Getting Up Close with the Great Falls
Having satisfied my hunger I was ready to get truly up close and personal with the Falls: the “Journey behind the Falls” is one of the best ways to experience the true power of the Niagara Falls first-hand. I took the elevator down to the lower level at the Table Rock Centre and started my own journey behind the mighty Falls. Known until the early 1990s as the “Scenic Tunnels”, this attraction consists of two tunnels and an outside viewing platform. The tunnels date back to early 20th century and extend about 46 m behind the waterfall. I walked down the long underground corridors with their orange lighting and stopped intermittently to read the informational posters on the wall. These displays provide a description of the history of Niagara Falls, its geology and some of the famous visitors who include President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, who were both here on separate occasions.
The historic tunnels, part of the “Journey Behind The Falls” experience
Towards the end of the tunnel there are two smaller side tunnels, each leading to an opening, or a portal, that provides a view from behind the waterfalls. One of these portals was partially covered by icicles and presented a perfect motif for any passionate photographer. Access to the portals was blocked by a metal barrier for safety reasons, although in the past visitors could get much closer to the edge and admire the tumbling masses of water from just a few meters away. The dull roar of the falling water pervaded the entire underground space and provided an idea of the power of the millions of litres of water that fall down the Horseshoe Falls every second.
One of the two portals, the water is rushing down in front
The statistics illustrate why Niagara Falls is considered one of the natural Wonders of the World: the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the most impressive of the three falls in Niagara Falls, have a length of over 670 metres, and their height is 53 metres which makes Niagara Falls the most powerful waterfall in North America. The depth of the Niagara River below the Horsehoe Falls is estimated to be 56 metres. The straight line crest of the American Falls is 253 metres. About 90% of the water of the Niagara River plunges over the Horseshoe Falls while the other 10% make their way down the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls which are separated from the Canadian Falls by Goat Island, an uninhabited island that provides great vantage points of all the cascades.
Side view of the cascades from the observation platform
I had now reached the outside observation platform that provides an excellent lateral view of the curtain of the Horseshoe Falls as they plunge into the river below. Tourists from all over the world were feverishly taking pictures of this unique sight. Even on this grey day the view was impressive and the thunder of the cascading masses of water filled the air as one fifth of the world’s fresh water was crashing 13 stories down into the river below.
Duly impressed by this natural wonder, I made my way back up and strolled back along the Niagara River’s edge to my vehicle, which I had parked conveniently at the Fallsview Casino Resort. I was pondering what to do next and because I felt thoroughly chilled I was looking for a nice place to warm up in.
Looking north towards the Rainbow Bridge
I found just such a place just a few minutes drive away from the Horseshoe Falls: Bird Kingdom, one of Niagara Falls’, Ontario, newer attractions. This tropical destination was surely going to revive my chilled bones and it was going to be my next stop on my Niagara Falls discoveries.