The Niagara River and the waterfalls that are part of it are steeped in legend and history. As part of the natural flow from nearby Lake Erie, the Niagara River and its mighty power result in the largest waterfall in the world by sheer water volume, and Horseshoe Falls is the largest waterfall in North America measured by height and flow rate.
People have been fascinated by this powerful river and the roaring falls for as long as we’ve had recorded history, and it’s safe to say that people felt the same way even before then. First documented in 1678 by French explorer Louis Hennepin the Niagara River and the falls have been a source of wild inspiration ever since.
During your next visit to Niagara Falls you can see and experience the falls and the river in numerous ways, but if you’re the adventurous type and want to get as close as you can then these are just a few of the best ways to do so.
White Water Walk
Extending 11 kilometers from the falls is the portion of the Niagara River known as the Great Gorge. Trillions of gallons of water rush through this narrow space each day, creating class 6 white water rapids as it passes. Today it’s virtually forbidden to put any sort of watercraft in the river below Niagara Falls, but some people have secured permission in the past, often with disastrous results.
Today you can safely get close to the rapids via the White Water Walk. A boardwalk set up right beside the river, this walk gives you a great idea of just how powerful this part of the river is, and you can see the mighty whirlpool as well. In addition, you can take the Whirlpool Aero Car for a thrilling aerial view of the mesmerizing whirlpool.
Take a Boat Tour of the Falls
Perhaps the best known and best loved way to get as close to the falls as possible is by hopping on a boat and heading straight for them. You’ll definitely need the ponchos provided, as the giant catamarans can get about as close to the falls as you’d ever want to be.
The tour encompasses all three of the major falls, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the mighty Horseshoe Falls. You’ll be inside the Great Gorge on these tours, but unfortunately the boats are not permitted to venture down the river toward the whirlpool. However, you’ll get to enjoy the raw power and beauty of the falls, and if you prefer you can choose a night cruise to see not only the falls but the fireworks as well.
Virtually everywhere in Niagara you’ll have a view of the falls, but it’s something entirely different to be right beside the falls and the river and get a true idea of just how powerful they actually are. Take the river walk or a boat cruise to get up close and personal with the Niagara River and take home memories of the jaw-dropping wonder of it all, and perhaps a few damp pieces of clothing.