Natural Beauty in an Urban Jungle – Niagara Falls, USA/Canada
Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 5/10
Niagara Falls is undoubtedly an amazing sight, though its draw as an amazing backpacking destination has been tainted by the outrageous amount of urban development in the surrounding area. When comparing it to the other beautiful waterfalls around the world such as Victoria or Iguazu Falls it pales in comparison in my opinion.
Spread across the border of Canada and the USA, Niagara was formed when the Wisconsin glaciers receded in the last ice age. Whilst not particularly high it is extremely wide and more than 6 million cubic feet of water tumbles down every minute. If you could have visited 100 or even 50 years ago i’m sure it would have made a spectacular sight, but in recent years the area has been incessantly built up and is now surrounded by huge casinos, hotels and other unsightly urban sprawl. The Canadian side is particularly guilty of exploiting this natural beauty.
But, despite all this, it still makes an immense spectacle. The ability to get just inches away from the immense power of the falls makes for an exhilarating experience and this can be done at either end of the falls. You can make a day of the American side as there are various trails to wander and the length of the falls to stroll along, similar to the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls. The Canadian side is more like the Brazilian equivalent at Iguazu and is better just for the viewpoint of the whole length of the falls. Access from the American side also allows you on to the Maid of the Mist, a small boat which takes you right up to the falls and allows to get covered in the mountains of spray which bounces off as the water crashes down.
Niagara Falls will always be an iconic spot for travellers, but the urban generation that has shot up around the falls themselves has ruined them in my opinion and i’d much prefer to visit waterfalls elsewhere that remain untainted. Nearby Buffalo is worth a visit to sample some of the famous bbq wings and this is probably where most backpackers will bed down when visiting the falls. Outside of this i can see little else to interest the visitor and would recommend other natural beauties above this one. Unless you’re a keen gambler wanting to look over one of the wonders of the world in between hands then i’d suggest bypassing Niagara and going directly to South America for your waterfall fun.
Find other spots to visit whilst your backpacking North America here and let me know if you reached the same verdict of Niagara as i have in the comments…