What Is Unique About New Brunswick's Reversing Falls?

The Reversing Falls in Saint John, New Brunswick.
The Reversing Falls in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The Reversing Falls are a group of waterfalls located on the Saint John River in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. The Saint John River passes through a narrow gorge, which in turn forms the rapid falls before emptying its waters in the Bay of Fundy. The falls exhibit an interesting reverse flow of water which is caused by the change of tides in the Bay of Fundy. The bay records the highest tidal range in the world. The Reversing Falls are a popular site in Saint John and a major tourist attraction in the area.


The Reverse Falls appears normal until the reverse movement of water is observed. The phenomenon occurs due to a collision between the waters of the Bay of Fundy and the Saint John River. The high tides of the bay cause the water from the Saint John River to flow against the currents whenever the tides are high. At low tide, the Saint John River pours water into the bay, which results in a series of whirlpools and rapids. However, when the tide series begins to increase, the river's current is slows, and when the tide continues to rise, the flow of the river is reversed, forcing water to flow upstream. The higher the tide, the higher the reverse flow of water. After this reversal, the water becomes still for a short period of time, a situation often referred to as the slack tide. The interval between the tides is usually around 12.5 hours. This implies that the falls flow in a different direction, depending on the time of the day and vessels can only sail during slack tide.

Course of the Reversing Falls

The Saint John’s River, which is 450 miles long, empties into the bay when the tide is low. The tides of the Bay of Fundy are caused by tidal action in the southern regions of the Indian Ocean. When the river flows between Fallsview Park and the Pulp Mill, its large volume of water is forced through a narrow gorge. There is an underwater ledge located 36 feet below the ground that causes the water to flow downwards into a depth of between 175 meters and 200 meters below the mill. As the water flows, it is heated by a series of whirlpools and rapids.


Watching the Reversing Falls is intriguing. It is one of the top attractions in Saint John, and tourists come from different parts of the worlds to watch the reverse waterfalls during the changing tides. To clearly understand the flow of water through the Reverse Falls, it is best if tourists observe it twice, when the tide is high and again when it is low. Fallsview Park, located close to the falls offers a good viewing point. The Reverse Falls Bridge also offers a good view of the fall. There is a 12-minute film that tourists may watch as they wait for the flow of water to change. The film is viewed on the Reversing Falls Roof Top Theater and explains the logic behind the reverse fall of water.


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