If you are planning a Niagara Falls vacation, one of the most scenic things to do is visit the Niagara Whirlpool. This natural phenomenon is in Niagara Falls and offers a majestic photo opportunity. It can be seen from both sides of the Niagara River in Canada and New York State. It’s best viewed from the Canadian side at Niagara Glen Nature Center.
What Causes the Niagara Whirlpool
The Niagara Whirlpool is a natural whirlpool formed along the Niagara River in Niagara Gorge. It runs downstream from Niagara Falls. It is in-between the Canadian (Ontario) and US (New York) borders. You will find two provincial/state parks located alongside the Niagara whirlpool. The Niagara Glen Nature Reserve in Canada, and the Whirlpool State Park in the USA.
The whirlpool rapids formed approximately 4,200 years ago. They were caused by upstream erosion in the Niagara Escarpment. There is a huge volume of water flowing from Niagara Falls. It is crushed into the Great Gorge and in turn that becomes the Niagara Whirlpool Rapids. A vortex (or whirlpool) is created, and then the water continues into Lake Ontario. The water in the whirlpool spins in a counterclockwise direction. This changes with the “reversal phenomenon”, which happens every night at 10:00 PM. Water diverts to the Niagara hydropower station. At that point, the whirlpool flow reverses direction until the morning.
Where is the Niagara Whirlpool
The Niagara Whirlpool is found in the Niagara River between the Canadian (Ontario) and the US (New York) borders. It runs downstream from Niagara Falls. In the Niagara Gorge, there are two provincial parks on either side of the whirlpool. The Niagara Glen Nature Reserve in Canada, and Whirlpool State Park in the USA.
Getting to the Niagara Whirlpool
Getting to the Niagara Whirlpool from Toronto
If you’re in Toronto, the best way to see the Niagara Whirlpool is with a guided tour. Niagara Falls tours from Toronto are available year-round. They usually include a stop at the Niagara Whirlpool. The main benefit of taking a guided tour is that you will get to the Niagara Whirlpool with ease. You will also be able to see other majestic sights along the way. A professional tour guide will teach you about the whirlpool.
Getting to the Niagara Whirlpool from Niagara Falls
If you’re planning to do a multi-day trip to Niagara Falls, then your best bet is to drive to the Niagara Whirlpool. It will be about a 10-15 minute drive from Niagara Falls. If you don’t have a car, it is easy to call an Uber/Lyft/taxi. The benefit of planning your own multi-day trip to Niagara Falls is that you will have ample time to do activities like the aero car and jet boat tours.
Niagara Glen Nature Centre
Niagara Glen Nature Centre is part of the Niagara Gorge UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The Niagara Glen Nature Centre overlooks the magnificent Niagara River. Niagara Glen Nature Centre was designated a nature reserve in 1992.
The Niagara Glen nature trails are an excellent spot to spend a few hours or all day. The developed trails delve into the diversity of natural landscapes. They offer a look into a beautiful diverse ecosystem with rocks, plants and animals. During your time in the nature reserve, you’ll find native plants. These include Maples, sassafras, tulip trees, red mulberry trees, and staghorn sumacs.
Niagara Glen Hiking Trails
You’ll be able to do 8 hiking trails on your own or with a guided tour. There is also 1 bouldering trail available. Hiking trails span 4 km and offer visitors the chance to explore Carolinian Forest. You’ll also have a chance to sign up for a guided hiking tour if you’re interested.
Do you have to pay for Niagara Glen?
Admission to Niagara Glen is free. You will need to pay for parking separately.
Niagara Aero Car (Canada)
Located in the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Aero Car (also known as the Niagara Spanish Aero Car) is a gondola-like transportation system that crosses the Niagara Gorge. It has been in operation since 1916 and upgraded in 1961, 1967 and 1984. The ride is about 5 minutes each way with views of both sides of the gorge. You’ll see the American Falls on one side and the majestic Horseshoe Canada Falls on the other. The passage below by the Niagara Parks Commission is located near the entrance.
