Drenched by the Falls

Trip Start Jun 09, 2010
Trip End Jun 26, 2010

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Flag of United States  , New York
Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday was our day to experience the Falls.  We started by crossing back over to the Canadian side and heading down to Horseshoe Falls for the Behind the Falls tour.  You take an elevator down until you are just feet above the bottom of the falls.  You walk out onto the first observation platform which is located directly next to and at the bottom of the falls.  The roar makes talking difficult.  The spray will guarantee that you will be wet (they provide you with disposable raincoats), so use a waterproof camera.  You can see behind the falls for part way due to the way the falls have carved the rocks.  Then you can walk down this corridor about a third of the way into the Falls.  There are two more observation areas, but you stay in the tunnel.  You are now completely behind the Falls and all you see is a sheet of water.  The first platform makes this tour worthwhile.

Tredging back over to the American Side, we took the Maid of the Mist boat ride.  Again, you take an elevator down to the river where you board a boat that takes you past the American Falls and right up to the Horseshoe Falls.  Once again, you will get wet even with the provided raincoats.  We were right up front on the lower level, towards the port side.  We had great views going up and when we actually were idling at the base of the falls.  Although once you got that close, it was difficult to take any pictures: everything was mist!  The noise is unbelievable.  When you leave the boat, you can either go straight up the elevator or walk up the stairs on the left side of the American Falls.  These do not go to the top, but about 2/3 of the ways up.  You can see the remnants of the great rockfall that actually stopped some of the falls.  It was worth the effort to climb all the stairs.

Since we had already been drenched twice, we decided to go for the trifecta and went of the Cave of the Winds tour.  There is no longer a cave, but the walkway/stairs is a one way trip that takes you right up to and partly through the Bridal Veil Falls (the right side of the American Falls).  You will get soaked.  The provide you with raincoats that are long and have sleeves.  You are also required to wear the water shoes they provide you, which you may keep.  Only problem, the women's sizes come in small, which my size 6 feet slightly hung over, or medium which my friend's size 7.5 were swimming in (Pun intended).  But they will keep you from slipping.  You then head out on the walk.  You climb stairs and there are platforms frequently where you can stop and rest and/or take pictures.  We saw baby sea gulls at the beginning.  On part of the walkway, the falls spills over onto the path, due to the winds.  But that is mild.  Your feet get wet and the water is cold.  If you choose to go to the highest platform, be prepared to hang on.  I used both hands to pull myself up the steps and hung on to the railing.  You will encounter gale force winds at this level and I could feel by body being pushed.  It was a little scary.  I would not recommend small children at this level.  You can circle down and back up to this platform if you want.  But once was enough.  I got pictures and soaked.

All three tours were worth the money. And luckily the day was nice.  The rain was gone and the temps were in the mid 70's. 

The rest of the wanderings were free.  We walked along the river, overlooked the falls from the top, walked over to the Island and walked completely around it.  Saw the rapids on the American side, (which are lit up at night also), and marveled that the 7 year old boy who had been involved in a boating accident upstream (years ago), had survived not only the trip down the rapids and river above the Falls, but also the plunge over the Horseshoe Falls, only to be rescued by the crew of the Maid of the Mist.  He is the youngest survivor of the Falls. 

After walking for what seemed like hours, we showered, changed, and took the car across the Rainbow Bridge to head up the coast of Canada to Niagara on the Lake, a beautiful old historic town about 20 miles north.  The road follows the river, with a great overview of the whirlpool area of the river.  You pass estates, beautiful old homes, lots of orchards and vineyards.  We ate dinner in town, and walked along the quaint streets, in and out of the shops.  It is a side trip worth doing.  As it finally got dark (which is not until after 9 pm), we headed back to our hotel.
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