Looking to learn some fun and interesting facts about Niagara Falls? Keep reading and prepare to be mind-blown!
“Niagara Falls…slowly I turned, step by step!” Well, for those of you that only know about Niagara Falls from the zany skit by The Three Stooges, there are a lot of facts that many people who have been there—or live nearby—don’t know. This article will explore a few of them and perhaps inspire you to go, even in the offseason.
Interesting tidbits about Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is comprised of three falls, the biggest one is Horseshoe Falls, half of which belongs to Canada. It makes you wonder if there is a passport check if you immigrate while falling. The Falls drain Lake Erie, via the Niagara River by sending water to Lake Ontario. By the way, it’s these two lakes that give Buffalo so much snow, as cold air blows over warmer water, it sucks moisture out and drops it on heads, often far away, in the form of rain or snow.
Bridal Veil and American Falls lie entirely in New York, as they weave their way around Goat Island and Luna Island. Located 17 miles north of Buffalo, New York, these are the waterfalls with the highest volume of water falling in North America.
Carved by glaciers on the Niagara Escarpment about 10,000 years ago, the Falls are migrating south by about one foot per year. So, if you plan to visit the Falls in 50,000 years, at the current rate, they will be at Lake Erie and will vanish, so don’t book your hotel for that future date!
While the flow of water is reduced significantly in the winter, the only time it stopped completely was in 1848, due to an ice jam. However, it has slowed to a near trickle several times. The spectacle of sheets of water, literally frozen in time, has been captured several times in pictures. If you are lucky (and dressed warmly enough) to see it, it is awe-inspiring.
Now, here are all the most interesting fun facts about Niagara Falls that will have you visiting in no time!
Guest Post by Tunco Maclovio
13 interesting and unique facts about Niagara Falls
1. Niagara Falls is open 24/7/365 and it’s free!
Established in 1885, Niagara Falls was the first state park in the USA. There’s no opening or closing hours, meaning you can visit the falls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And it’s free! Of course, you’ll still have to pay for attractions like Maid of the Mist, but there’s no charge to enter.
Well, those are two facts, but here is one more: parking is free, inside the park, when it’s not totally full. So, don’t shell out for parking blocks away when you can park right there for free.
2. Niagara Falls is like the Grand Canyon, but different!
Just like the Grand Canyon, you don’t see it…until you are there. The Grand Canyon enjoys beautiful forests on its perimeter, but you have no idea what is there until you step to the edge, then you just sit there agog for an hour or so. Niagara Falls gives you no clue as to what awaits you either. Well, that is except the mighty Niagara River you cross over two times on the way there and some distant mist smoking on the horizon.
That said, the sheer girth of Niagara Falls gives you an idea of what it would look like if all that water went over a cliff at once! Once you do get there, agog you will be. However, there is more than just one fall and lots to see on foot. Since a lot of people who go there walk a lot they are usually exhausted by the end of the day, kids or not.
Tip: Since there is a bit of walking involved, I always go by bike. This way, you can access the whole park quickly and avoid a lot of the crowds.
3. Fun fact: there is a way to see Niagara Falls, avoid the crowds, have a picnic and commune with nature
How? If you access the park and walk, or cycle, to the southernmost part of Goat Island, there are four benches spaced out that face the Niagara River with hardly anyone around. These are my favorite spots to enjoy the River rushing by, have a drink and relax after commuting there. It’s only you, the geese, and the River.
From there, cycle or walk to the Three Sisters. Here is a secluded, quiet area separated from the Falls where you can see the Niagara River rush by and only deal with the few who have bothered to walk that far. This is also one of my favorite parts of the Park for its rapturous beauty and the calming conversation your eyes and ears have with the river all around you. It’s definitely one of the best secret spots ever!
From here, walk or cycle towards Terrapin Point and descend to the lookout to Horseshoe Falls and just gawk. The spectacle is impressive, to say the least. if you’re a hidden gem type of traveler, you’ll definitely appreciate this fun fact about Niagara Falls!
4. The dynamics of Niagara Falls are mind-boggling
Looking for one of the most interesting facts about Niagara Falls? Consider its sheer size!
For most of the year, 375,000 gallons of water (roughly a 164 ft-long Olympic pool) per second drops 75-100 feet from Horseshoe Falls. As you can imagine, this generates a lot of noise and mist. The low-frequency rumble and the roar can be heard throughout most of Niagara Falls State Park. Once you see and feel it, there is nothing like it (except big wave surfing…and you don’t have to get wet!).
From here, you can walk to the viewpoints leading to Bridal Veil Falls and the concession areas and to ride on the Maid of the Mist and visit the Cave of the Winds. Both of these are paid attractions, so expect long lines and lots of tourists. These are closed in the winter, so plan (and dress) accordingly.
5. Napoleon’s brother chose Niagara Falls for his honeymoon…Fun fact!
This unique fact about Niagara Falls is especially interesting for history lovers.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Jerome, took a stagecoach from New Orleans to Niagara Falls in 1808, cementing the tradition of celebrating nuptials at this natural landmark. Makes you wonder what he said the reading the meter read upon arrival. “Sacré bleu?”
6. 20-28 million people visit Niagara Falls each year
Here’s a not so subtle fact about Niagara Falls: it’s a true tourist magnet.
While COVID-19 will limit visitors this year, it remains a popular spot, as social distancing is still possible and it’s a great spot to get out of town and enjoy nature. Depending on when you go, you can be sure to see someone else there, even in the coldest winter days.
