Cave of the Winds

Useful Information

Cave of the Winds Niagara Falls by Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt (*1819–✝1895), oil on canvas. Public Domain.
American Falls at Niagara by Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt (*1819–✝1895), 1874, oil on canvas. Public Domain.
The Grand Duke Alexis Of Russia under Niagara Falls. Public Domain.
Location: Goat Island Rd, Niagara Falls, NY 14303.
Goat Island is reached across a bridge from the town Niagara Falls. There are two parking lots, on the southern side at the Cave of the Winds and at the northern end of the island.
(43.083691, -79.071135)
Open: APR to MAY Sun-Thu 9-18:15, Fri, Sat 9-20:15.
JUL to AUG Sun-Thu 9-20:15, Fri, Sat 9-21:15.
SEP Sun-Thu 9-18:15, Fri, Sat 9-20:15.
OCT to MAR daily 9-16.
Closed 01-JAN, Thanksgiving, 25-DEC.
Fee: APR to mid-OCT: Adults USD 21, Children USD 17.
Mid-OCT to MAR: Adults USD 14, Children USD 10.
Classification: ExplainLost Caves SpeleologyErosional Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=9 m, H=40 m, W=30 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Horatio A. Parsons (1840): Steele's book of Niagara Falls, Buffalo : O.G. Steele. online
Address: Cave of the Winds, Niagara Falls State Park, 332 Prospect St, Niagara Falls, NY 14303, Tel: +1-716-278-1794.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1829 staircase built.
15-JUL-1834 cave discovered by Berry H. White and George Sims and named Aeolus's Cave.
1841 cave opened to the public.
1920 cave destroyed by a rockfall.
1924 reopened with decks and walkways in the front of the Bridal Veil instead of behind it.
1954 remains of the cave destroyed by another rockfall.


The most famous attraction with the name Cave of the Winds in the U.S.A. is despite the name not a cave at all. It is actually a series of elevated trails on Goat Island, in the middle of the Niagara Falls, built on top of the boulders at the foot of the escarpment and the part of the falls which is called Bridal Veil Fall. Built of redwood, the decks and platforms are removed each fall due to the potential damage caused by ice buildup and re-installed each spring. As Cave of the Winds is not a cave, it was not listed on

However, we lately discovered that there actually was a real cave, a rather huge cavern, which was destroyed by a rockfall in 1920. The Cave of the Winds was 40 m high, 30 m wide and 9 m deep. It was a typical erosion cave created by the retrograde erosion of the waterfall and located behind the Bridal Veil Falls. After its discovery in 1834 it was named Aeolus's Cave, after the Greek god of winds, because of the roaring winds caused by the falls. The wind reaches 109 km/h underneath the falls, which are the conditions of a tropical storm. it is caused by the massive amount of falling water. The cave was opened as a show cave in 1841, which also makes it one of the first show caves in the U.S.A., probably the third. There was no electric light required, but a staircase leading down from the top of Goat Island close to the falls, and an elevated trail into the cave. People were able to walk behind the waterfall and look at the backside of the water curtain.

