8 Tips For Visiting & Photographing Niagara Falls
We made it! We finally made it to Niagara Falls! This is a spot that’s been on our “bucket list” for years so it was a BIG deal to finally be here. We wanted to make sure we had enough time in the area, so we’d booked a full week at the State Park just 20 mins north of the falls (review coming), and we had at least 2-3 days of good weather in the forecast. Things were looking pretty good. Now what?
It’s always a bit overwhelming when you get to a really iconic sightseeing spot. Perhaps it’s something you’ve dreamt about for a long time, and maybe you only have a few days to explore it? So, the questions start rolling….
“Will it be as good as I imagine?”
“How do I make the most of my limited time?”
“Where can I take the dog”
“How, where (and at what time) is best to photograph it?”
If I do enough research I can usually find partial answers to all these questions (in this case I discovered several links which really helped me -> see bottom of post), but the whole answer didn’t come together until we were actually here. And for a place like this knowing how to make the *most* of your time is key.
So, over the next two posts I’m going to attempt to do exactly that. I’m going to write the kind of top-level guide I was looking for when we first came here, and hopefully answer ALL those burning questions you might have about this amazing place. My first post will deal specifically with Niagara Falls, while the second will deal with the area around Niagara Falls. This got a little crazy, so be ready for a lot of info…..
Tip #1 -> YES, They’re Worth Seeing!!
Perhaps the first question I asked myself before we came here was whether or not Niagara Falls was really up to all the hype. I mean of course I knew about it, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be as impressive as I had in my minds eye.
I think the closest experience I can relate Niagara Falls to is The Grand Canyon. It’s the oddest thing walking up to it because you don’t see it coming. The surroundings look perfectly normal and there’s nothing to prepare you for what you’re about to see until you’re literally right on-top of it. So when that gaping hole finally reveals itself it’s like an electric shock to the senses. Your mind simply can’t process it!
Niagara Falls is very much like that, albeit on a much (much) smaller scale. If you arrive from the US side from behind American Falls (as I first did) it really just looks like a kinda rough rapids. You walk next to a wide stream of very fast-running water and you can tell it’s dangerous, but you really have no idea where it’s going. A few hundred feet later the scene suddenly changes and the stream ends in a fine, straight line on the horizon. You walk over to the line and BAM you’re hit with the force of ~6 million cubic feet (168,000 cubic meters)* of water falling every minute. It’s the largest waterfall by flow-rate in North America and you can literally hear it. The thundering sound is incredible and drowns out everything around you, and the sheer volume of water is so heavy it literally takes your breath away. The phenomenal flow creates a mist that rises more than 200 feet spraying everything around it with a fine rain, and if you go at just the right time, as I did, a rainbow will explode right in front of you too. The scene totally blew me away.
Waterfalls, views and rainbows. Oh yeah, it’s absolutely amazing and definitely worth the visit!!
* For those of you into the technical details, only ~10% of this total water flow is by American/Bridal Veil Falls. The other ~90% goes through the much larger, heavier Horseshoe Falls to the South.
Tip #2 -> BUT Crowds Can Be Crazy
Unlike the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls is not that big (space-wise) and during the summer it really does get insane, and by that I mean some of the WORST crowds I’ve ever seen at a sightseeing spot EVER. During the day parking lots can overflow and close (especially on US side, by the State Park), and street traffic can come to a standstill. That’s not even mentioning the crowds at the falls themselves.
My absolute worst experience was at night when I went in to shoot the night-time LED show. I had “staked out” a spot around 30 mins before the event, and that’s really the only reason I even got to see it. The mass of people that came to the overlook grew to 4-5 deep and folks were so anxious that they were literally pushing and shoving me on the rails. I had to defend my gear from damage and hope the rail didn’t fail. It was the most stressful shoot I’ve ever done!
So, is there ANY release from the crowds? Yes! There are tricks.
