After several single and double overnight camping trips we have now taken two triple overnight trips. The first triple overnighter was closer to home and was a great learning experience in how to best enjoy time on the road.
Shortly after we initially purchased our 2008 Ford E-350 extended wagon we booked a three night trip to Niagara Falls. It was a hopeful act of commitment to enjoying the family Adventure Van.
We stayed at the Branches of Niagara campground, which we later discovered falls into the category of ‘Resort Camping’. It is slightly more expensive than a bare bones campground but for all the amenities and activities it is a great value. This is especially true if you camp with kids as there are multiple pools, loosely organized games, play structures, and Friday night movie night. It is also 15 minutes away from Niagara Falls State Park which allows for quick visits to the falls.
Speaking of the falls, we loved them. It’s been nearly 30 years since I came here last and the Maid of the Mist is still the most impressive way to experience the power of Niagara. We were only interested in the nature related activities so we didn’t feel the need to exercise our passports and patience by crossing over to Canada.
If I had to pick one activity to recommend it would be the Maid of the Mist since there is also a stairway that takes you very close to the falls. My wife, however, liked the Cave of the Winds walk.
Where the van helps with taking in the sights is by being small enough to park in a normal parking spot while still allowing you to pack along food and accommodations. This makes it easier to eat healthier food while saving money and affords you a place to relax when one or more of your family needs some down time.
We showed up early each day and were able to nab a parking spot with a sidewalk behind it. This allowed us to hang out and eat lunch while chatting with the pedestrians walking to Canada.
The falls at Niagara are amazing and beautiful and can be done in one long day but we enjoyed spreading it out over two days.
What was surprising was how derelict Niagara Falls, NY is outside of the State Park boundaries. There are many boarded up, abandoned, and condemned houses within a short walk of the majestic beauty of the falls.
I would have thought this a nice sleeper town to Buffalo-based industry but I expect many of the manufacturing jobs that once existed in Buffalo have been exported oversees.
We ended up just driving through and giving our money to the State Park, which is what seems everyone else does. It is unfortunate that the beauty of the State Park is bordered by chintzy kitsch and tourist trap shops which hide the run down communities behind them. I had hoped the allure of the falls would have given the surrounding communities more opportunity to capitalize on the visitors, perhaps with Bed and Breakfasts and coffee shops. As it is, you can get a very cheap house in Niagara Falls, NY.
In my opinion, the falls at Niagara should be a wonder of the world. They are beautiful and enormous. If it were closer we would be heading back sooner rather than later.