National Parks: Newfoundland, Canada

Western Newfoundland is known for its powerful natural beauty, colorful fishing villages, Viking settlement, seaside cabins and moose burgers.  Scenic Route 430 travels the length of the Great Northern Peninsula. At Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, visitors can walk on the earth’s mantle and cruise a fjord under glacier-carved cliffs.


Plan Your Trip. This day-by-day guide lists details on lodging, restaurants, sports & recreation and sights described in Newfoundland: Ageless Allure. Use the websites, phone numbers and information to plan your trip.

Learn More. Visit the official tourism website for listings on recreation, lodging, restaurants, events for Western Newfoundland. Download a copy of the Gros Morne Visitor Guide, a vacation guide packed with information on the park’s world-class recreation.

Newfoundland is 4.5 hours ahead of Pacific Time. This can be confusing when booking flights.Check the events calendar for Gros Morne Theater, which stages plays and entertainment on local culture and history such as the S.S. Ethie final voyage on December 1919. If you don’t want to rent a car, hook up with Linkum Tours, operated by Ed English (whose grandfather captained the SS Ethie on that fateful night).


DAY 1 — Deer Lake Regional Airport, Shoal Brook, Whitehouse Brook, Woody Point

Fly from your gateway to Deer Lake Regional Airport (YDF).

Air Canada has the best connections. Plan to arrive in the early afternoon. Rent a car. Avis, Budget, National have rental desks at the airport. Drive to Shoal Brook, which is 46 km (29 miles) northwest of Deer Lake. Note: I had an easy return trip to San Francisco: a 3-hour flight to Toronto then a 5.5-hour flight to San Francisco. I left Deer Lake at 6:20 a.m. and arrived in San Francisco at 11:30 a.m.

Getting There
Air Canada
Check into Red Mantle Inn for two nights.

This is the best location for exploring Gros Morne National Park south. Canada-Select rated, the hillside inn looks and feels more like a home. You can preview the comfortable, spacious rooms by watching the website’s virtual tour. The dining room and deck overlook Bonne Bay. From the lodge you can see the Tablelands, the remarkable stretch of geology that rallies the hikers to be up and out at the crack of dawn. You’ll appreciate the no-nonsence self-serve breakfast (yogurt, fruit, toast, bagels).

Red Mantle Inn
Route 431, Shoal Brook, NL
888.453.7204 toll free
Visit Gros Morne National Park Discovery Centre.
Hike Partridgeberry Hill at sunset.

The bright, yellow Discovery Centre is easy to spot. Study the maps and displays about plate tectonics and continental collisions. Ask about guided tours: park rangers open your eyes to geologic wonders that are easy to miss. The Tuckamore gift shop has guides and brochures. The Centre is open until 9 p.m. on Sunday and Wednesday.

Then hike the Lookout Trail behind the Centre for a sunset view of Bonne Bay. The 2.5 km (1.5 miles) trail winds upward through a hillside forest of black spruce, larch, balsam fir, red maple and white birch. I passed ptarmigans foraging on the forest floor in the late afternoon. It becomes a boardwalk over a wet meadow, then a staircase to a summit platform. You also may see partridgeberries (lingonberries) growing on short evergreen shrub on the slope; they are collected and used in jam, pies and sauces. We were in Newfoundland in August, when they are ripe for picking.

Discovery Centre
Route 431, Whitehouse Brook, NL
Have dinner at The Old Loft Restaurant.

Housed in a restored Newfoundland fishing loft, the restaurant has a rustic atmosphere (you sit on wooden casks once used to pack fish). Seafood is the speciality (try the lemon pepper sole, baked codfish) and traditional Newfoundland scoff (refers to a large meal late in the day). Between bites, admire the view of Bonne Bay. Minke whales might be chasing the capelin into the bay.The craft shop has a replica of a fishing dory and you can find hand-knit sweaters and handmade quilts and a variety of Newfoundland music. Theater entertainment occurs throughout the summer. Check the website for the schedule.

The Old Loft Restaurant
Woody Point, NL
888.453.7204 toll free

DAY 2 — Gros Morne National Park south. Trout River.

Hike Green Gardens Trail.

