Planning a trip to Niagara Falls State Park? Then you will need this list of the 9 best places to photograph Niagara Falls on the American side. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN get good photos of the waterfalls from the US side!
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Best Place to Take Pictures at Niagara Falls on the American Side
#1The Prospect Point Observation Tower
Hands down the best place to take photos at Niagara Falls State Park is the Observation Tower. On the American side of Niagara Falls, most of the viewing of the waterfalls is from a side perspective or right at the top of the falls.
The Prospect Point Observation Tower allows you a panoramic view of all three waterfalls at the same time from a vantage point high in the air above the Niagara River. It really is the best place to view Niagara Falls on the American side if you want an unobstructed vista.
The Observation Tower is not free, unfortunately. However, if all you want to do is go out on the observation deck and take the elevator down into the gorge, the cost is minimal.
When we were there, the ticket for the Observation Tower Deck and elevator ride down into the gorge was $1.25 a person. If you buy tickets to the Maid of the Mist boat ride, access to the Observation Tower is included.
The photo above was taken from the Prospect Point Observation Tower deck. We were able to get a lot of cool photos with rainbows due to the spray of the waterfalls.
If you plan on taking photos from the Observation Tower deck, I recommend a good telephoto lens for your camera. We have an inexpensive telephoto lens and were still able to get some pretty nice pictures of Bridal Veil Falls, the American Falls, and Horseshoe Falls.
Best Places to Photograph Niagara Falls on Goat Island
#2 Terrapin Point
Terrapin Point is located in Niagara Falls State Park at the very tip of Goat Island. This beautiful observation area gets you right to the edge of the thundering Horseshoe Falls. It’s a great place to photograph the waterfall and the rising mist.
Terrapin Point is nicely landscaped and offers plenty of places to sit for a few minutes and just soak in the beauty after taking some pictures. It is also a great place for taking photos of the nighttime fireworks show and falls illumination.
#3 Goat Island Bridal Veil Falls Observation Point
The northeastern most tip of Goat Island also offers great viewing of both the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. The scenic overlook is on the gorge rim and offers a higher vantage point than the nearby Luna Island.
This scenic overlook on Goat Island is a nice spot to get both waterfalls in one shot with the Observation Tower Deck and Rainbow Bridge into Canada in the background. Definitely a great spot for photo opps!
#4 Top of the Falls Restaurant
Top of the Falls Restaurant on Goat Island is a great place to view Horseshoe Falls. With floor to ceiling windows and outdoor seating, the Top of the Falls Restaurant offers beautiful birds-eye views of Horseshoe Falls and Terrapin Point. It’s a great place to snap some photos while you are waiting for your meal to arrive.
Top of the Falls Restaurant is a full-service, sit-down restaurant offering standard American Fare like burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and fries. It’s a bit pricey in my opinion, but you might find the stunning views of the waterfall and the photo opportunities to be worth the expense of the meal. You can check out the Top of the Falls Menu here.
Best Places to Take Photos at Niagara Falls From the Top Looking Down
#5 Luna Island
Luna Island is directly behind the drop for Bridal Veil Falls and is the best place to view Niagara Falls for a unique top-down perspective. You can take some really neat photos while you are leaning over the railway looking down over the falls. Just make sure you have your camera strap securely around your neck!
The scenic overlook on Luna Island also offers a great view of the Cave of the Winds walkway.
So, in addition to taking pictures of the falls, Luna Island is a fun spot to watch people get soaked as they brave the Hurricane Deck.
#6 Prospect Point American Falls Observation Point
Another spot where you have a nice vantage point at the top of the waterfall drop is the Prospect Point American Falls Observation Point.
This was the first picture we took on our trip to Niagara Falls the night we got there. We headed over to see the falls right after setting up our campsite at the Niagara Falls North KOA. We got to the falls just as the sun was going down and the sky was a beautiful pink-orange color. It made for some gorgeous photos!
Best Place to view Niagara Falls and Take Up Close Photos
The next three best places to photograph Niagara Falls are up close to the waterfalls so there is a lot of spray. You (and your camera) will get wet!
If you are going up close to the waterfalls and want to take pictures, here are some great options…
#7 Cave of the Winds
The Cave of the Winds walkway is the best place to view Niagara Falls while experiencing the gale-force winds the falling water generates. From this unique vantage point, you truly experience the raw power of Bridal Veil Falls.
You will need a ticket to access Cave of the Winds. On our trip to Niagara Falls State Park, tickets to Cave of the Winds were $19 a person.
After you take the elevator down into the gorge, the Cave of the Winds experience begins. You follow a series of wooden walkways, getting progressively closer to the falls. If you are brave enough to go all the way to the Hurricane Deck, you will be mere feet away from Bridal Veil Falls and will have an amazing photo opp!
