Tuesday June 28, 2016 Most Recent Posts:
4 Mile Creek State Park Campground Exploring Allegany State Park
Perry, New York Last Minute visit to Chautauqua – My Hang Up the Keys Spot
Well it was supposed to be a short drive of 149 miles from Allegany State Park to 4 Mile Creek on Lake Ontario. We planned to go around Buffalo and stop at a Walmart near a Labcorp so David could get his blood draws since there was not one near the campground. All went well until we left the Walmart where we were parked while we went for the blood draw. For the first time ever, google maps took us down a road and there in front of us was this.
Luckily, there just happened to be a school bus parking lot on the right just before the bridge with enough room to turn around in and head back the other way. This all happened becasue we did not have internet at Allegany and I could not drill down to drive all the suspect roads as I usually do. It was inconvenient but we were saved by the parking lot.
On the way, we stopped on the outskirts of Buffalo for David to pick up some medication and to have his blood tests done. So this 150 mile drive took all day but we eventually arrived at Four Mile Creek State Park to find our spot was really lovely and that we had a huge communal back yard right on Lake Ontario. Pretty sweet!!
After a big salad dinner, we headed out to the lake shore where we found our neighbors gathering to watch the sunset.
The clouds tried to squeeze it out but didn’t quite make it.
We had hoped to be at Niagara Falls early enough to park in Lot #1 but things didn’t work out that way. One of the side effects of David’s slew of medications is hearing loss. It has been increasing of late it seems to us and yesterday when he went in to pick up his prescription he also bought something else at the time. The clerk put that in a bag and handed it to him and he didn’t realize that he needed to go to another window to pick up the prescription itself after paying for it. Last night when we unpacked, no prescription. He was sure it was in the bag but we looked everywhere and could not find it.
This morning he called the pharmacy and yes they had it and had called to him several times as he walked away but he didn’t hear them. SO that meant an extra 30 mile trip to Buffalo again to pick it up. I think hearing aids are on his agenda. Unfortunately none of our insurances cover them and the cost is a few thousand dollars. Any advice on hearing aids would be greatly appreciated.
Finally, around noon we did arrive in Niagara Falls where the only parking available was $20 for the day. For those of you who remember the days when staying at Four Mile Creek gave you free parking at Niagara Falls State Park, as recently as two years ago I think, those days are no more. Parking in the state park’s lots is now $10. But that’s half of what it costs in the lots nearby so arrive early.
The picture above is the original entrance to what was the Niagara Reservation when it became the first state park in 1885.
The park grounds are really lovely with gardens in the shape of the Great Lakes.
We head over to the Visitor Center where we pick up a Discovery Pass for $45 each. This provides admission to all of the “attractons” here including the Wind Cave, the Maid of the Mist, the Discovery Center, the Trolley, and the Aquaraium. Even if you are only going to do the first three, it is a savings over individual admissions.
Inside we check out the area map which shows there are three other state parks along the river with Niagara at the far left. You can actually walk from Niagara to all three on the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail which is 6.2 miles one way. But there are other trails and combinations as well. More on that tomorrow.
The map below is of the Niagara Falls State Park. We were amazed at all the things to do and points from which you could view the falls. Lots of walking so we’re glad we wore our walking shoes. Here is a link to the trail descriptions.
While in the VC we took a look at the exhibits with information on the extremely interesting history of the falls and the movement to keep it from being developed that led to the creation of the reservations. Seems like things weren’t all that different in the mid 1800’s. The industrialists moved into the area and wanted to develop all around the falls.
There have been numerous people who have gone over the falls on purpose and by accident. One young boy went over in 1960 with only a life jacket on and was found by one of the Maid of the Mist boats. Pretty amazing. All the history is amazing actually and there are so many links to various parts of this information that I leave you to Google it if you are interested.
Here are a few facts I thought I could put in without drowning this post in details.
The Niagara River is not really a river but rather a strait, a narrow stretch of water that connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
The Niagara River drains four of the five Great Lakes, Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie, before emptying into Ontario. These 5 lakes make up almost 20% of the world’s fresh water supply.
The speed of the Niagara River at the crest of the Horseshoe Falls is 25 mph
The average depth of the water under the Horseshoe Falls is 170 feet which is as deep as the Niagara Gorge canyon walls are high.
The Niagara Gorge runs approximately 7 miles down stream from the Falls to the Niagara Escarpment.
The span of the American Falls is 1000 feet across and 176 feet in height; the Horsehoe Falls are 2500 feet across and 167 feet high.
The Falls were originallly formed 7 miles down stream from where they are today, they have “moved” due to erosion.
90% of the water flows over the Horseshoe Falls and 10% flows over the American Falls
Approximately 750,000 gallons of water plunge over the brink of the Falls every second during periods of peak flow.
