A million bathtubs of water per second tumble over these mammoth falls, splashing and spluttering, throwing gallons of mist into the air and drenching the countless visitors. While not the tallest waterfall in the world, the sheer colossal volume of this watery curtain makes if a phenomenal scene, one that – for all the overwhelming merchandising and disappointingly plastic experiences that come with it – is still an essential and memorable North American experience.
The falls are actually split into two parts, and stretch across the US/ Canada border, dropping about 170 meters with a flow rate that varies depending on the season. On occasion, the falls have even been known to stop flowing at all, due to the build up of ice, though this is extremely rare. Bobby Leach famously negotiated the falls in a barrel, while Maria Spelterini once crossed the gorge on a tightrope, while Blondin tried the same stunt with his manager on his back. Most modern visitors prefer to look on from the magnificent ‘Maid of the Mist’ boat ride, take in the view from a helicopter or simply stare from the banks, which include the drenching Cave of the Winds tour. You can even view the falls from the back, peering out through tiny view holes from the heart of the rock.
Recently the area’s reputation has been tarnished somewhat by saucy honeymoon destinations and the nickname ‘Viagra falls’, with the Niagara bombarded with casinos, sex shops and sleazy motels. It can detract from the experience, leaving seedy memories instead of thoughts of the epic scale of the scenery, but there’s little that can detract from the falls themselves, and if you have the cash to make the most of it, you can wake up with them outside your window and sleep next to the rumble in high-class venues like the Fairview Plaza Hotel.
It might be a ‘world sight’ box-ticking destination, but Niagara Falls is also a powerful, vast and memorable experience, despite its over-developed touristic outlook.
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