Where are you guaranteed to see a rainbow on a sunny day? Why, Niagara Falls of course. The sun glistening on thick mist provides rainbows so plentiful they named the bridge spanning the river after them. If you would like to chase these rainbows and get up close and personal with the falls that create them, the Cave of the Winds is just for you.
Cross the river walkway to the Niagara Falls State Park where you have great views from scenic lookouts of the American side of Niagara Falls, including the Bridal Veil section. The Cave of the Winds ticket facility reminded me a bit of a bowling alley entrance because you have to give them your shoe size and are presented with delightfully bright and tacky slip resistant sandals along with a plastic bag to hold your shoes and other items you wish to keep dry. You don your new shoes and a bright yellow rain poncho in the facility and parade outside through the park to the elevator entrance which will take you down inside the gorge walls to the base of the Bridal Veil falls. Since we arrived during the week at early evening hours there was not a wait. However, other Niagara attractions we visited at other times had line waits approaching an hour. Expect longer waits during weekends, holidays and peak hours.
During your brief elevator ride it is explained that there are no longer any actual caves where you are headed. The cave behind the falls washed out many years before you came along. However, it is still quite blustery down there. So off you go to the red wooden steps that take you to a variety of observation deck platforms where the sound of the rushing water, the mist blowing around you and those pretty rainbows (on a sunny day) provide the perfect introduction to Niagara Falls.
At first you wonder what all the poncho fuss is about for it is not wet at all – just a little misty. However, the further you wind your way up the steps, you begin to realize that you’re going to need a lot more than that flimsy poncho to keep you and your belongings nice and dry if you want to step out onto the Hurricane Deck.
Good luck trying to take a picture from the Hurricane Deck. It is aptly named because the force of the water crashing down around you just 20 feet away creates a blustery, wet, exhilarating experience. You are continually doused with blasts of water from the falls so expect a bad hair day later. But since you have already humiliated yourself with the bright poncho and stylin’ shoes, get over your hair and step out onto the deck. You don’t get many chances to experience that kind of rush after all. And you don’t even have to go over in a barrel for the thrill.
- COST = $11 Adult, $8 Children ages 6-12, Free under age 6
- DURATION = About 30-45 minutes
- HOURS = Opens at 9AM May – October, closes as late as 9PM between mid-June and Labor Day, at 5PM otherwise. Closed November through April
- ENVIRONMENT = Hold tight to young and old due to slippery conditions
- ACCESSIBILITY = By elevator. Viewing areas available for handicapped
- WEBSITE = http://www.niagarafallsstatepark.com/Activities_CaveOfTheWinds.aspx
- FUN FACTS = The walkway decking is taken down each November and re-built each April to protect it from the severe winter weather. I wonder if the workers have to don the souvenir rain ponchos and funky shoes just like the tourists?
All photos credited to Molly G., @The Bumbles Blog