Remember when you were a kid and you were on a big floating tube sitting on the most boring ride at the waterpark because your mom wanted to go on it? Yeah. The lazy river was extremely calming and all you wanted to go line up for the Black Hole again (at Canada’s Wonderland).
This past weekend, I believe no child would have complained how boring the lazy river at Elora Gorge was. Only about an hour and half drive West of Toronto, this Ontario must-see park resides full of hiking trails, camp sites and (well, of course) the lazy river.
Getting up at 7, which sadly enough isn’t an early time for me, I got myself ready to make the drive. I took the “party bus” (aka my parent’s van) and grabbed most of my friends to Elora. Elora is a historical little town, with a population of about five thousand people, full of small quirky shops and their own microbrewery.
Being as my friends are never on time, we left 5 minutes to 8 am and arrived around 9:10 at the tubing rental area. Yes, I do drive like a mad woman. Do not judge me. As it was a Ontario park, we had to pay to get into the park which was $6 per person. We got out into the chilly morning breeze and was already hit with a somewhat short line for the rentals. For the full package of a lifejacket, a helmet and the tube it was $25 CAD. There is a mandatory $3 fee for … I have no idea what for … but you get a wrist band. Actually, I think it’s for access to all sections of the park. Anyway, get all of these items. I can’t stress more that if you were to fall off your tube, you want that helmet to be there to protect your head when you hit a rock.
When we arrived after our 10 minute walk from the parking lot, we were told that the water was too low in the morning for us to start right at the top of the river. The rapids were basically sharp rocks ready to puncture some tubes. They told us to walk all the way to the bottom of the flat rock. It is highly recommended to wear water shoes when you are here. You cannot wear flip flops because of two things: it’ll be hella slippery ( I almost slipped just walking with my bare feet ) and they will fall off during the rapids. Well, you think, why don’t I just walk barefoot to the start of the tubing launch. No. It is hard on the feet and is too long of a walk without grass to walk on. What we originally did was to leave our shoes at the tubing launch and then came back to get it.
This is where the fun begins. You get on the tube and shimmy your bum out to the current where the river will take you through about 5 minutes of rapids. Honestly, I was actually scared. Going backwards into the dips of the rapids but in the end of it was so exciting. So along the 45 minute but actually hour and half lazy river ride, you have 5 or 6 fast parts. They tell you not to hold hands with others during the rapids which is a good safety note because if you do you may wedge yourself in a rock and other people. My group of friends spent most of the time trying to get linked together at the lazy river areas where we would be floating. The only grievance I had with the whole lazy river was the end part where there was a bridge that was the signal of the trip. It created no current and it took very long to float to land again.
Note: Make sure you know how to swim before going to this. Even if you have one ounce of chance that you aren’t strong enough, I wouldn’t go. My friend fell in and her tube floated away. Luckily, she was wedge into a rock where she was safe and the helmet protected her head when she hit it. Other friends came out bruised and sore because they kept hitting rocks and bumping into trees.
We were all starving by the time we were done our run. Though we wanted to go for a second run, we ended up taking the shuttle bus back to the parking lot and returned our tube. With the 28 dollars you pay, you are able to go as many times as you want for the lazy river. You can keep the tube all day. The only problem for us was we had no space to keep them, plus we wanted to do other things in the park.
After, we got ready and drove out of the park to go to Elora to have lunch. We went to the Elora Brewery. It is a microbrewery that was home of the award winning Elora Borealis Pale Ale and award winning Lady IPA. They also brew the Three Fields Lager. The food was delicious as I had the Mac and Cheese and the prosciutto deli sandwich with a side of squash/beer soup. Though I probably could have had all of that, I shared with someone. I tried the Elora Borealis with my meal and found it refreshing and light. It was a white beer with fruity taste which really isn’t what I like normally. However, I’d highly recommend it for those that like white beer.
When we were done lunch, we spent some time looking for ice cream and ended up at Sweet Distractions. I must admit that the peanut salted caramel gelato was to die for. Eating our dessert quickly before it melted, we walked around the small shops and I bought some yarn and my friends bought some knick knacks.
The heat wave was at full fledge when we decided to head back to the Elora park. This time, we drove directly to the Elora Quarry. Here, there spots where people could jump off the edges and a beach as well. Be sure to have your receipt if you do not have your wrist bands still to show the people at the entrance. There is very limited parking at the park, it is suggested to park across the street at the commercial plaza.
The water was green but cold. All in all it was packed and we barely found a spot to sit down. People had barbecues and others had music. The beach is tiny. Don’t bring too much stuff or go early. Be careful if you are not good at swimming as the quarry dips quick from the beach to the other shores. I imagine in the morning before anyone shows up to swim and kick up the sand from the bottom of the quarry, the water would look serene and beautiful.
When we were all tired out by the sun, we hurriedly got dressed and drove to Kitchener where my friend lived. Here we went to Kinkaku Izakaya for all you can eat sushi. This place never disappoints. I enjoy the food a lot here and it might have been because I was starving.
Right, I forgot to say that we tried to hike around the quarry but found out it is much more dangerous than it looks. It is not recommended. If you want to hike, hike inside of the park. All in all, the excursion was fun. Having such a beautiful experience with my friends was perfect for a summer birthday party. I don’t think that I would go back, necessarily, only because the lazy river wasn’t as exciting and more dangerous than I thought it would be. By the way, I have crossed out white water rafting off my bucket list and replaced it with tubing because I am too scared to it now. The quarry was beautiful but way too many people on the beach and lining up to jump in.
Elora as a town is beautiful. I may go back on the way to Kitchener next time just to see the rest of the small shops that were around there. I’ve also been to Fergus, a town next to Elora, which is also quite beautiful and quaint.
Take my word for it, try it out and figure out whether or not you’ll like it. I enjoyed it but not enough to go back. Easy tubing!