.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Ontario

The Niagara River and and its Amazing Waterfalls

00 Niagara River and Horseshoe Falls (1)

The iconic image above would be recognized by most people.  It’s Horseshoe Falls, known by some as Canadian Falls.  The amount of water dropping over this precipice in the Niagara River is staggering and, while the surrounding area is very commercial, it’s hard not to be impressed by this amazing natural spectacle. 

I had an aunt we frequently visited who lived only 10 miles from Niagara Falls. Among my first travel memories are those of seeing this waterfall — as such, Horseshoe Falls has a special place in my heart.

The Niagara River carries the output of four Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie) into Lake Ontario.  The international boundary between Canada and the United States is in the middle of the Niagara River, although boundary line carved out Horseshoe Falls for Canada, leaving the smaller American Falls to the USA.  The Canadian province of Ontario is to the west of the boundary, while New York state is to the east.  The Niagara River is 58 km (36 mi) long, and includes memorable Niagara Falls about midway along its flow.

Much of the water in the Niagara River is diverted to clean energy hydroelectric generation, with hydro plants on both sides of the border.   Of the water not being diverted for hydroelectric power production, about 90% flows over Horseshoe Falls and 10% flows over American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.  The tremendous flow of water gradually erodes the rock and Horseshoe Falls is moving south at a rate of about an inch a decade.  This rate of erosion has been slowed this past century by the diversion of water for hydroelectricity.

The following video looks at Horseshoe Falls somewhat to the north (below the Falls), showing the extensive mist and the ever present rainbow you see on a sunny day.  

Ships navigating the Saint Lawrence Seaway bypass the obstacle of Niagara Falls by using the Welland Canal, but that’s a story for a different day.  

Here’s a series of photos taken of the Niagara River starting above Horseshoe Falls, moving north through the thick mist (you’ll get wet!) to the Niagara Gorge and on towards American Falls, while looking back at Horseshoe Falls.  It’s actually hard to keep your lens dry to get clear droplet-free images:

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)


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