When many people visit Niagara Falls, they typically head straight for the Canadian Side of the falls. Just throughout the Niagara River, in the United States, are some too-often-overlooked attractions and views of these stunning marvels. In the U.S.A, one would be hard-pressed to distinguish Niagara Falls, New york city from any other little upstate town. Aside from a small collection of hotels and tourist attractions around the falls, and the imposing Seneca Niagara Gambling establishment, the American side of the falls has little to identify itself as one of the most-visited vacation locations in the country. It is just until visitors approach nearly the brink of the falls themselves where they see that the American side has many wonders to witness.
While the majority of Niagara Falls Bus Tours visitors will concur that the Canadian side of the falls is remarkable, with better views of all that terrific water, an unique advantage to the American side is – surprisingly adequate – much better access to the falls themselves, by actually standing “on the top” of them (plus, visitors get a fantastic view of Canada!).
The United States’ part of Niagara Falls is in the Niagara Falls State Park (in some cases called “New York State Park” or “Niagara Reservation State Park”). Started in 1885, the park is the oldest state park in the United States. It was landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who was among the initiators and designers of the Niagara Falls State Park – however he is much better understood for another development: New York City’s Central Park.
The Niagara Falls State Park handles and runs much of the tourist attractions on this side of the falls. The park incorporates all of the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Goat Island (and surrounding islands), and about one third of Horseshoe Falls. The park itself is open year-round, including the Visitors Center, many of the destinations are seasonal and hence off-season experiences offer less direct activity with the falls.
The Visitors Center features general information about the falls, including a sandwich shop and gift store. The large garden outside is preserved seasonally. In the Visitors Center is the Celebration Theater, a year-round destination which includes the 1999 History Channel movie, “Niagara Falls: A History of the Falls.”
Goat Island is the piece of land that separates Bridal Veil Falls from Horseshoe Falls. Available by cars and truck and part of the Niagara Falls State Park, Goat Island has an interesting location. From here, visitors can see rapids up close, which lead to the American/ Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. It is furthermore the place of numerous of the park’s finest tourist attractions. Though the island is huge, because of its place and the surrounding hostile waters, it is gradually eroding and will eventually disappear as the 3 Niagara Falls move upstream over several years. Goat Island is where several of the Niagara Falls State Park attractions lie, including Cave of the Winds. Shuttles take visitors around Goat Island and throughout the park, but there are in addition numerous strolling paths, benches, and picturesque vistas on which to stroll around constantly.
Luna Island is the tiny island that separates the Bridal Veil Falls from the American Falls. It is available on foot, but no vehicles are permitted (the island is so little, more than a couple of vehicles wouldn’t fit, anyway). The sidewalk to Luna Island is on Goat Island. The walk to Luna Island is worth it, as it positions you in between 2 waterfalls, which is an uncommon location to be.
The rapids approaching the American Falls – visible just on the American side, holler through the middle of the park and around the several little islands prior to falling over the edge of the American Falls. The rapids reach speeds of approximately 25 miles per hour. In the evening, they might be illuminated with bright spotlights for a more unusual view.
Horseshoe Falls is surrounded on the Canadian side by Table Rock Point, and on the American side by Terrapin Point. Here, visi-tors can feel the mist of Horseshoe Falls as they look across the gorge at Canada. More remote than Table Rock Point, Terrapin Point has fantastic views of the Canadian Fallsview resort sections, and the mist here can be simply as powerful as Table Rock, if the conditions are right.
In groups, they are led with a tour guide down an elevator to near the base of Bridal Veil Falls. From there, they stroll on a wooden sidewalk to what has been called the “Typhoon Deck” – the closest accessible point to the falls.
The curious name of this essential destination is deceiving. Cave of the Winds is not a cavern, but rather a sidewalk that leads visitors over to the base of Bridal Veil Falls – the smallest of the three Niagara Falls. The tourist attraction, nevertheless, used to be a cavern. Called after the Aeolus, Greek God of Wind, it supported Bridal Veil Falls and was a popular tourist spot as early as the 1800s. The earliest travelers had to climb down a rope, and eventually a staircase, to reach the cavern. However, there were periodically cave-ins, which killed or injured tourist. Since it was in risk of collapsing, it was intentionally damaged in 1955.