Niagara Falls Photos; Wet and Wild Close-Ups

by Sandra Foyt on June 9, 2013

in Outdoors with Kids

Horseshoe Falls seen from Table Rock Center in Niagara Falls, Ontario

If you thought that the only way to capture great Niagara Falls photos was on a Maid of the Mist boat ride, think again. Having previously done the Maid of the Mist tour with kids on the New York side of the border, I wanted to experience the popular waterfall attraction in a new way. I got my wish, and then some, when TBEX, the travel media conference, partnered with the Niagara Parks Commission and Niagara Falls Tourism to plan a familiarization tour  on the Canadian side of the border that promised an “authentic Niagara experience from all angles: above, below, behind, and within!”

Table Rock Centre

My first glimpse of the falls was the most breathtaking, if only because it was surprising. Having visited Niagara Falls, as well as many other waterfalls, I wasn’t expecting that first heart-stopping moment. But as we walked toward the Table Rock Visitor Center, tourmaline green sparks amidst foaming white waters held my gaze as the Niagara River dropped out of sight into the Horseshoe Falls.

Indoors, we experienced Niagara Falls virtually at Niagara’s Fury, a 4D experience into its 10,000 year history. Standing at the center of a 360° screen, the temperature dropped 20°s and we were under attack from bubbles and foam as “snow” fell upon us while the floor tilted and shook below.  And while this was an awesome introduction to the mighty power of water, the virtual experience paled by comparison to the real-life Niagara Falls.

Spectators in yellow rain ponchos view Horseshoe Falls at Journey Behind the Falls - Niagara Falls, ON

Journey Behind the Falls

When emerging from the tunnels below Table Rock Centre, I wasn’t prepared for the blast of sound and fury. There I was at the base of the Horseshoe Falls where one-fifth of the world’s fresh water–over 2,800 cubic meters of water–thunders over the brink every second. Just me, and about a dozen other yellow-plastic-suited tourists.

This is as close as you can get to this almighty force of nature without a barrel (and who wants to join the Niagara Falls daredevils anyway?)

Horseshoe Falls - Journey Behind the Falls | Niagara Falls, Ontario

Elements on the Falls Restaurant

Back inside Table Rock Centre, I gazed upon Horseshoe Falls from a more restful vantage point–our table at the Elements on the Falls Restaurant. Although elegant enough to host celebrities such as recent patron actor Eric Braeden, best known as Victor Newman on The Young and the Restless, the dining room is casual enough for families in search of Chicken Nuggets. Parents will appreciate that although the Children’s Menu includes all the usual suspects as well as adventurous fare, fresh ingredients from local farms ensure that everything is healthful and flavorful.

Dining with a view of the Horseshoe Falls at Element of the Falls Restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Skylon Tower

Leaving Table Rock Centre, our tour group went in search of an aerial view at Skylon Tower, where indoor and outdoor viewing platforms placed us 775 feet above the falls. I wish I’d thought to shoot in panoramic mode as that’s the only way to truly do justice to the 360° perch.

Rainbow Bridge viewed from Skylon Tower  - Niagara Falls, ON

Horseshoe Falls viewed from Skylon Towers - Niagara Falls, ON

Whirlpool Aero Cars

On our way to Niagara-on-the-Lake, where we were to catch the Whirlpool Jetboat Tour, we stopped at one of the oldest Niagara Falls attractions–Whirlpool Aero Cars. Built in 1916 by  Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo, the cable car and has been in operation since 1916, where it offers an excellent view of the Niagara Whirlpool that forms at the end of the rapids in the Niagara River’s Great Gorge.

Whirlpool Aero Cars

I didn’t get a chance to ride the antique cable car (an omission that I’d love to rectify next time) but the observation deck did give me a chance to preview our final adventure of the day–boating into the belly of the beast, the Niagara Whirlpool.

Niagara Whirlpool - Niagara Falls, ON

Whirlpool Jetboat Tour

Having ventured at, below, and above the Niagara Falls, there was nothing left except to go into the falls. Never fear, we didn’t actually go into the falls, but it sure felt like it aboard a Whirlpool Jetboat. I wasn’t prepared for this immersive experience. I thought that the ride would be similar to the Maid of the Mist, but the only similarity is that we were provided with coverups.

Although in this case, we were given multiple layers: fleece sweater, jumper, raincoat, and water shoes. We were also strenuously encouraged to leave behind cellphones, non-waterproof cameras, and anything else that would prevent us from holding onto the rails. But I thought they were just being careful, this was a boat ride, right?

