Goat Island

New York City, New York (NY)

Enjoy Niagara Falls from Goat Island in New York.

Goat Island 7
- Ken Lund

Discover Goat Island in New York

Goat Island in the southwest corner of the City of Niagara Falls in New York, is positioned along the Niagara River, separating Bridal Veil Falls from Horseshoe Falls. As part of the scenic Niagara Falls State Park, with panoramic terraces for up-close observation this small island has become one of the most visited viewpoints by tourists exploring the American side of the majestic Niagara Falls.

One of the island's many appeals is its ease of access. It is connected to the United States’ mainland by two bridges that carry foot, car, and trackless train traffic, and to the smaller Luna Island by a pedestrian bridge. Visitors can reach Goat Island all year-round from sunrise to sunset, with convenient parking available for a 10$ fee. Aside from the parking fee there is no separate admission fee for Goat Island. Three Sisters Islands, Terrapin Point, or Luna Island, although fees do apply for the Cave of the Winds tour and parking.

Goat Island 4
- James Marvin Phelps

Visitors typically spend 60-120 minutes exploring Goat Island, with a 30-minute walk around the island's 1.5-mile perimeter. The island has restrooms, limited picnic tables, and additional facilities near parking lot #3, where there is plenty of shade for warm summer days. During the season, food services are available at the Top of the Falls restaurant near Terrapin Point, the perfect spot to dine while admiring the waterfalls.

Goat Island 3
- Jorge Láscar

The Geography of Goat Island

Formed during the recent retreat of Niagara Falls as it cut inward through the Niagara Escarpment, Goat Island splits the river into two channels, creating the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls on one side, and the Horseshoe Falls on the other.

This unique geographical feature makes Goat Island a highlight of the Niagara Falls experience. Over the years, the shallow waters around the island, dotted with islets and rocks, have been the sites of dramatic rescues.

Goat Island 1
- Wally Gobetz

Goat Island’s Early History

The early history of Goat Island, previously called Iris Island, is as intriguing as its geographical makeup. Pioneer John Stedman, discovered the island's potential and began keeping goats there. However, after the harsh winter of 1780, all the goats perished. Despite this, the island became known as Goat Island.

Recognising the island's value, Augustus Porter, a visionary in the mid-19th century, purchased the island, intending to open it to tourists. Porter allowed a tribe of Tuscarora Native Americans to live on the island and sell their crafts to visitors, which enhanced the cultural richness of the area.

Goat Island 2
- Jorge Láscar

Despite pressures to develop the island, Porter remained steadfast in maintaining its natural environment. In 1817, he constructed a toll bridge to the island, which was swept away by ice. The following year, a new bridge was built downstream.

"One of the most singular pieces of engineering in the world."

British Naval officer Basil Hall describing the new bridge.

Stretching almost 700 feet long, the new Goat Island bridge soon became one of the most travelled walkways of the time.

In 1885, Goat Island became part of the Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the United States. Today, visitors can delve into the island’s history and natural beauty, with the Niagara Scenic Trolley, which has stops along the way.

Goat Island 8
- Jorge Láscar

The Evolution of Goat Island

In the mid-20th century, Goat Island received important updates to accommodate increasing tourism. In 1959-60, the island's eastern side was extended by about 8.5 acres to create additional parking and a helicopter pad. The fill for this expansion came from the excavation for the Robert Moses State Parkway.

More alterations in the 1980s by the United States Army Corps of Engineers included filling in land and building diversion dams and retaining walls to manage the flow of water around Terrapin Point. These efforts have greatly altered the island's landscape, including the dramatic reduction of the Horseshoe Falls' width.

Despite these modifications, Goat Island's western end continues to be slowly eroded by the falls, a process that will eventually lead to the island's disappearance.

Goat Island 5
View from Terrapin Point on Goat Island - Thank You (24 Millions ) views

Walking Trails on Goat Island

For the adventurous hikers among us, there are many well-maintained trails that wind themselves throughout Goat Island. Our favourite is the 3.1-km loop trail. This trail is generally considered an easy route, taking an average of 40 minutes to complete. It’s a very popular area for bird-watching and walking, so expect to meet quite a few ramblers along the way! The trail is open all year-round and is a beautiful experience in every season. Dog owners will be pleased to know that their (leashed) pets are welcome.

Best Time to Visit Goat Island

In 1879, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted wrote fondly of Goat Island. Olmsted claimed that he had travelled 4,000 miles across the continent "without finding elsewhere the same quality of forest beauty which was once abundant about the falls, and which is still to be observed in those parts of Goat Island where the original growth of trees and shrubs had not been disturbed."

Olmsted believed that the quality of this lush flora was due to the mist and spray from Niagara Falls, which created a natural nursery for indigenous plant life. But when is the best time to visit Goat Island and experience the beauty of its nature?

According to us, both spring and fall emerge as prime seasons to explore Niagara Falls State Park and Goat Island. Here’s why:

Goat Island 6
- Ken Lund

Spring Highlights

Spring has mild temperatures that are ideal for tackling those hiking trails we just mentioned. And the mist from Niagara Falls, also helps maintain a refreshing temperature. But whilst the days don’t warm up as much as the sweltering heat experienced in summer, mornings and evenings could still be a little chilly.

Fall Highlights

As autumn sets in, the leaves on Goat Island turn red, orange, and gold. The crisp fall air adds a refreshing touch to your exploration, but don't forget to bring along a jacket to stay cosy while you enjoy the changing season.

Winter Wonder

While some may argue that winter offers the chance to experience a quieter, icier, perspective of Niagara Falls, it's essential to be prepared for the cold. The winter months can be bitterly cold, with brisk winds and icy conditions. However, for those willing to brave the elements, witnessing Goat Island as a frozen wonderland can be a magical experience.

Visiting Goat Island in New York

Here are some of the many things to do whilst visiting Goat Island in New York:

  • Cave of the Winds: this is one of Niagara Falls' most iconic attractions. An elevator takes you to the base of the falls, where you'll navigate a wooden walkway leading to the Hurricane Deck. Feel the rush of the Bridal Veil Falls up close, take some amazing photos, and be prepared to get drenched by the mist.
  • Luna Island: connected to Goat Island by a pedestrian bridge, Luna Island has incredible platforms from which you can view Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls. While here, make sure to visit the Cave of the Winds.
  • Terrapin Point: this is one of the most sought-after viewpoints on the American side. Positioned near Horseshoe Falls, this observation spot offers unrivalled views of Niagara Falls. Pair your visit with a boat trip aboard the Maid of the Mist.
  • Tesla Monument: honouring the Serbian-American inventor, Nikola Tesla. The Tesla Monument, sculpted by Frano Kršinić, was gifted by the government of Yugoslavia in 1976. In mid-2016, the statue was relocated to Stedman's Bluff, so that it had a backdrop over the Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls.
  • Three Sisters Island: a trio of islets along the Niagara River, connected by picturesque walkways.
Goat Island
- Wally Gobetz

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Goat Island Questions

Information

What you need to know

Name
Goat Island
Address
24 Buffalo Ave, Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Location
43.084091, -79.062164
Tips before you visit
Map