Goat Island – the Land Between the Waterfalls

aerial photo outlined with borders showing where Goat Island is located

Goat Island is located in Niagara Falls, New York, USA, between the two distinct falls that make up the stunning Niagara Falls – the Horseshoe Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The island sits in the middle of the Niagara River and is part of Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the United States. This small island offers a breathtaking experience like no other, where you can witness the sheer power and beauty of the falls up close. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through the history, attractions, amenities, and everything else you need to know to make the most of your visit to Goat Island.

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Goat Island has a rich history that dates back centuries. Originally inhabited by the Native American Narragansett tribe, the island was named “Nante Sinunk” by the tribe. It was later sold to early Newport colonists in 1658, who used it as a goat pasture. The island’s name is said to have originated from the discovery of a breed of goats known as the New American Goat. In 1703, an earthen fort named “Fort Anne” was built on Goat Island during the War of Spanish Succession, named after Queen Anne of Great Britain.

Natural Beauty and Preservation Efforts

Despite its historical significance, Goat Island is primarily known for its stunning natural beauty. Renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted described the island as a place of unparalleled forest beauty, where the original growth of trees remained undisturbed. The spray from the falls created a natural nursery for indigenous plant life, making Goat Island a haven for flora and fauna. Its preservation as parkland is attributed to the early efforts of Augustus Porter, who recognized the long-term value of the falls as a tourist attraction.

Exploring Goat Island

Attractions and Points of Interest

Goat Island offers a plethora of attractions and points of interest that cater to all types of visitors. From thrilling adventures to tranquil walks amidst nature, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Let’s delve into some of the must-see attractions on Goat Island:

  1. Cave of the Winds: Get ready for an unforgettable experience as you venture into the heart of the falls. The Cave of the Winds allows you to walk alongside the roaring waters and feel the mist on your face. Prepare to be amazed by the sheer power and beauty of nature.
  2. Three Sisters Islands: Take a leisurely stroll to the Three Sisters Islands, located just a short distance from Goat Island. These picturesque islands offer a serene escape from the bustling crowds, with scenic views of the rapids and surrounding nature.
  3. Terrapin Point: Visit Terrapin Point for a front-row seat to the awe-inspiring Horseshoe Falls. This vantage point provides unparalleled views of the falls, allowing you to marvel at their grandeur and capture stunning photographs.
  4. Luna Island: Located between the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, Luna Island offers a unique perspective of these magnificent waterfalls. Stand on the island’s edge and witness the raw power and beauty of the cascading waters.

Activities and Recreation

Aside from its iconic attractions, Goat Island also offers various activities and recreational opportunities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, there’s something to suit every taste:

  • Niagara Scenic Trolley: Hop aboard the Niagara Scenic Trolley, which stops on Goat Island, and explore the park at your own pace. This convenient mode of transportation allows you to effortlessly navigate between attractions and take in the stunning scenery along the way.
  • Picnicking and Relaxation: With limited picnic tables available on Goat Island, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a leisurely picnic amidst the natural beauty. Alternatively, head to the nearby parking lot #3, where you’ll find additional picnic tables and restrooms, along with plenty of shade for those warm summer days.
  • Walking and Hiking: Embark on a leisurely walk or hike around Goat Island’s 1.5-mile (2.4 km) perimeter. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature as you explore the island’s trails and take in the breathtaking views of the falls.

Wildlife and Nature

Goat Island is not only a haven for scenic beauty but also a sanctuary for wildlife and native plant species. The preservation efforts initiated by Augustus Porter and Frederick Law Olmsted have allowed the island’s ecosystem to thrive. Keep an eye out for the diverse range of bird species that call Goat Island home, including gulls, herons, and even the occasional bald eagle. Additionally, the island’s lush vegetation provides a habitat for various indigenous plant species, creating a vibrant and thriving ecosystem.

Practical Information

Getting to Goat Island

To reach Goat Island, you can use the following address for your mobile device: Goat Island, Niagara Falls, NY. Parking is available on the island as well as in a nearby parking lot. Rates range from free to $20.00, excluding tax. The island is open most days of the year, from sunrise to sunset, allowing visitors ample time to explore its wonders.