Well, as it turns out, this was no boat ride. We would tackle Class Five whitewater rapids in a motorized vehicle, where I would get wetter than even on previous whitewater rafting trips. Sitting in the front row, I bore the brunt of freshwater waves. Water covered my legs up to my knees, and there were moments when I wondered when I might draw breath again. It was terrifying, exciting, and more of an adrenaline rush than I’d experienced in years.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jQXW4q_kl0[/youtube]

Needless to say, I didn’t get a chance to take photos aboard the Whirlpool Jetboat, although I was the lucky passenger to don the GoPro seen in the video footage. Having captured Niagara Falls photos above, below, and behind, I was content to leave the “inside” photos to the experts.

Plan to Visit Niagara Falls, Ontario

Start your visit at Table Rock Centre where you can save on the “ultimate falls experience” with an Adventure Pass that provides discounted admission to a number of Niagara Falls attractions. For more information about our tour, or to plan a trip, visit the following sites:

Getting to Niagara Falls, Ontario

Niagara Falls, Ontario is located 30 minutes from Buffalo, NY or 1:20 minutes from Toronto by car. A variety of public transportation and tour options are listed here.  Get around Niagara Falls via In-Park Transportation. If traveling from the United States, you will travel through a Border Crossing, detailed information and useful links can be found here.

Niagara Falls

| Sandra Foyt inspires lifelong-learners to travel the world. A former education advocate and enrichment coach, she lived in Buenos Aires, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Southern California before settling in Northeast NY with two teens, an outdoorsy husband, and a well-indulged Chocolate Lab. Sandra contributes to Being Latino, and her portfolio appears at www.SandraFoyt.com. Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

@ginabegin June 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Those turned out spectacularly! I was supposed to be on that trip as well but made it to TBEX late. Looks like it was a spectacular time!
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Terri @ Travel 50 States with Kids June 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Wow! Gorgeous!!! Time for me to go check out that tutorial.

Sandra Foyt
Twitter: SandraFoyt
June 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm

@ginabegin – You missed a good one! I was surprised at how thrilling the experience was itself, and the photos came out even better than I expected.
Sandra Foyt recently posted..Niagara Falls Photos; Wet and Wild Close-UpsMy Profile

Kerrie @ Family Food and Travel June 9, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Looks fantastic! What a great post and the pictures are stunning.
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Tonya {The Traveling Praters}
Twitter: travelermom
June 10, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Wow! You got some amazing pictures! I love that first picture at Table Rock. That was my favorite view when my husband and I visited years ago.
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FWCanada June 11, 2013 at 10:30 am

Beautiful photos, these are some great travel ideas for anyone considering visiting Niagara Falls, Canada. We hope you enjoyed every moment!
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Erica Jewell June 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Your pictures look amazing! Niagara Falls is still on my list of places to visit, and looking at your pictures I can’t wait to go! Thanks for the info
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Lillie M.
Twitter: WorldLillie
June 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Ahhhh, I MUST make it to Niagara Falls someday!!! Great piece.
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Cat of Sunshine and Siestas
Twitter: sunshinesiestas
June 12, 2013 at 3:04 am

It’s been years since I’ve been to the Falls, but I’m remembering the mist on my face and the roar of the water. I was mildly obsessed with the people who went over it in barrels as a kid! Beautiful pictures, too.
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wanderingeducators June 12, 2013 at 9:35 am

i LOVE niagara falls – it’s such an incredible place! thanks for sharing!
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Cheryl @ Kids On A Plane June 12, 2013 at 10:23 am

Gorgeous photos Sandra! I love how the colours are so saturated.

So glad we got to meet and hang out at Niagara Falls. Bravo for you for sitting in the first row of the Whirlpool Jet Boat – I was in the third and was soaking so I can only imagine how you felt!
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Sandra Foyt
Twitter: SandraFoyt
June 13, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Cheryl, I have a feeling that we both got equally soaked! It was lovely to meet you too!
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Kate
Twitter: 30traveler
June 13, 2013 at 7:53 am

Amazing photos!
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Micki June 14, 2013 at 1:50 am

Love the photos! We saw the falls just from the top, but I may have taken the Under the Falls tour if I’d known it was so spectacular.

Linda McCormick June 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Those are some superb shots! I’ve yet to make it to Niagara Falls… it’s on my very long list.
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Gabi (The Nomadic Family) June 16, 2013 at 6:40 am

these pics are unreal. wow. i know, one day, i’ll get there. thanks for making me drool over it today. :-) gabi
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Terry at Overnight New York July 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I’ve always wanted to see Niagara Falls, but now I REALLY want to go!
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