Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Whirlpool State Park

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Address
Robert Moses State Parkway
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Latitude 43.119640
Longitude -79.062302

Whirlpool State Park has two levels -- the street level has many scenic overlooks with spectacular views of the Whirlpool and rapids. There are picnic facilities and a playground, as well as the gorge natural history room at the restroom building; both are open seasonally. The river level offers hiking and fishing by taking the staircase located just downstream from the main park area. At the base of the gorge, you can hike upstream along the Whirlpool Rapids Trail past the Whirlpool to a point along the Whirlpool Rapids. You can return to this staircase to exit the gorge, or take the Devil's Hole Trail downstream to the Devil's Hole staircase to the top of the gorge at Devil's Hole State Park. From there, you can take the rim trail back to Whirlpool State Park. 

Household pets only; caged or on a leash not more than 6 feet. Not allowed in buildings or on improved walkways and boardwalks.

Mailing Address
c/o Niagara Frontier Region
PO Box 1132Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Hours of Operation

  • Open year-round, dawn to dusk.
  • Whirlpool State Park Gorge Natural History Room
    6/25 - 9/7, Wed-Sun, 9am-4:30pm

    Call (716) 278-0820 or (716) 285-0516 for more information.
  • Picnic Shelter (with electric): Reservations available in season
    Call (716) 284-5778 or (716) 284-4691
  • Restroom Facilities are available mid-April through late October.

Fees & Rates

Most New York State Parks charge a vehicle use fee to enter the facility. Fees vary by location and season. A list of entry fees and other park use fees is available below. For fees not listed or to verify information, please contact the park directly.

Your key to all season enjoyment of state parks is our season's pass. For $65, the Empire Passport provides you unlimited day use vehicle entry into most of our parks. Apply on-line or call your favorite park for more information.

  • Picnic Shelter
  • Capacity of 72 or less: $50 on weekdays; $60 on weekends (Fri, Sat & Sun)

Maps

Digital Maps

New! Download this park's digital map to your iOS Apple and Android device.

Highlights of Whirlpool State Park:

  • The Niagara Whirlpool, with its 125 ft. (38 m) deep swirling waters is the result of the dramatic turn in the Niagara River's flow (nearly 90 degrees), as the river changes to follow an ancient glacial debris-filled valley (St. David's Gorge). As the Niagara River formed and the falls receded upstream cutting out a new gorge, it crossed this buried valley, quickly cutting away the soft dirt and stone filling. The point at which the falls met the old valley became the Whirlpool, and the falls followed the old gorge upstream.
  • In the Whirlpool, you can see the "reversal phenomenon." When the Niagara River is at full flow, its waters travel as rapids and then deflects to the right over a natural rock weir before entering as a jet stream in the Whirlpool. The water then travels counter-clockwise around the Whirlpool past the natural outlet. Pressure builds up when the water tries to cut across itself to reach the outlet and this pressure forces the water under the incoming stream. The swirling waters create a vortex, or Whirlpool. Then the water flows through the outlet and continues its journey to Lake Ontario. If the water flow is low (water is diverted above the falls for hydroelectric purposes after different times of the day and year) the reversal does not take place; the water merely moves clockwise through the pool and passes to the outlet.
  • Fossils in the Gorge include annelids (worms), bryozoans (which look like twigs, branches, crusts, mounds or networks), brachiopods (clam-like), mollusks (clam-like, limpet-like, and snails), echinoderms (flower-like crinoids, and still exist in seas today), graptolites (feathery), corals, sponges, and fish. Please leave any fossils you see where they are.

What will you see? Plan your visit today!

Look and listen for these birds at our Park:

Everyone is a Steward: Be a Whirlpool State Park Hero!

  • Know the rules and concerns for the area you'll be visiting.
  • Use a map and compass instead of flagging, rock cairns, or marking paint.
  • Hike on established, durable trails.
  • Leave all natural objects as you find them.
  • Respect wildlife and observe from a distance.

For more information, please read our Trail Tips!

Ask a Naturalist!

Q: Is it safe to go in the Niagara River?

A: Absolutely not! Water entry is prohibited anywhere along the Niagara Gorge. Due to the currents and fast moving waters, it is actually quite dangerous!

Q: Can I collect plants or fossils from the Niagara Gorge?

A: It is illegal to collect plants and fossils from the Niagara Gorge, unless you have a permit. Some plants are very unique to this area and should be left for all to enjoy.

Q: Is it okay to feed wildlife?

A: No:

"People" food isn't good for animals. Human foods aren't nutritious enough for animals and may cause serious health problems (especially when animals are continually fed bread, french fries, and popcorn).

It makes wild animals lose their natural fear of people. Feeding can make large, potentially dangerous animals become too comfortable in residential or recreational areas. Once animals learn they can panhandle for food, they can become a nuisance—or even worse, a safety risk.

Feeding wildlife from or near vehicles is dangerous to animals, people, and property. Animals can be hit by moving vehicles or might try to enter vehicles in search of food. In Yosemite National Park in 1998, more than 1,100 vehicles were broken into by black bears—causing more than $630,000 in damages.

Wild animals who depend on people for food can cause injuries or spread disease. When wild animals gather for food handouts, it can cause crowding and competition. These unnatural conditions increase the chances of fighting and injury among animals. It can also increase the spread of diseases, some of which may be transmitted to pets and humans.

Did You Know?

- DID YOU KNOW? The Whirlpool Rapids Gorge is the section of the Niagara River Gorge located north of the Whirlpool International Bridge and south of the Whirlpool. It has an average width of 750 feet wide (228.5 meters). This portion of the gorge is world famous for its rapids. The width of the Whirlpool Rapids Gorge narrows to approximately 450 feet (137 meters). Here the width of the river narrows to approximately 200 feet (60 meters) wide.

- DID YOU KNOW? The depth of the Whirlpool Rapids is 35 feet (10.7 meters) and the speed of the water at the Whirlpool Rapids is 30-35 mph. The speed is the result of the narrow width of the gorge, the rapid descent of the river and the volume of water (100,000 cubic feet per second). The descent is 52 feet (15.8 meters) in less than 1.2 miles (1.6 kilometers).

- CHECK IT OUT! The reason for the Niagara River's green/blue color is due to a few factors. The oxygen and mineral-rich waters of the Niagara River create an excellent environment for the growth of algae (both multi-cellular and single-celled diatoms). A healthy soup of these natural plant cells helps give the river its distinct color. When sunlight hits it at the right angle and intensity, the diatoms' bodies act like prisms, and reflect back a sparkling aquamarine. Minerals also contribute to the color. Dissolved limestone, shale and sandstone form salts that tint the river, while clean and well-oxygenated water helps this effect show through.

Get Directions

While You're Here Stick to your lunch! White Camas Wildflowers contain poison & often are thought to be onion plants.

Amenities, Activities & Information

  • Amenities
  • Nature Trails
  • Pavilions (Accessible)
  • Picnic Tables
  • Playgrounds
  • Activities
  • Biking
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • X-Country Skiing