Where is Niagara Falls State Park?
Tucked away in the northwestern corner of New York, Niagara Falls State Park sits just across the border from Canada. The park here protects, and grants visitors access to several waterfall features including American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. The latter of which 90% of the Niagara river flows over. Niagara Falls State Park also features a discovery center, several hiking trails, and an aquarium. The park is located 25 minutes or 20 miles from Buffalo, an hour and a half from Rochester, and six and half hours or 400 miles from New York City.
How Big is Niagara Falls State Park?
Niagara Falls State Park rests entirely in the state of New York. Its premier attraction, the Horseshoe Falls flows at a height of 167 feet. The Bridal Veil and American Falls flow over at a height of 176 feet. Aside from their height, the falls located in Niagara Falls State Park are impressive because of the amount of water that flows from them every second. Any given second, 150,000 gallons of water flow from the Bridal Veil and American Falls. The Horseshoe Falls volume consists of over 600,000 gallons of water.
Niagara Falls State Park Climate
Niagara Falls State Park is open year-round and rarely closes due to weather. In the winter, snowfall does occur and on average accumulates to over 70 inches. Winter temperatures hover between 46 and 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring and summer normally bring warmer temperatures and a few days of rain every year. The highest temperatures in the park occur in June, July, and August and peak at around 80 to 85 degrees. Fall features cool temperatures and picturesque foliage surrounding the park.
When did Niagara Falls become a State Park
The history surrounding Niagara Falls US State Park’s creation goes back to the 1860’s. In fact, the park is often referred to as the oldest state park within the United States and the only one created due to eminent domain. Before its protection, the land surrounding the falls was mostly owned by private investors and corporations. In 1883, Frederick Law Olmstead created the Niagara Falls Association. Originally designated and named the Niagara Reservation, the state park we know today was created in 1885.
Things to do in Niagara Falls State Park
At no surprise to anyone, most visitors of Niagara Falls venture to the park to see the falls. However, there are also a lot of other attractions in the park. Listed below are some of our National Park Visitors Guide favorites.
Access and viewing of the falls are open year round and is free. The waters flowing over the Niagara Falls flow from four of the Great Lakes into the Niagara River Gorge.
Featuring stadium seating for 314 and located at the Niagara Falls Visitor Center, the adventure theater is the perfect starting point for any group looking to learn more about the park's interesting and complicated history.
Known as the park’s other ‘wet wonder,’ the Niagara Aquarium features over 30 exhibits home to an array of aquatic species. The aquarium’s most popular species include penguins, sea lions, and seals.
Cave of the Winds
Visitors hoping to get closer to the falls, will want to take the Cave of the Winds tour. Named for a cave in the park that collapsed in the early 1900’s, the Cave of the Winds tour takes visitors down to the falls and explains how Nikola Tesla harnessed the falls to create an alternate current.
The Niagara Falls discovery center features several hands-on interactive displays, a rock wall made up of fossils and geological formations, and a 180 degree movie theater screen experience.
Hiking in Niagara Falls State Park
The park provides access to four distinct hiking trails. These trails all begin at the Niagara Falls Trailhead center. Several of the park’s hikes venture around the water, but entering the water is strictly prohibited.
Unobstructed views of the falls and the whitewater below can be obtained by visitors at the park’s observation tower. The Niagara Falls USA Prospect Point observation tower extends out over the Niagara Gorge.
Bird watching has long been practiced at Niagara Falls State Park. Visitors looking to spot Peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and several species of gulls normally start their exploration at the observation tower.
Maid of the Mist
A boat tour offered by Niagara Falls State Park, the Maid of the Mist tour takes visitors into the basin of the falls. The tour starts at the observation tower. Visitors who purchase a ticket for the tour are given a souvenir rain poncho to wear.
Top of the Falls Restaurant
The only restaurant overlooking Niagara Falls, Top of the Falls features an expansive menu offering dishes perfect for the entire family. The restaurant features panoramic views of the Horseshoe Falls.
When to go to Niagara Falls State Park
A trip to Niagara Falls State Park is possible year round. Visitation to the park peaks in June, July, and August as summer temperatures approach 80 degrees. Fall is the perfect time to visit the park for anyone looking to out wait the crowds and view the changing fall foliage. Trees around the park start to change color around mid-September. The first snowfall in the park occurs around mid-November or early December.
Must-Have things to bring to Niagara Falls
Unlike other state parks, Niagara Falls State Park due to its unique attractions provides access to restaurants, restrooms and other amenities. However, there are still a few things List of Parks suggests any visitor should bring with them to the park.
The park contains several water fountains where visitors can obtain needed water. Bringing a water bottle to the park is recommended. Any visitors planning to hike the park’s various trails should fill up their bottles before venturing out onto the trail.
The park does offer several dining opportunities, including the Top of the Falls restaurant, but smaller snacks that can be get on your person should still be brought to the park. Energy filled snacks like beef jerky, energy bars, and trail mix are perfect for hikers and anyone needing a boost.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
Even visitors planning to exclusively explore the falls, observation tower, or take one of the park’s tours should bring sturdy hiking boots with them. Look to purchase a lightweight, waterproof pair for extended comfort throughout your trip.
Visitors exploring around the falls can expect to get a little wet. A lightweight rain jacket will allow visitors to remain dry even on the Maid of the Mist tour. Fully waterproof jackets are better than ones that simply claim to be water resistant.
All visitors of Niagara Falls State Park might possibly benefit from the aid of Binoculars, but birders and hikers should especially bring a lightweight pair of binoculars to view the park's many avian species and distant landscapes.
Maps detailing the park’s hiking trails and other portions of the park, can be picked up at the Niagara Falls Visitor Center. These maps help visitors get oriented with the park’s various facilities and provide information on all the park offers.
Walking Tour App
For an added sense of direction, visitors of the park can download the Niagara Falls State Park Walking Tour application. The application provides visitors with assistance on how to most efficiently explore the park’s various attractions.
Where to stay near Niagara Falls State Park
There are no facilities offering lodging within Niagara Falls State Park, but outside the park there are endless hotels, motels, and lodges. The closest city to the park is Niagara Falls. In the city there are several hotels, lodges, and campgrounds.
Food in and around Niagara Falls State Park
In Niagara Falls State Park there are four facilities offering dining opportunities. The premier restaurant in the park is the Top of the Falls restaurant, but others include Prospect Point Cafe’, Prospect Point Grill, and the Prospect Point Coffee and Ice Cream Shop.
Airports near Niagara Falls State Park
The closest airport to Niagara Falls State Park is the Niagara Falls International Airport. The airport is located in Buffalo, New York and is a 30 minute drive from the state park. The next closest airport to Niagara Falls State Park is located in New Windsor, New York and is over five and a half hours away.