Up Close and Personal with Niagara Falls

Well-intentioned questions can be really quite ridiculous.

  • Do you think you’ll ever settle down? Just as soon as I find someone worthy of me. Know anyone?
  • Soooo…are you trying to have kids? I’m glad you asked about our sex life in a not-so-subtle way. In fact, we are intimate quite often—just this morning actually.
  • What’s your favorite TV show? Joanie Loves Chachi.
  • What’s been the best part of the trip so far? [Crickets.]

How do you answer that question? It’s like saying which child you love the best (my parents love me the best, for the record). Or picking a single french fry and declaring it the tastiest from the batch.

Well, I can now say with certainty and sincerity that Niagara Falls has been the best of the trip’s 10 weeks thus far.

This is what I texted to my friends at the end of the day:

I think this has been the best day yet. Stunning nature, got to be in the midst of it, got to be so close to it, nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced before and nothing on this scale.

Niagara Falls

Power and Serenity

The formative and destructive power of the Falls is obvious and intense. The river flows at 25-35 mph and the current moves at 3-5 feet per second. Yet despite this force–or because of it–it’s mesmerizing.

The sudden drop over the edge creates a force of water that is compelling. It, in turn, hits the river below with such impact that it bounces back up with mist that is blinding.

And all of this strength and magnitude inspire awe, calm, in fact, inspiration.

I couldn’t get enough!

Niagara Falls Mist

Which is Better: America or Canada?

People seem to fight over which country has a better experience of the Falls. To me that’s like debating which is the cuter side of the baby: the face or the tush.

On the American side, you see more of the falls actually falling. You’re next to them, at the river flowing into them. You can feel their power. On the Canadian side you have unobstructed views of all their glory. You can stroll the overlook and gaze at them for as long as you like.

As long as you have a passport and can handle the obtuse-yet-pointed questions by border control, do both!

Border Crossing at Niagara Falls

A Pause for Trivia

  • All of the Great Lakes feed into Niagara River, making 20% of the world’s fresh water flow over the Falls
  • This is the oldest state park in the US. Folks used to build wooden shacks for tourists to view the Falls and sell access to peek through a hole. Shame, shame.
  • There are 18 gates to control the flow of water over the Falls in order to limit erosion to one foot per year. If the gates weren’t in place, the natural erosion would be 4-8 feet per year.
  • The first person to take a barrel over the Falls? A woman seeking publicity to help her find a husband. Go Feminism!

No Climbing over Railing Sign at Niagara Falls

Navigating the Wonder of Niagara Falls

It’s at least a two-day affair at Niagara Falls–if you do all the things I did. More if you explore casinos and shopping.

  • jet boat over Class V rapids – A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.
  • free tour of the power plant – people are so smart
  • wander and look at pretty things
  • whirlpool overlook
  • Canadian view
  • Maid of the Mist boat ride – incredible views, smack in the middle of the mist (which is peltier than you’d think)
  • Cave of the Winds – you’re at the base of the Falls and by grace of platform construction (how did they do that?) you stay alive, but not dry

Surprisingly, I opted to go on a day-long tour. I don’t do tours typically. Stuck, bad jokes, it can take too long or not enough time to linger (I was always the second-to-last person: there was all of this nature to absorb.) But this was great. He swept us past the uber goober neon tourist crap so we only experienced the raw beauty. I wouldn’t have gone on the Cave of the Winds Tour if it weren’t part of the package. I didn’t have to navigate parking (a fee for every lot) or …anything. Plus I met lovely people!

Ponchos and Sandals at Niagara Falls

Gear collected: one yellow and one blue saran-wrap-esque poncho; fashionable water shoes.

Airboat at Niagara Falls

If you can see the logo, the pic is from the brochure.

View the Falls from Above

Thanks to Flickr and postcards for these aerial views. Click the pic to advance the slideshow.

Maid of the Mist

The boat you ride past and into the Falls. Smack into the midst of the mist. And it pelts – you wouldn’t expect that. And it’s wonderful and fun and glorious and exhilarating! Click the pic to advance the slideshow.

Cave of the Winds

It was a rush being that close to the falls; watching the water crash on the rocks; seeing its power. It was stunning. And drenching. And windy. And yet they had a sign that said no smoking–how could you even get it lit?!

Click the pic to advance the slideshow. In the first image. look all the way to the right – that’s where we were!

Live Action!

And lastly, a video of the places and spaces to capture the movement, not just the moment.


What place has captured your soul?


7 Responses


Beautiful place, and enjoyed seeing your upfront and personal pixs. I went in early spring–it was snowing one day with ice at the edges of the falls–so didn’t get to get out in the water. We did go see a great IMAX movie about the falls … and we visited Niagara on the Lake on the Canada side–quaintest little town I’ve ever seen.


So did the first woman who went over survive and less importantly, did she find a husband?

I think so, and not that way!


I’ve been all over the world, but still haven’t hit Niagra Falls – and it’s definitely on the list! I’ve wanted to go ever since Superman (Christopher Reeve) went there with Lois Lane..sigh.

Any time you can bring Superman into context, you’re golden!

I appreciated your video of the cave of the Winds, since I wasn’t up to the climb. It feels as though I’ve experienced it – had to go wipe the mist off my face.

Question is what place has captured your soul? My holy place is Door County, Wisconsin. I do hope you get there on your travels.

Karen – I just added Door County to my list!

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