Niagara Falls is made up of three distinct falls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. This vast network of breathtaking waterfalls rests on the Niagara River between Canada and New York. The water that pours over the falls originates from four of the Great Lakes, all of which meet at a point and run into the Niagara River, draining into Lake Ontario, the lowest Great Lake.
Originally, Niagara Falls was centered in Lewiston, New York, but due to erosion, it has since moved southward to its present-day location. Every year, the Falls recede around four to five feet.
The majority of the water is produced by melting snow. After floating along Lake Erie, the Niagara River becomes divided at Goat Island. Part of the water goes in one direction, towards the horseshoe-shaped Canadian Falls, named Horseshoe Falls, while the rest of the water moves towards the American Falls. Yet, along the way, the river or gushing water is split yet again by a small island called Luna Island. This creates a third, smaller, waterfall known as Bridal Veil Falls.
There is a hydroelectrical facility that sits upstream from the Falls, and it diverts a variant amount of water. Depending on how much water is being diverted at any given time, the vertical drop to the water at the bottom, in the Maid of the Mist pool, varies.
Facts About the American Falls
The American Falls is around 830 feet wide and has a vertical drop that measures around 180 feet. Estimates say that around ten percent of the Niagara River’s water gushes over the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The American Falls is at a higher positioning than the Horseshoe Falls, although less water moves over it.
Sitting to the far left of Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls has an estimated water flow of 75,000 gallons per second. No daredevil has yet to go over the American Falls, instead all stunts have been performed at the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
The falls cascade over layers of bedrock made from limestone and soft shale which erodes over time due to the force of the water. Over time, this erosion will cause the American Falls to transform into a series of descending rapids.
Facts About Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is situated to the right of the American Falls. It is the smallest out of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls. It measures around 56 feet wide and has a vertical drop of around 78 feet. After plunging over the edge, it continues flowing down a series of boulders into the Maid of the Mist Pool, located 103 feet below the initial fall.
It gets its name from the veil-like appearance it has, due to the winds in the area blowing the waterfall into a sideways mist. The Native Americans called it Pohono, which translates to “Spirit of the Puffing Wind.”
Facts About Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls, also known as the Canadian Falls, is located on the Canadian side of the border. It contains the largest volume of water with a vertical drop that measures 170 feet, with an additional drop of 180 feet to the base of the Falls. Even after some water is diverted for hydropower generation, around ninety percent pours over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
Horseshoe Falls used to be bigger by 400 feet. Although, in 1955, space between Goat Island was filled in to create Terrapin Point. Then, in the 1980s, the United States Army Corps of Engineers filled in additional land and built diversion dams as well as retaining walls to redirect water away from Terrapin Point. Thanks to natural erosion, the falls will continue to relocate in the future.
Visiting Niagara Falls
There’s nothing like visiting Niagara Falls and seeing the powerful force of water with your very own eyes. Enjoy the beauty of the Canadian side of the Falls by camping at nearby Campark. We offer tent camping, RV camping, and cabins for rent. There’s no shortage of family fun around here! Plus, we offer free shuttle rides to the Falls and surrounding attractions.