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Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls State Park (US Side)

The Cave of the Winds is a very popular attraction at Niagara Falls State Park in New York State. It offers a magical and memorable way to experience the power of Niagara Falls close-up.

A slight misnomer, the attraction doesn’t involve a cave at all unless you count the tunnel that you pass through to get to the boardwalk.

The name came from a rock overhang originally located at the base of the falls, which visitors could stand under. The rock overhang is gone, but the name stuck.

If you’re wondering whether the Cave of the Winds is worth your time on your visit to Niagara Falls, NY, the answer is a definite yes!

Even with small kids (or kids of all ages), it’s an impressive experience that you won’t forget soon.


When you arrive at Niagara Falls State Park, you don’t have to pay to enter, but you do have to pay to park.

Check out our article on the ins and outs of parking at the state park for more information.

If you’re parking in the State Park, expect to pay between $5-$15, depending on the season.

The best place to park to access the Cave of the Winds is Parking Lot 2, located on Goat Island. It’s the same parking lot that serves the Top of the Falls Restaurant.

If you’re driving in from the Scenic Highway, follow signs for Goat Island and then signs for the Cave of the Winds. This will lead you to the correct parking lot.

Buying Tickets

Tickets to the Cave of the Winds cannot be reserved ahead of time online; they must be purchased on location.

To buy tickets, you can find one of several ticket windows near the entrance to the attraction.

They are clearly marked, and if you get there early, the lines aren’t too bad. You may have to wait in line longer if you arrive later in the day.

It’s a good idea to show up early in the day to get your tickets secured, as they can sell out.

It’s a timed entry attraction, so you will need to reserve your time slot, and then make sure to show up at the gate at least 10 minutes before your time slot.

During the summer season, tickets are $21 per adult, and $17 per child (6-12). Kids 5 and under are free. This makes it a great deal if you have small children!

Winter prices are $14 per adult, and $10 per child.

The Cave of the Winds is open year-round (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day).

What to Wear

When planning your trip to Niagara Falls, it’s important to consider what to wear and any extras to pack along, even if it’s just a day trip.

If you’re going to the Cave of the Winds, I highly recommend bringing a dry change of clothes.

This is extra important if you’re going on a cold day or in the winter season, as being wet will quickly make you cold and ruin the rest of the day for you.

Plan to wear ankle-length pants or shorts if possible to prevent your pants from getting soaked.

It’s also a good idea to wear sandals or other shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. Bring extra clothes and shoes to change into afterward.

I wore blue jeans and had them rolled up to mid-calf beforehand, but I still got soaked up to above the knees, even with the poncho on.

Hubby had sneakers on, without a dry pair to spare, and had to spend the rest of the day with wet feet.

When you arrive down on the board walk, you are given a thin plastic poncho with a hood to put on.

It actually does a fairly decent job of keeping you from getting completely soaked, especially if you can manage to keep the hood on.

In times past, the Cave of the Winds also gave out footwear for visitors to put on, but that is apparently no longer a thing.

The kids decided not to wear the hoods up, and as a result came out looking like wet rats, with water soaking from their hair down onto shirts.

The result? Smiling but slightly shivery kiddos.

We had brought along dry pants, shirts and shoes for all the kids, and they were definitely needed, as they were all shivering by the time we were done.

My pants dried off in an hour or two in the warm sun and breeze.


The best time of year to visit the Cave of the Winds is the summer. On a warm day, that river spray is a welcome chance to cool off a bit.

While the summer is obviously peak season, and bound to be much busier, it is by far the best time to experience the roar of the Falls and feel the water pound at your feet.

Winter has a charm of its own, however, with the falls forming magical-looking mounds of ice. If you do go in the cold of winter, make sure you have dry clothes to put on.

Spring and Fall have the advantage of fewer visitors to contend with, but they are also cold without the advantage of getting to see fascinating ice formations.

You can alleviate the crush of the crowds in the summer season by getting to the Cave of the Winds early.

The best time of day to visit the Cave of the Winds is early morning, the earlier the better.

The first entry is at 9 AM, but if you get there anywhere before 11 AM, you should find shorter lines and less crowded boardwalks.

The World Changed Here Pavilion

Make sure to leave at least 10 minutes or more before your entry time to view the World Changed Here Pavilion at the entrance to the Cave of the Winds.

When we bought our tickets, we purchased the next available entry (10:10 AM), which left no time to view the pavilion.

To do it over again, I would have gotten the tickets for at least 10-20 minutes later so that we would have had time to look at all the displays.

The Pavilion showcases the fascinating history of Niagara Falls State Park and the efforts of men and women at the end of the 19th century to restore the natural beauty of the area.

Designed to be eye-catching and informational, there’s tons to take in, all presented in a way to fascinate and educate, while giving a slice of the monumental history of Niagara Falls.

History of Niagara Falls State Park video

Another excellent presentation of the history of Niagara Falls State Park is given in video form.

At the time of your ticket entry, guests are ushered into a viewing theater to watch a fun and informational video summarizing the history of the falls and the park.

The film is very well presented, and fun extras like screens on the sides with characters adding quips, and lights and sounds from behind enhance the experience even more.

Stroller Parking and Accessibility

Having a one-year-old and a three-year-old in the mix, we weren’t sure whether it was best to leave the stroller in the car until we were done with the Cave of the Winds, or bring it along.

We did bring it along, and this turned out to be the right decision.

There was a stroller parking section where we could leave it as we descended the elevator and climbed around on the boardwalk below.

The one-year-old rode in the backpack, and the three-year-old firmly held my hand.

On the way back to pick up the stroller, we met an individual in a wheelchair waiting in line.

We assured her that she could access at least part of the attraction by riding the elevator and wheeling through the first part of the platform and boardwalk.

Not all of it is accessible to wheelchair, but at least some is.

We also saw a number of individuals walking with assistance of friends or relatives and canes/walkers. It might be a challenge to those with limited mobility, but not impossible for the determined!

Elevator, Tunnel, and Boardwalk

After watching the World Changed Here video, you follow a guide through several doors and around into another building to access the elevator down to the lower level.

Our elevator operator on the way down told us we went down 17 stories, but the one on the way up said it was 18. Not sure who was right!

Getting off the elevator, you proceed down a long tunnel. If the lines are long, there are plenty of informational signs with trivia and other history on the wall to read as you wait.

We were there early with no line at all, so we cruised right on by.

At the end of the tunnel is where you are handed plastic ponchos. Kids’ sizes were also supplied, and we all took a few minutes to gear everybody up, even the baby.

Tricky to figure out how to do that with the backpack, but we managed in the end. She stayed dry, except for pants and shoes. Backpack, not so much!

After that, there’s nothing left but to make your way to the entrance to the boardwalk, and enter the adventure.

There are definitely ways to get wetter or stay dryer, but if you make the circuit of the entire boardwalk, you will get wet, at least somewhat.

The spray coming off the falls, and the pounding of the water hitting the rocks, bouncing back at you all combine to a deafening roar, and a fine mist everywhere you look.

And the changing breeze can mean that you’re dry one minute, and pelted with spray the next moment, without even changing your location.

For the many times I’ve been to Niagara Falls, the visit to the Cave of the Winds is the most memorable so far.

I was simply stunned by the magical quality of the light shining from over the top of the falls through the mist, lighting up every droplet.

It was also helpful that it wasn’t crowded that time of the morning, to be able to roam the boardwalk with a bit of elbow room.

Plan to spend at least 45 minutes to 1.5 hours experiencing the Cave of the Winds. Longer if the lines are long, as it will take longer to make your way through.

Linger if you can and you’re not too chilled. It’s an experience you won’t forget.