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The Niagara Whirlpool is one of the most fascinating natural phenomena in the Niagara region. It is a natural whirlpool located along the Niagara River, downstream from Niagara Falls, between the Canadian and U.S. borders.
Formation of the Whirlpool
The whirlpool is formed as the Niagara River makes a sharp right-angle turn into a narrow channel, causing the water’s momentum to spin it into a circular basin roughly 420 meters (1375 feet) in diameter. The depth in the middle of the whirlpool reaches approximately 38 meters (125 feet). The powerful torrents of water entering the whirlpool cause a vortex or a whirlpool effect.
Attractions and Activities
The Niagara Whirlpool is a major tourist attraction, with visitors flocking to see its impressive, swirling waters. On the Canadian side, the Whirlpool Aero Car, a cable car designed by Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo, offers a thrilling ride over the whirlpool, giving passengers a bird’s-eye view of the churning waters below. This antique cable car has been operating since 1916 and can carry up to 35 passengers on its 1-kilometer (0.6-mile) journey across the river.
The whirlpool is also visible from various hiking trails within the Niagara Gorge, such as the Whirlpool Rapids Trail. For the more adventurous, the Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours provide an adrenaline-pumping close-up view of the whirlpool. These tours navigate the Class 5 whitewater rapids of the Niagara River and then circle the edge of the whirlpool.
The Niagara Whirlpool and its surrounding areas are ecologically significant, with a unique microclimate that supports a variety of rare plant species. The whirlpool also lies within the Niagara River Important Bird Area, recognized internationally for its significant bird populations and diversity.
While the whirlpool is a sight to behold, it’s also incredibly powerful, and swimming or boating in it is extremely dangerous. Visitors are advised to enjoy the views from a safe distance or through regulated tourist activities.