Tip #3 -> Pick Your Times For The Best Experience
While we were here I discovered 3 tricks to getting some relief from the crowds:
Come Early! If you visit early in the morning, say around 8AM you’ll have no problem parking at any of the parking lots (either the State Park lots on US side or the street-side lots on Canadian side) and it’s actually really pleasant to walk around. At that time you’ll get at least an hour and a half of completely relaxed strolling before the crowds start to roll in. By around 11AM the crowds start to amass and if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to be out of there. We found early AM worked great for both US and Canadian sides.
Come At Dusk! I also noticed a slight drop in crowds just around dusk. Around this time the day-crowd seems to disperse while the night crowds have not yet arrived. So there was a blissful little gap of people. I did some nice photo shooting at this time too.
Go In The Off-Season: Lastly, although we didn’t test this ourselves, I’ve been told that if you go off-season (before June, after Aug) it’s quite nice and mostly people-free.
Tip #4 -> USA Or Canada? There Are 2 Sides (And 3 Waterfalls)!
The other important thing to understand when you come to Niagara Falls is that they are right smack on the international border* between the US & Canada, so there are actually 2 sides you can visit -> a US side and a Canadian side.
The towns on each side of the border are both called Niagara Falls which is either really confusing, or completely logical depending on which way you look at it. So there’s the town of Niagara Falls (US side) and the town of Niagara Falls (Ontario side). There’s a bridge just north of the Falls (Rainbow Bridge) that connects the US to Canada which you can cross by either foot, bicycle or car**, so it’s super easy to get from one side to the other.
The other (perhaps also confusing) detail is that Niagara Falls actually consists of 3 separate falls that make up the whole. So, there is no single waterfall called “Niagara”. Instead what you’ll see on the map is American Falls (a large, 940-ft wide flattish waterfall on US side), Bridal Veil Falls (a small 45-ft wide waterfall to the immediate south of American Falls on US side) and Horseshoe Falls (also called Canadian Falls -> a large, semi-circular 2,700 foot wide horseshoe-shaped waterfall to the south on the Canadian side). The combo of the three is what makes up “Niagara Falls” and you can see all of them from either side of the border, but views will be very different.
My advice? If you want the full panorama and all the angles you really need to visit both sides:
The US side is actually a State Park, so it’s nicely separate from the street traffic and is quite green and relaxed. You can get up and close and personal to all 3 falls here in several different places , but the views are mostly “side views” (as opposed to “full frontal” views).
Parking on the US side is super easy as long as you get there early! You can park in any one of 3 State Park lots right inside the park which cost just $10 for the day (FREE if you have the Empire Pass or are staying at another NY State Park (just bring your camping pass)). If you arrive later in the day (say, mid-morning) the State Park lots will usually be full and you’ll have to find street parking which is more of a hassle and more expensive.
The Canadian side is by a street so it’s much busier, plus the whole area is very built-up with touristy stuff (shops, casino’s, rides etc.), so the atmosphere isn’t as relaxing as the US side IMO. BUT there’s a nice wide walkway by the river and it’s the only place you’ll get a “full frontal” view of the American/Bridal Veils Falls which is quite special. Plus you can get up close and personal to the other side of Horseshoe Falls just down the road by the Table Rock Welcome Center.
Parking on the Canadian side is on the street or in nearby street lots, and is definitely more expensive than US side. We parked on the street and paid CAD 5 for each 30 mins.
*NOTE1/ Cell Phone Roaming -> Your phone will likely bounce between Canada & USA cell towers as you walk around the Falls (both sides), so if you don’t want to incur international charges make sure your data roaming is “OFF” before you get here . Switching your phone to “airplane mode” which will do the job too.
**NOTE2/ Border Crossing Reminder -> If you cross the Rainbow Bridge you’re crossing an international border so you’ll need your passports, plus rabies certificate (if you bring the dog). Also be aware that there are certain things you cannot bring into Canada (e.g. certain foods, guns etc.) so make sure NONE of those things are on your person or in your car when you cross. For passenger cars the Rainbow Bridge Tolls are $3.75 on US side, CAD 4.75 on the way back (EZ Pass is accepted so bring that if you have it). You won’t need to exchange cash for your trip (most places on Canadian side will take US$), but it’s helpful to carry a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to pay for parking, food, wine etc.
