When people plan a bucket list of adventures, they usually include the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and Disney World, among others. Perhaps a trip to the Alaskan frontier or the tropical jungles of Hawaii is also on the list.
But another top-visited location in America is less than 20 north of Buffalo, N.Y. Niagara Falls has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North America. And this sheer power lures millions of tourists each year.
Let’s take a look at why you might not want to be one of those visiting this world-famous sight!
What Is Niagara Falls?
Spanning the border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the state of New York are three world-famous waterfalls called Niagara Falls. Horseshoe Falls, also known as Canadian Falls, is the largest and straddles the international border.
Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls are on the American.
Millions of people from around the world visit Niagara Falls each year. The Maid of the Mist boat cruise is the oldest and best-known tourist attraction at Niagara Falls. The company has been in operation since 1846, carrying passengers from the United States side of the falls and past the rapids at the base of Niagara Falls. It briefly passes through Canadian waters.
The Skylon Tower in Ontario, Canada, offers the highest vantage point to view the falls. Also on the Canadian side is the popular Whirlpool Aero Car. Built in 1916, this cable car takes passengers over the Niagara Whirlpool.
Does Niagara Falls Belong to the US or Canada?
The Niagara River forms the border between Canada and New York. Therefore, the subject of ownership is tricky. On April 30, 1885, Governor David B. Hill signed legislation creating the Niagara Reservation, New York’s first state park.
Also, in 1885, Ontario established Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park for the same purpose. The Niagara Parks Commission governs land usage along the entire course of the Niagara River on the Canadian side. So both the U.S. and Canada have established parks protecting the falls and giving free access to the public.
Pro Tip: Heading to Canada to see Niagara Falls? While there find out Which Canadian National Park You Should Visit.
What Is Special About Niagara Falls?
The sheer magnitude of water that cascades down from the Niagara River makes Niagara Falls a huge tourist attraction. The falls have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North America, dumping more than 5.9 million cubic feet of water over the crest of the falls every minute. That’s an average annual flow rate of 85,000 cubic feet per second.
It’s also stunning. Niagara Falls isn’t very tall, especially when compared to other waterfalls in North America, like Yosemite Falls at 2,425 feet and Oloʻupena Falls at 2,953 feet. But the width of the falls is magnificent. Even though Horseshoe Falls is only about 187 feet tall, it’s about 2,590 feet wide.
5 Reasons to Avoid Niagara Falls
Although Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful sights in the country, and its power will take your breath away, there are reasons to avoid coming here at all. You’ll have to decide if these cons to visiting Niagara Falls make a visit not worthwhile.
1. The Height Might Scare You
As mentioned earlier, the three falls aren’t very tall. However, when you combine the force of the plunging water with the width of the drop off, the sight may actually scare you. In fact, it can be deadly. Although it’s illegal, a dozen or so people have intentionally gone over the falls in a device of some sort. Some have survived while others have not.
Charles Stephens was the first to die in an endeavor of this type in 1920. In 1960, Jim Honeycutt was swept over the edge to his death when his boat lost power. Jesse Sharp, a whitewater canoeist, paddled over the falls in 1990, and no one has ever found his body.
2. Weather May Not Cooperate
Most people are only in the area near Niagara Falls for a few days. It’s not a huge city with a week’s worth of attractions. Nearby hotel accommodations are also expensive, taking advantage of the peak tourist season in the summer.
The problem is, when you only have a day or two to see Niagara Falls, there’s no guarantee of a beautiful day. It’s entirely possible your day could be foggy, rainy, or overcast. The weather can completely ruin your experience at Niagara Falls.
3. Crowds and Bus Tours, Galore
If you love crowds, you’ll love visiting Niagara Falls. But for most Americans, dealing with giant buses, honking taxis, and impatient tourists isn’t the picture of a fun outing. The viewpoints and observation decks are crowded.
The Maid of the Mist cruise is crowded. If you’re looking for the perfect selfie, it’s likely you won’t get one without a photo bomber. There are just too many people here. And since most visitors come during the summer, that’s millions of tourists cramming in views of the majestic falls in just a couple of months.
4. You’ll Get Wet If You Take a Boat Tour
The Maid of the Mist boat cruise is hugely popular. However, you’ll also get wet. The company’s website explains further, “Even while wearing the complimentary hooded rain poncho we provide you with, you may still get wet on the tour. It’s part of truly experiencing Niagara Falls. Please dress accordingly.”
Boat tours start daily at 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m., depending on the season, and depart every 15 minutes. They only last about 20 minutes.
Tickets are $25.25 for adults and $14.75 for children aged 6 to 12. Note that tickets are not reservations. They are good for any time of any day.
5. Must Visit at the Right Time of Year
If you don’t have a flexible work schedule and only have time off during a certain part of the year, you may or may not have the best experience at Niagara Falls. Summer is peak season for tourists to go to New York since the temperatures are much more bearable than in much of the country.
However, this also means millions of other people will try to get that perfect viewpoint at the same time. But then, if you don’t go in the summer, you risk experiencing closed hotels and tours.
Pro Tip: If you still want to visit upstate New York to see Niagara Falls, also stop at these 7 Best Small Towns in New York.
What Does It Cost to Visit Niagara Falls?
Niagara Falls is open and free to everyone. You don’t need a ticket to enjoy the beauty and majesty of the falls. Niagara Falls State Park has miles of hiking trails, lush gardens, a gift shop, and restaurants.
There is a small fee of $1.25 to go up to the observation deck, but there’s no fee to visit the remains of the former Schoellkopf Power Plant. The Niagara Scenic Trolley also provides transportation around Niagara Falls State Park for a nominal fee.
Is Niagara Falls Worth Visiting?
You’ll have to decide if visiting Niagara Falls is worth it. Do you want to personally stand before the millions of gallons of water plunging over the boulders from Canada into the U.S. and feel the mist on your face? Or are the crowds, weather, and intensity of the falls too much?
Millions of tourists each year say yes – Niagara Falls is absolutely worth seeing. Will you join them in 2023? Tell us in the comments!
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