The Long Pond trailhead leads directly to the coast. The one hour walk down to the coast winds through remarkable biological and geological wonders. The beginning section of the trail heads off across a barren landscape of frost-cracked orange-brown peridotite boulders. The trail rises to a viewpoint then turns left at the junction, and descends through forest to the coast. Wander along the coast enjoying the sea stacks, pillow lava, wild meadows, sea cave and semi-wild sheep. Then – more strenuous walking as you head back up the valley. The trail is 4.5 km (3 miles) to the beach; total 9 km (6 miles). You will be gone for a few hours at least so make sure you pack a lunch. Located 13 km (8 miles) from Woody Point.

Sports & Recreation
Green Gardens Hike
Route 431, Trout River, NL
Hike Tablelands Trail.

Hiking with a park ranger, you learn about plate collisions, ice age phenomena, and the survival tactics of plants on the barren Tablelands. Several hundred million years ago at this spot, peridotite rock shot up from the earth’s mantle during a plate collision. Peridotite has no nutrients to sustain plant life. This plateau is an anomaly in the Newfoundland landscape and well worth a visit. Tours last 2.5 hours; 4 km round trip.

Sports & Recreation
Tablelands Trail
Have dinner at the Seaside Restaurant.

Trout River is located on Gros Morne National Park’s southern coast. You’ll see hand knitted gloves for sale, flapping on clothes lines in front of sturdy clapboard homes. George Crocker and his family founded a small rural fishing village in 1815 and remained its only inhabitants until 1880. Mussels, crab and lobster at the Seaside restaurant now draw people from all over the peninsula.

You’ll also hear some Newfie Time entertainment on stage in the upstairs dining room. In remote villages, social gatherings are referred to as kitchen parties or “times”). Performers play button accordions, fiddles and ugly sticks: handmade percussion instruments made from a mop handle, bottle caps and small bells. Located on Route 431 (3 km from the Long Pond Trailhead).

Seaside Restaurant
Trout River

DAY 3 — Rocky Harbour, Gros Morne National Park north. Cow Head.

Pick up a bag lunch and fresh-roasted coffee. 
Buy tickets for the Western Brook Pond boat tour.

Have coffee and pick up a sandwich and snacks at Java Jack’s. Bag lunches are ready for pick up by 8 a.m.  Local artists are displayed on the staircase and in the upstairs dining room. Next, purchase tickets for the 1 p.m. (or 4 p.m.) Western Brook Pond boat tour at Ocean View Motel.

Java Jack’s Restaurant & Gallery
88 Main Street North, Rocky Harbour, NL
Ocean View Motel, BonTours desk
38-42 Main Street, Rocky Harbour, NL
888.458.2016 toll-free
Attend a ranger’s talk at Green Point.

The 90-minute “Stroll Through Strata” takes you back millions of years. The trail begins on the old winter mail road and passes by coastal tuckamore, stunted balsam fir and spruce trees nipped back by frost and wind. The long cobble beach, its shales the sediment from the Iapetus Ocean, contains fossils of ancient sea creatures. Located 12 km (7.5 miles) north of Rocky Harbour.

Sports & Recreation
Green Point
Route 430, Green Point, NL
Cross a bog on a boardwalk.
Cruise through Western Brook Pond.

Forty glaciers worked over 2.5 million years to carve this fjord. The boat cruises through a notch in the granite wall that opens into a landlocked fjord with hanging valleys and waterfalls dropping from 2,000-foot-high cliffs. These billion-year-old cliffs were here when North America was the ancient continent Laurentia. Look closely at the wide cracks on the cliff face and discern a man’s face with a sloping forehead, sunken eyes, long piston nose, and wide dropped chin. The tour narrator call him the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. Cash only for ticket purchases at the dock. Located 27 km (16. 7 miles) north of Rocky Harbour.

Western Brook Pond Boat Tour
Route 430, Gulls Marsh, NL
888.458.2016 toll-free
Check into a cabin on Shallow Bay for one night.
Walk along Shallow Bay beach before dinner.

In pleasant weather, walk along Shallow Bay beach to the swimming area. If you have dinner at the Shallow Bay Inn, try the Newfoundland mussels or lobster, in season from May through June. Throughout the summer, the Gros Morne Theater holds performances, such as the tale of a shipwreck, “S.S. Ethie,” in which all passengers miraculously survived. The afternoon we arrived, a storm was building with white caps the size of polar bears. I fell asleep that night to howling wind and heavy rain, hoping it would bring some icebergs close to shore on the drive tomorrow to L’Anse aux Meadows.

Shallow Bay Motel & Cabins
Main Street, Cow Head, NL A0K 2A0
(709) 243-2471

DAY 4 — Gunner’s Cove. L’Anse aux Meadows. Quirpon Island.

