Ottawa Valley: A Guy’s Adventure Hotspot

Looking for a high-adrenaline, high-octane getaway?

Get a bundle of it in the Valley – the Ottawa Valley – to be precise, about an hour’s drive from the nation’s capital. It is where you’re sure to find everything necessary to make your endorphins scream.

Your journey must begin with Wilderness Tours, taking in a full day of high adventure whitewater rafting. Upon arrival, say those very words – “high adventure” – and they’ll know to put you on a course that will rumble the bones in your body, causing you on occasion take the Lord’s name in vain. No surprise, given rapids’ names as Butcher’s Knife, Coliseum and Rock N Roll.

Owner Joe Kowalski has built the business over three decades, preserving the last wild pristine section of the Ottawa River, in the hopes that one day these hundreds of acres will become national parkland.

Wilderness Tours has multiple-day excursions that include fishing combined with rafting, and overnight stays in the area’s cedar cabins, waterfront chalets, beach house, or RV. (For added thrills, the premises also has Ontario’s highest bungee jump.) After all that activity, head on over to their Rafter’s Restaurant, choc-a-bloc of fresh salads, sizzling meats and rotating menu of chef’s delights.

For a bespoke fishing tour, sign up with Algonquin Fly Fishing with Jeff Jackson. Since 1989, Jackson has been leading wilderness and fly fishing trips around the world. (He also happens to be a professor with Algonquin College, teaching their outdoor guide-training program.) Whether it is floating down the Petawawa River on a raft, or wading in knee-deep river, reel in spring brook trout, summer bass, and fall musky.

Whitewater Brewing’s flight of beer

Then relax and take a load off by paying a visit to Whitewater Brewing Company.

Sean, the Head Brewer, oversees the production of about a dozen different flavours (most of which are his own recipes): the Midnight Stout, Class V India Pale Ale, Farmer’s Daughter blonde ale, Legion Lager, Whistling Paddler English style ale, all tongue-fuzzy must-trys. The production line and vats can be seen in the background, through glass walls.

Meanwhile, their “Gilmour KLR 93” is a Kolsch style ale created in collaboration with, you guessed it, famed NFL hockey legend Doug Gilmour. (For the neophyte: Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Stanley Cup champ – etc). In fact, Gilmour drops in now and again, says hello to patrons and hangs around for selfies.

The brewery’s killer on-site restaurant, the Lakeside Brew Pub, combines local produce, vegan selections, Mediterranean platters, chunk-sized ‘burgs and sammies in a dizzying array of varieties. Lament the fact that “mouth-watering” has become a cliché.

Driving a Mustang at Calabogie Motorsports

Ever dream of driving 200 km/h? Who hasn’t? At Calabogie Motor Sports Park, rent a Mustang, Lamborghini, Porsche, or a Ferrari for a high-performance driving experience. Home to the longest race track in Canada, 5 km in length, it has twenty turns, at forty feet wide. Since its opening in 2006, motorsports devotees have delighted in the high-speed driving they couldn’t do on public roads or closed driving courses. For longer stays, on-site clubhouse and lounge, and full room high-end suites are available, just in case you and the buddies wanted to spend days – rather than hours – at the racetrack. Grab the wheel and channel your inner-Will Farrell in Talladega Nights.

Finally, top it off with the “cool factor” of exploring the Bonnechere Caves, the 12,000-year-old underground rock formation sporting stalagmites and stalactites, carved from under a once-thriving tropical sea of long ago. Guides give a hands-on demonstration of actual fossils found in the area – a Jurassic giant squid is their showpiece – followed by a fascinating walk-through of 30-foot high rocky walls. Extra brownie points to the dudes who are brave enough to slither by the tight, dark corners of a side passageway.

Where to stay:

Two establishments can be your resting places when you’re not Cala-bogeying with all that testosterone-y action:

  1. The Best Western Pembroke Inn – Nearest to the rafting, cave exploration and fishing, the Best Western is, top-down, a welcoming and high-class accommodation. Get in a game of pool in the lobby, or take a dip in the suite-side indoor pool to cool off after a day of action. And in case you want that extra workout, a nice touch is the 6,000 square foot newly-renovated fitness centre, with certified personal trainers and fitness instructors.
  2. Calabogie Peaks Resort – Nearest to (you guessed it) the Motorsports Park, they boast it is “Eastern Ontario’s largest mountain resort.” Have your choice of fully-furnished condo suites (one to three bedrooms) with full living room and kitchen. Perhaps grab a canoe or kayak on their private beach. Take it up a step with a game of tennis or competitive nine-hole golf, build some muscle by biking or hiking through nearby paths, then polish off the day with a beach volleyball game. During the winter season, there’s also on-premises skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and skating.

So … beer, fishing, racing, whitewater rafting, spelunking – yippee kay-yay!

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