It was near the end of the last Ice Age — some 12,000 years ago — when the Niagara River began to tumble over a cliff known as the Niagara Escarpment, first forming the Falls. As the river receded, it formed what we now know as the Niagara Gorge — a geologic phenomenon that’s studied by scientists from around the world. Explore the gorge’s sedimentary rocks on a hike along one of the Niagara Gorge Trail System’s many trails.
Extra Credit: Continue your nature exploration by keeping an eye out for birds — the Gorge is known globally as an Important Bird Area, and eager birdwatchers might spy a peregrine falcon, a great blue heron or even a bald eagle, among others.
Go back to the founding of the region with a visit to Old Fort Niagara, which has been in use since the 1600s and changed hands between countries before becoming an important part of the Colonial defense in the Revolutionary War. Explore original artifacts (like the Fort’s original War of 1812 flag!), take a self-guided tour and witness hourly musket demonstrations.
Extra Credit: Visit the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, where you can learn about the pivotal role the city played and the modern connections to history, or learn about the 19th-century creation of the Erie Canal and its locks at the Erie Canal Discovery Center.