Niagara Falls - what is the difference between US and Canadian sides
What is the picture above showing?
Many people cross the Rainbow Bridge to traverse between the USA and Canada (far background).
After paying a hefty fee, visitors can climb on to the Observation Tower (far right), which we did not, to see the Horseshoe Falls from a better angle.
The American Falls (centre right) can be seen from both northeastern and northwestern ends. A hike from the mainland over a Pedestrian Bridge on to the Goat Island enables you to do that.
An overlook (bottom right) on the Canadian side enables you to have a clear view of the Cave of the Winds and falling waters of the American Falls.
You can also watch Maid of the Mist (centre left) boarding passengers and plying on the rough waters from several platforms.
Another thing that we enjoyed - watch the activities on Canadian side, especially the Niagara Parkway (centre left above the Maid).
So what is the difference between experiencing Niagara Falls from the American side and the Canadian side?
To start with I can say that the river, the rapids and the falls can be seen and enjoyed from the American side from a very close range. It is a windy and wet experience. You got to have a waterproof camera with you to take shots. Since I don't want to ruin my weather resistant DSLRs in such conditions, I only use water proof point and shoot cameras, which leads to quality of image issues. The quality of pictures from Canadian site are much better though.
1. Views from the American Side versus.....
In the Niagara Falls State Park, you can actually stand right by the falls and see millions of gallons of water fall into the gorge right under your feet. For American Falls, you can actually experience its two branches turn into the Falls to your left and right.
Besides, the views of Canadian side and activities taking place on Niagara Parkway are better seen from the American side than the other way round.
.....views from the Canadian side
The views of the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls are better from Canadian side. The two falls are better captured in photographs.
2. Hiking at American side versus.....
Hiking on the US side, especially in the Niagara Falls State Park, will bring you close to the Niagara River as it turns into a rapid and then leads you to the falls.
.....hiking at the Canadian side
If you want to experience the wildness of Niagara River on Canadian side, you would walk on the pedestrian pathway along the Niagara Parkway upstream. The experience isn't that close and personal.
Also, you can hike down the gorge of the Niagara Glenn Nature Reserve to see the river downstream of the falls up and close.
3. Island hopping on American side versus.....
Niagara Falls State Park on the American side offers you with an opportunity of mini-Islands hopping.
Some of the islands accessible to visitors are Green island, Goat Island and the Three Sisters Islands.
We hiked along the trail to Three Sisters Islands, which are named after Celinda, Angelina, and Asenath Whitney, daughters of General Parkhurst Whitney of Niagara Falls, New York. The island hopping (through small bridges) introduce you to the Niagara River that has turned into a rapid.
..... no island hopping on Canadian side, but---
There are no islands on the Canadian side that you could hop on to. But there are other activities.
You can enjoy watching thousands of daffodils and tulips in early spring on the Canadian side. This is about time when the activities on the American side haven't yet picked up.
You can also have your own picnic along sprawling grounds close to the Niagara Parkway.
5. Viewing the rapids from American side versus.....
On the American side, you can hike from American Falls along the scenic river in a southeasterly direction to the Visitor Centre and then to the Rapids Viewing Area. Here the waters become raging rapids just before giving way to the American Falls. Needless to mention, the rapids can run shivers through your spines. From here you can have views of the Goat Island and the Pedestrian Bridge connecting the Mainland to the Island.
.....viewing the rapids from Canadian side
On Canadian side, you can view the rapids from the Niagara Parkway, but since there is no activity like Island hopping on the American side, there is no added attraction to experience the rapids. People seem to travel on the Niagara Parkway to find parking and then hike back to the falls rather than take time to see turbulent waters of the rivers before falling into the gorge. Besides an ugly structure, probably an electricity gerneration plant, occupies a large tract of land by the river just upstream of the Falls that kills any opportunity and ambition to see the rapids.
5. Buildings on American side versus.....
On the American side, there are few high rise buildings that are located farther away from the actual falls locations and cannot be generally seen as towering over the falls..
.....buildings on the Canadian side
You can see towering structures, primarily hotels, overlooking the falls. There are many other high rise buildings along the Niagara Parkway close to the falls. All of these can be better seen against the horizon from the American side.