7. Fall is a great time to visit Niagara Falls
Sure, nothing beats a warm summer day at Niagara Falls. However, those of us lucky enough to live nearby (who don’t hibernate during the winter) savor the uniqueness of the Park in the fall. The changing of the leaves, along with the epic backdrop of the falls, is legendary.
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8. Winter is an even more unique experience at Niagara Falls
Fun fact – if you visit Niagara Falls in the winter, you’ll have plenty of breathing room.
While the water volume decreases (or nearly stops) in the winter, there are several upsides, provided you dress accordingly:
– You may have the whole (or most of) the Park to yourself. No crowds, no lines to wait in, and no screaming kids (except for yours?)
– You get to watch bus-sized icebergs drop into the abyss. This is always fun. In the summer you have to wait for the random unlucky fish to gauge what it would be like to take the ultimate drop! This explains the number of seagulls hovering to chow on stunned, freshwater fish (sushi-to-go?) at the base of the Falls.
– Social distancing is pre-arranged. No people…no worries!
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9. In the winter, you can check out the “Grove of the thundering trees”
Well, this is the name I suggested to the Park Rangers when I was asked what I would call it. You see—next to the entrance to Terrapin Point and the Cafeteria—there is a grove of trees. In the winter, the mist from Niagara Falls coats them with constantly-replenished sleeves of ice. Now, if your timing is right, you are in for a rare treat.
Snow here accumulates and melts and refreezes several times. This develops a hard crusty topping on the snowpack. In the late winter, this icy crust may be a half-inch thick (or more) on top of a foot of snow. As such, when the wind blows hard, the sleeves of ice fall from the branches all at once and impact that crust.
The sound—when a good gust hits and relieves the branches of their ice all at one go—is not unlike someone throwing a sink full of dishes out of a two-story window! There is even a sign that warns you not to walk under the trees, lest an icicle impales you from above and turn you into an inverse ‘human popsicle!’ Welcome to Niagara Falls in the winter!
10. Interesting fact about Niagara Falls: It’s the largest, constant negative ion-generator in the world
If you’re into health and wellness, you’ll find this fun fact about Niagara Falls to be the best of them all!
Negative ions are caused by the Lenard effect. When water splashes, it releases ions with a net negative charge into the air. These ions—like after a thunderstorm or near a lot of splashing water—can have beneficial effects on us humans. They fortify our immune system, they take bacteria, viruses and dust from the air and give some (only one-third of the population can sense them) a really good feeling.
Perhaps you are sensitive too. Are you one of those who can walk down a beach with a lot of crashing waves (on in a rainstorm) and feel good? That’s from the negative ions in the air to which you are sensitive.
Positive ions, by contrast (and paradoxically named) make some feel sleepy, moody, and irritable. You get these from closed spaces with electrical appliances and computers. Also, central heating can remove what little negative ions might be inside if the windows are closed.
Niagara Falls emits a negative charge that will make you feel amazing
Outdoors, in nature, there is a net negative charge, but this is fortified by splashing water (rain or snow too.) So, if you can sense them, you can sit there for hours just soaking them in and feeling good.
Lots of companies make expensive negative ion generators for homes or offices. Want a cheap one for your house if you don’t want to wait for rain? Try your shower, or one of those made-in-China drip fountains that splash water into a rock! The effect is the same, but on a smaller scale.
Why do you think people say, “open the window and get some fresh air?” In a car, the positive ions build up, until you open the window. Are you the one-third of the population that can feel them? If so, Niagara Falls is your new healthy mecca!
11. If you are a cyclist—or not—you can avoid the parking hassles at Niagara Falls by taking the bus!
The best way to get around Niagara Falls is by bike – fun fact!
Every half hour, the Buffalo NFTA transit authority runs buses from Downtown Buffalo to Niagara Falls (and back). Just start downtown next to the terminus on Ellicott Street.
There are two bike racks on every bus, so you and a friend can leave the driving to someone else. It takes just 50 minutes, so put on your mask, pay for the five-dollar day pass and you are good!
Tip: Sit on the left side of the bus to get a better glimpse of the Niagara River, and away you go. Just make sure you download the schedule on your phone. Buses run back to Buffalo until midnight, but always leave a cushion of a bus or two in case the racks are full…but this is rare. This is ideal if you plan to have a few drinks at the Falls or hit up the bar at the Fallsview Casino, you can sleep it off on the way back to Buffalo!
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12. Do you like crab or all-you-can-eat-buffets?
The Fallsview Casino has (apart from the one-armed bandits) a crab buffet that is out of this world. Check ahead of time for hours and prices, but it’s another reason to sleep all the way back to home (if someone else is driving!).
13. For many, Niagara Falls beats Disneyland, hands down.
This is a little more subjective than the other interesting facts about Niagara Falls, but I think you’ll agree that it holds true.
All-in-all, Niagara Falls is one of America’s greatest natural wonders—hence the droves of Canadians from Toronto, Ontario, and beyond when the border is open, but not now!
And, like Disneyland, it’s usually ‘tourist central.’ But Disneyland isn’t free, and much less, open all day and night…every day. And it’s hard to find somewhere in Disneyland to be alone. However, with a little planning and advice in this article, you can beat the crowds.
Either by cycling, or going off season, or starting from the Goat Island parking area benches, you can find a quantum of solace in nature. You can savor the soothing music of the river splashing, and commune with nature (and the negative ions) like nowhere else.
So, enjoy Niagara Falls. And…just leave the barrel at home!
Interesting facts about Niagara Falls, one of the best places to visit in the US!
I hope you enjoyed reading this write-up on the best fun facts about Niagara Falls! Planning to visit anytime soon? Be sure to pair this trip with other unique destinations in this region of New York!
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For further reading: Top things to do in Buffalo, NY
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