Sunday, October 6, 2013

Niagara Falls, NY: Cave of the Winds

We just returned from our weekend adventure in Niagara Falls, NY. (Second trip of the year)We Went to use up the rest of our prepaid tickets and escape for the weekend. We made it to Niagara Fall's State Park in about 10 minutes from our campground and found front row parking adjacent to the Visitors Center. It was nearly empty as compared to the last time we came Memorial Day weekend.
 I don't think I even saw these signs behind the miles of people when we entered last time.
First stop, we had to get new Trolley passes, and we were off to Cave of the Winds to take a walk next to the falls. Waiting for the trolley seemed a waste (20 plus minutes) so we hiked to Bridal Veil Falls for this anticipated adventure. The walk offered some great picture opportunities. I only wish we had more time to walk throughout this amazing park. We had plans to attend the paid activities, but we could have easily spent the entire day and then some just exploring the park FREE of charge. (With your park admission of course and this was only for parking ($10-), and we had the park pass, so we were FREE, but if you could find off street parking the entire experience could have been a FREE event.) Since we are not typically a hiking family, the paid activities and the prepaid Discovery Pass was what brought us back, even a second time.

I caught these pictures as we crossed the bridge to Goat Island Island. Goat island separates the American Falls (often identified as the lesser of the two) on the American side from the larger Canadian side of  Horseshoe Falls.  This is the Niagara River as is heads towards the falls. The river divides as Goat Island creating the two different Falls.
 Pictures can't begin to show the amazing rate of speed this water runs as it flows past. 45.5 million gallons of water run over the falls per minute. Now that's a lot of water.
The American Rapids Bridge in the background.
Once on Goat Island we find the entrance to Cave of the Winds!
Before descending, we must get proper shoes...and these are lovely. Can you tell Gavin was not impressed.
 We go down in the elevator.
Just behind Bridal Veil Falls which is actually part of the American Falls, but separated from the larger part of the American Falls by a small Island called Luna, is the Cave of the Winds. It isn't really a cave at all, but basically a walk along the falls as it cascades down around you, this (pictured below) is the only time your in any type of cave; as you enter and exit from the elevator.
At the end of this tunnel we are droned with rain gear.
Looking beautiful boys...

Once all geared up with our shoes and our rain coats, we were off!

Here we go!!!!
view looking up at the observation area. If you have never been to the Cave of the Winds or the Canadian equivalent, (and I don't recall the name) then there is no way I can present with pictures or my words what the experience is like. Words like INTENSE, EXTREME, BLOW AWAY (both literally and figuratively) come to mind.  Winding slick stairways you are as close to the falls as possible taking you to a dimension unfamiliar to your natural senses.
The water rushes down around you as you climb up towards the falls, spray filling your face and wind wiping up, down, behind you. You realize quite quickly the rain gear is not nearly enough to keep you as dry as you might have hoped.
We keep on climbing up towards the falls that linger over you head.

I imagine this is what a true hurricane feels like, or possible on the deck of an ocean liner in a sea storm.

Water stings my eyes as I tried to navigate these wooden walkways. I avoid the popular Hurricane Deck. The one spot on the walk that is directly under the falls. The boys however take turns being blasted from the water allowing the water to blow them forward and pelt at their yellow rain gear.
You can barely see them from all the mist and water.  A shower like no other!
I was able to get enough water from this distance to say, WOW!
We all made it....and look at the smiles on those faces! Definitely a five star review for this adventure.

Here is my attempt to test my camera after it's little bath. It kept fogging up. This little fact about the cave of the winds was interesting just the same. This might be why it was called the Cave of the I recall, several years ago when I took this same tour, I am pretty sure that we actually did at one point walk behind the fall, although you could only look out through a window. These kind of natural changes in the landscape must make every year a different experience. I also remember reading or seeing a story on the walkways. I think that each year they are taken down and re-built for the following season due to the changes as well, as the rotting of the wood. That much water hitting all year long would surly suffer some damage I would think.
Camera is looking a little better, raincoats off and up we go.

Here's a good look at how much water we got. Look at Mark and Ben's pant legs. Mine were just as bad.
Not only is this photo have some amazing photos of Bridal Veil falls....but look what is next to it....look to the right. See that artifact hanging on the wall? Could it be? A Really RARE find... for those who don't remember it's a pay phone!
Apparently they were NOT joking. The word damp, does not begin to describe what we were. We were all SOAKED the rest of the day.
After changing back into my sneaker, which were really not that dry from the wet camp we had come from to begin our day, but better then the fashion statement those shoes were. I noticed that my husband thought otherwise. (Yes you can keep your shoes as souvenirs if you would like), He wore his the rest of the day.

Leaving my family I made way to the waters edge to get a look at the falls from the right side.
On my way back to meet the family I noticed this relic in the gift shop. Wonder if this old time Cave of the Winds rain gear was more water protective.

I wish we had more time. We could have spent hours at Goat Island alone exploring, but we had more fun to get to and the trolley is coming soon. I did get a chance to take a few pictures of the original entrance to the power plant. Niagara Falls powers I don't know how many millions of household electricity.


We had a great time at Cave of the Winds, now on to the next Niagara Falls Adventure. Stay Turned for more fun on my next post.