It took us 22 hours to drive to our Appalachian Trail hike in Vermont. We took two days to get there, driving through Nashville, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania to upper New York State. This was a really interesting (though long!) drive for us. When we got to New York we realize our route took us to within an hour of Niagara Falls. I had been there once before with my husband but the kids had never been, and it seemed like too good of a chance to pass up. After all, how often are you in the neighborhood of Niagara Falls in Upstate New York?
So we changed our easterly course to west and got to the falls pretty quickly. The last time my husband and I had been, passports were not required to cross into Canada, and we were not prepared with our passports this time so we stayed on the American side. The falls are amazingly powerful and beautiful. After hiking in lots of different parks and seeing many waterfalls, I was a little disappointed that this one was so overdeveloped and commercialized. The closest you can get to the American Falls is way above the falls on the rim. Though if you pay a lot of money for a tour, you can take the trail down to the base of falls. My Mom did say that this area has been greatly improved since the last time she was there, and they were doing a lot of construction to improve the view. In fact they are almost finished with a whole new area that will take you right down above the Bridal Veil Falls, but it wasn’t open yet.
As we were walking up the Niagara River, we noticed it was amazingly powerful. If one fell in, they’d be swept away and over the falls to their death. There were workers weed-whacking the grass and brush growing in the few feet between the railing of our paved walkway and this raging river. They were firmly secured to the guard rail with rock-climbing ropes to keep them from stumbling into the deadly river! I thought what an unusually hazardous lawn care job this was! lol
There are two bridges that take you over Green Island to Goat Island and the view of the Canadian (Horseshoe) falls. These bridges are also under construction. Apparently the old bridges are no longer sound, so new bridges have been set right above the old ones! Once we got to the far end of Goat Island, we were pleased that you could get a close enough view from the top of the Canadian Falls to actually get the mist in your face. We were also pretty tired and hungry by then. We first tried one of the fast food hamburger/hotdog places, which were very expensive. Then right above the Canadian Falls was the Top of the Falls restaurant, which wasn’t much more expensive than the fast food, but allowed us to sit down outside on the deck, have a better selection of food, and a wonderful view of the falls.
One of the really interesting things about going to the falls was seeing all of the different kinds of people. Apparently Niagara Falls is an international destination, because we saw people from all different places with different clothing, accents and languages. That was really fun and a great experience for the girls.
Though the falls are more developed than I would like, it seems they are doing a lot of work so the experience should continue to improve in the future. Overall we were really pleased with our detour, a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and it was definitely worth the visit! Will be writing next about Vermont and our hikes on the Appalachian Trail. (Oh and today’s my birthday! Not telling how old!)