Niagara Falls State Park, located in Niagara Falls, NY, is a fantastic place to view this wonder of the natural world.
To get the best up-close views of both the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls, as well as the rapids approaching both of these falls, you need to enter Niagara Falls State Park.
It’s free to enter Niagara Falls State Park if you are walking into the park, and best of all, it’s open 365 days a year.
If you arrive by car though, you’ll have to pay a fee to park in one of the park’s three main parking lots. The cost to park in a State Park lot is $10-$15 daily for cars, and more for RVs and buses.
If you don’t want to pay the State Park parking fee, you can look for Niagara Falls City street parking or garages, or private parking lots that may offer cheaper parking rates.
Seasonal Parking Rates:
To park in Lot 1 (located nearest to Prospect Point and the Rainbow Bridge) or in Lot 2 (located on Goat Island nearest to Cave of the Winds and Top of the Falls Restaurant), fees are as follows:
- Summer (end of May-early October): $10 per car (Monday-Thursday) or $15 per car (Friday-Sunday)
- Fall (late October-December): $10 per car daily
- Winter (January-February): $5 per car daily
- Spring (March-end of May): $10 per car daily
Check the State Park website for exact lot hours and closures.
To park in Lot 3 (at the east end of Goat Island), daily rates are $10 per car, $20 per RV, and $35 per bus.
Note that this lot is only open during summer months, Friday-Monday (weekend) only. It is also the only lot that accommodates RV and bus parking.
There is a fourth parking lot on the State Park property located near the Discovery Center and the Aquarium of Niagara.
The fee for this parking lot is $5 per car. However, it is quite a hike away from the other major attractions at the park, so unless you’re also visiting the Aquarium, it may not be worth the $5 you’ll save in parking.
Another option that may save you money in the long run if you’re a frequent visitor to Niagara Falls State Park or other NY State Parks is the Empire Pass. The Empire Pass will get you into all NY State Parks at no additional cost.
We got the Empire Pass for the year, and as NY state residents, we have already made it pay for itself. The cost is $80 for a year pass, or $72 if you get the digital version of the pass (why wouldn’t you!?). It feels really good to pull up at the entrance gate and know that your parking fee is already covered.
Cost of Visiting the Niagara Falls State Park
Once you’ve sorted out the parking, the cost to visit all that Niagara Falls State Park has to offer is free. Optional attractions such as the Cave of the Winds or the Niagara Scenic Trolley are additional, but you can access all of the other trails and vantage points within the Park at no cost.
You can hike around the Park, hitting highlights such as Terrapin Point, Three Sisters Island, Luna Island, and Prospect Point. You can also access the Top of the Falls Restaurant and Visitor’s Center for informational signboards about the history of the park and the region.
Another free site of interest is the Schoellkopf Power Plant Ruins Site. Here you can see the power plant and access the gorge by elevator, at no cost.
Several hiking trails are available throughout the park, ranging from beginner-level hikes to hikes more suited to advanced hikers.
During the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons, nightly fireworks displays light up the falls at 10 PM, weather permitting. View the fireworks display from Prospect Point for an unforgettable view of the falls.
If you opt for some of the extra-cost experiences, you won’t be disappointed.
The Niagara Scenic Trolley will take you all around the Park for a hop on – hop off exploration of the entire grounds. The cost is $3 per adult / $2 per youth (6-12). Children 5 and under ride free.
The Cave of the Winds is an exciting walk at the foot of the falls, being pounded by the spray of the Bridal Veil Falls. The cost in the summer season is $21 per adult / $17 per youth (6-12). Children 5 and under enter free.
The Maid of the Mist boat ride to the base of the Horseshoe Falls is an exciting way to feel the power of the falls. The boat tours operate seasonally. The cost is $28.25 per adult / $16.50 per youth (6-12). Children 5 and under ride free.
The Aquarium of Niagara is a great activity option if the weather is oppressively hot or unbearably frigid, or just if you love sea animals! The cost is $19.95 per adult / $14.95 per child (3-12). Children 2 and under enter free.
The Observation Deck is a fun way to get a unique view of both the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls at the same time. An elevator will take you to the base of the gorge, and several stairways give you access to the Crow’s Nest. The cost to ride the elevator is $1.25 per person.