World Travel GuidesNiagara Falls, Canada/USA

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Niagara Falls is the most famous waterfall in the world. Although it is neither the tallest nor broadest waterfall in the world, it is certainly the best known. Niagara Falls is located on the border between Canada and the United States. Two cities, both called Niagara Falls, are located in Ontario on the Canada side and in New York State on the US side.

Niagara Falls
Author: Kag427 (public domain)

Niagara Falls comprises three sections: Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, while Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls are on the US side. Between Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls is Goat Island while between Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls is Luna Island. Of the three, Horseshoe Falls is the biggest while Bridal Veil Falls the smallest. Niagara Falls is located in the Niagara Falls State Park. Established in 1885, it is the oldest state park in the United States.

Niagara Falls were formed at the end of the last Ice Age. Retreating glaciers created the Great Lakes. Water flowing from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment. Even today, the falls continue to retreat at a rate of 1 meter a year. With over six million cubit feet of water falling over the crest line every minute, Niagara Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America.

American Falls in winter
Author: Daniel Mayer (cc-by-sa-2.5)

Niagara comes from a name given to the Native American people, who were called the Niagagarega people on 17th century French maps. Frenchman Samuel de Champlain is believed to be one of the earliest Europeans to have visited the falls, arriving there in 1604. Finnish-Swedish naturalist Pehr Kalm explored the area around it in 1700s. However, even before then, it was Belgian priest Father Louis Hennepin who visited and described the fall in 1677, making it known to Europeans.

Horseshoe Falls
Author: JohnnyAlbert10 (public domain)

Niagara Falls Travel Information

Niagara Falls is a major tourist attraction, attracting 20 million visitors in 2008, with the number expected to reach 28 million in 2009. The best known was to see the falls is to take the Maid of the Mist boat cruise. It takes passengers on sightseeing tours to the whirlpools below the falls. Operating since 1846, Maid of the Mist - named after an ancient Ongiara Indian legendary figure - is the oldest tourist attraction at Niagara Falls.

The American Side of Niagara Falls

On the American side of Niagara Falls, there are walkways along Prospect Point Park, which also has an observation tower and a dock for Maid of the Mist. One can also get good view of the falls from Goat Island. It is reachable by foot and by automobile through a bridge above the American Falls. Cave of the Winds, a natural cave behind Bridal Veil Falls, is reached by elevator, and from there hikers can reach a point beneath Bridal Veil Falls. Other tourist attractions include Flight of Angels helium balloon ride, and helicopter ride.

Another view of Horseshoe Falls
Author: Daniel Mayer (cc-by-sa-2.5)

The Canadian Side of Niagara Falls

On the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is the Queen Victoria Park. The platforms here offer spectacular views of the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls. There are also underground walkways that take you down to observation rooms where you get the feeling of being under the falling waters. Skylon Towers and Minolta Towers offer aerial views of the falls.

Getting there

One of the most popular ways to reach Niagara Falls from a major city is to take the road or train from Toronto, 75 miles (120 km) away. On the US side, the nearest major city is Buffalo, 17 miles (27 km) away.

Best time to visit Niagara Falls

The best time to visit Niagara Falls is between late spring and early autumn.

View Niagara Falls in a larger map

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