The purists among us would say that man cannot improve upon great natural wonders of the world and shouldn’t try. So for some, approaching Niagara Falls at night — especially after hearing that the falls are regularly lit with a rainbow of colored lights beamed over from the Canadian side — might be done with a bit of trepidation.
The purists among us would say that man cannot improve upon great natural wonders of the world and shouldn’t try.
So for some, approaching Niagara Falls at night — especially after hearing that the falls are regularly lit with a rainbow of colored lights beamed over from the Canadian side — might be done with a bit of trepidation.
Niagara Falls, which actually is a pair of spectacular waterfalls in New York state on the United States’ border with Canada, is located within an urban setting.
The American Falls is 180 feet high and more than 1,000 feet wide. The larger Horseshoe Falls is 170 feet high and more than 2,200 feet wide. For more than half the year, water flows over the falls to the tune of about 100,000 cubic feet per second.
The Canadian side, which boasts the best view of the falls, is lined with luxury hotels, nightclubs and casinos. Bright lights pulse and flicker from across the gorge.
Powered by the same moving water that thunders over the falls, the lights seem to be just part of the scene. They quietly illuminate the falls and highlight the mist rising from the river’s gorge — first red, then white, then yellow, then purple. Every few minutes the color — or combination of colors — changes.
The American side is set within a state park just a couple of blocks away, an easy walking distance from hotels and shops.
People have been lighting the falls at night for more than 140 years, when the visiting Prince of Wales was treated to the first nighttime light show.
Today, people can experience the falls at night all year long.
The lights stay on until midnight, except on New Year’s Eve, when they stay illuminated until 1 a.m.
The lights used currently — 21 xenon lights 30 inches in diameter — are many times brighter than those that dazzled the Prince of Wales nearly a century and a half ago.
They use an ionized xenon gas to produce a bright light similar to daylight. It’s the same type of light used by movie projectors. Each spotlight boasts 250 million candlepower.
For those seeking to experience the falls in a more natural way at night, take a walk in the upstream direction. The Niagara River is flat and slow-moving, until it encounters rapids where the river begins its more speedy descent to the falls.
A short walk across a channel of the Niagara River on a footbridge takes visitors to Goat Island, a park located between the two waterfalls. Walking through the park away from the lights, it is possible to sit on a bench and simply listen to the power of the water as it churns over the rocks.
People have always been attracted to the area around the falls.
Sitting quietly, it is easy to imagine the awe — or perhaps fear — experienced by American Indians and European explorers encountering Niagara Falls for the first time.
Chris Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 788-1528.