Tip #5 -> The Falls Are Free, But “Added Attractions” Cost Extra
Once you park, visiting the Falls on either US or Canada side is free. So if you just want to walk around and enjoy the views you absolutely can and you don’t have to pay an added cent to do do so! The things that cost extra are the “added attractions***”. The following is not a complete list of attractions, but covers the most common (and popular) ones on each side:
- Prospect Point Observation Tower (US side): This is a large viewing platform overlooking American Falls. $1.25 during the day, free at night. Definitely a view you don’t want to miss, plus you can take the elevator down to the bottom of the Falls and catch the view from there too.
- Walk Below Bridal Veil Falls (US side): On US side from Goat Island, you can take an elevator 175-feet down to the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls and walk an outdoor wooden walkway to an observation deck only 20 feet from the falling water. It’s called “Cave Of The Winds” ($17/person) and it’s a wet affair (ponchos are provided), but it’s a view that you can’t get anywhere else.
- Discovery Center (US side): Learn all about Niagara Falls in-depth including the natural, geological and local history of the area. Hands-on interactive displays and a 180° multi-screen theater experience. $3/person. See more HERE.
- Adventure Theater (US side): 45-min film covering Niagara and its history in all its glory inside the main Visitors Center. $13/person. See more HERE.
- Niagara Trolleys (US side): There are several trolley services on US side that take you around the various attractions and even up the river (to Old Fort Niagara). Some are free and some are pay. See more HERE.
- Walk Behind Horseshoe Falls (Canada side): On Canada side you can take an elevator down 150 ft to bedrock tunnels that actually go behind Horseshoe Falls. It’s called “Journey Behind The Falls” (CAD 17.30 per person) and it’s quite the unique experience.
- Incline Railway (Canada side): Ride a tram from street level to Table Rock Visitor Center. CAD 2.75/person each way (CAD 5.50 round trip). See more HERE.
- Niagara’s Fury: Experience Niagara Falls in 4D in this 360 degree multi-sensory theater. CAD 14.55/person. See more HERE.
- Zip Line To The Falls (Canada side): Yes, you can actually zip line 670 metres (2,200 feet) from street-level to Horseshoe Falls. It’s called the Wildplay MistRider Zipline and costs CAD 49.99 per person.
- Skylon Tower (Canada side): See the falls from above from this 775-foot (233 m) sky scraper that has an observation deck and a revolving restaurant at the top. CAD 15.02/person to ride to the top. See more HERE.
- Boat Rides to Horseshoe Falls (US & Canada sides): You can catch a boat that takes you right into the center of the falling mist at Horseshoe Falls from either side of the border. It’s a wet affair, but also very exciting plus it’s the only way to get ON the water and see the falls from that perspective. On US side this the boat is called “Maid Of The Mist” and costs $18.25/person. On Canada side it’s called “Hornblower Niagara Cruises” and costs CAD 25.95/person.
- Helicopter Rides (US & Canada sides): Want aerial view of the Falls? Both sides of the border offer Helicopter rides for around $115-$200 (12-20 mins ride). On Canada side check out Niagara Helicopters. On US side look at Rainbow Air Tours or National Helicopters Inc.
Discount Packages Are Available: If you’re only doing one or two attractions buy the passes individually, but if you want to do multiple consider buying a package pass. On US side the package is called the Discovery Pass ($45/person, covers 5 attractions on US side), while on Canada side it’s called the Adventure Pass CAD 57/person, covers 5 attractions on Canadian side)
***NOTE3/ NONE of these “added attractions” are dog-friendly, so if you want to do any of these while you’re here then leave doggie at home.
Tip #6 -> The Falls Are (Mostly) Dog Friendly!
One thing we really did enjoy about Niagara Falls is that, apart from the “added attractions” (listed above), it’s entirely dog friendly!
On the the US side you walk doggie through a State Park which is 100% dog-friendly, so it’s quite pleasant with lots of trails, several places to relax/picnic and no traffic noise.
On the Canada side you walk next to the street so it’s busier and noisier, but there is a nice wide walking path (completely dog-friendly) and some greenery, so it’s fine for walking doggie too****.
