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Waterfalls are one of the most beautiful things in nature. Some waterfalls are truly massive - like the Niagara Falls of North America, the Victoria Falls in Southern Africa, and the Iguazu Falls in South America. The highest waterfalls typically have much smaller water flows, and they offer a different type of majesty. The highest waterfall in the world is the Angel Falls of Venezuela.

Visiting Niagara Falls and Yosemite Falls is completely different. It is a completely different experience, not just on account of the falls themselves but also the tourist infrastructure and attractions around them. So what is it like to visit America's two most famous waterfalls?


Niagara Falls - America's Largest Commercialized Waterfall

Niagara Falls straddles the border between the United States and Canada (so one can choose to have an American experience, a Canadian experience, or a mixed American/Canadian experience). Fun fact, the other two massive waterfalls also straddle international borders (Victoria Falls straddles the Zambia/Zimbabwe border while the Iguazu Falls straddles the Brazil/Argentina border).

  • Highest Waterfall In The World: Angel Falls Of Venezuela
  • Largest Volume Waterfall In The World: Victoria Falls Of Zambia/Zimbabwe

Niagara Falls is flanked by Niagara Falls city - two cities of the same name on both sides of the border (be sure to make the hotel reservation on the right, Niagara Falls!).

  • Cost: Free To Visit
  • Country: USA and Canada
  • Largest: Niagara Falls Is The Largest By Volume In The USA

There is little or no hiking around Niagara Falls. Instead, attractions are centered around just viewing the falls, and short boat trips up to Niagara Falls on the Maid of the Mist. It is also possible to go behind the falls.

Otherwise, the main attractions largely revolve around the resort towns (2x Niagara Falls cities). Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York, are full of urban attractions like theme parks, prominent dining and viewing towers, shopping, gambling, and the like.

Main Activities:

  • Ride The Maid of The Mist
  • Walk Along The Top of The Falls
  • Urban Attractions

All this means that Niagara Falls is very impressive but more of a cosmopolitan experience. There's no escaping the crowds (big crowds in summer), the cafés, and the restaurants.

Related: This Is Where You Can Find The Magnificent Victoria Falls, And Why It's Worth Visiting

Yosemite Falls & America's Dreamy Valley

Yosemite Falls is a completely different experience. Whereas Niagara Falls is sandwiched between two cities, Yosemite Falls is in the heart of one of America's most beloved national parks. Here, one is in nature, and Yosemite Falls is just one of the many natural attractions.

In terms of natural attractions, there is little else to see around Niagara Falls other than the falls themselves. But Yosemite Falls is just one (eye-catching) attraction of the Yosemite Valley. It is a crowning jewel in the glacier-hewn valley with El Capitan, Half Dome, and other landmarks. Furthermore, Yosemite Falls is just one of the many falls found throughout Yosemite National Park.

Main Activities:

  • Hiking The Yosemite Falls Trails
  • Exploring The National Park

One of the main activities is to hike the Yosemite Falls Trail up to the top (start in the cool of the day and take plenty of water). The trail is open year-round, but knowing the season is important (it is normally possible to hike it during the winter).

Yosemite Falls is at its peak in the spring - so go then to see it at its most spectacular. By late summer, the falls are likely to have slowed to little more than a trickle.

Related: How To Visit Angel Falls, The Tallest Waterfall In The World

Contrasting Niagara Falls And Yosemite Falls

A comparison between Niagara Falls and Yosemite Falls shows that the falls are completely different. The Niagara River is a mighty river that thunders year round (although visiting the falls in the winter can be bitterly cold). The Yosemite Falls are seasonal and largely disappear by the late summer.

Niagara Falls:

  • Total Height: 167 Feet or 51 Meters
  • Location: Ontario, Canada & Upstate New York
  • Average Flow Rate: 85,000 cu ft/s (2,400 m3/s)

Yosemite Falls:

  • Total Height: 2,425 Feet or 739 Meters
  • Longest Drop: 1,430 Feet or 436 Meters
  • Number of Drops: 3 Drops
  • Peak Flow: Late Spring
  • Least Flow: Late Summer

Both falls a worth seeing, and neither is comparable to the other. If one does visit Yosemite Falls, take the time to discover the many lesser-known falls of the park.