Interesting facts about Niagara Falls

35 Fun Facts About Niagara Falls: North America’s Tallest Waterfall

In this article, we have compiled some of the common, as well as some fun facts about Niagara Falls. Let’s dive straight in – pardon the pun!

Niagara Falls is one of the world’s most renowned natural wonders, captivating millions of visitors each year with its sheer power and impressive beauty.

Located on the border between the United States and Canada, this magnificent waterfall has become an iconic tourist destination and a sight to behold.

1. Niagara Falls is shared by two countries. It straddles the international border between the United States (New York State) and Canada (Ontario). There is a city called “Niagara Falls” on either side of the border.

2. Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the United States. It was established in 1885. It provides stunning views of the falls and offers various recreational activities and attractions for visitors.

Water pouring over a rocky cliff with more waterfalls in the background
View from Niagara Falls State Park on the US side

3. It is comprised of three waterfalls. These are Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Horseshoe Falls is primarily in Canada, while the other two sit in the United States. With a width of approximately 2,600 feet (790 meters), Horseshoe Falls is the largest and most powerful waterfall of the three.

4. It’s believed that the name Niagara was derived from the Iroquoian word “Onguiaahra”. This name appears on maps as early as 1641. Meanwhile, the word Niagara refers to an overwhelming flood.

5. Table Rock is an impressive viewpoint at the brink of Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. This popular observation area provides a front-row seat to witness the thundering waters below.

6. Despite its impressive size, Niagara Falls is more than two times smaller than Victoria Falls in southern Africa. The total height across the three separate falls is approximately 180 feet (55 meters).

Suggested Read: 31 Surprising Facts About Angel Falls: the World’s Tallest Waterfall

7. Niagara Falls is one of the top 10 widest waterfalls in the world, measuring 3,950 feet (1,200 meters) across if all three of its waterfall widths are combined. The Horseshoe Falls is just over 2,600 feet (790 meters) wide, while the American Falls is 1,000 feet (320 meters) wide.

8. However, Niagara Falls is almost 10 times narrower than the widest waterfall in the world, Khone Phapheng Falls in Laos. The latter is approximately 35,000 feet wide, making Niagara Falls almost 10 times wider than Niagara. Niagara Falls is actually only the 9th widest waterfall in the world.

A super wide waterfall with lots of mist at the bottom
Horseshoe Falls, the main waterfall

9. Niagara Falls was formed around 12,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. The water that feeds Niagara Falls comes from the Niagara River, which connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, two of the Great Lakes. The river is approximately 36 miles (58 kilometers) long.

10. The powerful force of Niagara Falls has carved out the Niagara Gorge over thousands of years. This scenic gorge stretches for 7 miles (11 kilometers) downstream from the falls and offers stunning views and hiking trails.

11. Niagara Falls is a significant source of hydroelectric power. Several power plants harness the fall’s energy, making it an important renewable energy resource. Visitors can now visit a huge tunnel that runs beneath Niagara Falls. This tunnel was used to harness hydro-power from the falls.

12. Around 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second. That’s enough to provide more than 50 million people with water every minute. Before you could count to two, more than one million gallons of water will have cascaded over the falls.

A hydroelectric plant in the top left corner above Niagara Falls
Hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls

13. Regarding volume, Niagara Falls is the largest waterfall in America. However, it isn’t the tallest. The tallest waterfall in America is Yosemite Falls in California, which drops a total of 2,425 feet (739 meters). That makes it 10 times taller than Niagara Falls and twice the height of the Empire State Building.

14. During the winter months, Niagara Falls transforms into a frozen wonderland. The mist and spray from the falls create beautiful ice formations on the surrounding rocks and vegetation. Crowds are their lowest between November and December but so are the temperatures, with highs of 35°F (1.7°C) and lows of 23°F (-5°C).

15. In March 1848, Niagara Falls experienced a rare phenomenon known as the “Great Niagara Freeze“. Due to an exceptionally cold winter, the falls nearly stopped flowing, with only a trickle of water making its way over the ice-covered cliffs.