On this last “fact” I do want to expand a little. So what is “peak flow”? Like most rivers of any size in this country, peak flow isn’t the natural flow of the river over the course of a year The Niagara is “controlled”. Currently during the tourist season from April 1st to October 31st the flow is maintained at 100,000 cubic feet per second. So the two hydro plants, American and Canadian, can only draw reduced amounts of water. But, at dusk every day the flow is cut in half to 50,000 gallons and the rest diverted. During the “non tourist” rest of the year, the flow is constantly at 50,000 gallons. The normal long term average rate of water flow for the river uncontrolled is 212,000 cubic feet of water per second so even when we are observing it, it is at half of what it would be in a wild state. Half of that amount is being taken for power generation which means 75% is taken the rest of the year. I’d prefer a free river and a National Solar Initiative personally. As you can see in the picture above, she’s a mighty mighty river but that’s only half of what she would be if she were free.
Another note which is important for anyone planning to visit in the near future. This river has been controlled to the point that theyu shut off the American Falls. Following a series of Rockfalls and there were concerns about the appearance of American the falls, they were actually turned off in 1969 so the underneath structure could be examined. Dowels, bolts, and cables.were put in to stabalize the area around Bridal Falls but after an International Joint commission study it was decided that the policy of the future of the Falls would be to accept the process of change as a part of the natural condition of the falls and the process of erosion and undermining should not be interrupted.
These recommendations were given to the American and Canadian Governments. I was very glad to see this. After all the falls move naturally as they already told us, 7 miles up stream over time already. I thought that was that until I heard a woman next to us on the trolley the following day talking about the upcoming stoppage of the falls. WHAT? Apparently New York State Parks has put forth three proposals to replace two bridges to Goat Island — and two of those proposals recommend stopping the flow of water for five to nine months sometime within the next 3 years. SO better call the park before making any reservations to come although it appears the water will be diverted to the Canadian side. That should be a boom for their tourism.
After visiting the VC and loading up with information we walk along the amazing powerful Niagara river as far as we can and go right down to the top of the falls. As you can see the power of the river is amazing. The American Falls are the closest to us. Just beyond them are the Bridal Falls and in the distance is part of the Horseshoe Falls and the ugly development (IMO) on the Canadian side.
AS you can see and will see in my pictures, looking over from the US to Canada is not as “pretty” as their looking over here. We have preserved the area around the falls as a large park and it appears the city has some height restrictions on the buildings. The park really is very nice and easy to walk around and very handicapped accessible. There are flowers and trees and though it isn’t in its natural state, it isn’t covered with concrete either.
One last look at the great river and we head off to get even closer.
We are going to get closer to the Bridal Falls by doing the Wind Cave “tour”. You can’t actually go into the cave behind the falls any more. That was stopped in 1920 but you can get up seriously close and personal with the Falls and that means getting wet.
For the price of admission you are given water sandals and a plastic bag for your shoes and sox. We did see one person who kept his sox on. Very strange since they got soaked.
Aren’t they fashion statements?
The price of admission also includes these fashionable rain garments. Don’t we look spiffy??
And off he goes.
The natural areas on the rocks next to the falls seems to have been colonized by a ring neck gull rookery. Their young are all over the place and they domn’t seem to pay much attention to the strange yellow clad tourists.
Bridal Falls from the top.
We’re going down there.
These pictures are taken with my Samsung Galaxy phone while we were on the walk and the being sprayed by the falls. The waterproof claims of the camera prove to be true although I could seldom see what I was shooting so this is just the luck of the draw.
We’re down at the bottom near the river and then walk up the stairs to the platforms at different levels right by Bridal Falls.
Here near the bottom we can see the boulders that have broken off from the falls or come down I suppose. They are huge. The falls power down on them.
Those folks at the top are standing on Goat Island which is what caused the split in the American falls.
STanding here at the highest platform and seriously right next to the water sprays you so hard you have to hold on. What fun! The magnificence of this natural wonder just cannot be expressed.
Here is a good look from the American Falls at the Canaedian side next to Horseshoe Falls on the far upper left. Much more commercially developed and seriously less attractive than the American side. The boat is the Maid of the Mist which we want to do tomorrow. Today it’s up close to the falls on the American Side and tomorrow we’ll boat over to the Horsehoe falls and see if their mist is any different.
It’s about a mile walk from the Visitor’s Center to the Cave of the Winds or you can take the Trolley. We walk both ways for the steps and to walk back and forth over the Niagara River. For the day we pick up 15469 steps. There is a lot of exercise to be had here without even trying.
The park has been in existance long enough to have some beautiful trees protected. This is the largest Sycamore I have ever seen. It’s now nearing 5:00 and we call it a day with plans to return tomorrow for another full day.
Back at home we have dinner and putz around untilthe 9pm Sunset over Lake Ontario which happens in our backyard again. Boy do we love that.
Afterglow on the lake.
Hope we’ll have time while we are here to walk some of the state park’s trails. We’ll be staying in Four Mile Creek State Park another two days and then moving on to Letchworth State Park home to what they call “The Grand Canyon of the East”. So if you’ve been either place and have ideas for what we should do. Let us know.