We personally preferred the trails in the State Park on the US side, but as long as you go early AM (to avoid the crowds) there’s really no reason you can’t do both.
Again, as I mentioned above, the only places you cannot take doggie are the “added attractions”. So you can cannot take your dog down below the Falls (both sides), up onto the observation tower (US side), or into any buildings (Discovery Center, Visitors Center etc.). But for just walking around and enjoying the views, you can most definitely bring pooch along!
****NOTE4/ For detailed info on visiting the Canadian side of the Falls with a dog, check out this excellent blog-post by Montecristo Travels. It was super helpful for our trip across the bridge.
Tip #7 -> There Are Several GREAT Times & Places To Photograph
Most folks who write about photographing the Falls prefer the Canada side primarily because it’s the only place you can get those “full frontal” waterfall views. I went for 5 separate photo outings at Niagara and enjoyed them all, but I have to admit I personally preferred the US side as I felt it had more interesting (and varied) angles to shoot. Plus I really (really, really) loved the AM rainbows on that side too. Here’s my photo tips for the area:
Shoot The US Side In AM, Canada Side In PM: In the summer because of the way the Falls are angled towards the sun, the light is best on US side in the early morning and on the Canadian side in the late afternoon. So, if you want that “golden light” my advice is to photograph US side in the early AM and Canada side in the PM. As for view-points there are several I really liked:
- On US side my favorite views were from Prospect Point Park & Prospect Point Observation Tower (my #1 spot, overlooking American Falls), Luna Island (the small island between American and Bridal Veil Falls) and Terrapin Point (the viewpoint next to Horseshoe Falls).
- On Canada side the best views are from Queen Victoria Park (a large public park, directly opposite American Falls), and Table Rock Welcome Center (the main visitor center right next to Horseshoe Falls)
Photograph US Side In AM For Max Rainbows! The other key thing about shooting the US-side in the early morning is that it literally explodes with rainbows!! The heavy water mist from the falls interacts just perfectly with the early AM sun so that you see rainbows all over the place. We saw an insane amount of rainbows from every single US view-point from ~8AM to 11AM, every time we went (I went 3 times!). Oh and if you have a polarizer for your camera make sure you bring it to “pop out” those rainbow colors. It really makes a difference.
Either Side Works For Night Show (But Come Early): The night-time LED show starts right after sunset (exact times HERE) and it’s certainly worth it’s own photo outing. On the Canada side you’ll see the full frontal view of the falls, whereas on the US side you’ll see the side view, either of which will be pretty. Bring a tripod so you can do longer exposures, and (if you’re into it) experiment with multi-exposures especially right at sunset. Just be sure to come early (~30 mins early) to “stake out” your spot as the crowds do get crazy at the night show!
Tip #8 -> You Can “Do” Niagara Falls In A Day, But Several Is a Better
So, how do you bring it all together?
There’s no doubt you can “do” Niagara Falls in one long day. If you get to to the US side early you can walk the Falls, catch the Maid of the Mist (boat), do the under-the-falls (Cave of the Wind) walk, visit the Discovery Center and then either go into town for lunch or cross the Rainbow Bridge into Canada for lunch at the revolving Skylon Tower. After lunch you can explore the Canadian side, walk around Queen Victoria Park, maybe catch the zip line to Horseshoe Falls, explore the Welcome Center, do the behind-the-falls-tour (Journey Behind The Falls) and then find somewhere for dinner. Finally you can wrap up the day by going back to the US side to see the night lights.
Yeah it’s possible, but it’s a looooong and exhausting day!!
In my opinion a few days is better, ideally one day for the US side and one day for Canadian side. This also gives you some extra time to drive around and explore the surrounding area(s) too. Plus if you’re bringing doggie for those two trips you may want to dedicate a separate morning to drive in and do the added attractions that don’t accept dogs. Lastly the night lights which are worth seeing too, but be prepared for those crazy crowds I mentioned above (we didn’t bring the dog for that event for that very reason).
Coming Up Next –> Exploring the area around Niagara Falls. You’ll be amazed how much there is to see!
