You will get wet. Over and over again I heard these words leading up to our excursion with Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours based in Niagara Falls, New York. Despite the repeated warnings, I remained skeptical. I mean the kiddie coaster at our local fair warns of sharp drops and sudden stops. Please. Everything these days comes with warnings and so I tend to blow them off. “How bad can it be?” I thought. If I was doubtful before our arrival, I was even more dubious when I saw the required attire — a full jump suit, a poncho with a hood, a life jacket and wet shoes. How wet can you actually get with all that gear on?
Our first trip down the class 5 rapids, aptly named the Devil’s Hole, pretty much laid to rest any concerns I had about stretching of the truth. Here’s the thing about water. When you get splashed parts of you get wet. When you get dunked your whole body gets wet….right down to your skivvies. No amount of gear is keeping you dry because water is amazingly adept at getting into small spaces. I’m still chuckling that I thought rolling my jeans up would spare me from the worst of it. Yup, look up naive in the dictionary now and find a picture of me, soaking wet.
So, fine, I got wet but there’s more to it than that. The Niagara River has been carving itself out for the last 12,000 years and to appreciate it’s beauty and it’s power, you need to get in it.
From our dock in Lewiston, NY (Whirlpool Jet Tours has three departure locations) the water was calm with estates lining it’s shore. Once you start heading towards the falls though the water starts to get progressively more turbulent until you reach Devil’s Hole where 15 to 20 foot waves and 20mph water awaits you. From the outer edges of the river you are mesmerized by nature’s beauty, traversing through it in a jet boat, you feel her fury. Talk about exhilarating.
I experienced this as part of the TMS Family Travel Conference I attended, and was a little sad that I didn’t have my thrill-seeking 11 year old with me. At the same time I was relieved that I didn’t have my risk-adverse nine year old along for the ride. This is one adventure where you take the warnings to heart before you venture out. Whirlpool Jet Boats Tours offer a high intensity ride with sudden jolts and bumps. It is most definitely an excursion for the adventurers in your family. The others may prefer the Maid of the Mist.
Oh, and if you go, you will get wet.
Pleasantville Note: Children as young as six can participate, but you know your child’s limitations best. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours also offers tour with a cover. You won’t get wet 🙂 Get more from their FAQ here.
*The video above is from my trip with fellow family travel writers. I am in the second row, far left.