At the lower end of Goat Island, about one third across it, a stair-case, erected in the year 1829, it the expense of Nicholas Biddle, Esq., of Philadelphia, gives visiters an opportunity of descending below the lank, and of passing a considerable distance behind the two main sheets of water. The descent from the top of the island to the margin of the river, is 185 feet. A common flight of steps leads down 40 feet, to the perpendicular spiral steps, 90 in number, which are enclosed in a building in the shape of a hexagon resting on a firm foundation at the bottom. From the foot of the building, there are three paths leading to the most important points of observation, one of which leads to the river below, 80 feet, where visiters will find one of the finest fishing places in this part of the world. All the varieties of fish existing in Lake Ontario, are found here, among which are sturgeon, pike, pickerel, black and white bass, herring, cat-fish, eels, &c. Here was Sam Patch's jumping place. The path at the left of the stair-case leads to the great Crescent fall, where, when the wind blows up the river, a safe and delightful passage is opened behind the sheet of water.
The path to the right leads to a magnificent Cave, appropriately named when it was first discovered, twenty seven years since, Æolus' Cave, or Cave of the Winds. This cave is about 120 feet across, 50 feet wide, and 100 feet high ; it is situated directly behind the Centre fall, which at the bottom is more than 100 feet wide, and were the rocks excavated a little and a few steps made, visitors could safely pass into and entirely through the cave behind the sheet of water. Beyond this cave, at the foot of Luna Island, there is an open space where persons may amuse themselves at leisure upon the rocks over which the floods are pouring, and then venture in as far as they please behind the whole American fall.
The writer of these pages first conceived the idea of effecting an entrance into this cave, July 14, 1834, while passing in front of the American fall in a boat, and the next day it was effected, for the first time, by Messrs. Berry H. White and George Sims, both residents at the Falls, who passed round the outside of the falls, and landed at the foot of Luna Island. Accompanying the above idea, was a project of passing behind the whole American fall, 56 rods, and coming out near the ferry. This passage, though not yet effected, is believed to be possible ; for the opening between the sheet of water as it falls, and the rock behind is from 15 to 50 feet wide, and there are rocks to walk upon through the whole distance. If there be any insurmountable obstacle, it will probably be found in the tremendous wind and spray occasioned by the falling flood. A passage into the cave was at first considered a great exploit, but a passage behind the whole sheet would be inconcievably greater. The cave itself, is the ne plus ultra of wonders, a visit to which no person of sufficient nerve, ought to omit. Ladies and gentlemen can very often, when the wind blows down the river, pass a considerable distance behind the sheet of water within the cave, without getting wet at all. The view presented to a person while in the cave, in connexion with the tremendous and astounding roar of waters, which, owing to the echoes or reverberations, is apparently a hundred times greater here than any where else, will enable him to appreciate the following beautiful and graphic lines of Brainard, — especially as there is always, in the afternoon, when the sun shines, a very bright rain-bow visible directly within tha cave, and behind the sheet of water.

"The thoughts are strange that crowd into my brain,
While: I look upwards to thee. It would seem
As if God poured thee from his hollow hand,
And hung his bow upon thy awful front,
And spoke in that loud voice, which seemed to him
Who dwelt in Patmos for his Saviour's sake,
'The sound of many waters ;' and had bade
Thy flood to chronicle the ages back.
And notch His centuries in the eternal rocks.

Deep calleth unto deep. And what are we,
That hear the question of that voice sublime ?
Oh ! what are the notes that ever rung
From war's vain trumpet by thy thundering side ?
Yea, what is all the riot man can make
In his short life, to thy unceasing roar ?
And yet, bold babbler, what art thou to Him
Who drowned a world, and heaped the waters far
Above its loftiest mountains ? — a light wave,
That breaks and whispers of its Maker's might."

How little and insignificant do the efforts of man appear, when measured by this exhibition of Omnipotence! The earthquake, the volcano, the wide spread conflagration, the shock of contending armies, are sublime and terrific spectacles, though short in their continuance and limited in their effects ; but here, ever since the flood, probably, the deafening and incessant roar of the mightiest cataract on the globe has called upon the children of men to fall down and adore their Maker.

Horatio A. Parsons (1840): Steele's book of Niagara Falls, Buffalo : O.G. Steele. online

The cave was open to the public for almost 80 years, until a rockfall, a rather common thing at such waterfalls, destroyed it almost completely. It also destroyed the trail into the cave and made the tour behind the waterfall impossible, but it did not destroy the staircase. As a result, the site was reopened in 1924 with trails at the foot of the waterfall. Another massive rockfall and subsequent dynamiting of a dangerous overhang in 1954 destroyed the last remains of the cave, and today there is only a vertical wall. Since then, it has no cave any more, but it is still called Cave of the Winds until today. To us, it is a former show cave, and a so-called Lost Cave, which was destroyed and only the name remains. And as the retrograde erosion by the waterfall continues, there will be another cave in a few ten thousand years.