Newfoundland Road Trips: Guide to Gros Morne
Welcome to a comprehensive guide to Gros Morne National Park and the surrounding area! Located in Newfoundland, Canada, Gros Morne is a breathtakingly beautiful destination that offers a unique mix of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and cultural attractions. This guide is designed to help you plan your trip to this stunning area, whether you’re a nature lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat. From the best things to do and places to stay, to where to find the most delicious local cuisine, we’ve got you covered. So sit back, relax, and let me guide you on a journey to Gros Morne and the surrounding area.
Getting Around Gros Morne
Gros Morne National Park, located in the western portion of Newfoundland, is the second largest park in Atlantic Canada and is home to 7 communities, roughly located over a 2-hour drive from the southern end to the north.
What is so special about Gros Morne National Park?
Gros Morne National Park is a breathtaking destination that is famous for its stunning scenery, incredible hiking trails, unique geology, and rich wildlife. The park is located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
The park’s scenery includes towering mountains, fjords, waterfalls, and forests. Visitors can enjoy hiking on over 100 kilometers of trails that offer stunning views of the park’s natural beauty. The Tablelands is one of the park’s unique features, a barren landscape of rocks and boulders that was once part of the Earth’s mantle.
In addition to its natural wonders, Gros Morne National Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including moose, caribou, black bears, and bald eagles. Visitors can often spot these animals while hiking or taking a guided tour.
The park also has a rich cultural heritage, with several communities located nearby that offer opportunities to learn about the area’s history, culture, and traditions through various events and festivals.
How many days do you need in Gros Morne National Park?
The amount of time you need to fully experience Gros Morne National Park depends on your interests and the activities you want to do. However, I would recommend spending at least 3-5 days in the park to get a good feel for the area and experience some of the popular activities.
If you’re interested in hiking, you may want to spend more time in the park to explore the various trails and take your time to fully appreciate the natural beauty. Similarly, if you’re interested in kayaking or boating, you may want to spend more time on the water.
In addition to outdoor activities, Gros Morne also has several museums, art galleries, and cultural festivals. If you’re interested in exploring the local culture and history, you may want to plan additional time to visit these attractions.
Overall, I would recommend spending at least 3-5 days in Gros Morne National Park to fully appreciate the area’s natural beauty and experience some of the popular activities. However, if you have more time available, you can easily spend a week or more in the park and still have plenty to see and do.
Where to Stay in Gros Morne
When people refer to Gros Morne they typically mean both the national park and the collection of communities that surround it. When deciding on which town to make your home base I recommend plotting your planned activities on a map and seeing which one is most central. Or you can just throw a dart because they’re all great.
Rocky Harbour is a popular destination for visitors to Gros Morne, and there are several accommodations available in the area. Options range from hotels and motels to bed and breakfasts and vacation homes.
Norris Point is another popular destination in Gros Morne, located on the northern side of Bonne Bay. This picturesque community has several accommodations, including hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts.
Cow Head is a small community located on the western side of the park. This area is known for its beautiful scenery and quiet atmosphere. There are several accommodations in the area, including hotels, motels, and vacation homes.
- Shallow Bay Motel & Cabins Conference Centre
- Sea Breeze Bed & Breakfast and RV Park
- Ray & Ima’s by Sea Breeze B&B
Woody Point is a historic community located on the southern side of Bonne Bay. This area has several accommodations, including hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. It’s also known for its cultural attractions, including the Woody Point Heritage Theatre.
For those who prefer to stay in the great outdoors, there are several campgrounds located within Gros Morne National Park. These campgrounds offer a range of facilities, including tent sites, RV sites, and cabins.
Where to Eat + Drink in Gros Morne
Gros Morne has a growing food scene, with several restaurants and cafes offering a range of options from traditional Newfoundland cuisine to international flavors. Seafood is a popular choice in the area, with fresh lobster, crab, and cod being highlights of many menus, and there are also options for vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions. Many restaurants in the area source their ingredients locally, so visitors can enjoy the taste of Newfoundland while supporting the local economy.
The Old Store Cafe: Located in Norris Point, this cafe offers a cozy atmosphere and delicious homemade food, including soups, sandwiches, and desserts.
The Black Spruce Restaurant: Located in Norris Point, this restaurant offers a menu that focuses on local ingredients and seafood, such as fish and chips, seafood chowder, and Newfoundland mussels. All the food served is made from scratch in our kitchen and the ingredients are as local as possible and as fresh as possible.
Java Jack’s Restaurant and Gallery: Located in Rocky Harbour, this restaurant offers a variety of dishes with international influences, as well as local favourites such as cod tongues and toutons. Fresh fish & seafood, wild game and vegetarian and vegan fare are served with good wine and craft beer. The local farm supplies fresh veggies and the garden out front supplies fresh flowers to the house.
