Summer at Niagara Falls is steamy hot. And very crowded with tourists. But just being near the falls is like walking through a big water mister – very refreshing. For the ultimate cool down though, you need to take a ride on the Maid of the Mist.
The Maid of the Mist is a ferry boat ride up to the edge of the base of the horseshoe falls on the Canadian side – though the boat tours operate from both the American and Canadian banks of the river. The lines are generally quite long but they move quickly enough. Make sure to bring a few snacks for any little ones in tow while they wait – an hour isn’t out of the question. The corral for the lines on the Canadian side doesn’t offer much of a view while you wait, though it is fun to see how ridiculous everyone looks putting on their blue ponchos as you get near your turn on the boat. Helpful hint – don’t put them on until right as you get onto the boat because on a hot summer day, those ponchos are sweltering.
When you get on the boat it is preferable to get a spot along the rail so that you have a view during the ride. But of course there isn’t room for everyone along the rails. So if you are like me and are one of the last in the group to board, you begrudgingly take a spot close enough. Not to worry though – eventually those rail hogs will be begging you to switch spots.
The boat cruises out past the American side of the falls and you can see everyone in their yellow slickers climbing around the decking at the Cave of the Winds. As you get out to the middle of the river the speed seems to slow down in anticipation of the big reveal. The wind starts kicking up – blowing those skimpy blue ponchos all over the place. Then it starts getting loud. You hear the roar of the falls. And you begin to think it might have suddenly started to rain. If you have a small child with you they will probably prefer to stay near the middle of the boat where it is drier and less chaotic. And unless you are using an underwater camera, it will be virtually impossible to capture any clear image of the falls. They don’t call it Maid of the Mist for nothing.
The boat takes you right up as close as safety allows to the base of mother nature’s greatest generator. It is a massive wall of raging water roaring all around and you get absolutely drenched – poncho or no poncho. Time stands still and the boat does too. You can’t see the top, you can’t see the bottom, you can’t see anything but white rushing water. And it makes you feel really small.
Before you know it, the boat is turning back. The noise level dissipates and you can hear your fellow tourists laughing in awe that they just came face to face with one of the world’s wonders and didn’t have to take a barrel ride to do so. The sun reappears and the rainbows are everywhere. The mist tapers off and you come back to your senses, remembering to take out that camera from your pocket and snap a few photos before you have to leave.
Is it worth the price, the wait and the fuss for a short ride into the biggest shower on the planet?
Especially on a hot and steamy day.
- COST = Adults = $13.50, Youth (A6-12)= $7.85, Free under Age 6
- DURATION = 30 minute boat ride
- HOURS = April – October Daily, 10AM – 8PM, leaving every 15 minutes
- ENVIRONMENT = Handicap accessible on both sides. Extremely wet and pretty crowded. Safe for young children who will have a blast unless they are afraid of water.
- ACCESSIBILITY = By foot. At the entrance to the Observation Tower on the American side. At the bottom of Clifton Hill at the Maid of the Mist Marketplace on the Canadian side. Parking lots right downtown on the American side were up to a max of $8 for the day. On the Canadian side the main parking area is Rapidsview Parking outside of town charging $9.75 per car for the entire day and has shuttles every 20 minutes to the falls up until 11PM. However, on Stanley Ave. where the hotels are, the Universal Inn was only charging $5 and was a short walk down to the falls. Alternatively, you can always park on the American side and walk over the border at the Rainbow Bridge – bring your passport.
- WEBSITE = http://www.maidofthemist.com
- FUN FACTS = The idea to use ferries as tour boats came about in 1848 when the construction of a suspension bridge across the river sharply reduced the ferries’ shuttle business.
Post by and all photos credited to Molly G. @The Bumbles Blog