#8 Maid of the Mist Boat Tour
Want to experience the fury and thunder of Horseshoe Falls up close? The Maid of the Mist Boat Tour takes visitors right into the Horseshoe Falls basin for a heart-pounding experience you can’t get anywhere else.
The Maid of the Mist gets your adrenaline pumping by stopping for a few minutes in the middle of the basin so you can get truly soaked by the spray and feel the tropical-storm strength winds whipped up by the falling water.
The Maid of the Mist is an incredible experience and an amazing opportunity to take pictures at Niagara Falls if you had the foresight to bring along a waterproof camera.
#9 Base of Prospect Point Observation Tower
If you take the elevator at the Observation Tower down into the gorge and follow the pathway towards the waterfall, you can climb a series of steps to the Crow’s Nest where you will be treated to an up close view of the American Falls that will take your breath away!
If you are brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the Crow’s Nest, you will get soaked! So find a way to protect your camera before you take photos at Niagara Falls in this location.
The base of the Observation Tower is also a great place to get pictures of rainbows while watching the Maid of Mist and Hornblower boat tours go by. I was so excited to get the above shot of the Hornblower (the Canadian equivalent of Maid of the Mist) perfectly framed by a rainbow!
Tips for Photographing Niagara Falls from the American Side
- Go early in the day to avoid crowds. We got to the Observation Tower just as it was opening and had the place to ourselves until the first Maid of the Mist boatload got back. It was a great time to take pictures without getting a lot of other tourists in the photos.
- Don’t be afraid to play around with different perspectives. Kevin got some great pictures by holding the camera directly down over Bridal Veil Falls at Luna Island. (Although I admit, he was making me a bit nervous. Don’t attempt that without a strong neck strap for your camera!)
- Take along a tripod. This is optional for daylight photos of the falls, but a necessity if you are shooting pictures of the waterfalls lit up at night.
- Learn how to adjust your camera settings. By using a tripod and a long exposure, you can get some gorgeous waterfall photos.
- Stick around for the illumination and fireworks for some beautiful nighttime pictures. The falls are lit up after dark with the color changing every few minutes. The fireworks are launched over Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls so you can choose your viewing spots accordingly. We got some nice pictures from Terrapin Point.
- Edit your photos when you get home. Play around with the color saturation to make the waterfall colors bright and vivid.
Great Resources for Learning to Photograph Waterfalls
Want to take photos at Niagara Falls that have that silky water effect? These books can help!
The Modern Photographer’s Guide to Shooting Waterfalls (Volume 1)The Art of Photographing Water: Rivers, Lakes, Waterfalls, Streams & SeashoresWaterfalls & Waves: A Comprehensive Guide to Long-Exposure Water Photography
Other Beautiful Places to Take Pictures in the Niagara Falls NY area
If you have time, there are other sites to take pictures at Niagara Falls State Park and within a few minutes drive. These spots have amazing views and are well worth visiting.
Three Sisters Island
Three Sisters Island can be reached by bridge from Goat Island. It is a great place to take photos of the Canadian Rapids on the Niagara River.
Whirlpool State Park
Whirlpool State Park is just minutes from Niagara Falls State Park and can be reached from the Niagara Scenic Parkway. The gorge rim trail in the park affords beautiful vistas of the Whirlpool and the Class VI Whirlpool Rapids.
Devil’s Hole State Park
Devil’s Hole State park is just a few minutes further up the Niagara Scenic Parkway from Whirlpool State Park . It is a great place to hike down into the Niagara River gorge.
After making your way down the 400+ stone steps, you will arrive at the river’s edge. There are plenty of places along the trail to take photos of the river and gorge walls. It is also a great spot to get a view of the impressive Robert Moses Power Plant.
Fort Niagara is located at the mouth of the Niagara River and offers gorgeous views of Lake Ontario. Fort Niagara is about 15 minutes from Niagara Falls. It is a neat place to learn a little of the history of the area. You can also tour the lighthouse if it is open.
Quick Links to Info on This Page
- Best Place to Take Pictures at Niagara Falls on the American Side
- Best Places to Photograph Niagara Falls on Goat Island
- Best Places to Take Photos at Niagara Falls From the Top Looking Down
- Best Place to view Niagara Falls and Take Up Close Photos
- Tips for Photographing Niagara Falls from the American Side
- Great Resources for Learning to Photograph Waterfalls
- Other Beautiful Places to Take Pictures in the Niagara Falls NY area
Pin this list of the 9 Best Places to Photograph Niagara Falls on the American Side for later:
So I hope you have enjoyed this list of the best places to photograph Niagara Falls on the American side. What are your favorite spots to take pictures at Niagara Falls? Be sure to leave a comment below – we would love to hear from you. Happy traveling!