Niagara Falls From The Air

As I mentioned on the main Niagara Falls page, I always had the idea that Niagara Falls "must" face South, perhaps because I think of North as "up" and South as "down", and so all rivers must flow to the South!   I had the same problem when I was a kid thinking about the Nile river!   Anyway, here's a photo looking South of the entire Niagara Falls area from The Whirlpool at the bottom to the Falls at top right.   The United States is on the left, and Canada on the right.   The bridge on the left-hand side is the Whirlpool Rapids bridge, so the water below it must be the Whirlpool Rapids themselves!   On the Canadian side there's a path beside these rapids, and I regret not having the time to walk here, because the rapids are quite spectacular in their own right.   These class 6 rapids have 20 to 30 foot high waves, but these waves aren't caused by water going over rocks - the water's over 40 feet deep here.   Instead, this is one of the few places in the world with rapids caused purely by a large volume of water falling relatively steeply through a narrow gorge.   They're so dangerous that very few kayakers have ever run it.

the entire Niagara Falls area from North of the Whirlpool

The Whirlpool was a bit of a disappointment for me, because I expected to see water swirling around and around - like a whirlpool!

the Whirlpool from the North

But the Whirlpool is interesting; if you look left of center here you can see the red and yellow Spanish Aero Car which traverses the Whirlpool on cables from one side to the other - another thing I didn't get time to do!

the Whirlpool and Devil's Hole Rapids

The strangest thing about the Whirlpool is how it was formed.   The Niagara Falls have been moving up the Niagara River at a rate of 5 feet a year for the last 12,500 years but that changed when it got to this location, because this section consisted of soft sediment rather than rock.   So it's thought that the entire Whirlpool area was cleared out in just a few days, or perhaps even a few hours.   The resulting pool is 125 feet deep.   Ironically, the mile long Glens immediately above the Whirlpool were much harder rock than anywhere else in the area and took almost 5,000 years to erode.

wide-angle view of the Whirlpool

And here they are!   At the bottom you can see the Rainbow Bridge, then on the American side of the river there's the grotesque Prospect Park Observation Tower, right next to the American Falls, and on the right the Horseshoe Falls.

both Falls and the Rainbow Bridge from the North

There's Rainbow Bridge and the observation tower again.   It was built to give Americans a better view of their waterfall, but it's not exactly an Eiffel Tower and it doesn't really work too well at its intended purpose, either!   Americans should really just swallow their pride and walk over the bridge into that scary foreign country at the other end!

Rainbow Bridge and its surroundings

The American Falls, with Goat Island on the right.   At the right hand side of the American Falls you can see the Bridal Falls standing on their own - they look insignificant, but if they were on their own they'd be quite impressive.   At the bottom of the Bridal Falls you can see yellow blobs, which are actually groups of people in yellow raincoats on the "Cave of the Winds" boardwalk, which gets up close and personal with the Falls.   The "hurricane deck" is right next to the Falls.   This is yet another of the interesting looking things which I didn't do!

The American Falls and Goat Island

The Big One - the Horseshoe Falls, also called the Canadian Falls, with Goat Island on the right.   You can see from the immense cloud of mist how the Falls got their Indian name "Niagara", or "thundering water".   On the Canadian side you can go through tunnels cut behind the actual waterfall, with side tunnels dug out so you can see the water pouring past.   This "journey behind the falls" trip is the last one of the interesting activities which I didn't get time to do in my 3 or 4 days here.

upstream from the Horseshoe Falls

The Horseshoe Falls again, with a Maid of the Mists boat at the bottom.   At the top and center of the photo you can see the water intake for the Canadian Niagara Falls power plant.   Together with a power plant on the American side, it sucks off 50% of the water flow during the daytime and 75% at night.   The flow down the river would be a full 10 feet higher if this water wasn't removed, but the falls would erode much faster.

downstream from the Horseshoe Falls