The White Water Walk is an absolute GEM of an attraction in Niagara Falls, Ontario. we did the walk recently, here's what you need to know!
Living only about 40 minutes from the horseshoe falls, we’ve been there several times over the course of my 2 years of moderate-severe disability.
During the bad times, I’d view the raw power of the falls - and the rushing water leading up to it - from the car. In the better times, I’d hobble around Dufferin Islands in a boot.
It would knock me out of commission for a few days, but it was worth it. When going though such a difficult time, I found beauty of nature to be good for my mental health.
It’s a cool attraction - a quarter-mile boardwalk alongside - as the tourism agency puts it - “one of the world’s wildest stretches of white-water rapids”.
I’ve never been to the base of the gorge, but I’ve seen a little of it on the times we’ve crossed the Rainbow Bridge and/or the Whirlpool bridge when going to/from New York. (I can never keep the bridges straight!).
Planning the Trip
I hadn’t heard of the attraction until recently, but obviously we had to go.
A short, totally do-able walk, probably one of the best photo opportunities in the area, AND being that close to the “soothing roar of North America’s largest standing waves”?
The current situation and desire to avoid people/exposure was an issue, so I looked into the logistics (access is through a building, down an elevator, and through a tunnel), and called the Niagara Tourism number to grill them on some info.
So my husband booked the day off work, and I planned ahead for it.
We would leave early enough to avoid any traffic, and do some other walking in the area - Maybe Dufferin Islands again - until it was time to hit the park.
Oh, and I tacked on the “Journey Behind the Falls”, figuring that - if our assumptions about risk were true - it would be the best time to experience THAT, as well.
The Start of Our Adventure
When we got to the area, we decided to get 30 minutes in the short term parking and wander around for a bit, before deciding the full plan.
We parked in the loop in front of the police station, and decided to wander the gardens that were right there. I’d never done that before, and it looked beautiful!
There was a set of steps up to a forested trail, so we decided to quickly check that out. \
I LOVE that stairs aren’t the immediate “NO” that they’ve been for just over 2 years. I am really enjoying this freedom, and will never take any of it for granted again!
Anyway, we walked up the trail, hoping it would end in like a secluded garden or something, but nope - it just went to a street.
Probably less of a “go up here for the view” and more of a “if you’re staying in one of these hotels, here’s a shortcut to the falls” thing.
After wandering the beautiful floral gardens for a while, we made use of the facilities, and went to get better parking for the first big event of our day - Journey Behind the Falls.
Journey Behind the Falls
We booked our tickets online for both the falls and the white water walk. While the falls were supposed to open an hour earlier than the walk, according to one online source... they actually opened at the same time.
We decided that the Journey Behind the Falls was the higher risk, more popular attraction. So, decided to start there, and were there right as it opened.
Well, a few minutes before it opened. Had to take our requisite photo of our hands waving to the United States - across the falls - to send to a friend in Buffalo. (“We’re waving to you!”).
Anyway, the Journey was ... not quite what we expected.
I had kind of pictured it as a length of walk behind the falls, with the falls in view the whole time. It was cool to hear the falls over us while in the tunnel, but it was definitely a little underwhelming.
The other part of the attraction is being able to go down onto viewing platforms at the base of the falls.
This was WAY more interesting than the actual “behind the falls” part. What an amazing view!
Did you know that water falls over the Horseshoe Falls at the rate of 681,750 gallons of water per second? Amazing!
Anyway, soon it was time to head to our main attraction - The White Water Walk!
About The White Water Walk
This seasonal attraction is part of the Niagara Parks Commission, generally open April to October/November.
After entering through the visitor center, you take a quick elevator ride down to the bottom of the Niagara Gorge.
You exit the elevator and walk through a short tunnel, before coming to a room with displays, photos, and information about the history and geology of the Niagara Gorge.
