When visiting Niagara Falls with kids, a Cave of the Winds tour is a MUST DO!
The attraction, located on Goat Island in Niagara Falls State Park, is open May through October from 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Cave of the Winds tickets can be purchased the day of your visit, as part of a ticket package or online in advance.
Read on to learn what to expect on a Cave of the Winds tour and our tips for visiting this memorable Niagara Falls USA attraction.
Ellie and I received complimentary Niagara USA Discovery Passes for purposes of this Cave of the Winds review. All opinions are ours.
What to expect on the Cave of the Winds tour
As you may know, I don’t often label attractions as MUST DO activities. While I think most every attraction across this great world will appeal to someone, Cave of the Winds tours provide that rare experience that everyone who is physically able to climb stairs will enjoy.
After you purchase your Cave of the Winds tickets, head into the area just left of the ticket window to get sandals specially made for the Cave of the Winds tour. Change into the sandals and, if wearing long pants, roll them up as high as you can.
On my visit, a sweet lady who spoke no English clearly communicated to me that my cuffed jeans were not high enough. She insisted they be above the knee. Honestly, shorts (like these) are better.
Your tour begins with a long elevator ride 175 down through the rock into Niagara Gorge, at the basin of Niagara Falls. Before ascending the stairs into the mist, you’ll receive a recyclable, yellow rain poncho to help you stay dry.
The first part of the journey is fairly tame, an easy staircase down to a lower platform to observe the falls. I especially liked watching the water crash among the rocks — such power. Take your time, though, and notice the little streams that meander quietly through the rocks without making a showy display. There’s just something about that gentle movement among the chaos that is mesmerizing.
Like the Maid of the Mist, there’s not much opportunity to take good photos without risking damage to non-waterproof equipment. But here, on the lower deck of the Cave of the Winds tour, it’s doable as long as it’s not windy. Don’t forget to turn around and enjoy the view of the gorge from down here. It’s incredible.
The next main area is the Hurricane Deck, just feet away from the plunging Bridal Veil Falls. This deck has rubberized mats, necessary to help guests maintain their balance as the water pounds, creating powerful wind gusts. I was carrying my good camera (in a camera bag) under my poncho and didn’t want to risk it getting drenched so I only “played” on this deck for a few minutes. It was, by far, Ellie’s favorite spot at Niagara Falls. I could hear her squeals of delight over the pounding surf. She wasn’t the only one, “kids” of all ages enjoyed the Hurricane Deck.
To feel the pounding water and hear the roar as it broke over the rocks was simply incredible. It’s the best place in all of Niagara Falls to experience the power of the Falls.
Cave of the Winds is not a cave!
Early in Niagara Falls’ history as a tourist attraction, there was a cave measuring 130 feet high by 100 feet wide and 30 feet deep behind Bridal Veil Falls. Guided tours were offered between 1841 and 1920 when a rock fall made the cave unsafe for visitors. In 1954 another rock fall led park management to dynamite the remaining overhang for the sake of safety. Today, the name remains — a nod to the attractions early history. I was surprised to learn there is no cave on the Cave of the Winds tour, but it didn’t lessen my experience in the least. Just thought spelunkers everywhere should be aware. 🙂
My opinion of the Cave of the Winds tour
Cave of the Winds is a wet attraction, a really wet attraction, and there is no way you will stay dry.
With that clearly stated, I highly recommend that you consider the outside temperature when visiting. When Ellie and I visited, the temperature was about 72 degrees fahrenheit, which was just fine. If you go when it’s colder, consider wearing a lined, waterproof jacket and take a change of clothes!
I didn’t pack towels or a waterproof camera, but I recommend both for this attraction.
Don’t rush the experience. My daughter had so much fun on the Hurricane Deck. I just couldn’t pull her away and ruin the fun, especially when she started splashing in the puddles. How often do kids get to stand in hurricane gale winds safely? If I didn’t have my camera, I would have joined her for more fun.
Guests with mobility and balance issues should not take the Cave of the Winds tour. Also, very young children might be scared by the noise of the falls — and they should have an adult with them at all times. If they are scared, parents/family can take turns exploring Cave of the Winds. There is ample space to watch from a safe distance.
A kid’s opinion of the Cave of the Winds tour
“The best part of Cave of the Winds is the Hurricane Deck because you get to see the Bridal Veil Falls up close and you can feel the water fall on you. But, it’s a good idea to wear a sweatshirt because it gets a little bit cold when you get really wet. The part that might surprise you is that there is no cave at Cave of the Winds. It fell down and doesn’t exist anymore, but it’s still the coolest place at Niagara Falls. Parents and elementary school kids and older kids should go because it is super-super fun getting wet in the real falls and getting a poncho and sandals you can keep! You will get totally, completely, entirely soaked at Cave of the Winds, but it’s so cool you just have to do it.” (Can you tell she’s working on descriptive words in language arts?)
Plan your visit to Cave of the Winds
Cave of the Winds Tickets
Cave of the Winds full-admission prices for 2014 are $12/adults and $6/ages 6-12.
Off-season pricing, which offers a view of the falls from Niagara Gorge, but not the chance to experience the full force of the water, is discounted between November and May. I cannot say whether it’s a good value off-season.
Parking at Goat Island is $8/vehicle.
Cave of the Winds is included in the Niagara USA Discovery Pass which is $49/adults and $38/kids ages 6-12.
Cave of the Winds Hours
Regular season hours are 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. May to October.
Winter hours vary based on the weather.
Learn more about Niagara Falls USA
Besides the Cave of the Winds tour, you might want to check out these other attractions and activities in Niagara Falls.
- Things to do with kids in Niagara Falls
- Maid of the Mist Boat Tour at Niagara Falls
- A family vacation itinerary for Niagara Falls