Drive to the Viking settlement.

The remains of eight buildings were discovered in 1960 on a terrace at L’Anse aux Meadows: the only known site of a Norse village in North America. Norse Greenlanders discovered and attempted a colony around 1003, according to Icelandic sagas. Leif Ericson drank the dew from the grass and declared it the sweetest he ever tasted. He set up the village with wooden-frame buildings with sod roofs as a base camp for expeditions into the Gulf of St Lawrence. At the replica village you can meet Bjorn in the dining hall kindling a fire or Freya in the workshop weaving a new tapestry. She shows visitors how to spin wool with a spindle like the one excavated on the site.

L’Anse aux Meadows
Route 430, St-Lunaire-Griquet, NL
Stop for lunch in Gunner’s Cove.

Try cod tongue, a local dish, or go with the fish and chips, moist cod and tasty crust with herbs. The portions are large and the prices reasonable. On Route 436, off of the Viking Trail and five minutes from L’Anse aux Meadows on the shore side.

Northern Delight
Route 436, Gunner’s Cove, NL
Take the boat to from Quirpon village to Quirpon Island.
Check in for two nights.

The raw, wild North Atlantic rages around Quirpon Island. The boat will leave you off at Grandmother Cove so you can hike across the interior and up onto the coastal ridge. Across the strait is Labrador and the Canadian frontier. The trail leads to the keeper’s house with a cosy parlor and dining room on the first floor and bedrooms on the second floor.

Quirpon Lighthouse Inn
Quirpon Island, NL
877.254.6586 toll free

DAY 5 — Quirpon Island

Hike to Mountain View. Kayak in Iceberg Alley.

When morning sunshine fills the front porch, the island is bucolic. Then you can see whales spouting and (hopefully) icebergs glistening. Climb the lighthouse staircase to the outdoor desk for a better view. Along the trails, cloudberries (bakeapple) are easy to pick.

Explore the coastline in a kayak, following your guide into tiny coves to see kittiwake colonies and eider ducks nesting. You can also get a closer look at the whales and icebergs.

If gray mist shrouds the island in the afternoon, retire to an armchair in parlor for afternoon tea and conversation while Dorothy prepares a Jigg’s dinner. This Newfoundland meal is typically dumplings with molasses, carrots, cabbage, salt beef, boiled potatoes and cream puff blueberry pie for dessert. If accordions and fiddles appear after dinner, you are in for a good time.

Sports & Recreation
Mountain View Hike. Pigeon Cove Hike
Iceberg Alley kayaking tour

DAY 6–7 — St. Lunaire-Griquet, Gros Morne National Park north, Deer Lake.

Stop at The Dark Tickle Company for souvenirs.

Here you can buy jams, sauces, teas, vinegars, drinks, and chocolates from the wild berries that grow on the top half of the Great Northern Peninsula. These include the bakeapple (cloudberry), partridgeberry (lingonberry), crowberry, squashberry and wild blueberry. They also have Inuit crafts.

The Dark Tickle Company
Route 436, Griquet, NL
Have lunch at The Daily Catch.

Locals will tell you that this restaurant is the best value for our money. Think large portions when you are ordering. The mussels, fish chowder are good choices. Try the Fisherman’s Brewis as an appetizer. You won’t find this salt codfish dish outside Newfoundland. It is topped with “scrunchions,” fried salt pork.

The Daily Catch
Route 436, 112 Main Street, St. Lunaire-Griquet, NL
Visit the lighthouse at Lobster Cove Head.

When it’s time to stretch your legs, the sign to Lobster Cove Head appears. The Canadian Coast Guard watches over the automated light, and the house kept the light keeper’s den as it might have looked in the early part of this century. An exhibit depicts how people have lived along this coast and harvested the sea for more than 4,000 years. Located 1 km (.6 mile) north of Rocky Harbour.

Lobster Cove Head
Route 430, Lobster Cove, NL
Check into Neddies Harbour Inn for one or two nights.

Check into this small inn on Bonne Bay. Book a corner room for panoramic views of the water and the Tablelands. Guests mingle and relax in the sun room. The inn has an award-winning menu and dinner is served in a high-ceiling room, also with great views.

Neddies Harbour Inn
7 Beach Road, Norris Point, NL
709.458.3089 ‎
888.854.3347 toll free

 —CT Editors. Photography by Donna Peck. Green Gardens photo by Shelton Stone/Parks Canada.

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  1. Lou Klosterman

    National Parks: Newfoundland, Canada

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