Useful External Links:
- Niagara Falls Visitor Guides -> Click HERE (USA side) and HERE (Canada side)
- Niagara Falls State Park (US side) -> Click HERE
- Niagara Falls With A Dog (Canada side) -> Great blog post HERE (Montecristo Travels)
- US Versus Canadian side? Which is Better-> Read 2 different viewpoints HERE and HERE
- Niagara Falls Interactive Map -> Click HERE
- Niagara Falls Attractions Price List -> Very complete up-to-date price list of attractions on both sides HERE
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Anne S says
Lovely post! I grew up within an hour of the falls, where it was a go-to destination for a family looking for some free entertainment. Once we were teenagers with drivers licenses, it was a great day-trip destination any time of year. I found your comments on the Canadian vs. American sides interesting, because back then the Canadian side was more peaceful. I haven’t been there in years and years, but your pictures have me wanting to return.
Lovely to hear your memories of the place. It’s interesting because when I was reading articles about the area I read exactly what you just wrote -> that the Canadian side used to be the most peaceful one. I gather it’s really built up on that side over the past years. The towns on both sides are very busy, but I did find the trails at the State Park on US side a little more relaxing.
We, too, grew up within an hour of the falls and it was THE place to go on a date. The magical falls and then a special dinner at the Sheraton Brock on the Canadian side was just the ticket. Then, the Canadian side was the best, calmer, better views and just a little bit “foreign” for us local kids…… but it isn’t that way anymore.
I remember when the Army Corps of Engineers shut off the American Falls in order to check the bedrock for deterioration and structural integrity (1969) Dave and I couldn’t believe our eyes, a very bizarre thing to see!
They shut off the American Falls in 1969!! That’s incredible!! I’m going to have to look that up and read more about it.
What wonderful memories you have of this area. Thank so much for sharing them.
Becki Kite says
Wonderful, I’m not going completely crazy. My dad & I were there that year, I was 14. When I tell people the American Falls were turned off, no one believes me. At that time it was no problem driving into Canada, we pulled up to a gift shop, a couple saw our AZ license plate & asked if we had problems with the Indians out west. Boy how times have changed. Thanks for the memories . Nina, great post!
Marty & Roz says
Great review, bringing back great memories of our trip there a few years ago. We were simply awestruck upon arriving at the actual Falls, seeing the mist rising a couple of miles before actually getting there made us even more anxious to see the real source of this mist. When I first viewed this beautiful scene I just stood there, all “slack jawed.” Took a while to actually regain my thoughts and put words together. Did the American side the first day and the Canadian side the second. Actually appreciated Niagara even better than The Grand Canyon, even though the Canyon is more majestic with more grandeur. Thanks again.
I had that exact same feeling, and I really didn’t expect it! I mean I’ve seen lots of waterfalls before so I just didn’t expect Niagar Falls to move me so deeply. But I was just like you. When I first arrived at the edge of the Falls I think I spent 20 minutes rooted in place just gawking at the scene. I was totally awe struck. Amazing!
Jim and Gayle says
I grew up 100 miles from Niagara Falls, so we also took frequent family trips there. I have fond memories of the Maid of the Mist tour. My brother and I thought it was cool because they gave you a yellow rain jacket to wear and we still got wet. It was always busy but not in the way you describe. The NY side was not so nice as I recall back then, but Jim and I went back in more recent years and really liked how the US side has been improved and what they have done with all the trails. Still, the Canadian side does have the best views, although it is definitely more touristy.
Thanks for the memories and wonderful photos. Sounds like you worked hard for them!
Great memories of the place. Cheers for the comment!
Patricia Neuzil says
Your pictures at night are incredible! Thanks for posting them.
Craig & Merikay MacKenna says
Your post makes us want to go back! To us the Canadian side seemed more “big city” while the American side seemed more “small town”. The views from the Canadian side were more impressive, while walking the stairs on the American side was more of an adventure. I wish that our dedication to our photography matched yours, so that we would be willing to arrive in the early AM for the sake of the best pictures. Sometimes our photo enthusiasm lasts through sunset, sometimes not… Thank you (from Alaska) for an excellent post.
