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Canada: Frozen Niagara Falls

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Frozen Niagara Falls | Canada | Americas

[Visited: February 2014 and before]

While in Europe, winter had been quite lousy, stories of record-low temperatures in North America had been coming through for months. A polar vortex had kept temperatures low for a long time, and the big lakes saw an ice cover not seen since quite a while. I was determined to visit the Niagara Falls, which were supposedly frozen, even though they had lost some of their ice cover a week before when temperatures had risen a little. I am lucky: the sun is shining when I walk from the bus station of Niagara to the Niagara River, and I feel excited. I have been to the falls several times before, also in winter when I had seen some ice on the falls and in the river, but curious to see what they would look like this time. When I arrive at the gorge, I see a thick layer of ice with deep cracks in it at the bottom; it looks like a glacier. Hanging from the cliffs on the US side, I see many ice falls. I walk upriver, and see the spray of the falls from a distance. The Niagara Falls consist of the American Falls, separated by Luna Island from the Bridal Veil falls, which are separated by Goat Island from the Horseshoe Falls. On my previous winter visit, I had been virtually alone, but there is a small crowd now; people have apparently guessed the falls are spectacular now.

Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): View towards the Horseshoe Falls over icy Niagara river

When I arrive opposite the American Falls, I stand there for a long time, to enjoy the spectacle of the sun and shade playing hide and seek on the frozen river, the boulders at the base of the falls covered in a thick layer of snow and ice, and the water falling through and forming a frosty spray. I walk towards the Horseshoe Falls, and see rainbows forming over the American Falls. The permanent spray of the waterfalls freezes over everything on the sides, and the iron fence, lamp posts, and sculptures found here are all covered in a thick layer of ice. Chunks of ice tumble down the falls, and whenever the sun is not covered by clouds, rainbows appear high up in the sky. I find myself a nice spot at the frozen fence, and watch the eternal show of water falling off a high edge, the ice covering the cliffs on the other side, the water falling down and disappearing under the thick ice cover of the river. I walk back, passing the American Falls once more, to the Rainbow Bridge. I have another good view of the Niagara River and falls before entering the US on the other side.

Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): A thick layer of ice covers the boulders at the base of the American Falls

The observation tower offers good views of the falls, and I cross the northern arm of the Niagara River to arrive at Goat Island, where I walk back to the gorge. I already saw at the Canadian side that trees here are covered in ice; I am careful not to walk under branches with a heavy load of ice. I hear ice falling constantly around me, and I reach the Horseshoe Falls. The spray constantly covers this area; trees have a thick layer of ice around their branches, and I see a layer of ice forming on my camera and bag. I walk towards the Three Sisters Islands, which offers good views of the rapids, before returning to the Horseshoe Falls and again to the other side of Goat Island. Luna Island is closed for access; the views of the Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls are great, especially when bright rainbows form in the warm afternoon sunlight. I am back to the other side of the American Falls in time to see the last sunlight being filtered through the spray of the water tumbling down into the gorge. Temperatures are dropping, but I stay for sunset, and when I cross the bridge back to Canada, the orange and pink colours have already disappeared from the sky.

Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): The Horseshoe Falls with rainbow and ice-covered Niagara River
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): The American Falls at the end of a winter day
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): Rainbow over the Horseshoe Falls
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): Water of the Niagara Falls finding a way through the icy Niagara River at the American Falls
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): Bridal Veil Falls with ice-covered boulders and trees
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): The American Falls with ice-covered boulders and rainbow
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): View of cliffs with ice falls and ice-covered trees between Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil falls
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): Ice-covered Niagara River with Niagara Falls in the distance
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): Thick layer of ice on the barrier at the Canadian side of Niagara Falls
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): The base of the American Falls with a thick layer of ice and snow
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): Looking at the American Falls from Goat Island
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): Tree covered in a thick layer of ice at the top of the American Falls
Picture of Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada): Ice making the use of these binoculars a little difficult

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