Niagara Discovery Center, Schoellkopf Power Plant Ruins & Hiking Trails
From interactive exhibits at our Discovery Center, to touring the ruins of the first hydroelectric power station, to hiking some of the best trails in the country, Niagara Falls is both educational and action-packed. Here are some of the things you can explore on your visit to the Niagara Falls Gorge:
Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
A showcase of the natural and local history of Niagara Falls and the surrounding area, the Discovery Center features information on the natural and local history of the Niagara Gorge. Check out hands-on interactive displays, a 180° multi-screen theater experience, and a towering rock climbing wall, complete with fossils and geological formations. Most everyone who tours the Discovery Center agrees: Niagara Falls geology rocks!
Call (716) 278-1070 for more information.
Niagara Gorge Discovery Center tickets are available for individual purchase
or as part of the value-added Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass.
Schoellkopf Power Station/Maid of the Mist Winter Storage Facility
The Schoellkopf Power Station was constructed in three sections between 1905 and 1924, and at the time of its completion was the largest hydroelectric power station in the world. The complex included offices, gatehouses, and other buildings at the top of the Niagara Gorge, and turbine-generator stations located at the base. Water was diverted from the Niagara River above the falls, by a 4,600' canal that ran through the city to the edge of the gorge.
In 2013, the Maid of the Mist began construction on the site as a location to store their boats during the harsh winter months. As part of that project, the original elevator shaft was restored and elevator access to the Gorge and the Schoellkopf site was granted.
You can learn more about the full history of the site at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center and then visit the site at Niagara Falls State Park. There is no cost to ride the elevator and it is open seasonally.
2017 Hours of Operation
April 8-October 31 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
November 1- 30 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
September 5-October 2 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. (Monday- Friday)
7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
October 3-31 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
November 1-30 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Niagara Gorge Trailhead Center
The Niagara Gorge hiking trails all begin at the Niagara Gorge Trailhead Center, the gateway to some of the best hiking and biking trails in the region. The local Gorge Trail System offers both easy trails to follow and challenging sections of trails that have steep stairs to climb and rocks to scramble over. Please be aware that conditions are ever-changing in the Niagara Gorge, and hikers should be prepared with sturdy footwear as well as water. Hikers MUST stay on marked trails and avoid entering the water.
Guided Niagara Gorge hiking tours are offered mid-May through October.
Call 716-282-5154 for group rates and information. Please note that there is a five-person minimum for tours.
Great Gorge Scenic Overlook Hike
This easy, one-hour round trip hike begins at the Trailhead Building. There is no age requirement for this trail, and is recommended for beginners.
Upper Great Gorge Hike
Another great trail for beginners, this easy, two-hour round trip hike begins at the Trailhead Building and follows the Great Gorge Railway Trail. There is no age requirement for this trail.
Devil's Hole Rapids and Giant Rock
As a more moderate trail, guests hiking Devil’s Hole Rapids and Giant Rock must be at least 8 years of age. The trail begins at Devil's Hole State Park and is a moderate level 2.5-hour hike round trip.
Whirlpool Rapids Adventure Hike
One of the most challenging trails that Niagara Falls State Park has to offer, the Whirlpool Rapids Adventure Hike is recommended for experienced hikers, who are at least 8 years of age. The trail begins at Whirlpool State Park, and is a three-hour hike round trip, where you can expect some boulder hopping.