Great observations and summary of the two sides. Thanks for sharing (waving back to Alaska).
John Lupomech says
Great photos and a review that I hope to rely on some day
Gail Morris says
Wonderful Blog post! So much information and your photographs are awesome!
Don Brush says
Nina, your photography is just superb! I enjoy reading your blogs but have come to really appreciate your photographic skills. Keep it up, and thank you!
Thank you, thank you. This was a challenging place to photograph, but I really enjoyed it.
I have lived near the falls for almost 30 years now and I was waiting your review for your thoughts on the area. I always liked the US side better, but I prefer a natural setting over commercialized tourist trap areas. When you come off season parking is free. I parked at the Discovery Center in mid June for free. I am not sure if that was normal or not..it was my first time parking there. I usually park in Goat Island. It was announced last year there are plans to shut the American falls again as part of the reconstruction project. I am not sure if that is still in the plans.
Great to know parking is free on the US side in the off-season! We were very lucky in that we were staying at Four Mile Creek State Park, so we didn’t have to pay parking at the Falls lot (US side) the entire time we were there. Saved us at least $40.
And yes, last night I read about the plans to reconstruct the pedestrian bridges to Goat Island which would likely mean shutting down the American Falls again. Current plans are for that to happen around 2019, but they’re not firm yet. Should be interesting to follow.
Linda Sand says
I’d forgotten those ubiquitous blue ponchos. We kept ours in our car for years as emergency equipment. Thanks for reviving those memories.
The ponchos are fun. You can even buy them in the gift shop, which we did see some folks doing. They’re a cute little reminder of the Falls.
Pam Johnson says
This was beautiful. I would like to share it to my facebook page, but I cannot find a share button. Am i missing it? I’ll just post a link to your url. But a button would be very nice!
The share buttons are at the very bottom of the post. If you scroll down, hopefully you’ll see them. Cheers much for the share too!
Alvin Chin says
I hate to be repetitive of other posters but your photos are top notch. You’ve got a good eye for sure.
What a terrific post! Yours are always so good and this one may be the best yet! So much great information! thank you for all the research and time you put into this — it is very well done. Yours always are! This out to be in the ‘Before you go to see Niagara Falls’ best seller list!
Thank you much for the compliment. This post was a monster to write and ended up taking me many days. Sometimes I go over-board LOL, but I’m glad folks find the posts helpful.
Wonderful post Nina and gorgeous photography. I’ve forwarded it to Larry and Geri who are headed to Niagara later, probably in August.
Oh wonderful! I hope it’s helpful for their visit.
Great Post Nina. They shut down the American falls , diverted the water flow really of course, to repair and reinforce the cliff to stop the erosion. Big job but it also made the flow over horseshoe incredible, which was fun to watch. As kids then from Toronto every time a relative from UK came to visit which was often…they would always want to see the falls. So mom and dad would drag us kids along too. Tedious day for us kids but its always a wonder to see the falls again. Also very cool to see in the winter time when its frozen.
As a side note the massive amount of mist rising from the falls can be seen from the CN Tower in Toronto…on a clear day.
I spent several hours reading about the 1969 American Falls shut-down last night after Sue commented about it on the blog. Absolutely Incredible! And I had no idea the mist could be seen from the tower in Toronto on a clear day. Niagara really is an astonishing place. Cheers for the comment.
Wow. I’ve never been, and honestly, never really had a strong call… most pictures I’ve seen were “lots of people standing by waterfall”. But your post & pictures have me itching to go myself someday now. Thank you for sharing this, and for taking so much time and effort to capture it!
Box Canyon Mark says
You certainly captured some Pro-quality shots!!!!! and paid the crowd-rage price to get them, it sounds like. You are brave to brave to such attractions during summer. I imagine a longing for a western lonely boondock building like a tidal wave. Plagiarism aside, I dub thee the RV couple with the most “Undaunted Courage.”
Box Canyon Mark
LOL…thanks. I can’t deny our boondocking longing has never been stronger! There is so much to see out East, but getting away from the crowds is so much tougher than out West. A few weeks (or months) alone on a mountain does sound mighty tempting right now. We’ll get back there eventually.
