Camping at Chance Cove Provincial Park in Newfoundland
If you’re looking for the perfect remote tenting site in Newfoundland that’s still accessible by car, look no further than Chance Cove Provincial Park on the southern shore of the Avalon Peninsula.
Not to be confused with Chance Cove, Trinity Bay – home to a popular hiking trail, this 2,068 hectare park is located about 20km south of the town of Cappahayden on Rte 10, otherwise known as the Irish Loop. All in all, it’s about a two hour drive from St. John’s. The park stretches from the main road all the way to the coast. To access the parking area, you’ll turn off the main road and drive to the end of a 6km long dirt road. Ok, real talk, it’s actually a very bumpy rocky road. I don’t recommend it in a car with really low ground clearance, but you don’t need a 4×4.
Officially, the park is designated as a day use park but every summer you’ll find the large parking lot filled with seasonal RVs and the vehicles of a few tenters, like myself. There’s no cost to camp here, which is one thing that makes it attractive, but what I like more is that there are no designated tent sites so it feels a bit like wilderness camping.
Though be warned, if you’re camping on the weekend, the RVers love to run their generators and play their music loudly into the night. So while the lack of infrastructure means you’ll get beautiful dark skies filled with stars, you may have to listen to some Shanneyagnock karaoke while you stargaze. Still, worth it.
When you walk up over the ridge that separates the parking lot from the shore you’re greeted by a large horseshoe beach and a delta opposite the rocky beach. That ridge means that it only takes a few steps before you can’t see the parking lot and are surrounded by nature. This past weekend I was immediately greeted by a large rabbit hopping across my path. When the capelin are rolling you can sit and watch the seabirds swoop and dive for their dinner.
There are a handful of picnic tables scattered around, usually near fire pits constructed from large rocks. Just wander around until you find a spot you like that’s relatively level and then set up camp. I’ve been four times so far and have tried out three different spots, each with their pros and cons. The further you go from the main parking lot access, the quieter it can be, but you’ll also have to lug your gear further and you’re further from the outhouse.
While there’s no plumbing or running water at Chance Cove, there are two pit toilets available – just be sure to pack your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer since none is provided. They were closed in 2020 due to COVID and this summer I found that only one was accessible. I’m not sure if the second had the door screwed shut or if the weather had just warped the wooden door so that it wouldn’t open.
A hiking path winds its way away from the campsites south along the coast. I have yet to explore how far it goes but it’s on my list for my next visit. There are some boardwalks over swampy bits that have definitely seen better days so if you visit and go for a walk, do so at your own risk.
There’s also no cell service, save one small area where you can get one bar if you’re lucky, let alone wifi at the park, so it makes for the perfect spot to have a digital detox weekend. Pack a book, a deck of cards, or a musical instrument and entertain yourself without electricity. It’s shocking how attached I’ve become to my phone. Even knowing there was no service I still found myself instinctively reaching for my device multiple times that first evening.
If you’re looking for a luxury campground with hot showers, electrical hook-ups, a shop, and a playground, this is not the place for you. But if you want to take a pause from technology and roast some marshmallows over the fire while stargazing and wake up to the sound of songbirds and the ocean rolling over the rocky beach, take yourself and your tent to Chance Cove Provincial Park.
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