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Saturday, April 21, 2012


Niagara's Canadian Falls in Spring
Canada's Horseshoe Falls

Niagara Falls is a sight to behold in any season, but in Spring it is a display of Nature’s awesome power against a setting of gentle greens and vivid yellows as daffodils try to steal the show.  It’s a wonderful time of year to visit and to join the nearly 12 million people who marvel at Niagara Falls each year.

A trip to the Falls can successfully begin on either side of the border, but as we drive up through New York State, we’ll begin in New York’s Niagara Falls State Park.  It’s a wonderful entree to one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  (Occasionally self-appointed groups alter this list, but seeing is believing.)  There’s plenty of parking and activities aimed at introducing visitors to the mighty Niagara River and its turbulent, rushing power.  The negative on this side of the river is that you are behind the falls.  There are some wonderful side views past the American and Bridal Veil Falls to the Horseshoe Falls, but you will not face them.  Nevertheless, the opportunities here should not be missed.  The park is lovely, the views beautiful, and the activities are mind-blowing.

Niagara's American Falls in Spring
The American Falls

One adventure only available on the American side is the Cave of the Winds Tour where visitors descend 175 feet via elevator and then, clad in slicker and sandals, take a series of walkways to within 20 feet of the Bridal Veil Falls.  You’ll be thoroughly doused, but you’ll experience the Falls in a unique way.  There is no longer a cave to visit, but this is quite an experience.  As a note, there is a special area of viewing for people unable to do the walk.

In the Spring, this tour continues on the Gorge Trip where you’ll see workers rebuilding the Permanent Deck 75 feet from the base of the Falls.  That deck is dismantled each year to protect it from Winter weather and is used by visitors during the summer months.

Maid of the Mist in Springtime
The Cave of the Winds Tour will give you an entirely different vantage point from the one you’ll have from the Maid of the Mist.  It’s the tour no one should miss (t).  Once again, clad in a yellow slicker, your boat will take you right to the base of the thundering Horseshoe Falls where the water pounds so loudly as it crashes from the heights that conversation is almost impossible.  This is an unforgettable ride.  Beautiful.  Massively powerful. You can’t help but wonder why anyone would go over the Falls on purpose!  This tour departs from either the U.S. or Canada, but tickets are not interchangeable.

You might consider this option: There is a Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass available that is reasonably priced and offers passes to five different venues including these two.  If you have time, this is a good way to go. 

Whether you begin or end there, the Canadian side of the Falls is a MUST. That’s where the majestic views are found.  Cross the Rainbow Bridge by car, foot, or bicycle and face the Falls head on.  Watch the water roil and plunge, throwing up huge misty plumes. Walk along the flower and tree-lined boulevard.  If you’re close to the railing, you’ll feel the mists yourself despite being across the river from the Falls.  Guard your camera lens from the mist to prevent spots on your photographs.  All the photographs here are taken from the Canadian side.

Niagara's Canadian Falls
Fallsview Boulevard is along the River.  If you drive across from the U.S., you’ll park near the very beautiful Visitor Center, but even if you walk, make this a stop to learn more about the history and power of Niagara Falls as well as about some of the antics of daredevils going over the falls or tight-walking across the falls.  The Center is located somewhat up the hill, so you’ll see the Falls from an additional vantage point. 

Fallsview Boulevard offers spectacular views of all three falls, and I am always astounded by how close to the thundering cataract the Maid of the Mist boats venture. 
Niagara's Horseshoe Falls
Canada offers similar attractions to the United States.  Canada, too, has its Niagara Falls Adventure Pass which includes The Maid of the Mist, Journey Behind the Falls which is 150 feet down and takes you for an up close and personal look to the Horseshoe Falls, and two other venues.

On Fridays, Sundays, and holidays—both Canadian and American—from May until September, there are fireworks displays from the Park.  Each night of the year, at dusk, the Falls are illuminated, a tradition dating back to the visit by the Prince of Wales to Canada in 1860. 

If you are staying overnight, stay on the Canadian side.  There you can book hotels on Fallsview Boulevard with fantastic views.  Depending on your hotel, you might be able to see the illumination and fireworks right from your room.  You might also like to go to the Observation Deck or restaurant in The Skylon Tower for a revolving view.
The Skylon Revolving Observation Towerspring in Niagara falls

I’ve just touched on some of the activities here.  The real deal is to see the Falls and enjoy the "Whoa!" moments as your jaw drops in wonder.  Everything else is secondary. The area is rich in other sights as well, so if you have more time, there is plenty to see and do.  There are those who complain of the tourism here, but look beyond that and simply enjoy Nature’s Show.

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