Goat Island is connected to the mainland and other islands in the Niagara River via several bridges:

  1. American Rapids Bridge: This is the main bridge connecting Goat Island to the mainland of Niagara Falls, New York. It’s a pedestrian-friendly bridge that brings you right into the heart of the park.
  2. Luna Island Bridges: Two small pedestrian bridges connect Goat Island to Luna Island, a tiny piece of land situated between the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. These bridges offer an incredible view of the cascading waters.
  3. Three Sisters Island Bridges: Three small bridges connect Goat Island to the Three Sisters Islands, a group of small islands located on the east side of Goat Island. Each of the Three Sisters Islands offers unique and intimate views of the Niagara River and the rapids leading to the falls.
  4. Terrapin Point Bridge: On the west side of Goat Island, a small pedestrian bridge connects the island to Terrapin Point, a lookout offering one of the most spectacular views of Horseshoe Falls.

All the bridges provide unique perspectives of the water and surrounding landscape, making them integral parts of any visit to Goat Island.


Parking on Goat Island is available for a fee. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Parking Lots: There are several parking lots on Goat Island, the largest being Lot 2. The lots are conveniently located near major attractions.
  2. Fees: There is a parking fee for visitors to Goat Island. The parking fee was around $10 per vehicle for the day, but you should check the official website or contact the Niagara Falls State Park for the most current information.
  3. Availability: Parking spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. During peak tourist season or on weekends, lots can fill up quickly, so it’s advisable to arrive early.
  4. Accessibility: There are designated accessible parking spots for visitors with disabilities, which are also subject to the standard parking fee.
  5. Overnight Parking: Overnight parking is not typically permitted in the Niagara Falls State Park parking lots.

Remember, the parking lots are well-signposted, so they should be relatively easy to find once you’re in the park. However, due to the popularity of the falls, consider using public transportation or other options if possible to avoid potential parking inconveniences, especially during peak times.

Visitor Amenities and Services

When visiting Goat Island, you’ll find a range of amenities and services to enhance your experience:

  • Restrooms: Restroom facilities are available on Goat Island, near the Cave of the Winds attraction. These facilities provide a convenient and necessary convenience for visitors during their exploration.
  • Food Services: In-season, you can find food services at the Over the Falls restaurant near Terrapin Pointe. Enjoy a delicious meal or grab a snack to refuel after your adventures on the island.
  • Accessibility: Goat Island strives to be accessible to all visitors. ADA compliance ensures that individuals with disabilities can enjoy the attractions and amenities with ease.


How do I get to Goat Island?

Goat Island is accessible by car or on foot from Niagara Falls, New York. It is located within the Niagara Falls State Park. You can walk across the pedestrian bridge from the mainland or drive and park on the island itself.

Is there a fee to visit Goat Island?

Entrance to Goat Island and Niagara Falls State Park is free. However, there is a parking fee if you choose to park your vehicle on the island, and certain attractions like the Cave of the Winds tour have their own separate fees.

What are the hours of operation?

Goat Island is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round. However, specific attractions on the island, such as the Cave of the Winds, operate on specific hours and may vary depending on the season.

Is Goat Island pet-friendly?

Yes, pets are allowed in the Niagara Falls State Park including Goat Island. However, they must be kept on a leash not more than six feet long. Pets are not permitted in buildings or on specific attractions such as the Cave of the Winds tour.

Are there dining facilities on Goat Island?

Yes, there are dining options available within Niagara Falls State Park, including on Goat Island. Options range from full-service restaurants to snack stands, depending on the season. You can also bring your own food and enjoy a picnic in designated areas.

Are there restroom facilities on Goat Island?

Yes, there are public restrooms available on Goat Island.

Is Goat Island wheelchair accessible?

While Goat Island itself is accessible, not all areas or attractions may be suitable for those with mobility impairments due to natural terrain. For specific information on accessibility, it is recommended to contact the Niagara Falls State Park directly.

Can I view the fireworks from Goat Island?

Yes, Goat Island offers a great vantage point for the fireworks over the falls. Fireworks usually take place on selected dates during the summer months and on special occasions.

Is there lodging on Goat Island?

There are no hotels or overnight accommodations on Goat Island itself. However, numerous hotels are located nearby in Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario.

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