Niagara Falls is comprised of two waterfalls along the Niagara River. The Horseshoe, or Canadian, Falls is in Ontario, Canada, and the American Falls is in New York, the United States. Both waterfalls are about 188 feet, or 57 meters, high. A small section of the American Falls is also known as Bridal Veil Falls.
The origin of Niagara Falls can be traced to 18,000 years ago, when glaciers carved out the basins of the Great Lakes. As the giant ice sheets melted and began moving northward, they provided the water that eventually filled the area.
During the evening, the falls are illuminated and seasonal fireworks add to nature's majesty. Step aboard the Maid of the Mist Niagara Falls boat ride to tour the falls from below, or walk through tunnels behind the falling water as part of the Journey Behind the Falls. The White Water Walk, a boardwalk along the edge of the river, features views of the falls, as well as photos of daredevil stunts.
The indoor/outdoor observation deck and revolving restaurant in Skylon Tower provide excellent views of both falls. The tower also offers shopping, dining, and entertainment. Other tourist attractions nearby include Casino Niagara, IMAX Theater Niagara Falls, Niagara Helicopters, Marineland, Bird Kingdom, and Butterfly Conservatory, as well as local wineries, parks, and water parks.
The Niagara River Recreation Trail is a 35-mile (53-kilometer) paved path for non-motorized traffic along the Canadian side of the Niagara River. It runs from Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake in the north to Anger Street in Fort Erie, with breaks in Queenston and the City of Niagara Falls. The trail is divided into four sections. Each section takes an hour or two to bike at a leisurely pace. The trail was not designed to accommodate small-wheel devices such as in-line skates, roller skates, and skateboards.
On the American side, you can journey along the popular Gorge Rim Trail that extends from Horseshoe Falls and connects to the Upper Great Gorge Trail leading to the Whirlpool Rapids. This system offers 14.5 miles of trails, which include steep stairs and large rocks.
The three-mile Robert Moses Parkway Trail runs parallel to the rim trail and is a popular route for cycling, in-line skating, running, and walking. It can be accessed from several New York state parks.
With tourism as its main industry, Niagara Falls offers a range of accommodations, including luxury hotels and motels, quaint bed-and-breakfasts, and rustic campgrounds. Many of the campgrounds are located near the river within 10 minutes of area attractions.
According to Canada's official Niagara Falls tourism Web site, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel was 63-year-old schoolteacher Annie Taylor in 1901. She and her cat survived the 13-story drop.
The falls first became a honeymoon destination after Aaron Burr's daughter honeymooned there in 1801 and Napoleon's brother in 1804. More than 50,000 honeymooners now visit the falls each year.