maid of the mist niagara falls
Adventure Travel USA

Riding the Maid of the Mist: Niagara Falls

See Niagara Falls from multiple perspectives on this thrilling water adventure. Nothing gets you closer to Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls as the iconic Maid of the Mist boat tour. The oldest tourist attraction in North America, put on your blue poncho, board the famous Maid of the Mist, and prepare for an exhilarating experience that millions of visitors have enjoyed since 1846. Feel the powerful rush of the Falls, as the waterfall’s mist rushes all around you, during your ride past the American and into the Horseshoe Falls basin. A ride on the Maid of the Mist is sure to be the highlight of your trip to Niagara.

This guide to the Maid of the Mist will help you plan your Niagara Falls boat ride, including if it’s worth it, ticket and schedule information, and tips for the best experience. 

Fun Fact: Did you know celebrities such as Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, and Katy Perry have been on the Maid of the Mist?

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links; if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

maid of the mist usa

Is the Maid of the Mist in the USA or Canada?

The Maid of the Mist is in the USA, in Niagara Falls, NY. Located inside Niagara Falls State Park, the attraction is at the base of the NY Observation Tower near the American Falls. While often confused and thought to have the same name, only the US boat ride is called Maid of the Mist. The Canadian version is known as Voyage to the Falls, operated by Niagara City Cruises by Hornblower.

maid of the mist tour

Is Maid of the Mist Worth It?

While seeing the Falls from land is beautiful, the best way to appreciate this natural wonder is by riding the Maid of the Mist. While it is touristy, experiencing the Falls from an on-the-water view is a must-do activity, and you can’t get any closer to the Horseshoe Falls than via a Niagara boat ride. The Maid of the Mist was so exciting and one of the top things I did in Niagara Falls, so I highly recommend it. 

History of the Maid of the Mist 

In 1846, the Maid of the Mist steamboat started as a better and more profitable way to transport people, luggage, mail, and cargo, than the previous rowboats. In 1848, the construction of the suspension bridge hindered business, and thus the Maid of the Mist adjusted to become a sightseeing adventure. Throughout history, these boats have constantly been improving, from steam to diesel to now electric, all to have better performance and provide the best experience.

When Will the Maid of the Mist Open for the Season?

The Maid of the Mist opens each year in either late April or early May. The opening of the Maid of the Mist 2023 season is currently TBD. Once open, the boat ride runs until early November.

canadian horseshoe falls

Does the Maid of the Mist Go Behind Niagara Falls?

The Maid of the Mist goes alongside the American Falls before bringing you into the mist of the Horseshoe Falls. It does not go behind Niagara Falls, but the boat travels to the bedrock of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. No attractions on either the American or Canadian side take you behind the Falls, but attractions like the Maid of the Mist and the Cave of the Winds bring you up close and personal.

How Long is the Maid of the Mist Tour?

The Maid of the Mist tour is 20 minutes of excitement. Starting at the base of the Niagara Gorge, the boat passes by the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls before heading into the Horseshoe Falls mist zone. After the 20-minute boat ride, walk along the side of the American Falls for another view. 

cave of the winds from maid of the mist

How Often Does the Maid of the Mist Run?

The Maid of the Mist boat tour runs every 15 minutes and departs from the US side of the Falls near the NY Observation Tower in Niagara Falls State Park. This frequent running time keeps wait times to a minimum.

Maid of the Mist – Hours of Operation

Season Open to Late May: 9 am – 5 pm

Late May – Mid June: 9 am – 6 pm

Mid-June – Early August: 9 am – 8 pm

Early August – Early September: 9 am – 7:30 pm

Early September – Late October: 9 am – 5 pm

Late October – Early November: 9 am – 4 pm

Hours are approximate, and some hour extensions on weekends and holidays.