NIAGARA SPANISH AERO CAR
Leonardo Torres Quevedo (1852 – 1936) was an ingenious Spanish engineer. Among his creations were algebraic machines, remote control devices, dirigibles and the world’s first computer. The Niagara Spanish Aero Car was designed by Leonardo Torres Quevedo and represented a new type of aerial cable way that he called “transbordador”. Officially opened on August 8, 1916, it is the only one of its kind in existence.
Is the Niagara Aero Car safe?
The best part – it’s completely safe! You might have heard about the 2021 tragedy in Italy. The Stresa–Alpino–Mottarone Cable Car brake systems failed. This resulted in fatal injuries. The operator of the Italian cable car seems to have disabled the safety brakes instead of maintaining them properly. But, the Niagara Falls Aero Car takes pride in its safety features. They have many safety features including a last resort rescue car. The safety features have been flawless for the past 100 years. The rescue car has never even been used besides for training purposes.
Views from the Whirlpool Aero Car Niagara Falls
The view includes the erratic rapids of the whirlpool, the beautiful nature surrounding the Niagara River and hikers/fishermen from both the Canadian and US side. For a full ride, the car goes across the US-Canada border 4 times. You can take your phone with you for the ride and this makes for a great photo opportunity.
The lineup for the Aero Car might be very long. If you’re on a day trip to Niagara Falls, the free observation deck will be really enjoyable instead. The observation deck offers a beautiful scenic view. You will see the Niagara River, the Aero Car and the Niagara Gorge. If you’re on a multi-day trip to Niagara Falls or have extra time, the Aero Car will be a fun addition to your itinerary.
How much does the Niagara Whirlpool Aero Car cost?
The cost of admission for the Niagara Aero Car is $17 per adult. There are discounts for children and seniors. The best part of the Niagara Falls Whirlpool observation deck is the scenic view, which is free.
How long is the whirlpool Aero Car ride?
The Niagara Aero Car is a 10-minute ride that takes you across the Niagara Whirlpool. You’ll be able to see up close, how fast and powerful the water is as it swirls beneath you.
Jet Boats in Niagara Falls
Jet boats are a thrilling way to see the Niagara Whirlpool. The jet boat ride is a 45-minute experience. It will take you on a tour of the whirlpool rapids, and lovely nature around the Niagara River. You can register for a jet boat ride either from Canada or the USA. The jet boats begin their journey by travelling south in the Niagara Gorge and into the Niagara Whirlpool. You will feel the power of the water as you travel through rapids and whirlpools.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Niagara Whirlpool
How deep is the Niagara Whirlpool?
It is as deep as 38 meters, or 125 feet. The average depth is 10.7 meters or 35 feet. The speed of the whirlpool water is approximately 35.4 km/hr or 22 mph.
Is the Niagara Whirlpool dangerous?
The Niagara Whirlpool is not dangerous. This includes the area around the whirlpool and also activities like the Aero Car and Jet Boats.
When is the Niagara Whirlpool open?
The Niagara Whirlpool observation deck is open all year round. The Aero Car and Jet Boat tours have hours you can check online before visiting.
How to get to the Niagara Falls Whirlpool
The most popular way to see the whirlpool is a Niagara Falls tour. This is a great option if you are in Toronto and planning a day trip to Niagara Falls. If you are planning a multi-day trip to Niagara Falls and have access to a car, it is only a 10-15 minute drive from the main strip. Other notable stops in the tour include the floral clock, the smallest church in the world, and the Niagara Falls power station. Niagara Falls tours take you from Mississauga, Pearson Airport or Downtown Toronto to Niagara Falls.
What other recommendations do you have for a trip to Toronto?
Check out our ultimate 3-day Toronto travel guide for other recommendations of what to do on your vacation.
Enjoy your visit to the Niagara Whirlpool!
The Niagara Whirlpool is an awe-inspiring natural wonder that is right next to Niagara Falls. Visit with a tour group from Toronto or Niagara Falls, or rent a car and visit on your own. The whirlpool in Niagara can be seen from the observation deck or experienced on a ride with the Aero Car or Jet Boats. The observation deck is free and offers breathtaking views of the whirlpool. Enjoy your trip and don’t forget your camera!