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Adrenaline Junkies: Take a Spin on a Jet Boat on the Niagara River

Get ready for Class V rapids and plenty of thrills on this unforgettable adventure into the Niagara Gorge.

Attention adventurers! These jet boat companies offer up-close, get-wet encounters with one of the world’s great natural wonders.

The section of the Niagara River that attracts the most attention is, of course, Niagara Falls, and for good reason. A staggering 3,160 tons of water flows over its three waterfalls every second — Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil. But the 36-mile waterway that flows between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario offers plenty more opportunity for adventure. For a uniquely up-close, action-packed experience, see the Niagara River on a high-speed jet boat tour.

Both Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours and Niagara Jet City Cruises operate popular, often sold-out tours. In fact, afterward, many of their riders gush that the tour was the highlight of their trip to Niagara Falls USA, with one reviewer specifically calling it a “party on the river.” And while the companies share some similarities (they’re both outrageously fun, for example), each offers a singular perspective. Here’s a breakdown of the two jet boat tour options in Niagara County.

Niagara Falls tourists splashed by the rapids while riding a Whirlpool jet boat.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours

  • The Experience: Departing from the village of Lewiston, about 15 minutes north of Niagara Falls,  the colorful, open-air jet boats take passengers on an epic, soaking-wet adventure. The provided poncho, life jacket, and water shoes are handy, but do leave behind your cell phone, camera, and anything you don’t want completely submerged (If you’d like to record the ride but don’t have an underwater camera, you can spring for the GoPro photos for sale afterward). Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours opened in 1992 and has since taken over 1.5 million people on this fast-paced yet scenic course on the Niagara River.
  • The Boats: The one-of-a-kind vessels are reminiscent of roller coasters, and as they’re specially designed to pack 1,500 horsepower, it’s easy to see why. The boats zip over the river, tackling stomach-dropping 360-degree spins and barreling through Class V whitewater rapids, absolutely guaranteeing every passenger will get saturated. But no fear — Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours captain and boat have been certified by the United States Coast Guard. (Children must be at least 44 inches tall to ride, which is usually 6 years old.)
  • Highlight: During the first part of the roughly 45- to 60-minute ride, the guide explains the region’s geology and rich history, and notes key sites along the way — like the power plants dotting the Niagara Gorge.
Orange jet boat navigates whitewater rapids in Niagara Gorge.

Niagara Jet City Cruises

  • The Experience: After taking in the epic Niagara Falls from a lofty lookout point high above the action, opt to see the Niagara River from a front row seat on a rollicking, unforgettable jet boat tour. Since launching in 2014, Niagara Jet City Cruises in Youngstown (about 20 minutes north of Niagara Falls) has been welcoming visitors on tours that are equal parts informative and heart-racing. The company’s iconic boats are certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, and its tours follow an intense route through the Niagara Gorge, and Class V whitewater rapids — including the famous Devil’s Hole rapids.
  • The Boats: Niagara Jet City Cruises’ small fleet of boats (built by one of the owners) offer the choice of either a climate-controlled, indoor section or outdoor, wet-deck seating. Those who sit outside will get wet, while the indoor guests stay dry throughout the trip while rocking out to the captain’s playlist. Because of this indoor option, the company is able to operate year-round, welcoming guests during every season, as long as there isn’t ice on or in the water.
  • Highlight: A pro tip for the true thrill seeker — try to schedule an afternoon ride, as the river gets a little choppier at that time of day. The best part is, the captain knows it, and will definitely try to give passengers a ride that’ll make them hang on tight.

Jet away in Niagara Falls USA!

Our jet boat adventures bring you action-packed fun for the whole family! If you’re ever seeking outdoor adventures and activities around Niagara Falls State Park, our high-speed attraction provides the excitement and will leave a lasting impression of your whole trip. Visit us online to see how you can plan either of these adventures on your next visit!