Lake Ontario and Niagara Falls

Where we are and where we have been:

Oh beautiful lake, beautiful river, gorgeous falls!  We have spent the week surrounded in Hamlin Beach State Park which is on Lake Ontario and about 60 miles from Niagara Falls. 

Lake Ontario, or ‘beautiful great lake’ derives its name from the Iroquois who were among the first to inhabit the area. It is the easternmost of the Great Lakes and the smallest in surface area. But it is the 13th largest freshwater lake in the world.  The lake’s primary source is the Niagara River, which flows out of Lake Erie.

Hamlin Beach is a New York State park with heavily wooded campsites that offer a reasonable amount of privacy between sites.  We have electricity but water is not piped to each site. 

Part of the park and just a short drive or long walk away, are several beaches on Lake Ontario.  Two or three offer sandy access with swimming allowed, others have a rocky shore. 

It is a very pretty park and we have really enjoyed our stay here, either just relaxing under the canopy of trees or walking along the lake shore. 

A gaggle of wild geese call one of the shore areas home and we have enjoyed watching them.  In the sandy beach areas, where more people gather, there is a large population of sea gulls. 


At our area we have seen squirrels, the species around here are Eastern Fox Squirrels, with greyish fur and a large bushy tail.  We also got a few glimpses of a chipmunk living in the brush around our campsite. 

All of these have kept Heidi on guard and busy trying to investigate the brush, which she can only reach the edges of on her leash. Oh her heart yearns to give chase or to be able to climb trees after them.

We have made excursions into nearby towns, one to get a replacement water pump for Pilgrim (the old one seemed to be on its last gurgle).  We found a large Camping World where we bought the pump.  We also hunted up a used book store to provide some extra reading material.  The one nearby was haphazardly stacked almost to the ceiling with all sorts of books.  It definitely had a huge selection, but getting what you wanted from the piles could be dangerous.  We came away with 4 or 5 to enjoy.  Another day took us into Rochester proper to get the oil changed in the pick-up.

Our biggest trip was the 60 or so miles to Niagara Falls.  WOW!  I guess I have wanted to go there for a very long time, and it was all that I had imagined it would be and more. 

Coming from the eastern side we drove along Lake Ontario and through orchards of cherries, peaches and apples then turned south along Niagara River. 

We made a stop at Whirlpool State Park and walked out to the overlook for the river and whirlpool area.  It is a beautiful river in a deep gorge.  As the river leaves the falls, it drops through an area of extremely rough rapids then widens out and makes almost a 90 degree turn.  This forms the whirlpool.  It’s a remarkable site.

Niagara Falls is really not one waterfall, but three that straddle the international border between the Canada and the USA. The combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. More than six million cubic feet of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow.  While not exceptionally high, the Niagara Falls are very wide. The distance between the American extremity of the Niagara Falls and the Canadian extremity is 3,409 feet.

From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls.

The larger Horseshoe Falls lie on the Canadian side of the falls.  It has a drop of about 173 feet and is about 2,600 feet wide.  It carries about 90% of the water flow over the falls.  It is an amazing sight with the water spraying up making rainbows in the sun as it hits the boulders at the bottom. 

The American Falls on the American side are separated by Goat Island from Horseshoe Falls. The height varies between 70–100 feet because of the giant boulders at its base. It is 1,060 feet wide. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also located on the American side, separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island.

We crossed over into Canada to get the best view of Horseshoe Falls. 

It took over an hour to cross Rainbow Bridge going into Canada.

Note the giant Hershey’s Kiss on top of the Hershey Chocolate building.  The Canadian crest is on the customs building

Along the Falls the Canadian area is lush parks, but what caught our attention was the carnival type area of the town adjacent to the falls.  It seemed that every major hotel chain was represented and a number of casinos. Along the streets were horror and spook houses all loudly hawking their brand of fright. 

The American side also was commercialized, but much less so.  The businesses seemed to be more tuned to the theme of the falls. As to be expected, even on a weekday, the place was packed with tourist, like us, mesmerized by such an astounding sight.

The ever present Maid of the Mist boats moving back and forth from docks to the falls

Some other sights:

Sparrows enjoying a sandy bath along a walkway.

A hotdog vendor going to work near the Falls Park.

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