On a recent visit to Niagara Falls USA I had the opportunity to ride the iconic Maid of the Mist. Can you believe people have been riding the boat since 1846? It is one of North America’s oldest tourist attractions with millions of satisfied visitors since its inception.
Although I have been to Niagara Falls many times, for one reason or another I always managed to miss taking the ride. So I was particularly excited about this trip because I knew I’d be riding the Maid of the Mist at last.
I was staying at Sheraton at the Falls and that morning I hopped on a bus provided by the organizers that makes the short trip to the boat tour launch area at Prospect Point in the Niagara Reservation State Park. Once I got to the park I took a short elevator ride that brought me down to the Niagara River for the boat ride. I am not a huge fan of taking elevators and I was really pleased that they did not pack everyone in too tightly. Once I got to the launching area I was provided with a blue hooded poncho raincoat that’s supposed to protect people from the mist and keep them dry – and believe me I needed it! While we all waited for the boat everyone snapped photos of the awesome views.
When I boarded the boat, which is two-tiered, the guides mentioned that the top level was where you would get the wettest. My first thought was to stay on the bottom (and stay dry) but I saw many parents taking their young children up to the top level so I thought, “why not?” So I headed up to the top of the boat and found a spot in the bow near one of the side rails.
The boat starts out at the dock and takes passengers past the base of the American Falls and then into the basin of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. As we approached the falls you could hear the roar and see the mist in the distance. I imagined that it was a bit like what it would look like facing a giant tsunami! I did not realize just how much exposure to dense fog and mist I would experience so I opted not to put my on poncho hood – big mistake!!!
As we got closer to the falls the driver kept going and I thought at one point he was going to go right into the falls. We entered the mist and I could feel the cool dampness on my face. My hair was wet and my glasses became so fogged up that I had to take them off to see. The boat actually gets right into the mist and fog of the Horseshoe Falls at the base. With the sound of the water and the spray all around you, the sheer power of nature becomes dominant. I took the video below and you can see how close we were to the falls. All I can say is what a rush!
This was without doubt one of the most amazing things I have ever done or seen. They literally take guests right up to the falls and one can’t help but be somewhat overwhelmed by their majesty. Having been through it I assure you that of all the many excellent travel experiences available at Niagara Falls, the Maid of the Mist tour stands out as a must-do. I guarantee you this is an awesome experience you will never forget.
Once the ride was over we exited the boat and I headed up to the top of the tower where there is a wonderful panoramic view of Niagara Falls and a great place to take photos.
Once the tour ends there is the Maid of the Mist Plaza where you can eat or buy nifty souvenirs. All money spent here helps preserve the nature and heritage of the Falls and the Niagara River corridor. Niagara Parks has operated without tax dollar subsidies since 1885.
Disclosure: I was given entrance to the Niagara Falls “Maid Of The Mist” Boat ride as part of the TMS Family Travel Conference. All opinions expressed here are those solely of the writer.