Of all the crown jewels in America’s natural tiara, Yellowstone, the Great
Canyon, Yosemite: None is quite as dog-friendly as Niagara Falls. Save for
Special guided tours, your dog can walk anywhere you walk to see the
world famous falls in both New York and Ontario Niagara Falls State Park
Queen Victoria Park.
It’s hard to imagine these days, but Niagara Falls, one of the most
visited tourist destinations, was originally regarded as a key military
post and industrial site. One of the first Europeans to see the falls was
The 51-year-old French priest, Father Louis Hennepin, in 1678. Hennepin is
reported that he fell to his knees in prayer and murmured, “the universe
does not offer its parallel.” The French army, though perhaps
appreciating the romantic sentiment, he was more interested in building a strong
to defend the natural trade route between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Travelers did not begin arriving in large numbers in western New York
until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the arrival of the railroads
in the 1830s. Many enjoyed the same reaction as Father Hennepin. Tea
tradition of honeymooners coming to Niagara where “the love of those who
honeymoon here will last as long as the falls themselves” dates from the early
1800 when members of the French ruling Bonapart family married
excursions. By mid-century, the area around the Falls was a
confusing hodgepodge of water-powered mills and private resorts.
After the Civil War, a small group of visionaries began searching for a
way to heal the scars of Niagara’s natural beauty. The “Free Niagara”
crusade led to the creation of the Niagara Reservation, the first in America
state park in 1885. Frederick Law Olmsted, New York City designer
Central Park and one of the leaders of the movement, presented the park
network of wooded trails along the banks of the Niagara River. Olmsted
belief in conserving natural beauty while providing public access – for humans
and dog – endures in Niagara Falls to this day.
Niagara Falls reigns as one of the world’s top tourist destinations
and your dog is welcome. Due to the congestion of visitors around the edge
of the Falls it is best to begin your explorations of the Niagara Falls State
Parking with the dog in the early hours of the morning when it is easier to maneuver
around different points of view. Even at the busiest times there are
grassy fields and shady walks for the dog to play.
Start your tour on the paved trails of Goat Island in the middle of the
Niagara River, flanked by fierce rapids on all sides. pedestrian bridges
drive to Three Sisters Islands and Green Island to get a closer look at the
wild river as it approaches the falls. Go down a flight of stairs to Luna
Island, nestled between American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls,
before heading back across Goat Island to Horseshoe Cliff
It falls on the Canadian side. You and the dog can stand on the edge of everything.
three falls and drink in the water spray before the drops fall 18
stories about the ridge in the gorge. Forty million gallons of spilled water
over Niagara Falls every minute.
From these viewpoints you can stop and contemplate the first engravings
person to jump into the falls. That was Sam Patch in October 1829, who
it leaked twice from a 110 foot high platform. She survived both jumps. Tea
The first person to successfully cross the falls in a barrel was a woman,
Annie Taylor, who survived the stunt on October 24, 1901. Of the 16 known
attempts to mount the falls in a barrel or similar capsule – a trick that is
now illegal – 10 survived.
And the dogs touring Niagara Falls? Sadly, there is a registered account of
such event. In December 1874 some local hotel owners bought
an old Great Lakes schooner and planned to send her over the falls to attract
Niagara visitors. To add drama to the show, the organizers uploaded
the boat with a buffalo, three bears, two foxes, a raccoon, a dog, a cat and
four geese and released their “Reverse Noah’s Ark” into the rapids. Tea
Animals were observed scampering about the deck as the schooner slipped
over the edge of the falls and broke into hundreds of pieces on the rocks
below. Only two geese were believed to have survived the trick.
To get panoramic views of all three falls, you’ll need to cross the gorge.
to Canada where you can take the dog for a walk among the flower gardens
from Queen Victoria Park. The park, managed by the Niagara Parks Commission,
it actually predates Niagara Falls State Park. Landscaping of the area with
the sublime views of the rushing falls began in 1837 and became a
park in 1882. Both parks are free to visit, as are the nightly light shows
illuminating the falls
Niagara Falls also has a lot in store for the serious canine hiker.
The thrills of the Niagara River are not completely exhausted when the water
crashes 170 feet over the falls in the gorge. The river, one of
shortest in the world, rumbles another turbulent 7 miles before throwing up
its contents in Lake Ontario. The river rapids are among the
wildest and most ferocious in the world, rated 6 on the navigable scale of 1 to 6.
Historically, the dangerous Niagara River has had such a strong hold on
reckless as the falls themselves. Matthew Webb, the first man to swim the
English Channel, perished attempting to swim across the Niagara River here
in 1883. Today, jet-powered boats ply the Tamer of the rapids.
tourists in search of strong emotions.
The flat, paved Niagara Gorge Rim Trail runs six miles from the American
Falls at Prospect Point along the canyon, joining a New York necklace
state parks along the way. Several series of more than 300 steps descend to the
gorge in the parks to reach the connecting trails along the riverbank. a lot
of the trail below the rim follows the roadbed of the historic Great Gorge
Railway. The railway operated until September 17, 1935 when 5,000 tons of
rocks slide down the gorge and buried the tracks. Part of the trail crosses
these debris and involves considerable boulder jumping for an athletic dog.
These periodic rockfalls, rarely of this magnitude, are more common in
winter and early spring and gorge hiking is recommended only
between mid-May and November 1.
The trail leads to the edge of the surf where the 35 foot deep river can
reach speeds of 22 miles per hour. As the views of the water stir
through Devil’s Hole Rapids and Whirlpool Rapids can be fascinating, no
forget to look up once in a while and maybe spot the occasional bald eagle
hanging around, no doubt looking for an easy meal of the dazed and battered
The northernmost park along the Niagara Gorge is Earl W. Brydges
Artpark in Lewiston, where the cocktail was invented by a local tavern
owner. She mixed gin and herbal wine in a jug and stirred her concoction
with the tail feather of a handy stuffed rooster pheasant. more traditional
Artists and artisans display their creations on the grounds of the
200 acre park. The river has calmed down enough at this point to allow a
cautious swim for the dog.
The cliffs of the Lewiston Gorge are where Niagara Falls began some
12,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age. torrents of meltwater
glacial ice spilled over the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, as the cliff is
acquaintance. The sheer force of the water has slowly worn away the rock and moved
the falls to its present position seven miles upstream. Today the falls
they are eroding at the rate of one inch per year. You can track the trips of
the falls on the rocks that line the gorge.
The Niagara Gorge Trail System ends at the imposing concrete dam of the
Robert Moses Power Plant, completing a journey from the beauty of Niagara
It falls before the harsh reality of its practicality. Hydroelectricity is the most
important product of the Falls. Power plants in the United States and Canada
The sides of the falls use water diverted from the falls to generate enough
electricity to power 2,500,000 100-watt light bulbs. It is one of the
largest operations of its kind in the world with transmission lines flowing in
both directions from the gorge. As impressive as the falls are today,
they are only a fraction of how powerful our ancestors saw, as much as half of the
The flow of the Niagara River is diverted for hydroelectric production.
Someday in the next 3,000 years, Niagara Falls will completely wear away and
power will run dry as water flows placidly between lake erie and lake
ont. Until that day, however, there is ample opportunity to take the
dog a wonder before the power of Niagara.