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.
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.
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.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Frozen Niagara Falls (Canada). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Frozen Niagara Falls. Read more about this site.