Georgia Shedd says
Love this post! We’re heading that way from MN and will be there after Labor Day so the information you provided is so helpful and I can’t wait to read post on your campground review. Thank you so much!
When we were kids in 1977 our family went East for vacation. Saw NY, Boston and DC. Got totally drenched at Niagara Falls, went swimming at Cape Cod in our clothes (then had to put on our swim suits to drive back to campground). Never seen an ocean before so we got too excited and ran right in!!! Between Niagara and the ocean my mom said she’d never seen so many wet clothes. That was also a HOT summer so camping (with a pop up) in August was not exactly ideal…..but we did have a lot of fun . Thanks for the memories, great photos and well written blog post.
It’s been hotter (and wetter) than I originally thought it would be up here. Weather hasn’t been too bad, but we’ve had a ton of rain and temps regularly going above 80. I’ve had to watch the weather closely to time my photo outings.
Sounds like you had a wonderful (albeit hot) vacay here back in the day. Good memories for sure.
Pat Hall says
I visited the falls in 1969 when it was diverted to make repairs an bolster the American side- it was quite a sight! Are you still @ 4 mile state park? We are dog sitting @ my sisters house just down the road and plan to go to Woodcock Brothers (brewery) in Wilson for dinner this evening. Care to join us?
Never mind… just saw you were at Letchworth!!
Yeah unfortunately we’ve already moved over to Letchworth. Thank you much for the offer though!
Karen Handschy says
Thanks for this review. It’s still on my bucket list.
Norm H. says
Ah, the memories! Lovely photos, and thank you for braving the crowds. After having been there as a kid (coming over from Michigan through Canada) in the late 1950s as well as 1960s, I had kind of given up on the idea of going again, knowing what happens to places like this over time. (By the way, as others have said, I have similar memories of the Canadian side being quieter, etc., than the U.S. side. Interesting to read about the changes.) Now you’ve got it back on my bucket list, albeit I will opt for the “off” season views in the hopes of fewer people. Thanks for all of the helpful information as well.
I’d love to come back in the off-season to experience what it’s like then. I’ve had several folks tell me that’s a lovely time to visit.
Mike and Gerri says
I have never been to Niagra Falls but your pictures are just amazing!! Now I want to go. Your post with all the valuable information is fantastic. I plan to run it off and put it in my travel file for future reference. Very helpful…thanks!!
Excellent! Hope you make it out here some day.
Steve and MonaLiza says
You are reliving our fond memories through your great photos. And yes, an early visit is a must. Our RV park was close by that we biked and hiked from our park to there early in the morning and thus avoiding the craziness. We also walked to the Canadian side, and yes it is more touristy out there but with great views of the falls.
Ah yes, I think I remember you stayed at the KOA which is very near the Falls themselves. Just re-read your blog post of the area. Lots of good stuff!
Jim Corey says
We were there a couple of years ago, early summer, We only did the US side, and the experience was great. But we were APPALLED by the tackiness leading into the park. Shops and stands selling every kind of schlock, Lots of trash around. But again, the falls were a great experience.
There is definitely lots of “touristy” stuff around the Falls…too much for our liking. We didn’t really spend much time in the town area by the Falls for that very reason.
I’m sorry i missed you, i live nearby. I would have loved to pick both of your brains on investing and rving.
I always park at the Seneca Niagara Casino for free and walk from there. I buy a coffee from the Tim Hortons inside the casino so i don’t feel guilty, or you can throw a dollar in the slot machine 🙂 Did you go to Three Sisters Islands? It always amazes me how you can literally walk in the water at the end of the three islands. Although it would be your last walk ever, so don’t do it.
Parking for free at the Casino is a great little tip if you’re just staying for a short visit. It’s a wonderful location. And no, we didn’t make it to Three Sisters. We did lots of exploring (and we’re pretty busy the whole time we were there), but just didn’t make that one.
