As a Rocky Mountain native, I’m guilty of often overlooking the natural splendors in other parts of America. When you grow up in shadows of 12,000-foot-high peaks, though, everything else pales in comparison.
What doesn’t pale in comparison to my Rockies, though, is Niagara Falls. Specifically, a Niagara Falls winter. While most folks tend to plan trips to Niagara during summer, a Niagara Falls winter trip is one you should consider if you’re looking for something fun to do during the colder months of the year.
A Guide to a Niagara Falls Winter
There’s no shortage of fun adventures to find in the Niagara Falls area during winter. Whether you want to go snowshoeing or birdwatching, the opportunity to do it against the backdrop of a snowy, frozen Niagara Falls is one you should pass up.
What really caught my attention, though, is the fishing, hiking, and frozen waterfalls.
Fishing Niagara Falls
Fishing may not be the first activity that comes to mind when you consider a visit to Niagara Falls during the winter. If you’re any kind of an angler, though, it really should be.
Fishing – both conventional and on the fly – is great year-round in the Niagara River, as it plays home to salmon, trout, bass, muskie, walleye, and more. According to Niagara Falls USA, there are four different areas to choose from when planning a fishing trip here:
- The Falls: The stretch of water directly above Niagara Falls is home to fish like bass and muskie.
- The River: The Niagara River carries water from the upper four Great Lakes, and connects Lake Erie and Ontario. This is the section to fish if you’re looking for big trout in a river setting.
- The Lake: Lake Ontario is a fantastic trout and salmon fishing destination, even in the winter. Obviously, the chance at a trophy-sized brown trout is higher in the lake than the river.
- The Canal: The Erie Canal isn’t too far from Niagara Falls, and offers some fantastic fishing of its own. It’s home to pike, bass, carp, and panfish – the fish so many of us anglers grew up catching.
I always feel lost when fishing a brand-new location, even when I have directions, descriptions of where to go, and a GPS telling me I’m in the right spot. With the sheer amount of water around Niagara Falls, it’s easy to feel like there’s nowhere to start.
What I’ve found, though, is that the fishing is great for shore anglers when you access the river from Devil’s Hole State Park, Artpark, or the fishing dock at Lewiston.
These access points put you on the main stem of the Niagara River. You’re fishing big water, with the potential for hooking into really big fish. This is the type of water I love to explore with a guide, simply because I know I won’t have the time or local knowledge to really give a fishery all I can without a guide’s help.
What’s really fun about fishing in the Niagara area, though, is the variety of experiences you can find. I grew up on the small creeks of the Rocky Mountains, so I feel right at home on a place like 18-Mile Creek, below Burt Dam. You’ll find plenty of fun fishing opportunities in this and the other countless tributaries flowing into Lake Ontario.
This is just a surface-level view of all the fishing opportunities you’ll find at Niagara Falls during winter. Grab you rod and go explore – you never know what you’ll find.
My wife and mother-in-law think I’m crazy for it, but I love the snow. I love fly fishing in the dead of winter, because I love how quiet and calm the landscape is when covered in a few feet of powder.
That’s what makes winter hiking a worthwhile adventures. As long as you have a good pair of boots, a decent coat, a hat, and some gloves, you’ll be plenty warm. After all, walking keeps your blood flowing, which is half the battle of staying warm in the winter.
If you’re in the area, you can book a free guided hiking tour in Niagara Falls, which takes you through some of the area’s most awe-inspiring landscape. If you’re brave enough, I highly suggest getting up before the sun and hiking to Whirlpool State Park, where you’ll get an epic view of the sunrise.
There’s also plenty of trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, if that’s more your thing.
The Frozen Falls
This is, by far, the most unique thing about visiting Niagara Falls during the winter. Seeing the frozen falls, river, and all the ice on nearby trees and rocks, is something that feels like it’s straight out of a fairytale.
This is the sort of scenery we just don’t have here in the Rockies. And it’s what makes a trip to Niagara Falls – especially during the winter – worth it. Oh, and the crowds are much thinner, too, so if you’re anything like me and enjoy solitude, then this is the time to visit.
Whether you’re looking for a new go-to fishing destination, or you simply need to get away and go for an adventure, visiting Niagara Falls is an activity you should put on your list. I love the quiet serenity of the Falls during winter, and I reckon you will, too.
Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer, guide, and bamboo rod builder from Wyoming. He’s the News Editor for MidCurrent and a columnist for Hatch Magazine. Connect with him on Instagram/Twitter, @Spencer_Durrant.