridal Veil Falls account for only 10 percent of the flow. The other 90 percent drops over Horseshoe Falls which you see best from the Canadian side of the river. Never mind - the American view is fine - and if you take the Maid of the Mist boat ride you’re going to see them both from as close as it’s possible to get - without climbing in a barrel and going over them, a move as stupid as it is illegal. Many have tried - few have survived.

Ironically the first person to try it did survive - a 63 year old school teacher who thought it would bring her fame and fortune. It didn’t. The most astounding falls drop was accidental, a seven year old boy who went over when a boat he was in stalled and capsized in the rapids. His sister, who went in with him, was rescued at the brink of the precipice, but the boy went over the falls with nothing but a life jacket to protect him. Miraculously he survived. The man who got them into that mess went over too, but he was not so lucky.

If you come to Niagara Falls from Lake Erie you’ve been following the Niagara River all the way. It’s a river so wide that technically it’s not even a river - it’s a strait. The Great Lakes contain one fifth of all the fresh water on the planet, and the Niagara strait drains four of those lakes, Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie, into the fifth, Lake Ontario. The amount of water that passes through this system is mind boggling.

The Niagara Visitor Center has an excellent movie, and a hundred yards away there is an observation tower where you can view all of the falls from several hundred feet above the river. For years boats have taken visitors to the base of the falls, and that task is now handled by the Maid of the Mist Corporation. The slogan on their brochure says "Explore the Roar".

You ride 18 stories down an elevator in the observation tower, don a blue poncho provided by the company, board a boat with a lot of other blue people, and embark upon the most unforgettable boat ride you will ever take. Protect your camera because you will get wet! Madolyn and I risked our cameras to bring you the photos and video clips on this page. The electronics survived it and the drenching boat ride was worth everything it took to get here. The pictures speak for themselves.

A final note: Parking is limited but we lucked out. For a mere ten dollars we got to not only park all day a block from the falls, but we got to spend the night for free in the same parking lot! This enabled us to enjoy a noisy dinner at the Hard Rock Café, then go back and see the falls at night. Man always thinks he can improve on nature, and true to this conceit the falls are lighted at night - at least on the American side where we are the most conceited.

Canada assists us in this venture by letting us put our floodlights on their side of the river - pointing back at us of course. The effect is OK if you like that kind of thing and thanks to Madolyn the photos above show the falls at night too. The lighting changes from time to time, going as we watched it from blue to white, and then to a combination of green, pink and yellow. And we’ll leave it at that.

Entry Rating:     Why ratings?
Please Rate:  
Thank you for voting!
Share |