Niagara Falls State Park: Terrapin Point

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Western NY Parks

In September, I set out with a road trip buddy to visit some park units in upstate New York. For me, the highlight of this trip was visiting my 100th National Park Service unit. That puts me at Bronze status in the National Parks Traveler’s Club. After Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site we headed to Niagara Falls. After checking into the hotel, we walked over to Terrapin Point.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls consists of three waterfalls which span the Niagara Gorge along the United States and Canadian border. Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the three, straddles the border and is also called the Canadian Falls. The smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls lie on the New York State side of the border.

Goat Island in New York separates the Canadian Falls from the other two falls. The Niagara River forms all of the falls as it runs through the gorge. These are the most powerful waterfalls in North America. Nearly 6 million cubic feet flow over the falls every minute.

In 1883, then governor Grover Cleveland authorized land acquisition to create a state park to preserve the area around the Falls. Canada followed suit and created the Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park on the Canadian side.

Terrapin Point

Terrapin Point overlooks the Horseshoe Canadian Falls from the New York side. It was originally just a bunch of rocks that looked like turtles, hence the name. In 1953, authorities dredged the Niagara River in order to spread the flow more evenly over the crest of Horseshoe Falls. They built up Terrapin Point with the resulting landfill, creating an observation deck.

Horseshoe Falls drops about 167 feet to the river below. Mist often shrouds Terrapin Point as the churning water kicks up spray into the sky. When we first visited, the mist was heavy and visibility was low. The next day, we lucked out. The sun broke through and created rainbows in the mist.

Western NY Road Trip

Location: Niagara Falls, NY
Designation: State Park
Date designated/established: April 30, 1885
Date of my visit: September 25, 2022

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