I read a bit about the Cave of the Winds before my trip to Niagara but I wasn’t sure what to expect. The name I thought seemed a little misleading because I knew there wasn’t a cave near Niagara Falls. And almost everywhere around the falls was windy. I didn’t really get the excitement of the Cave of the Winds Niagara Falls. When I was tight on time, I was tempted to cut it out of the itinerary, but I am glad I didn’t.
What is the Cave of the Winds?
The Cave of the Winds is the best way to get close to the falls on the American side. There are actually three main waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls: the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls. Both the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are in the US, while the Horseshoe Falls is in Canada. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are separated by Luna Island. The Bridal Veil Falls are impressive but significantly smaller than the other falls.
When we took the Hornblower cruise, I saw all the people wearing their yellow ponchos and realized that was the Cave of the Winds. You climb up scaffolding that goes right to the base of the Bridal Falls. The weather conditions created by the falls are so intense that they have to rebuild the scaffolding each year.
Each year, when the scaffolding is being rebuilt, there is a shortened version of the Cave of the Winds tour, called the Cave of the Winds Gorge Trip. You get to see the falls and watch the construction.
You do have to go up and down a few flights of stairs during the Cave of the Winds, so if you can’t do stairs, you might need to choose another attraction. Don’t worry though, it is not too many stairs and there are plenty of spots to take breaks.
Getting to the Cave of the Winds Niagara Falls
To get to the Cave of the Winds NY you need to be on the American side of Niagara Falls. If you are staying on the Canadian side of the falls, you can walk or drive across the Rainbow Bridge. It is about a 15-minute walk from there. You cross over the river leading to the American Falls and the Bridal Falls then you will see signs.
Cave of the Winds Tickets
You can purchase Cave of the Wind tickets there or it is part of the Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass, which can be purchased online. The Niagara Discovery Pass includes admission to the Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, Aquarium of Niagara, Adventure Theater Niagara Falls and unlimited rides on the Scenic Trolley for one day.
If you plan on going to all those attractions, you will save 32% compared to purchasing the attractions separately. Keep in mind this pass does not include attractions on the Canadian side, such as the Whirlpool Aero Car or the Journey Behind the Falls. Still, its the best way to get a Cave of the Winds discount.
If you decide not to buy the pass, adult tickets for the Cave of the Winds are $17 and children are $14. Tickets prices for the Cave of the Winds Gorge Trip (shortened tour) are only $7 for adults and $5 for children. The tickets are for timed entry and should be purchased early in the day.
The Cave of the Wind operating hours change based on the season and each year it varies slightly, so please confirm before planning your trip.
Entering the Cave of the Winds
After you get your ticket, you can join the queue. We went a little bit after it opened on Sunday so there wasn’t any line. First, you will go to the World Changed Here Pavilion, which is a new indoor multimedia experience that is open year-round.
Then, you will enter a portable building where they give you some water sandals to wear. This is your first clue that you will get wet. The shoes are not the most stylish water shoes I have seen, but it was nice to not have to worry about your own shoes getting wet. If you want, you can keep the water shoes. We took them home with us because you never know when you might need some.
They give you a plastic bag to put your shoes in. Unfortunately, you will have to carry your shoes in the bag through the Cave of the Winds – there are no lockers. Please keep this in mind. You will not have any place to store electronics that is waterproof.
Once you have changed shoes, you rejoin the line to wait for the elevator. The elevator takes you a good portion of the way down. You exit the elevator and walk through a tunnel to the front side of the falls. Here you will get your yellow poncho. After going to several attractions in Niagara, I feel qualified to judge the quality of ponchos and this one seemed the best. We put ours on and tied them as tight as possible. In addition to the water, I would recommend wearing the ponchos (and putting them on asap) because there are lots of birds by the Cave of the Winds.
Experiencing the Cave of the Winds
The Cave of the Winds is a self-guided attraction, so you can go through it as fast or as slow as you like. Of course, we took our time, so that we could get some pictures and video – luckily our GoPro is waterproof. If you wanted you could walk through the scaffolding easily in 10 minutes, but I don’t think that would do justice to the attraction. I would allow 30 minutes to go through it plus additional time for the lines depending on when you go.
The first thing you will notice is that the views from the scaffolding are spectacular. We could see all the falls and also the boats. The second thing you will notice is how close you are to the falls and how amazing it is. I think you get a better sense of this from the Cave of the Winds than any of the other attractions.
It is not long until you realize that water is cold. Your feet will be the first to feel it as there is a deck where the falls splash over the top. Russell had me stand there for a bit so he could video and I got a little more than my feet wet. The water was freezing but on a warm day like we had it felt refreshing.
The Cave of the Winds Hurricane Deck
Then it was onwards and upwards towards the climax of the Cave of the Winds, what they call the Hurricane Deck. I read that the weather conditions on the deck are equivalent to that of a tropical storm. As you approach the deck you can hear the screams and you see the water just pounding the deck.
I went first. Going up the stairs was easy and I was on the platform. Across from me, I could see the spray from the falls. I knew to experience it, I had to get closer. As I approached the falls I could feel the cold water and the intensity of the wind increasing. My poncho was keeping me dry for the most part except it was blowing up at the bottom and my pants got soaked.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of being right there by the falls. You are in awe by the power of it – and the Bridal Falls are the smallest ones – and also invigorated because you are so close to such a powerful force. Russell enjoyed it so much, he went back for seconds. Then it was time to head back up. There was a short line for the elevator. We took off our ponchos and tried to gather ourselves while we waited.
Our Cave of the Winds Video
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the Cave of the Winds. It is hard to convey in words how impressive the Cave of the Winds, Niagara Falls is! Luckily our gopro is waterproof. Check out our video so you can get a better sense of what it is like.
Cave of the Winds vs. Journey Behind the Falls
During our time in Niagara, we also went to the Journey Behind the Falls on the Canada side. We had fun doing the Journey Behind the Falls too. It is a little like Cave of the Winds because you do get to go close to Niagara Falls – the Horseshoe Falls in fact. While I did enjoy the Journey Behind the Falls, if you only have time for one of these attractions, I would recommend the Cave of the Winds. Even though, the Cave of the Winds is by a smaller waterfall, the experience is more intense.
Check out my practical tips for visiting Niagara Falls for more helpful information to help you plan your trip.
Have you been to the Cave of the Winds or something similar? Would you like to experience the Hurricane Deck? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Expert Tips for Visiting Cave of the Winds Niagara Falls
- Considering purchasing the Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass if you are planning on going to multiple attractions.
- Don’t bring any electronics with you unless they are waterproof. There are no lockers.
- Put your poncho on as soon as you can to stay dry and bird dropping free.
- If you can only go to either the Journey Behind the Falls or the Cave of the Winds, I would recommend choosing the Cave of the Winds.
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