The Cat Stop Pub and Grub: Located in Norris Point, this pub offers a casual atmosphere and a variety of pub-style food, including burgers, fish and chips, and wings.
Seaside Restaurant: Located in Trout River, this restaurant offers stunning views of the ocean and a menu that focuses on fresh seafood, including scallops, cod, and lobster.
Treasure Box: Located in Rocky Harbour, you’ll come for the variety of unique gifts and souvenirs, including handmade crafts, but stay for the fish cakes and toutons.
Merchant Warehouse Retro Cafe & Wine Bar: If you liked the Max on Saved By the Bell, you’ll love the Merchant Warehouse in Woody Point. One of the newest attractions in Gros Morne National Park combines nightlife, nature, sightseeing, pub & grub dining, in an awesome historic property.
Best Things to Do in and Around Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park is a hiker’s paradise, with a wide variety of trails that cater to all skill levels and interests. The park has over 100 km of trails, ranging from easy boardwalks to challenging multi-day treks.
One of the most popular hikes in Gros Morne is the Tablelands Trail, which takes you on a 4 km (round trip) journey through a stark landscape that’s unique to the park – you might just think you’ve landed on Mars. The Tablelands are a flat-topped mountain that is composed of rock that was once part of the Earth’s mantle, making it a geological wonder. The trail is relatively easy, but the terrain can be rough in places, so sturdy footwear is recommended.
For those seeking a more challenging hike, the Gros Morne Mountain Trail is a must-try. This 16 km round trip trail takes hikers up to the second highest peak in Newfoundland, offering breathtaking views of the park’s fjords and surrounding mountains. The hike is rated as difficult and takes 6-8 hours to complete, so it’s recommended for experienced hikers only.
Other popular hiking trails in Gros Morne include the Green Gardens Trail, which takes visitors on a 6 km round trip journey through coastal meadows and cliffs, and the Lookout Trail, a short but steep hike that offers stunning views of the Long Range Mountains.
One of my favourite things to do in Western Newfoundland is the Western Brook Pond boat tour. It’s one of the most popular activities in Gros Morne National Park and for good reason. The two-hour journey will take you through the heart of the park’s fjords, providing stunning views of the towering cliffs, waterfalls, and unique rock formations.
It all starts with a scenic 3 km walk through the ancient Long Range Mountains to reach the dock at Western Brook Pond. Once on board the boat, you’re treated to a fully-guided tour that provides insight into the geology, wildlife, and history of the area. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, ospreys, and possibly even moose and caribou. The highlight of the tour is undoubtedly the view of the 600-metre high cliffs that surround Western Brook Pond, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring backdrop for the journey.
The Western Brook Pond boat tour is available from early June to mid-October, and reservations are highly recommended since it’s likely to sell out.
Gros Morne National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including moose, caribou, black bears, and a wide range of bird species. Moose are perhaps the most iconic of the park’s wildlife, with the population estimated to be around 5000 animals.
Moose sightings in Gros Morne are common, and visitors often spot them along the side of the road or while hiking on the park’s trails. The best time to see moose is typically early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when they are most active. However, it’s important to keep a safe distance from the animals as they can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous.
In addition to moose, visitors to Gros Morne may also have the chance to spot caribou, which are typically found in higher elevations. Black bears are also present in the park, although they are generally shy and avoid human contact.
Birdwatching is also a popular activity in Gros Morne, with the park home to over 200 species of birds. Some of the most commonly spotted birds include bald eagles, ospreys, and Atlantic puffins.
Fishing is a popular activity in Gros Morne National Park, and there are several fishing tours available that allow visitors to experience the park’s natural beauty while trying to catch fish.
One of the most popular fishing tours in Gros Morne is the trout fishing tour on the park’s freshwater ponds and rivers. Trout fishing is a great way to enjoy the park’s natural beauty and is suitable for both novice and experienced anglers. Some of the fish species that can be caught in Gros Morne include brook trout, brown trout, and Arctic char.
There are also deep-sea fishing tours available that depart from nearby towns such as Rocky Harbour or Norris Point. These tours typically take visitors out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence or the Atlantic Ocean, where they can try to catch fish such as cod, halibut, and mackerel. Deep-sea fishing tours are a great way to experience the beauty of Gros Morne from a different perspective and can be a thrilling adventure for both individuals and groups.
It’s worth noting that fishing in Gros Morne National Park requires a valid Newfoundland and Labrador fishing license, which can be purchased at local outfitters or online. Visitors should also be aware of local fishing regulations and guidelines to ensure that they are fishing responsibly and ethically.
The Trails, Tales, and Tunes Festival is an annual 10-day event held in May that celebrates the unique culture and heritage of the area with music, storytelling, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Enjoy fine talent presented in intimate venues throughout the picturesque town of Norris Point.
