Niagara Falls consists of Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls at the southern end of Niagara Gorge between New York and Ontario.
Niagara Falls was formed by the Wisconsin glaciation approximately 10,000 years ago. When the ice retreated, the upper Great Lakes emptied into the Niagara River and over time, the river cut a deep gorge through the north-facing cliff. The cluster of waterfalls at Niagara Falls was formed because of the presence of erosion-resistant limestone, dolomite, and shale.
Niagara Falls along the Niagara River consists of three major waterfalls that split around Goat Island and Luna Island:
- American Falls is a 183-foot high plunge waterfall
- Bridal Veil Falls, also referred to as Luna Falls, is a 181-foot high plunge waterfall
- Horseshoe Falls, also known as Canadian Falls, is a 173-foot high sheer plunge waterfall
Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, New York offers dramatic views of three waterfalls and countless overlooks of the Niagara Gorge and Niagara Falls, Canada. The park’s creation was the cumulation of efforts by early environmentalists, including landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The self-proclaimed Free Niagara movement was concerned over the river’s waning flow and pollution brought on by industrialists who built mills and factories along the river to harness the power of the water flow. The Niagara Appropriations Bill was signed into law in 1885, which created the Niagara Reservation, leading to the creation of Niagara Falls State Park, the first state park in America.
The Niagara Reservation was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1963 and is a component of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area. Today, the expanse park offers year-round unparalleled public access to Niagara Falls, which consists of:
- An observation tower at Prospect Point,
- Expanse overlooks on Goat Island,
- Soaking hikes to the base of Bridal Veil Falls at the site of the former “Cave of the Winds,”
- The Maid of the Mist boat ride to the base of Horseshoe Falls,
- The Aquarium of Niagara features 200 aquatic animal species, and
- An elevator ride to the ruins of a former power plant.
On the Canadian side is Queen Victoria Park, which was created in 1887. Besides the countless overlooks offered of the waterfalls and canyon, the park is known for its floral displays of daffodils and roses.