Ralph E. says
The maps are very familiar as I’ve been there quite a few times including at least 3 times with my wife’s Canadian friends. I liked it when you didn’t need passports or specialized drivers licenses to cross the border between the United States and Canada. There is an expression that the early bird gets the worm. I love your photos as always. I haven’t done the helicopter rides. Quite frankly I would never post a link that doesn’t exactly tell the truth as the falls aren’t even close to being the tallest in North America. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like the Niagara Falls area only that they aren’t really that tall. Don’t forget that the Canada side is listed in Canadian dollars so it is actually cheaper than that in U. S. dollars. So that $57 Canadian Classic attraction pass that Nina listed was really $45.08 in U. S. dollars on Saturday, June 15. I would recommend doing the two cities in 4 days especially if full time RVing – one on Goat Island and one on the Discovery Center side. Then, divvy up the Canadian side in two. We like to spend time in Victoria Park plus the walkway where Polly is on is nice and then there is the Oakes Garden. All of these activities are free. Stay close to the falls as it is cooler there or get wet by the water by going to some of the attractions LOL!! There used to be a miniature world nearby on the Canadian side, but unfortunately it has been moved to a new location. Sault Ste. Marie has the same name on the border between Michigan and Ontario.
The family camped in a pop up camper in Las Vegas during the summer when the temperature hit 120 degrees without AC. While I hit the casinos, the family hit Wet and Wild, which was in existence back then on the Strip.
I don’t think I posted a link that said Niagara Falls were the tallest? My post and the all the links talk specifically about flow rate. Niagara is the largest waterfall by flow rate in North America, not the tallest. And for all the Canadian attractions I did list them in Canadian Dollars (CAD). At current exchange rates, those numbers do get smaller when converted to US$.
And yes, I agree that doing the two sides on different days is the best. It’s what I recommended in the post too (and I’ll be confirming that recommendation in my next post).
Your photos are amazing. great job.
We were at the falls last year.
Sonja of Montecristo Travels says
Thanks for the shout out! If you have a chance DO hit Niagara on the lake ont eh Canadian side and the Fort. Not to mention some amazing wineries etc. LOTS on the Canadian side other than the falls.
We had the darnedest of times finding any dog-friendly wineries on Ontario side (I’ll write about it in my next post), but we did get up to Niagara-On-The-Lake.
thank you for this great info and wonderful pics, can you tell me what camera an lenses did you use
I used the only 2 cameras I own -> My pocket camera Canon G7x and my “big” camera Nikon D750 with kit lens. Here are more details on my gear:
exploRVistas - Diana and Jim says
Granted, this was many years ago, but we always liked the Canadian side for the beautiful flowers and parks that existed on their side. The American side was rather dumpy. We haven’t really visited since the 80’s, so we need to get back and see the falls!
The botanical gardens and parks on the Canadian side are lovely. We didn’t really get to explore them in much detail, but that would be a focus for us if we went back.
David Martin says
Would you take your camera on maid of the Mist, or Cave of the Winds?
Do you recommend carrying your tripod around everywhere for good landscape photos?
Yes, I’d take a camera on the boat, but I’d prob stick with a pocket camera that I could put in a ziplock bag. That way I can hide it away when the boat gets under the water spray. I wouldn’t bring my “big” camera for that.
And yes a good tripod is essential for great landscape shots, but it’s not necessary to bring it everywhere unless you’re creating shots that you want to print in large format. At Niagara I used a tripod for my night shoot, but not my daytime shots.
David Martin says
Thanks Nina for your quick response.
I have a Canon 5D Mark 4 with a 24 -105 F /4L lens..
I will take your advice and not take it on Maid of mist, or Cave of the Winds,
And only use a tripod for night illumination and fireworks shots.
less I go somewhere in the morning before the family gets up to take some Daytime Sunrise/Rainbow shots.
Amateur/enthusiast here just getting started so I appreciate your advice
Yes absolutely! A tripod for sunset/sunrise shots is essential too. Sounds perfect. And nice set-up by the way. That’s a great camera and lens combo!
David Martin says
I fell in love with that camera when renting one on a trip to Alaska last year, so I had to get one.
Huge upgrade from my Canon T4i.
Thanks again I appreciate it.