Niagara Falls State Park, New York

Everything the RV Renter Needs to Know

The thunderous rumble of the Niagara Falls has long been a source of awe and wonder in human history. Actually consisting of three separate waterfalls (American, Bridal Veil, Canadian), Niagara Falls sees hundreds of thousands of gallons of water cascade over its rocky cliffs every second, heading on their way to the Great Lakes. The falls were originally a source of spiritual reflection and appreciation for the power of nature. Later, in the early 1900s, however, the falls began to attract daredevils and showmen looking to survive rides in a barrel or tightrope walk over them.

Today, the Niagara Falls are protected as a state park and are one of the most visited natural attractions in the country. The surrounding town has become an ultimate tourist destination that offers plenty of modern entertainment for the whole family. Although it has changed drastically over the years, the Niagara Falls have always been a spectacle worth seeing.

Why Visit Niagara Falls State Park in Your Rented RV?

If you have never been to Niagara Falls or even if it has been awhile, seeing and hearing the falls is an incredible sensory experience worth revisiting time and time again. Although your primary focus will be marveling at the volume of water cascading down below you, you’ll be looking for other activities as well in the area. There are several tours that will let you appreciate the falls from unique angles as well as historical buildings and hands-on activities put on by park staff to showcase the falls’ ecology, history, and lore.

Hike Among the Falls

The ability to walk so closely to falls of this size and force is a truly rare and special opportunity. Luckily for visitors, the state of New York keeps the infrastructure of the platforms and trails in excellent and safe condition for year-round enjoyment of unparalleled viewing pleasure.

Most of the hikes begin at the Niagara Gorge Trailhead Center where you can view trail maps and features. The Great Gorge Scenic Overlook and Upper Great Gorge Hikes offer awesome views of the park and are doable for beginners. If you’re looking for something more challenging, head to the Whirlpool Rapids Adventure Hike for some extreme boulder hopping.

The Discovery Center

Learn what makes the falls special at the Discovery Center. Here, you’ll find numerous displays and exhibits that explain the geology and the history of Niagara. A unique 180-degree widescreen theater also screens short films about the falls that immerse you in the imagery and makes you feel like you’re flying.

The Discovery Center is also great for children. A hands-on fossil exhibit and rock-climbing wall will keep them engaged and interested during their visit. This can be a great stop for parents in the hot summer months to get a little air conditioning while the kiddos run around.   

Maid of the Mist

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of the park’s flagship attraction. The Maid of the Mist has been providing visitors with boat rides to the base of the falls for more than 150 years; don’t worry, the boat is not the original. There is nothing like standing at the base of the nearly 200-foot falls as they crash down right before you—showering you with mist.

The Maid of the Mist typically runs from May to November. Although you should plan on getting a little wet when you reach the falls, you will be provided with a commemorative rain poncho to minimize the chance you’ll get soaked. It will be so worth it you won’t even care, though.

Cave of the Winds

Not exactly a ‘cave’ in the geological sense, the Cave of the Winds is a special area open to visitors to stand extremely close to the base of Bridal Veil Falls and let their power ‘wash’ over them. The force of the waterfall generates tropical storm grade winds, so be careful as you navigate the stairs and observation deck. Visitors often mention how small they feel when gazing up from their vantage point at Cave of the Winds; it’s certainly a unique way to appreciate them.

Your Cave of the Winds experience also includes some history about how Nikola Tesla (the namesake for Tesla, Inc.) used the falls to create new forms of energy. You’ll also be able to view old photos of the falls before industry and tourism really began to take foot. The Cave of the Winds tour is only available May through October for your safety and comfort.      

Schoellkopf Power Plant Ruins Site

It would make sense to harness the power of the river and massive falls for energy purposes, right? Well, that’s exactly what was done in the early 1900s at the Schoellkopf Power Plant. The largest hydroelectric power plant in the world at the time it was built, the facility is perched atop Niagara Gorge and faithfully served the energy needs of regional residents until a major portion unfortunately collapsed in 1956.

You can reach the ruins via the Gorge Trail or a restored elevator within the old plant, itself. Stroll around the grounds and look up at was once the most impressive energy-producing structure in our nation’s history.

Campgrounds and RV Parks for Niagara Falls State Park

As one of the most popular natural attractions in the country, it’s not surprising that there are a whole bunch of campground options for your rental RV. Most of your options will be tourist-centric in the town of Niagara Falls itself. But, if you venture a little further east, you’ll find campgrounds that have a more natural feel.

Niagara Falls Campground and Lodging

Your closest option is Niagara Falls Campground and Lodging at just a 14-minute drive away. You’ll have full hookup access at your campsite and Wi-Fi. Apart from the swimming pool, there aren’t a lot of amenities and the park is fairly no-frills. Its primary advantage is its close proximity to the falls. Be aware that this does mean that it can get very busy during peak months in the summer, however. Another advantage is that you’ll be near all of the restaurants, shopping, etc. in town.  

AA Royal Motel and Campground

About 13 miles to the east, the AA Royal Motel and Campground in North Tonawanda is another close option. The lots are fairly wooded with grassy spaces. Large pull-through sites accommodate even the biggest rigs and have full hookup capabilities. There are also shower and laundry facilities on site for your convenience.

Branches of Niagara Campground and Resort

Looking for luxury and endless family fun at your campground? Branches of Niagara is the ticket. Sure, they have massive pull-through sites available with full hookup access, but the activities and amenities are truly awesome. Go swimming at the pool or beach, fish at the lake, play mini golf, give the zipline a try, get the group together for laser tag, or attend a wildlife show. Believe it or not, there’s so much more than that. Definitely check it out.

Niagara Falls/Grand Island KOA

Only seven miles south of the falls on Grand Island, this KOA campground has tons of amenities and recreational activities to keep the whole family happy and comfortable. Enjoy the heated pool, paddle boats, catch and release fishing, bingo, and more. You’ll have plenty of full hookup sites to choose from with 50-amp electrical service.

Cinderella Campground

Also just seven miles from the falls, the Cinderella Campground has more of a ‘mom and pop’ feel to it. Choose from either 30- or 50-amp electrical service at your full hookup site. Most sites are nicely landscaped with trees and greenery. Being located on Grand Island, you’ll have quick access to a variety of restaurants, parks, and the Grand Island Fun Center amusement park.

Places to Eat Near Niagara Falls State Park, New York

With all of the visitors who come through each year, the Niagara Falls area offers tons of dining options. You’ll actually find quite a few options within the park itself, but there’s plenty to be found in Niagara Falls (the town) and out on Grand Island. You’ll find everything from fast food to fine dining, so there’s bound to be some good options for your group. Because the park also attracts visitors from all over the globe, you will also find the options to be quite diverse.

Dining in Niagara Falls State Park

Don’t want to stray from all the action? No worries. Niagara Falls State Park features five different restaurants on site. The Top of the Falls Restaurant offers an awesome dining view and locally sourced ingredients from New York. There’s also a coffee shop, snack bar, and a couple of cafés available for grabbing a quick sandwich, salad, or slice of pizza.

Dining outside of Niagara Falls State Park

If you can name it, you can find it around Niagara Falls. Italian, American, Mexican, Chinese, BBQ, steakhouses, bistros, cafés, bars, etc. The hundreds of restaurants also vary widely in price and luxury. Grab a sandwich to go from a café or sit down at a white linen-lined table for a waterside view over a five-course meal. Whatever you’re in the mood for, it’s probably an option.

No matter where you stay, you will be mesmerized by the power and beauty of the Niagara Falls. Give your family the gift of these amazing memories by putting the falls near the top of your RV road trip list.

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