History of the Niagara Gorge Beginning where the Falls began some 12,500 years ago not far from the mouth of the
in the Queenston-Lewiston area, the
Niagara Gorge runs about 11 kilometers (7 miles) of the lower river to where the Niagara Falls is now.
The Gorge was formed as the waterfalls eroded itself back following the Niagara River.
Separated into five discernable sections, the Niagara Gorge has several different looks and “moods” as you follow it.There are various locations along the Canadian side of the Gorge that are open to both “self guided” and professional tours.
The Upper Great Gorge is the portion located closest to the falls. It is the widest at nearly 365 meters (1200 feet) and is where the world famous Maid of the Mist navigates and shows off the mighty Niagara Falls to visitors.
The Whirlpool Rapid Gorge is where the river and gorge both make a 90 degree turn and drop in elevation by over 50 feet in a little over a mile, creating the dangerous Whirlpool Rapids.This portion of the Niagara river is only navigated by the Whirlpool Jet Boat as it is the only boat powerful enough to make it back out of the whirlpool.
Lower Great Gorge: In this part of the Gorge affectionately know as Devils Hole Because of a sudden drop in elevation of about 5 meters or 16 feet in one spot. The entire Lower Great Gorge section of river (only about a third of a mile in length) drops a full 14 meters (almost 50 feet).
The Gorge itself is just 75 meters (250 feet) wide in this section and was created at a time when the Falls was actually split in two for a period when there was restricted water flow to the river and remained as two until the water of Lake Erie began to drain into the Niagara again.
The Devils Hole Rapids are a class 3 rapids and are also located at this spot in the river.
Old Narrow Gorge: The oldest part of the Gorge, the Old Narrow Gorge is where the Falls actually started. Located in the Queenston-Lewiston area this is where the recognizable portions of the Gorge begin and were formed as the falls was formed nearly 12,000 years ago.
There is a placard located in Queenston near the
, marking the line where the Falls actually began giving visitors a visual idea of just how far the falls has traveled over all those years.
The Old Narrow Gorge is a rough part of the river but can be navigated by some personal water craft however it can be a dangerous part of the Niagara River due to the increase of water flow from the power generation discharge. The views from the top of this part of the Gorge are breathtaking.
Lewiston Branch Gorge: This portion of the Gorge extends from the Queenston-Lewiston area and reaches down to Lake Ontario to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The Gorge loses most of its distinguishable features as it gets closer to the lake and has an elevation drop of only 5 feet from the Devils Hole Rapids to the lake.
This section of the Gorge is relatively calm and is popular with boaters and kayakers.