As it is only a short hop from Cookstown down to Niagara Falls, we were set up by 14:00 and sitting down enjoying a quick cuppa, while we planned the rest of the day. Even Judi doesn’t recall being in this area before, so being a nice day we elected to take a drive to scout the area and plan our activities for the next 4 days.
The park’s internet has a good signal, but zero bandwidth, so we couldn’t get online to research the area or check out Google maps, therefore we set off, armed only with the free maps received at check-in and off course the trusty GPS. Our intended route is along the edge of Marineland, Canada’s equivalent to Sealand, then onto Niagara Parkway at the Welland River for the drive along the Niagara River and the Falls.
Our first stop was Kings Bridge Park at the mouth of the Welland River, where we took the dogs for a walk along the Niagara River, which is fenced to prevent access to the water. Wow, the current in the river is substantial; no wonder they have signs on the fence warning of drowning. Even from this distance, at least a mile, the plume of spray from the Falls is impressive. The 2 large structures at the river bank are the inlets to the Hydro canal, which diverts considerable water into the hydro canal for electricity generation. The canal runs through Niagara Falls, terminating below the Falls at the generating plant. After walking along the Niagara River side we headed over by the Welland River side of the park and were immediately taken aback by the contrast in such a short distance. Where the Niagara is raging the Welland is a shallow, quiet and tranquil river with ducks paddling close to shore.
The bridge is the Niagara Parkway, which is the route along the length of the entire river we will take in a couple of days.
The park had adequate free parking when we arrived, but on the weekend, we noted a booth set up at the entrance and an attendant collecting a $10 parking fee. While a nice park, we don’t think a quick visit would be worth $10 for parking.
Shortly after leaving the park, we stopped just after passing the river flow control barrier about 3/4 mile upstream from the Falls. With the hydro canal and the barrier they manage the flow of water over the Falls and have successfully retarded the erosion Westwards from about 3’ every year to about 1’. In the past 12,000 years the Falls have moved Westwards, or up river about 7 miles. It is at this point that the white water rapids starts prior to the Falls, literally a churning, boiling mass of really angry looking water. Again the view down river towards the Falls is spectacular.
Back onto the Parkway and heading towards the Falls, the first thing we noticed was the sea of humanity, on both sides. However, even with the number of people milling around there is still numerous spaces at the edge to attain great views of the Falls. As today was just a scouting mission we continued driving slowly along the Parkway.
We have seen the Falls on TV, films, photographs, etc but in person we can only say nothing prepared us for actually seeing them live, simply spectacular. The spray is everywhere to the extent that wipers are required on the windshield. No stopping signs are posted everywhere, so Judi snapped a couple of quick photographs while driving slowly, or stopped at lights/crosswalks.
Hope you enjoyed this sneak peak of Niagara Falls, if you want to see more check back again to see more detailed reports and photographs.
The Falls is a definitely must return and spend an entire day location.