Then you exit that room out to the first viewing platform, right on the edge of the river. You immediately have an excellent view of the 410-million-year old rock layers of the Niagara gorge, as well as the whitewater rapids themselves.
Well, stunt doubles, anyway. What a fun way to show the peril of the Niagara River!
Anyway, I had assumed this was a newer attraction, as I hadn’t heard of it before last year... but apparently it’s been around almost as long as I have - at LEAST!
About The Trail
The walk is an easy one, done at your own pace.
For the most part, it’s an easy walk - a mostly flat boardwalk the whole way.
There are a couple of sections with the option to take stairs down to small viewing areas at the river's edge, right next to the crashing waves and giant whirlpools.
If you can get down to those observation areas, you’ll be treated to some of the best views in the entire park ... but the view of the rapids of the Niagara River were spectacular even from the boardwalk.
Honestly, even if stairs were a complete no-go for me, I’d still think this was an incredible value, and I’d do it again.
I wish I’d gone earlier on in this whole ordeal - I could definitely have done the walk in a boot, and it would have done wonders for my mental state!
We took a TON of photos and several short videos on the way out to the end of the walk, and then I took a video of the complete walk, all the way back to the initial observation deck:
Plan Your Visit
The White Water Walk is located at 4330 River Road, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada L2G 6T2, about 4 km - or 2 and a half miles - north of the falls.
It’s a straight shot from the falls, along Niagara Parkway (which turns into River Rd, just before the walk).
Permits / Tickets / Booking Ahead
This is a ticketed attraction, and the fees are per-person:
Adults (13+): $17
Kids (6-12 Years): $11.25
Infants (0-5 Years): Free
... plus HST, of course.
We booked ours online at the Niagara Parks Website, at the same time we bought the tickets to Journey Behind the Falls.
Note: When you buy tickets for multiple attractions on the same order, they’ll print ALL of the tickets when you go to the first attraction.
There is a small amount of paid parking - including accessible parking - right outside the building. You can pay for this parking on the spot, or buy a parking pass online.
Apparently there is free parking available, but we didn’t see it, and opted for convenience.
There’s also a bus stop right there - it’s along the Niagara Pkwy WeGo bus route - and it’s walking distance from train and bus stations.
I like to report on the washrooms situation for fellow logistics nerds and general planning purposes.
We did not need to use washrooms while we were at the White Water Walk. I’m assuming there were public washrooms available in the building; there were none along the walk itself.
The parking loop / gardens by the police station have a building with public washrooms, it was in decent shape.
The main Table Rock visitor building at the falls has public washrooms, which we did not visit this time.
The paid parking lot immediately across from the falls has several port-a-potties that are usually in decent condition. On this trip, they could most generously be described as.. “enter at your own risk”.
One of them looked like... there was probably a story there. I have no idea what that story is, and I’m not sure I’d want to know.
All parts of our trip to Niagara Falls were relatively accessible. I would have been able to do all of it if I’d still been on a boot.
For those who make use of a wheelchair, the gardens were moderately accessible, and the washrooms there seemed accessible as well.
The Journey Behind the Falls was MOSTLY accessible - the lower platform had a steep set of stairs to get down to, with no elevator option. The main platform is on the same level as the rest of the attraction, though.
I completely forgot to make note of seating/rest options at this attraction, as we were basically on high alert and definitely not interested in lingering anywhere or touching anything. Sorry!
There are benches at both the beginning and end of the 300 meter boardwalk, but none in between.
Apparently Niagara Falls offers a 10% discount on full-price tickets for both attractions, if they’re not fully accessible to you. (Doesn’t apply to package deals, etc)
They also offer free admission to accessibility support persons accompanying a disabled person when they identify themselves as such. This is the case for all Niagara Parks attractions.
Next time we go, we’re probably going to pack a snack or light lunch to enjoy on the benches at the end of the trail.
The rushing river just made the perfect ambiance for a quick picnic lunch. (Assuming no crowds, as that would be obnoxious!)