[Niagara Falls, NY]
After driving in the snow yesterday, I was super excited to be taking a bus tour today, meaning someone else was driving! Today’s excursion to Niagara Falls was an optional add-on to the conference itself, so that meant I was also not going to be alone – I was sure other conference attendees would take the trip.
My prayers for good weather had partially come through. It was no longer snowing and it promised to be a sunny day, but the layer of ice on my hotel room window gave me a clue about the temperature I should be expecting outside. I was thankful for the winter jacket and boots I had purchased in Bulgaria that Christmas and brought home with me to LA.
Niagara Falls actually consists of three waterfalls on the international border between Canada and the United States. From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls lies on the border of the United States and Canada with the American Falls entirely on the American side, separated by Goat Island. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also on the American side, separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island. The brochure we got in the visitor center had a nice map detailing all this.
Niagara Falls was formed when glaciers receded at the end of the the last ice age, and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, Niagara Falls is very wide. More than six million cubic feet (168,000 cubic meters) of water fall over the crest line every minute in high flow.
I did not get to cross onto the Canadian side – I did not bring my passport (*gasp*, I know!!!) but I enjoyed the views from the American side nonetheless. Here are some photos of American Falls from Prospect Point. You can see Horseshoe falls way in the back. Bridal Veil Falls is kind of hidden, since it’s right next to American Falls and hard to see from this vantage point.
Due to the fact that it was early April, most attractions here were still closed. The Maiden of the Mist, the boat that takes you behind the waterfall, was not running, and the Cave of the Winds, a series of decks that descend into the Niagara Gorge, was also closed. I was more bummed out about these two than about not crossing over to the Canada side. I wanted to get up close and personal with this massive water flow rather than watch if from even further away. Maybe I’ll get a chance to come back here in summer one day. 🙂
We did take the park shuttle to Goat Island and Terrapin point, where we got to see Horseshoe Falls up close. In the background, you can see all the buildings on the Canadian side. It seemed ironic to me that we were the ones preserving the falls with no construction on our side, while the Canadians hat turned their side into an amusement park. I guess part of the reason is that the views from Canadian side are better. At any rate, there was a lot of construction on Goat Island, as you can see in this photo. We could see that they were trying to improve the walkways, railings and platforms. Due to this, we couldn’t go to Luna Island to see Bridal Veil Falls from above either.
Back over on the main side of the state park, they finally opened up a platform that allowed us better views of the Falls.
Cold weather and closed attractions notwithstanding, I was thankful for the opportunity to see this world-famous place! It was beautiful in the snow and I am happy the weather cooperated!
With two days of sight-seeing behind me, I was ready to buckle down for the conference part of the trip.