Can You Walk Across the Canada USA Border?
Walking Over the Rainbow International Bridge
Exploring 2 Countries on Foot from Niagara Falls Ontario Canada
Can you walk across the Canada USA border? The simple answer is yes, you certainly can. I don't think many people know you can just walk across our international border between Canada and the USA. While on a family trip to Niagara Falls Ontario, we thought it would be fun to try walking over to Niagara Falls New York to see what that process is like. My daughters passport had just arrived in the mail and she had never been out of Canada yet. A perfect reason to go across the border and view Niagara Falls from the American side. It was a smooth and easy process after walking over the Rainbow International Bridge.
Starting Our Journey Walking Across the Canada USA Border
We got dropped off just past the Hersheys Chocolate World store on Falls Ave, in Niagara Falls Ontario, at a little road side pull out. That was a bit too far. We started heading up the sidewalk and this was honestly the most confusing part of our journey to Niagara Falls New York. There were a lot of signs saying don't walk here and there. So we wandered around until we got to the top of the hill at the Rainbow International Bridge and found a Currency Exchange booth to ask for help finding the pedestrian way across. After exchanging a few dollars and sheding a small tear for the current exchange rate, the nice lady directed us to the area we needed to go. Of course we were on the otherside of the vehicles coming out from crossing, and we needed to cross a few large roads to get to our proper starting point. Find your way to 5767 Niagara River Parkway near the Secret Garden Restaurant and you will find the pedestrian doorway to the United States from Canada. Make sure to have $1 in change, either USD or CAD, to cross the turnstile and gain access to the bridge. Everyone must pay the $1 fee on the way to the USA, whether you came from Canada or from the USA and are heading back. Make sure to have your loonie or 4 quarters handy for each person crossing. 5 people would be $5.
Crossing the Rainbow International Bridge to Niagara Falls New York USA
After you find the pedestrian access door to the Rainbow International Bridge, you'll find yourself in a hallway with change machines and a of couple turnstiles. Those change machines will be handy if you forgot your $1 to access the bridge. Be aware, the turnstiles do not take payment cards, only change in the total of $1. Quarters are fine too as long as you have 4 to equal $1. We luckily had 2 loonies ready to go so it was an easy quick drop and go. As such, there was no line up on this portion of our trip across the Canada US border. Once you've paid the toll fee, you are out onto the bridge! Unfortunately, the american side of Niagara Falls really does not like to accept canadian currency, so it is best to exchange some money prior to walking over to Niagara Falls New York. Convieniently, the Duty Free store on the USA side, or the casino can exchange for you if you forgot prior to crossing.
Admiring the View Between 2 Countries
The walk across the Rainbow International Bridge is a nice scenic short walk, between 5-10 minutes depending on your pace and how many photos you stop to take. We probably took about 15 minutes to cross as we were loving the sites and sounds you are treated to on the walk over the raging Niagara River. There are flags in the road way to mark the borderline, as well as a metal plaque on the pedestrian walkway fence so you know exactly where you step from Canada into the United States of America. We had some fun hopping from Canada to the USA and back again, then putting one arm in Canada and the other in the USA. Therefore, lots of smiles and laughter and we were not even across the bridge yet.
Entering the United States of America on Foot
Enjoy the nice sceneic journey over the Rainbow International Bridge, before arriving on land in Niagara Falls New York USA. Luckily, there are fantastic signs (in english only) to help guide you along the way. I found the signage to be a bit better on the American side of the bridge, including finding the way back after our adventure. It's probably a more well-known thing to do (walking across the Canada USA border) if originating from the USA and heading to Canada as the signs in the parks lead you exactly where you need to be to accomplish this task. Yet, I had never in my 30+ years of playing around in Niagara Falls Ontario, noticed any "Pedestrians This Way to the USA" signs in the parks. Maybe I just never noticed, but I am going to look around on the Ontario side next time I am back to see if I was just forever missing them.
