Exploring the Canadian Side of Niagara FallsBut now I'm a "civilian" and when our friendly knowledgeable guide Holly Goertzen, Communications Coordinator of The Niagara Parks Commission started to talk I had to resist the temptation to butt-in with additional facts and figures. Instead, I did something I do poorly. I listened. I'm glad I did.
Niagara Falls, Canada offers a host of great attractions.
Our New Book
Falls Incline RailwayOne highlight is the Falls Incline Railway. It's a set of railway cars, fully accessible, that take visitors from the popular Fallsview area down the Niagara Escarpment to the brink of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and the Table Rock area.
These cars are enclosed and operate all year. The trip is saves the visitor from having to take their car and travel into the park below. Have your camera ready for a great shot of the falls as you travel down the incline.
The Journey Behind the FallsThis attraction always blows me away. We were taken by elevators down through solid rock, where we walked through a tunnel that took us to a plaza directly below the magnificent powerful Canadian Horseshoe Falls. One-fifth of the world's fresh water from four Great Lakes came crashing down before us. The noise was ear shattering; the view was a memory maker.
We had a chance to walk through another tunnel that took us right behind the waterfall. The falling water created a sheet of water in front of us. We were almost close enough to taste the falls. Like many other adventures near the falls our bio-degradable (leave it in the sun for six months and it will disintegrate) yellow raincoats were soaked and our faces covered with spray. Wonderful!
The Niagara FuryThis is attraction located on the second floor of Table Rock House near the edge of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. And it looked like we'd get wet again. We were all given a raincoat.
Once inside the attraction the temperature dropped. Snow fell from the ceiling and a massive platform below our feet started to tremble. Before our eyes a 360 degree screen came alive with an animated show that explained about how the Ice Age (the reason for the snow and cold temperatures) formed Niagara Falls.
Niagara Fury is on my list as a must-see attraction for visitors.
Hornblower Niagara CruisesHornblower Niagara Cruises offers new luxury catamarans to ply the Niagara River below the falls. These 700-passenger vessels take visitors below the falls for a very special experience. They also offer Niagara Falls under the stars aboard their Falls Illumination or Falls Fireworks Cruises.
Of course, the long running Maid of the Mist boats that have operated in Canada for many years operates from the New York side of Niagara Falls.
Touring the Area of Niagara FallsThere are actually three falls, the larger Canadian Horseshoe Falls located completely in Canada, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls located in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Collectively they're called Niagara Falls.
The falls are located in the Niagara River midway between Lakes Erie and Ontario. There is a drop in elevation from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario of 99 metres (326 feet) with most of the drop at the falls themselves.
It doesn't matter what time of the year and how many times I've looked at them the site and sound of Niagara Falls always puts me in awe.
White Water WalkWe travelled 3 kilometres (two miles) downstream north along the lovely Niagara Parkway (Winston Churchill in 1944 when he visited Niagara Falls called it "the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world") to another thrilling attraction. At least, at the White Water Walk we wouldn't get wet. This is like no other walk in the world. It's been around for years but today it has new life.
We travelled 70 metres (230 feet) down a tunnel than walked about the same distance in another tunnel to the very edge of one of the most treacherous rapids in the world. It's where all the water that flows over the falls squeezes through a narrow canyon creating Class 6 rapids. We took a quarter-mile boardwalk along the edge of this raging river.
An interpretive Niagara Daredevil Gallery at the exit from the tunnel tells about the daredevils and tightrope walkers who have performed in and above the gorge.
Niagara Falls DowntownGetting around Niagara Falls Downtown has gotten easier and more accessible with the WEGO bus. The fully accessible WEGO bus one of many state-of-the-art buses introduced in 2013. The new system carries visitors for a reasonable fee year-round throughout Niagara. The buses replace the Peoplemover buses that I was familiar with that operated for 26 years before they were retired in 2012.
Our WEGO bus took us to the city's historic downtown, 10 minutes from the falls. Art galleries, unique shops, and eateries are now attracting a new crowd. This downtown section of the city has new energy.
Niagara on the LakeWe then took a lovely lazy drive along the Niagara Parkway parallel to the lower Niagara River north past numerous vineyards and orchards to the lovely Victorian village of Niagara on the Lake. It's the home of the truly world-famous Shaw Festival. This town is well known as one of the prettiest towns in Canada.
Late in the afternoon we returned where we began our tour at Table Rock, near the edge of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Sitting at a table enjoying a superb meal in Elements on the Falls restaurant overlooking the falls one of my fellow travelers said, "There must be something in the air that makes me feel good when I visit Niagara Falls". I was delighted to tell him there was something in the air. It's our negative ions. You see, Niagara Falls is listed as the largest source of negative ions in the world. The falling water create these ions producing a feeling of euphoria and contentment much like when you walk in a light rain, have a sauna or go to the beach. There, proof positive why I love Niagara Falls.
For more information on visiting Niagara Falls go to NiagaraParks
Have a comment to share? Like us on Facebook - OffbeatTravelCom and post your comment.
George Bailey has explored the far reaches of the world, including Antarctica. He contributes regularly to the QMI Agency's 43 daily newspapers across Canada, as well as numerous magazines. He has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, The Discovery Channel, Canada Am, and Live with Regis. He has published five books on Niagara Falls and one on Marilyn Monroe. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos courtesy of George Bailey.
Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author