Whirlpool State Park has two levels -- the street level has many scenic overlooks with spectacular views of the Whirlpool and rapids. There are picnic facilities and a playground, as well as the gorge natural history room at the restroom building; both are open seasonally. The river level offers hiking and fishing by taking the staircase located just downstream from the main park area. At the base of the gorge, you can hike upstream along the Whirlpool Rapids Trail past the Whirlpool to a point along the Whirlpool Rapids. You can return to this staircase to exit the gorge, or take the Devil's Hole Trail downstream to the Devil's Hole staircase to the top of the gorge at Devil's Hole State Park. From there, you can take the rim trail back to Whirlpool State Park.
Household pets only; caged or on a leash not more than 6 feet. Not allowed in buildings or on improved walkways and boardwalks.
**Beginning on March 29, 2016 the stairs into the Niagara Gorge at Whirlpool State Park will be closed as work to replace them begins. They are expected to be closed through July. More information available here
Most New York State Parks charge a vehicle use fee to enter the facility. Fees vary by location and season. A list of entry fees and other park use fees is available below. For fees not listed or to verify information, please contact the park directly.
Your key to all season enjoyment of state parks is our season's pass. For $65, the Empire Passport provides you unlimited day use vehicle entry into most of our parks. Apply on-line or call your favorite park for more information.
New! Download this park's digital map to your iOS Apple and Android device.
Highlights of Whirlpool State Park:
What will you see? Plan your visit today!
Look and listen for these birds at our Park:
Everyone is a Steward: Be a Whirlpool State Park Hero!
For more information, please read our Trail Tips!
Ask a Naturalist!
Q: Is it safe to go in the Niagara River?
A: Absolutely not! Water entry is prohibited anywhere along the Niagara Gorge. Due to the currents and fast moving waters, it is actually quite dangerous!
Q: Can I collect plants or fossils from the Niagara Gorge?
A: It is illegal to collect plants and fossils from the Niagara Gorge, unless you have a permit. Some plants are very unique to this area and should be left for all to enjoy.
Q: Is it okay to feed wildlife?
"People" food isn't good for animals. Human foods aren't nutritious enough for animals and may cause serious health problems (especially when animals are continually fed bread, french fries, and popcorn).
It makes wild animals lose their natural fear of people. Feeding can make large, potentially dangerous animals become too comfortable in residential or recreational areas. Once animals learn they can panhandle for food, they can become a nuisance—or even worse, a safety risk.
Feeding wildlife from or near vehicles is dangerous to animals, people, and property. Animals can be hit by moving vehicles or might try to enter vehicles in search of food. In Yosemite National Park in 1998, more than 1,100 vehicles were broken into by black bears—causing more than $630,000 in damages.
Wild animals who depend on people for food can cause injuries or spread disease. When wild animals gather for food handouts, it can cause crowding and competition. These unnatural conditions increase the chances of fighting and injury among animals. It can also increase the spread of diseases, some of which may be transmitted to pets and humans.
Did You Know?
- DID YOU KNOW? The Whirlpool Rapids Gorge is the section of the Niagara River Gorge located north of the Whirlpool International Bridge and south of the Whirlpool. It has an average width of 750 feet wide (228.5 meters). This portion of the gorge is world famous for its rapids. The width of the Whirlpool Rapids Gorge narrows to approximately 450 feet (137 meters). Here the width of the river narrows to approximately 200 feet (60 meters) wide.
- DID YOU KNOW? The depth of the Whirlpool Rapids is 35 feet (10.7 meters) and the speed of the water at the Whirlpool Rapids is 30-35 mph. The speed is the result of the narrow width of the gorge, the rapid descent of the river and the volume of water (100,000 cubic feet per second). The descent is 52 feet (15.8 meters) in less than 1.2 miles (1.6 kilometers).
- CHECK IT OUT! The reason for the Niagara River's green/blue color is due to a few factors. The oxygen and mineral-rich waters of the Niagara River create an excellent environment for the growth of algae (both multi-cellular and single-celled diatoms). A healthy soup of these natural plant cells helps give the river its distinct color. When sunlight hits it at the right angle and intensity, the diatoms' bodies act like prisms, and reflect back a sparkling aquamarine. Minerals also contribute to the color. Dissolved limestone, shale and sandstone form salts that tint the river, while clean and well-oxygenated water helps this effect show through.