Customs Area to Enter the USA on Foot
We arrive on the Niagara Falls New York side of the Rainbow International Bridge and find ourselves instantly at the customs office. So you do the walk across the bridge before customs. The first site we saw was a miniature Statue of Liberty in the customs office. A very american welcome that made me smile. I remember seeing the full size Statue of Liberty in 1999, so this mini one brought back some fond memories. Important to note, make sure you have your passport and or any other documents for a border crossing you personally need. As Canadian residents, we only need to have our passports in order to cross. There was only a small wait, maybe 3 minutes, before it was our turn to chat with the CBSA officer. There were 2 officers on to process people going from Canada to the USA on foot. They asked a few simple questions about why we were coming over, then we were sent on our way. Quick and easy, it was an enjoyable way to cross over the border in Niagara Falls.
Navigating The USA Side of Niagara Falls
Once you exit the customs office in Niagara Falls New York USA, you come out into the beautiful Niagara Falls State Park. If you proceed to your right, you will further enter the park, or, to your left out of the parking lot will lead you into the city of Niagara Falls New York. There are many signs and maps both in the park and around town to help you keep your bearings. We wandered both the park and the city for a couple hours, doing some adventure seeker things, and then headed back Canada.
The Walk Back to Canada from the USA
We definitely wanted to stay longer to exolore, but knew we had to get back to Canada to meet up with the little seeker, so we started our walk back to Niagara State Park from the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls New York. As previously mentioned, the signs to get back to Canada as a pedestrian were wonderful. It was an easy walk along the path to a big, kind of intimidating looking, metal spindoor. It slide with ease as we walked through and onto the Rainbow International Bridge back to Canada on foot. If you have a stroller or wheelchair, etc, there is a buzzer for you to hit and they will open a gate for you to pass through easily. It was a nice walk back to Canada in the early evening of August. We seemed to be making good time compared to the cars beside us waiting to cross both ways.
Customs to Enter Back into Canada
Here is where we encountered a bit of a wait time in the whole border crossing process. There was about 25 or so people in front of us as we arrived at the customs office on the canadian side of Rainbow International Bridge and the line was not moving. There was only 1 officer on this side processing pedestrians crossing from the USA to Canada, but once the line got moving, it was fast from there. Overall it was still only about a 20 minute wait before we were asked our few quick questions, showed our ID and were sent on our way back into Canada. Our first stop back in Canada? The Hersheys Chocolate World because it basically greets you as a pedestrian crossing into Canada.
Overall Experience and Checklist for Walking Across the Rainbow International Bridge
Overall it was a quick, simple, and enjoyable experience walking across the border between Canada and the USA. Make sure you have your $1 in change for access to the USA on the Canadian side of the Rainbow Bridge, as well as any personal paperwork and ID you may need. Wear good walking shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. I had a small backpack with me and it was no trouble to bring my sweater and a few personal items along for the trip. So as long as you have all your paperwork and $1, you're set to walk across the border and beat the car traffic!
Can You Walk Across the Canada USA Border?
Walk Across the Canadian American Border in Niagara Falls
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Wow, the falls look so different from the other side! Next time we visit this area, I'm certainly going to give this a try!
Sonya Richmond It was very neat to experience them from that side with the nice unobstructed views as you walk across happy)
Great article and very informative. I have never actually been to Niagara Falls before but I sure need to visit soon!
I'm from Niagara falls Canada I used to walk across the border everyday to eat lunch I used to work at one of the souvenir shops right at the foot of the bridge I'd walk across eat lunch and then walk back across. I did it so often that I knew all the border guards and they never after about 2 months they stopped charging me the dollar or whatever it was to go across
Enjoyed this article very articulated with the photos.
One Q( to clarify please), Did you mean US Border patrol or CBSA?
"There was only a small wait, maybe 3 minutes, before it was our turn to chat with the CBSA officer. There were 2 officers on to process people going from Canada to the USA on foot."