Note: The Maid of the Mist is closed for the late fall and winter, reopening in the spring.

niagara gorge

Maid of the Mist Tickets 

You can buy tickets online via the Maid of the Mist website or at their ticket office for a same-day visit. An adult ticket starts at 28.25 USD, with a discount available for youth and groups. Maid of the Mist Tickets bought online are valid for the whole season, and tickets purchased at the office are only for same-day use. Tickets do not reserve your entry time, and boats board on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Note: Tickets aren’t available once the season closes in November and reopen for purchase in January for the new year. 

niagara falls maid of the mist boat ride

Maid of the Mist Tours

Tours of the Maid of the Mist are available with add-on options and can be a couple of hours to a half-day in length. Tour groups start with the Niagara Falls history and take you through the State Park before getting on the boat ride. As part of a tour group, you will have express entry and can skip the ticket line. You will ride the Maid of the Mist unguided to enjoy it as you wish.

I recommend going on the combination tour of the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds. This tour starts with the boat tour before heading to the Cave of the Winds. This combination tour is the one I joined on my visit to Niagara Falls, NY, and I had the best time. 

Getting Here

Located in Niagara Falls State Park, from the parking lot, you can ride the trolley to the Maid of the Mist or walk. There is a trolley stop outside the Maid of the Mist ticket booth. 

Maid of the Mist

Address: 1 Prospect St, Niagara Falls, NY 14303, United States

maid of the mist boat

Maid of the Mist Boat Tour: What It’s Like

Start with a 175 ft (53 m) elevator ride into the Gorge. Put on your blue poncho, board the boat, and start your journey through the rapids toward the falls. Move throughout the ride while admiring the falls from a unique angle: on the water, as you get closer to the falls. Prepare to get misted from the American Falls and most likely soaked from the Horseshoe Falls. 

horseshoe falls maid of the mist

At the Horseshoe Falls, feel the mist surround you and the boat fight the power of the falls to stay close. Feel the wind cause your poncho and hair to fly around, the mist spraying you. Put your sunglasses on the keep mist out of your eyes. Scream in excitement about how close you are to the falls. You can’t get closer to the Horseshoe Falls than this. 

maid of the mist american falls

A few minutes pass, and the boat starts to make its way past the American Falls back to the starting point on the US side of the falls. Disembark the boat in the joy of what you just experienced, and learn it’s not over yet! There is an area beside the American Falls to explore if you wish. Climb the wooden stairs alongside the falls from a different perspective. It’s a high wind zone, so feel the wind and the mist around you as you get closer. When you’ve had enough, take the elevator back upstairs to view the falls again from above, this time on the NY Observation Tower. 

ny observation tower niagara falls

I had a blast while riding the Maid of the Mist and would highly recommend it while in Niagara. I’ve experienced the Hornblower on the Canadian side, but I lucked out, and the boat was less crowded on the American side, so I found the ride even better. Whether you ride the boat on the Canadian or American side, no adventure trip to Niagara is complete without a boat ride to the falls.

niagara falls ny

Tips for Riding Niagara Falls’s Maid of the Mist 

  • Plan to wear clothing and footwear that can get wet. Your blue poncho won’t keep you dry, especially your shoes and pants; it will move in the wind gust the closer you get to the falls, exposing your legs to water. I got drenched during my boat ride, but it’s part of the experience. 
  • Running shoes or adventure shoes work best. After the boat ride, is an area beside the American Falls to explore. You don’t want to trip on the wet stairs. 
  • Bring a waterproof phone case, or use waterproof cameras/phones to take photos during your Niagara Falls boat ride. 
  • Tie your hair up and wear sunglasses. It is windy on the boat ride, especially at the base of the Horseshoe Falls. Hair will blow everywhere, and it’s hard to see with the blinding sun and mist. Wearing sunglasses helped keep the waterfall’s mist out of my eyes.
  • The Maid of the Mist is busiest in the summer, particularly on holiday weekends. Visit outside of holiday weekends or on weekdays when possible.

I hope this information helps you plan your visit to Niagara Falls: Maid of the Mist.

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