The Niagara Falls are a stunning natural wonder regardless of the time of year. I have now had the pleasure to view their beauty from three separate seasons; which include summer, fall and winter. During a recent winter visit, I found the falling water even more spectacular than usual. From behind a barrier of frozen white handrails, I stood in awe staring at the Canadian Horseshoe falls, whose minty white waters cascaded over the brink. And far beneath the rising mist, crystalline mounds emerged from the basin and a cracked stream of snowy glass stretched down the gorge to where the Maid of the Mist boat sits in the summer beside the American falls. The view took my breath away on each of my four walks along the pathway. For once in my life, I gratefully greeted a Winter Wonderland.
The night was bitter with cold when my husband and I arrived in the Niagara area on the evening of Thursday, March 6, 2014. The temperatures were not far below zero, but the precipitation falling in the air froze to our clothing, our hair and even the camera lens’ shut tight. Viewing Niagara Falls in the black of night conveyed a wondrous experience, as a frosted white clung to everything that grew or rested near the Canadian visitor centre. White ice-covered handrails, frozen trees, white lampposts, and every piece of nature that grew close to the falls, were all frosted in thick layers of snowy white. Combined with the nighttime illumination of changing colors, this sight held an enjoyable if not magical spectacle. The view simply took my breath away, to linger like the mist in the night.
Cooler temperatures during this winter season have worked their magic on Niagara Falls. I was drawn to ice formations on the rocks beneath the falls, which climbed up to fifty feet high into larger than life ice mounds. An ice bridge stretched across the gorge, which is a marvel that doesn’t happen every year. I especially enjoyed the “Journey behind the Falls,” offered at the Canadian visitor centre, which gave a different wintry view from near the base. I enjoyed viewing the ice mounds from below, which looked like mini glaciers in the distance and a close-up look of cliff edges that held long frozen icicles that streamed down the sharp incline. Not every winter season transforms to the 2014 degree, so I am very grateful I have had the opportunity to view the winter falls at their best!
The day after my night exploration and with temperatures rising above freezing, I walked along the very same handrails. I reflected on people who tampered with this beauty. I’m not sure what it is in human nature that desires to destroy. Several people pried at the ice on the handrails with their hands or kicked at the ice with their feet, attempting to break the frozen masses free. Those that were successful with their wintry exploits threw their ice prizes into the water, some watching as each white chunk fell over the falls. I was dismayed that further visitors would not see the beauty as I had first discovered, because of such hands. Only one day later on my third visit, most of the frozen art that had covered the handrails had vanished, and I’m sure not all due to the warming temperatures.
It was a genuine pleasure to have visited Niagara Falls in the winter. I have many delighted memories to hold onto, as well as a few hundred photographs. The next time winter is holding on too long, I hope to experience this Winter Wonderland again, as the landscape found was simply a joy to behold!