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Advice from a local: board the Maid of the Mist on the American side, at Prospect Point in the Niagara Reservation State Park. Although the ride is the same from either side, the American launch of the Maid of the Mist concludes with a self-guided climb along the Crow's Nest staircase - flush to the Falls, and so close to it that, on sunny days with a light wind, the mist from the base of the Falls envelopes the staircase to create one of the most amazing sights you will ever see: a circular rainbow! Under these favorable conditions (best time: late morning to early afternoon), visitors to the Crow's Nest literally climb "over the rainbow" and ascend into the mists of the Falls! This might sound like an exaggeration, but it's absolutely an understatement - the Rainbow Ring, the dozens of smaller rainbows arching over the rocks, the indescribable roar of the Falls, the magnetic pull of the pounding water, the white mists billowing over the Crow's Nest like the clouds of Heaven, the getting D*R*E*N*C*H*E*D (some brave souls happily discard their plastic ponchos before beginning the climb - WONDERFUL on a hot summer day!) and then drying off in the sun on the patio below the staircase...it's an unforgettable experience, absolutely not to be missed!
Oh, and by the way: if you can't afford to ride the Maid of the Mist itself - or would simply prefer not to do so - you can still experience the Crow's Nest: just go up to the ticket booth at foot of the Observation Tower on Prospect Point - the U.S. entrance to the Maid of the Mist tour - and request an Observation Level Only ticket; this will cost you a budget-shattering $1 per person!