16. During colder winters, a natural ice bridge sometimes forms across the Niagara River, connecting the United States and Canada. In the past, people have ventured onto the ice bridge to walk between the two countries.

17. Summer is the best time to explore Niagara Falls, as the skies are clear, the sun is shining, and all the attractions are open. Between June, July, and August, temperatures reach highs of 79°F (26°C) and lows of 62°F (17°C).

Yellow flowers in the foreground and Niagara Falls in the background
Daffodils beside Niagara Falls

18. Niagara Falls is home to a huge range of animal species. These include the rare Lake Sturgeon, the American Bald Eagle, the Peregrine Falcon, and 19 species of gulls. Spring, summer, and fall are the best times to spot wildlife at the falls.

19. Niagara is one of the most fertile regions in North America. As a result, the region is home to a staggering range of fantastic flora. A botanist’s dream, more than 40% of rare plants take root in the region. There are more than 70 species of trees and hundreds of flowers. Some examples include wildflowers, tulips, sycamore trees, and black walnut trees.

20. 140 out of the 170 trees native to western New York have been found on Goat Island, which sits on the Niagara River between Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Since the 18th and 19th centuries, the Goat Island flora has attracted botanists worldwide.

21. More than 20 million people visit Niagara Falls every year. That’s more than half the current population of Canada!

22. One of the best views of Niagara Falls can be seen from The Whirlpool Aero Car. This is a cable car on the Canadian side that takes passengers across the Niagara River. It offers breathtaking views of Whirlpool Rapids and the swirling waters below.

Colorful spotlights shining on Niagara Falls at night with some tall buildings in background
Niagara Falls lit up at night.

23. At night, Niagara Falls is illuminated by powerful spotlights, creating a mesmerizing display of colorful lights. The illumination adds another layer of magic to the already breathtaking scene.

24. Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort on the Canadian side is one of the largest and most luxurious casinos in the world. It boasts a stunning view of the falls and offers a wide range of entertainment options.

25. The Maid of the Mist boat tour takes visitors on a thrilling journey into the misty spray of the falls. The tour has been running since 1846. There are many other boat tours available at the falls.

26. The first person recorded to survive going over the edge of the falls in a barrel was school teacher Annie Edson Taylor in 1901. Over the years, Niagara Falls has attracted many other daredevils who have attempted to conquer its power. Besides going over the falls in barrels, some have walked across on tightropes or even swum the turbulent waters.

27. In the years since Annie Edson Taylor’s successful stunt, more than 5,000 people have gone over the falls, whether it be intentionally or unintentionally. Only sixteen people have survived to tell the tale. David Munday was the last person to go over the falls in a barrel in 1993. He had to be rescued by a crane.

28. In 2012, Nik Wallenda became the first person to walk a tightrope directly over Horseshoe Falls, adding a new chapter to the daredevil legacy.

A red boat sailing right up to the mist at the bottom of Niagara Falls
A boat approaches the mists of the falls

29. Over the years, Niagara Falls has become a popular spot for couples to tie the knot. There are wedding chapels nearby that offer the unique experience of getting married with the falls as a backdrop.

30. The region around Niagara Falls has a long history of habitation by indigenous peoples, particularly the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and the Ongiara (Seneca) tribes.

31. Although French explorers Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain wrote about Niagara Falls in 1535 and 1604, the French priest Father Louis Hennepin was the first European to see the falls in 1678.

32. Niagara Falls became a strategic location during the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain. Both sides recognized the importance of controlling the falls and fought several battles in the area, including the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in 1814.

Aerial view of Niagara Falls with snow and ice around it
Niagara Falls in winter

33. Niagara Falls has been featured in various films over the years, serving as a captivating backdrop for scenes that range from romantic to action-packed. Popular films you might recognize include Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), Superman II (1980), and unsurprisingly, Niagara, Niagara (1997).

34. Over the years, Kings, Queens, actors, actresses, and sports stars have famously visited Niagara Falls. These include King George VI, Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Temple, and Floyd Mayweather.

35. Niagara Falls has also had its fair share of famous residents. Famous faces such as actor Franchot Tone, author Edward Greenspan, and Wild West figure Charlie Utter all came from Niagara.

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