Photo: Kim Kerr / LuxuryOntario
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While nobody needs to be told that Ontario’s magnificent Niagara Falls is extremely photogenic, many visitors and residents alike are surprised to learn that the province is home to over 400 named waterfalls. That’s one heck of a lot of water cascading over rocks and cliffs in spectacular fashion.
Ranging from wide mini-Niagara’s to tall falls plunging over sheer rockfaces, the best waterfalls in Ontario are all accessible to the public and are all well worth including on your travels. And they’re all extremely photo-worthy.
For ideas and inspiration, read through our list of the best waterfalls in Ontario to photograph.
Where to Photograph the Best Waterfalls in Ontario
Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Ontario for spectacular scenery to photograph. And few natural wonders can match the might of Niagara Falls for sheer spectacle. Located on the border between Ontario and New York State, this magnificent waterfall isn’t just a single entity, it in fact consists of three distinct falls: the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, and the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the American side.
The Horseshoe Falls, with its massive 670 meters (2,200 feet) width, is the most expansive and famous of the three, accounting for about 90 percent of the Niagara River’s flow. The American Falls, separated from the Horseshoe Falls by Goat Island, and the slender Bridal Veil Falls, are no less compelling.
In addition to having the chance to take memorable photos at the top of the falls, other fun things to do in Niagara Falls include exploring the surrounding parklands and the hydroelectric station, taking the thrilling Maid of the Mist boat tour, and visiting the Skylon Tower’s lofty observation deck. Better still, book a night or two’s stay at one of the many falls view hotels close by.
Bracebridge Falls, Muskoka
Little wonder that Bracebridge is known as Muskoka’s waterfall capital. This small town in the heart of cottage country boasts 22 waterfalls and is perched atop a hill overlooking the roaring Bracebridge Falls and both branches of the Muskoka River. Pretty much all routes leading to the town follow or cross the river, and handy parking is provided adjacent to the larger of the falls.
Bracebridge celebrates its watery heritage along the Riverwalk, which offers incredible views of Bracebridge Falls from above and below. Culturally, too, the falls are a focal point for visitors with the renovated Bird Mill home to the town’s Visitor Centre, and nearby Woodchester Villa is one of the town’s most important historic and has a long connection to the river and the falls.
While photogenic at any time of year, spring and early summer are good times to catch Bracebridge Falls at its most spectacular. As the snow melts upriver (its tributaries stretch all the way to Algonquin Park), the water hitting the falls does so with tremendous force, making for a dramatic photo, especially when framed by the two bridges that cross over the top of the falls as a backdrop.
Onaping Falls, Greater Sudbury
Situated near the city of Greater Sudbury in Northern Ontario, Onaping Falls is famous for its connection to Canada’s Group of Seven artists. When you visit you’ll find yourself parking at the A.Y. Jackson Lookout, so named in honour of the painter who famously captured the beauty of this very landscape in his work, Spring on the Onaping River.
Part of the much larger Onaping River system which flows from Onaping Lake, you can actually follow the sometimes-uneven trail all the way to the falls through Onaping Falls Park. Plunging approximately 55 meters (180 feet) through a series of drops, you’ll find yourself stopping countless times as the views of the falls keep getting better and better the closer you get.
The highest and most dramatic of these is the main falls, where the water rushes over the Canadian Shield. A steel crosses the top of the falls and offers views back down the river in the direction of the lookout. Best time to visit with your camera? Spring and early summer often see the falls at their most powerful, fed by melting snow and seasonal rains.
Inglis Falls, Owen Sound
Famous as the hometown of WWI fighter ace Billy Bishop, Owen Sound is also home to Inglis Falls. This impressive 18-meter-high cascade is where the Sydenham River meets the edge of the Niagara Escarpment and is the most visited of the town’s three waterfalls. Named after Peter Inglis who in 1862 harnessed the site’s water power to operate a gristmill (one of the many mills that once dotted the river) the sheer force of the river here has sculpted a breathtakingly beautiful gorge.
Parking your car at the ample lot near the visitor centre at the top of the falls will allow you to choose from a variety of great spots for taking a great photo. As lovely as the views are from the top of the falls, I found the best to be along the Bruce Trail around the midway point as you headed down to the valley floor.
In addition to the spectacular views of the falls from the viewing platform here, you’ll also enjoy seeing striking layers of rock that tell a story hundreds of millions of years old. Other highlights of a visit to the 500-acre Inglis Falls Conservation Area include seven kilometres of trails, some of which connect to the famous Bruce Trail that follows the Niagara Escarpment all the way to… yes, you guessed… Niagara Falls, some 250km to the south.
Best time to visit? Well, while in my opinion, there isn’t a bad time to visit Inglis Falls, I’m partial to the fall season when those rich autumn hues seem to just light up the falls.
Kim Kerr is a luxury lifestyle and travel writer and Co-Founder of Riley. She lives in Muskoka, Ontario, and enjoys beautiful scenery.