It’s been one of those summers where neither of us can really take much time off, so we’ve been trying to do more day trips on weekends and find fun things to do that don’t require a 10 hour drive. Garrett and I both love to camp (I even worked for Ontario Parks during university), so we took Monday off and went on a three day camping trip to Elora Gorge.
We had an awesome drive through the countryside on our way there. It was so peaceful and relaxing.
The Elora Gorge Conservation Area is located just outside of the small town of Elora, and about 25 minutes from the city of Guelph. The Grand River runs through the campground, and turns into a gorge with 70 feet high limestone cliffs. There are great riverside trails that take you through scenic outlooks and stunning views of the rushing water below
After we got a good nights sleep, we got up and hiked along the river. We even took a walk down to the “Hole in the Rock” – a little observation area that takes you about halfway down the cliff side.
Due to the rocky landscape, many of the trees have these great intertwining exposed roots.
There are so many trees like this one, that are just jutting out of the cliff side sideways – I don’t know how they can even grow like that.
To give you some perspective, this is only about halfway down the cliff. It’s a little surreal to be looking up to see these 100 foot tall trees way up above you.
At the top of the gorge, there is a shallow rock path, where you can set yourself up with a tube and head on down the rapids.
Look at how high the gorge is above the water! The rapids were going pretty fast and not under control like in a water park.
Once we saw this little guy go down them with no fear, we knew we had to give it a try.
We grabbed our helmets, life jackets and water shoes (a must!) and rented a couple of tractor tire inner tubes from the front gate – and we were ready to brave the gorge!
As crazy as the rapids were, there were lots of times when the water was calm like a lazy river. You could even step out of your tube for a bit and walk around. It took about 45 minutes for us to get down the gorge.
As we floated along, we could see up the 70 foot high walls of the gorge and admire all the trees and lush vegetation. We even saw some small animals and butterflies.
I’m so glad we did it – we had an absolute blast. I would do it again if we visit another time. Our campsite was right at the bottom of the gorge, where you exit from the tubing area, so we were able to hop out and walk to our site. Everything was easy to get to at the campground and was well laid out.
Our campsite permit also gave us access to the Elora Quarry Conservation Area, a 5 minutes drive from the gorge. It’s an old limestone quarry with 40 feet high cliffs that has been turned into a giant swimming hole, with water fed in from springs.
My mom says she used to go here years ago and she can remember people cliff diving from the top, but now there are signs and security guards warning against it.
Along the one side of the quarry is a sandy beach area, with a roped- in shallow area for kids.
Ironically enough, on our way back down the rocks, I slipped on the last step and cut open my foot and bruised my hand. Thankfully it happened our own way out of town because I looked like a big mess. We did a little roadside first aid and then continued on our way home.
Earlier in the weekend, we made a day trip into the town of Elora, just minutes away from the campsite. I took so many pictures of this quaint and charming town and I’ll be sharing those in a Small Town Ontario post soon. We ended up doing some gift shopping while were there (even bought a few Christmas presents!) because we found so many great shops and artisan studios to check out.
We also drove through the neighbouring town of Fergus, with its amazing architecture and Scottish roots.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that we love to go to the drive-in during the summer. There was a cute one screen drive-in just outside of the city of Guelph (about 30 minutes away), which we went to check out on Sunday night. The films were good, but the highlight of the show was seeing all the retro snack bar ads they played during intermission.
Of course we ate lots of good food too. I tried to pack the cooler with healthy options, but inevitably we were making s’mores every night.
We got the coals just right to make the marshmallows perfectly toasted on the outside and creamy on the inside. Yum! I brought these HUGE MEGA marshmallows which seemed like a good idea at the time, but were almost impossible to fit on the graham cracker. Marshmallow Overload (if there is such a thing).
Our lunch post-tubing was BBQ’d Nachos in tin pie plates on the fire. We rigged up some logs and rocks to make a “grill”, but they didn’t turn out as good as they do on the barbecue. I precooked and seasoned the ground beef before we left and popped it in the freezer, so it was perfectly thawed when we were ready to make nachos.
Breakfast was usually eggs and hashbrowns (pre-boil the potatoes at home!), and we were going to do bacon too…but we forgot it. Oops!
I’ve always wanted to make Bannock Bread, so I packaged up 1 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt in a small container. Then I just mixed in a tbsp of melted butter (from the frying pan) and added in some of Garrett’s coffee cream until a dough formed.
Add some more butter to the pan, and press out the dough into a loaf. Cook it until it’s brown on one side, then flip it and cook the other side. We had it with some of the maple butter that we bought on our trip to the sugar bush this spring.
We had an awesome time camping and even though it was only three days, it felt like a week. We did so much and had lots of fun together. We only wish that our little Whiskey could have joined us (maybe next time, bud!) Hopefully we can go again soon and maybe even attempt fall camping!