Writers at Woody Point is an annual literary festival in the charming town of Woody Point, featuring readings, workshops, and performances by acclaimed writers and musicians from Newfoundland and beyond.
The Gros Morne Theatre Festival is an annual summer festival in Cow Head that showcases local and regional theatre productions, music, and other performing arts.
While Gros Morne National Park is best known for its stunning mountains, forests, and lakes, there are also several beautiful beaches in the area that are worth visiting.
One of the most popular beaches near Gros Morne is Shallow Bay Beach, located in the town of Cow Head. Shallow Bay Beach is a long, sandy beach that’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. The beach is also surrounded by sand dunes and offers spectacular views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Another popular beach in the area is Norris Point Beach, which is located on Bonne Bay and offers stunning views of Gros Morne Mountain. The beach is a great spot for swimming and kayaking, and there are several hiking trails nearby that lead to scenic viewpoints.
Lobster Cove Head Beach is another beautiful spot that’s worth checking out. Located near Rocky Harbour, this beach is a great spot for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring the nearby tidal pools.
Keep in mind that the waters near these beaches can be cold, even during the summer months.
Gros Morne has some of the darkest skies in North America, making it a great spot for stargazing. In fact, Gros Morne National Park is in the process of applying to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada for designation as a Dark Sky Preserve. The park hosts a dark sky festival each year in October.
Visit the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse
The Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located near Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne National Park. The lighthouse was first built in 1897 and has since been restored to its original appearance, making it a popular attraction for visitors to the area. In addition to its historical significance, the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse offers stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding landscape. Visitors can tour the lighthouse and learn about its history, as well as enjoy the scenic hiking trails and picnic areas nearby. The Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Gros Morne National Park.
Go on a journey back in time and look at Gros Morne through the eyes of her first inhabitants. Join your local guide in a sea-going zodiac to an isolated cove in Bonne Bay where you’ll explore what attracted successive Indigenous groups to this area. To understand how the First Peoples lived, you’ll look at the land from their perspective, look to the sea with their needs in mind, and hold the raw materials of their tools in your hands.
Take part in a three course progressive meal that focuses on fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. Three stops complemented with plenty of local stories and insight can make for the perfect end to an unforgettable day or the start of a memorable night!
Learn to make a unique traditional Newfoundland instrument in Ugly Stick 101, a hands-on workshop. Join in the fun and learn to play your ugly stick, which complements guitar, spoons, and singing.
Visit the Bonne Bay Aquarium
Discover the amazing sea life living in Bonne Bay fjord. Take an interactive tour of Bonne Bay Marine Station’s saltwater aquarium and touch tank. For family fun take a Discovery Tour of Bonne Bay. An interpreter will help you sample the cold, deep waters and collect some of the smallest creatures in the ocean. Then it’s back to the marine station for a closer look at some or the larger marine life living below the waves.
Relax at St. Mary’s Botanical Garden
St. Mary’s Botanical Garden came to life in 2001. It is located in Cow Head adjacent to the St. Mary’s Anglican Church and the Atlantic Ocean. It has 3 vegetable beds and 40 flower beds. Visit the garden this summer! Enjoy the beauty all around you! Tourists are simply amazed at the survival of the many beautiful plants that seem to adapt and thrive in the beautiful garden by the sea. Awesome sunsets can be viewed on the Prayer and Meditation Platform at the back of the garden.
Boil-ups are a quintessential Newfoundland tradition. It’s essentially an outdoor meal in the woods or on a beach cooked on an open fire. Tea is a staple. Don’t have your own gear? No worries, you can join a beach boil up, where your guide will cook up the freshest seafood right on the beach in Birchy Head.
Find Something to Take Home
Find the perfect gift or souvenir to take home with you to remember your trip. Visitors to Gros Morne National Park can find a variety of locally made artisanal products, such as pottery, paintings, and textiles, at galleries and studios in the area, as well as unique souvenirs, clothing, and outdoor gear at gift shops and markets located in the nearby towns of Rocky Harbour, Norris Point, and Woody Point.
Is Gros Morne Worth Visiting?
Yes, Gros Morne is definitely worth visiting! The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers breathtaking scenery, including towering fjords, rugged coastline, and majestic mountains. It’s also home to a wide range of wildlife, including moose, caribou, and bald eagles, as well as unique plant life.
In addition to its natural beauty, Gros Morne also offers a range of activities for visitors, including hiking, kayaking, fishing, and boat tours. The park also has several cultural attractions, such as the Woody Point Heritage Theatre and the Gros Morne Theatre Festival, which showcase the area’s rich history and culture.
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a nature lover, or just looking for a peaceful retreat, Gros Morne has something to offer. So if you have the chance to visit this stunning destination, it’s definitely worth it!
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