Niagara Falls is easily one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. Millions of visitors come every year to get an up close and personal look at the falls. From boating tours that take people to the base of the falls to simulators that allow people to experience what it’s like to go over the falls in a barrel, it is a top American and Canadian tourist destination. Here are some things you might not know about Niagara Falls to make your next trip there more interesting.
1. It’s Not Just One Waterfall
Niagara Falls is actually three separate waterfalls instead of just one. You get to see the American Falls, the Horseshoe Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls when you visit this location. The falls are located right on the border of the United States and Canada, so when you go to an overlook to view them, you can also see into the opposite country. The Horseshoe Falls are the largest of the three falls, while the Bridal Veil Falls are the smallest of the three.
When all of the water is combined, it produces the highest flow rate of any waterfall on the planet today. Almost 20% of the total drinking water that is available in the United States will go over Niagara Falls at some point in time. This means that almost every American has encountered Niagara Falls on a personal level at least once in their lives.
2. Take Your Passport
Nik Wallenda became the first person to cross Niagara Falls while using a tight rope in over 100 years. In order to perform the stunt, the had to receive permission from both the United States government and the Canadian government. As part of the agreement to allow him to cross falls on a tight rope, Wallenda had to carry his passport with him so that it could be presented to Canadian officials once he had completed the stunt. Imagine what would’ve happened if he had dropped it over the falls…
3. There’s an Island to Explore
Many visitors go to Niagara Falls to see the waterfall and for good reason. One cannot forget, however, to visit Goat Island. A trip to the island gives visitors to the American side of the falls some of the best views possible. This is because it is situated right between Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. It is part of Niagara Falls State Park and there are two bridges that connect the mainland to the island. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore and there’s an elevator that provides access of the waterfalls if you take the Cave of the Winds adventure.
Over the years, American officials have increased the size of Goat Island so that parking and a helicopter pad could be included on the island. Diversion dams and retaining walls have also been put into place to force water away from Terrapin Point, which was another artificial inclusion to the island. The end result has actually made Niagara Falls be less spectacular than it could be. More than 400 feet of Horseshoe Falls has been removed because of these feats of engineering. This means that all of Horseshoe Falls instead of just some of it now exists on the Canadian side of this natural wonder.
4. It’s the Grandfather of Them All
The state parks system in the United States is remarkably large. There are thousands of state parks that stretch from coast to coast and show off many of America’s natural wonders. They are places where families can camp out, explore trails, or have an afternoon picnic in the summer. Niagara Falls State Park is actually the very first state park in the United States. It was created in 1885 to encourage visitors to come see this natural wonder. Today it is visited by around 30 million people every year.
Niagara Falls is also home to the oldest tourist attraction that is currently still in operation in the United States. That’s the Maid of the Mist boat ride, which takes tourists to the base the American Falls. The ride also includes a trip to the basin of the Canadian side of the Horseshoe Falls. The very first voyage of the Maid of the Mist happened in 1846.
5. Find the Pot of Gold
If you visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, you are almost always guaranteed to see a rainbow. This is because of the amount of spray that the waterfall creates as it plummets down. As long as you are visiting the park after lunch and get there before the sun sets, you will be able to grab your camera and get a stunning picture of the falls with the rainbow included.
There is one time, however, when you wouldn’t have been able to get a picture of a rainbow at Niagara Falls. In the 19th century, it was documented that Niagara Falls was nearly frozen solid. It was so cold that only a trickle of water came down the falls for an extended period of time.
6. Slapped By a Fish
If you decide to invest in the Cave of the Winds tour, then you will be in for an amazing experience. Not only do you get extremely close to the waterfall, but you might even be able to catch a fish. In your teeth.
There are actually fish who will go over Niagara Falls because it is part of their migration travel route. Maybe some others even do it for fun. Whatever the case may be, it is not uncommon to have a fish smack you in the face when you are taking the elevator down to the base of the falls.
You might think that the fish would have a hard time surviving such a drop, but that’s not the case. The volume of water creates a heavy level of foam which many scientists believe creates a landing pad, allowing the fish to survive. In many studies of the phenomenon, about 90% of the fish that go over the falls wind up living to swim on down the river.
7. A Place For Lovers
The American side of Niagara Falls has a great state park, but honeymooners have a better experience when they visit the Canadian side of the falls. It’s been a top destination for those who have just been married for nearly two centuries. The Canadian tourism office offers honeymooners a commemorative certificate of their stay at the falls if the couple contacts the office about their visit. There’s an incentive to do so: a pass for free admission to several of the area attractions at Niagara Falls comes with the certificate.
8. A Bad Place For a Wreck
Just out of the reach of Horseshoe Falls sits an old shipwreck. This is a scow that has been sitting there in that spot since 1918. Two men were dredging the sand banks from the Niagara River upstream when their boat broke away from the tugboat that was carrying them. They eventually got snagged where the shipwreck can still be seen today. After sitting on this perilous location for 17 hours, the US Coast Guard was able to send a lifeline over so that the two men could be rescued.
9. 21 Crazy, Crazy People
Ever since the idea of going over the falls got into someone’s head, there have been 21 known attempts to go over the falls either purposely or accidentally. 15 people have gone over the falls in a craft or a barrel and lived to tell the tale. One remarkable incident involved a person going over Niagara Falls with just the clothes on his back. In 1920, the first fatality in an attempt to go over the falls occurred when a man decided to attach an anvil to his feet in what he thought would be a great way to survive the experience.
It wasn’t. To discourage attempts from daredevils today, people who survive going over the waterfall in whatever fashion they choose face a fine of up to $10,000. They will also be charged for their rescue attempt.
Because of the great distance that exists on the way down, Niagara Falls is unfortunately a popular place for suicides to happen as well. Around 20 people travel to the site to end their lives at the falls every year. In total, about 5,000 people have been recovered since 1850 because of their choice to say goodbye to this world.
10. A Lot of Power
Niagara Falls is New York State’s biggest supplier of electricity. You can hook up 24 million 100 watt light bulbs at once with the amount of power that this natural wonder is able to produce. We’d better get the power now, because scientists estimate that in 50,000 years, Niagara Falls might be gone for good.
Niagara Falls is one of those places on our planet that everyone should at least once. By knowing facts like these, the trip becomes just a little bit sweeter.