Niagara Falls is a place I had always wanted to go. I love waterfalls and really wanted to see Niagara Falls in person to really get a sense of the magnitude. Russell had not been before either so we decided to plan a weekend there. I was surprised to learn about all the things to do in Niagara Falls. We thought a Niagara Falls helicopter ride would be the best way to really get see the falls and help make it a memorable weekend.
There are actually three main waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls: the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and the Bridal Falls. All are impressive in their own right, but the Horseshoe Falls is by far the largest. About 160,000 gallons of water flow through both the American and Bridals Falls while the Horseshoe Falls have 600,000 gallons per second. The Horseshoe Falls is located on the Canadian side and gets its name from its shape.
The day of our flight the weather was absolutely perfect! There were a few clouds but overall the sun was shining and the sky was really clear and blue. The temperature was in the upper 80s. I really couldn’t have asked for a better day for a Niagara Falls Helicopter tour.
The helicopter trips are run by a company called Niagara Helicopters. They take off from a launching pad located on the Canadian side about a 10 minute drive north of the hotel area. They have plenty of free parking. After we parked, we decided to pose with one of the parked helicopters. There was another couple there, so we offered to take their picture. We learned that the girlfriend had bought her boyfriend a helicopter flight for his birthday. I thought that was really thoughtful.
Purchasing Tickets for our Niagara Falls Helicopter Ride
We went inside to get our tickets for the Classic Tour. Niagara Helicopters does not take reservations, they operate on a first come, first serve basis. You can come at any time during the business hours (9 a.m. until sunset) and get tickets. Unfortunately, they cannot fly after dark or in low cloud conditions, so call in advance if the weather looks questionable! They can fly up to four helicopters at a time, so don’t worry the line moves pretty fast.
We were both excited to do a Niagara Falls helicopter tour. This was going to be Russell’s first helicopter ride and my second. I had really enjoyed my helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon and I knew what to expect. Russell was a little anxious, but I knew he would love it. We went outside to get in the short line.
Right away we could tell Niagara Helicopters was a well-organized operation. They were so efficient with loading and unloading the helicopters that the line moved quickly. We got to skip a bit of the line because they were looking for a party of two to fill extra spots, so we waited less than 10 minutes. On their website, they note that they try to keep the wait time under 15 minutes.
We were hoping to sit in the front so that we would have the best views. I asked the attendant if we could and he said it was up to the pilot. I decided I would just try my best to get the front seat. Before the helicopter takes off, they take a group picture of everyone that will ride on the helicopter in front of it. When we went to take the picture, we went and stood on the left of the group. That way we would be closest to the front of the helicopter. And it worked, the crew directed us to sit in the front with the captain.
Our Niagara Falls Helicopter Tour
The staff helped us buckle in and the professional photographers took a few pictures. Then we took off. The ride was really smooth. They had a nice taped narration of the flight that provided some interesting facts and pointed out the sites.
The first part of the flight you fly over the Niagara river downstream from the falls. It is amazing the intensity of the rapids here. The Whirlpool Rapids are designated as class 6, which means the most challenging in the world. I also spotted the Whirlpool Aerocar. It was crossing above these rapids. I made a mental note to check it out after we landed.
Then we headed towards the falls. First, we flew over the Rainbow Bridge, which crosses the Niagara River and is a border crossing between the US and Canada. Then, as we approached the American Falls and the Bridal Falls, we passed over Queen Victoria Park.
Next up was the Horseshoe Falls. I was a little worried I was sitting on the wrong side of the helicopter to get a good view. Well, the pilot did a figure eight maneuver to ensure that everyone got a great view of the Falls. And let me tell you everyone got a great view. When the helicopter turned, I felt like I was looking straight down on the falls and it was just breathtaking.
Smooth Landing After Our Amazing Ride
Then the helicopter headed back. We both looked at each other in amazement at what we had seen. As we approached the launchpad we could see there was another helicopter there. We thought we might have to wait, but the helicopter took off just in time. Niagara Helicopters really has this down to a science – they have been doing this for over 50 years!
We exited the helicopter and they had the pictures they had taken out and ready for us to review. Of course, they had the group photo, but they had also taken a few other candid shots as well.
The Niagara Falls Helicopter Ride only lasts 12 minutes, but it was a really special and memorable 12 minutes. The views we had we will never forget. If I had the chance to go for another ride I would! Check out our video to get a better sense of the experience.
Niagara Falls Hotel Deal
Right now on Groupon, you can find an amazing deal at the Sheraton at the Falls. I actually wanted to stay at this hotel, but it was too expensive during the time I went. The Sheraton is located on the Canadian side directly across from the American Falls. You will be able to walk to many restaurants and attractions. In addition to the great price for the room, the Groupon deal includes a $20 dining credit at the Rainforest Cafe or TGI Friday’s, a $20 credit towards the HydroSpa, and wine-tasting passes valid at 19 wineries on the New York State Wine Trail. Click here to check price and availability.
Some things are definitely worth the splurge, especially when it creates memories that will last a lifetime. We will always remember our Niagara Falls Helicopter Ride! Have you ever done a helicopter ride or splurged on a memorable experience?
Lots more about our weekend in Niagara Falls coming up on the blog, subscribe to make sure you don’t miss it.
Expert Tips for Your Niagara Falls Helicopter Ride:
- Don’t worry about where you sit inside the helicopter everyone will have a great view.
- Call ahead if the weather looks questionable to see if Niagara Helicopters are able to fly.
Disclosure: Niagara Helicopters provided us a discount on our helicopter ride. As always opinions are mine.
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