Active Travel Tips for Gros Morne National Park

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Active travel is obviously one of our favorite ways to explore new destinations, but when we managed to go off-the-beaten-path in a national park, well, our travel feet get really itchy!

Guest contributor, Erika Nelson and her husband, went all the way to Central Newfoundland to find some boomer adventure and did they ever! If you’re curious about how to visit Gros Morne National Park, Erica’s tips are for you.

Visiting Gros Morne National Park

Has reading a book ever inspired you to travel someplace? This is what inspired my husband and me to travel to the island of Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada.

After doing some travel research, we decided to visit the west coast of the island. And the pride of the west coast of that island, Gros Morne National Park, did not disappoint.

The park’s mountains are actually the northern end of the Appalachian Mountains, one of the planet’s oldest mountain chains. The Appalachians run along much of the US East Coast as well as in the Maritime Provinces of Canada.

Active Travel in Gros Morne Park

view of mountain range covered in trees at Gros Morne National Park
View of Gros Morne, the tallest mountain in the park.

What does a visit to Gros Morne National Park have to offer? There are mountains to climb, trails to hike, fjords to cruise through, geology to learn, wildlife to view, or maybe you just want to enjoy some fresh seafood and relax by the water on a sunny day.

All of that and more can be found on an active trip to Gros Morne National Park (official website here).

Gros Morne is a short drive from Deer Lake where there is an airport and plenty of places to stay outside of the park. There are also towns within the park with places to stay.

dry rocky landscape with single small tree
View from a Tablelands hike. There is a trail that goes into the Tablelands as well as ranger led hikes. If scaling the peaks is more your style, you can make your own trail.

Gros Morne is a large park, with 3 general areas. The southwestern section is known as the Tablelands. Here you can see one of the largest exposed pieces of the Earth’s mantle. For those of you not expert geologists, we live on the crust and the mantle is the iron rich layer below that.

The mantle is an interesting chunk of rusted rock with not a whole lot of plant life. It stands out in sharp contrast to the thick evergreen forests you find in the rest of Western Newfoundland.

The central section of the park is between Rocky Harbor and Norris Point. This is where you will find the park’s namesake mountain.

Gros Morne is a challenging 10-mile climb. Plan on spending a full day as the hike takes about 8-10 hours to do. But if full day hikes are not your speed or on your time schedule, you should be able to find one that works as there are plenty of hikes in the park.

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Stroll around Bonne Bay

boat out in water surrounded by low mountains
The view from Rocky Harbor looking out on Bonne Bay.

The northern end of the park moves out beyond the beauty of Bonne Bay and into a long coastal plain.

There are still mountains. These mountains may not be the tallest but they are some of the oldest on the planet, and in Western Newfoundland they are known as the Long Range Mountains.

large bay area
Looking south into the of Bonne Bay.

In this part of the park you will find not only mountains but sandy beaches with beautiful dunes. It might not exactly be swimming weather, or should I say swimming water temperatures, but you can always enjoy a beach walk on a practically empty beach.

rocky beach with bird flying over
The beach at the end of Western Brook was empty of a beautiful July afternoon.

You can visit Lobster Head lighthouse or learn a little bit about the historic Newfoundland fishing industry by visiting the cabin at Broom Point.

white lighthouse on small hill
The lighthouse at Lobster Point Looking south into the of Bonne Bay.

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Boating through Western Brook Pond

However, there is one thing you MUST do if you visit Gros Morne National Park. The boat trip at Western Brook Pond is the highlight of the park.

Western Brook Pond in a landlocked fjord tucked with cliffs as high as 2,000 feet. To reach Western Brook Pond, there is a relatively flat 1.75-mile walk.

west brook boat in the bay

And the end of the walk there is a small restaurant for a light lunch or a warming cup of coffee while you wait for the boat. Western Brook Pond boat trips take 2 hours, and reservations are required with Bon Tours Boat Tours.

green fjords
Who knew not all gorgeous, majestic fjords are found in Norway?

I must say, once on the water, the scenery can’t be beat.

large rocky cliffs rising up over the water
Don’t miss the boat ride. It’ll be one of the best things you’ll do!

A trip to Gros Morne is an adventure. Not only is there stunning scenery, but people are friendly, and it is a great chance to explore the culture of Newfoundland. 

You never know where you might spy a moose along the roadside, a whale breaching in the water, or get to learn about the French-English culture of western Newfoundland.

Scratch those itchy travel feet!

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