Where is Whirlpool State Park
Niagara Scenic Pkwy, Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Whirlpool US State Park is located 24 miles from downtown Buffalo New York, it overlooks the powerful Niagara River Whirlpool just downstream from Niagara Falls. There are two levels of trails for viewing the natural splendor the park has to offer. The upper level connects to the lower level by a set of steep stairs that allows direct access to both viewing and fishing the whirlpool and surrounding rapids. The trail loops with Devil’s Hole State Park for an intense hiking experience along the river rapids.
How Big Is Whirlpool State Park
The park is 109-acres which sits along the 6.8 miles of the Niagara gorge with access to a total of 5 miles of trails available to hike along. You can easily see the Canadian side as the gorge is only around 750 feet wide. The deepest point of the whirlpool itself is about 125 feet, which handles a volume of 100,000 cubic feet per second of water. The stairs that lead to the lower level are a steep 150 feet to the bottom.
Whirlpool State Park Weather
The weather in the Western New York area where the park is located can be sporadic and random due to being sandwiched between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The most famous phenomena being “Lake Effect Snow” which can dump surprising amounts of snow in a short time. During the spring and fall temperatures can quickly spike up into the 80’s only to plummet back into the 40’s in a single day, making it necessary to be properly prepared to adapt to the weather. Because of the amount and speed of the river itself the air in the gorge can be cooler than the surrounding area, even in the heat of summer. The park can still be enjoyed all year round.
When Did The Whirlpool Become a State Park
The Niagara River and whirlpool have been around for thousands of years, the park was designed in 1887, with the Niagara Gorge Belt Line Railroad opening in 1895 that became a popular attraction. The railroad was in operation all the way until 1935 when a destructive rockslide forced it to close. You can still see some of the remains today.
Things to do in Whirlpool State Park
The park has a number of facilities and features that can accommodate anyone that wishes to come enjoy the park’s natural splendor. Look to the list below for some ideas our State Park Visitors Guide suggests.
The upper and lower levels of the park offer a lot of interesting and awe-inspiring scenery available to everyone. Whether you want the bird’s eye view from the upper level, or a close and personal experience of the river’s current is up to you.
The looping hiking trails are a very popular choice for both casual and diehard fitness enthusiasts. As you scale up and down the intense steps and winding trails the majestic limestone and slate cliffs jutting out of the deep aquamarine river offer a unique background.
The upper level of the park has several picnic areas that are available, including two pavilions you can rent for $50 to $75 which can accommodate 30 to 75 people. The park has a seasonal playground and gorge natural history room within the restroom building.
One of the most popular activities of the park is the opportunity to hike alongside the Niagara river as it makes its way from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. There are two major trails available, the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail and the Whirlpool Rapids Trail.
Fishing at Whirlpool State Park is a unique and premiere experience. Depending on the time of year you can fish from both on a boat and from the shore for the opportunity to catch large sport fish, mainly trout, salmon, smallmouth bass, and even carp.
When to go to Whirlpool State Park
The hiking, fishing, and sightseeing at Whirlpool State Park are available year-round depending on your preference and safety issues. Because of the fragile nature of the slate and limestone that makes up the gorge walls, landslides are a large concern especially when there are large periods of heavy rain. For those interested in fishing, the salmon run up the river during early fall, followed by steelhead runs that last through the winter, followed by the smallmouth run in the summer. The picnicking facilities are seasonally opened during the warmer months. The gorge also offers an amazing fall foliage scene that can be appreciated from both the lower and upper levels of the park.
Must Have Things to Bring to Whirlpool State Park
List of Parks has compiled a general list of essential items that you would need if you were to participate in all the available activities the park has to offer.
This is a standard item no matter where you go and while it may seem like a good idea to just drink directly from the river, the risks of drinking contaminated water and potentially falling in are reason enough to bring your own water supply.
The steepness and length of the trails is a lot for the body to handle and you should bring a snack to keep your energy up. To ensure a pleasurable picnic experience make sure to bring enough food for everyone you’ve invited to your picnic.
While you can probably make do with any comfortable pair of shoes, the stairs and trails can be slippery and challenging to walk along when the weather turns for the worse. Make sure you keep yourself safe and comfortable by bringing proper hiking shoes or boots and clothes.
You may not need a rain jacket when you go, but sometimes the weather can change swiftly and dramatically while you are visiting. It is always a good idea to bring a rain jacket in case an unexpected rainstorm hits while you’re hiking or picnicking.
The type of gear depends on the kind of fishing you want to do. A very popular option during the fall runs is to fish with a centrepin reel with salmon eggs or imitation eggs. Do your research ahead of time for a successful trip.
Because the height of the river fluctuates depending on how much water is being directed into the dam as well as rainfall, there are a lot of places for mosquitos and other bugs to lay eggs. Bring bug spray to keep these pests at bay.
There is a lot for you to see along the gorge and if you are going to stick to the upper level of the park, you will need a decent pair of binoculars to get a closer look at some of the most interesting features.
Where to Stay Near Whirlpool State Park
There are no places for you to sleep over directly in the park. But because Whirlpool State Park is located inside of the city of Niagara Falls a hotel or Airbnb is not far away. The closest hotel on the New York side is a mere 6-minute drive from the parking lot. Because you can easily fit all the activities in a single day and there are many other places to visit in the area in both Niagara Falls and Buffalo, you may be able to find cheaper hotels that are further away that can help you have a more well-rounded trip.
Food Near Whirlpool State Park
There are many places to eat near Whirlpool State Park, from the Niagara Falls Hard Rock Cafe to the Niagara Falls Casino’s buffet it won’t take you very long to find a place to get some delicious food. Depending on what you’re hungry for there are many restaurants in nearby downtown Niagara Falls, you can find anything from pizza to Indian cuisine.
Airports near Whirlpool State Park
Niagara Falls and the area around Whirlpool State Park is world famous and brings in tourists from many different countries during the tourist season. The Niagara Falls International Airport happens to be only a small fifteen-minute drive from the park, this means that you could easily be enjoying the park in less than an hour of you arriving in the area.