I recently took a little bit of time off from work and decided to head to the west coast of Newfoundland. This year has been difficult for everybody around the world and many of us needed to cancel our yearly trips due to the ongoing pandemic and safety measures which are in place. I also had to accept that I will not visit my family in Poland for a while, so instead I planned a staycation in our province. Knowing how important it is for newcomers to get out of the city and learn more about our province I would like to share with you few information about the gorgeous Gros Morne National Park which I had a pleasure visiting. Perhaps you, as a new resident of NL, will be able to plan your trip to the West Coast and get familiar with what it has to offer.
Let’s start with the basics. Gros Morne National Park is located in western part of Newfoundland and it takes 8-10 hours to get there by car from St. John’s (depending how many breaks you take). Most of the journey is on a highway so it’s a pretty comfortable drive. There is also an airport in Deer Lake if somebody prefers flying there. This park is often visited by many tourists from other parts of Canada and from all around the world.
Where to stay while in the park
Some people rent cabins around the park, but I had a lovely tent which was a perfect way to feel close to the nature. You can also have a camper van with you. There are many campsites around. I stayed in Trout River Campsite and then moved to the Berry Hill Campsite. Both of them had great facilities such as bathrooms with showers, sink where people washed their dishes as well as free wi-fi access. If you prefer more comfort you can find a lot of motels or inns in the area.
My goal was to be active. I wanted to hike as many trails as possible during my vacation. One of the first things I did was to go to the Discovery Center in Woody Point and asked for a map of the park. I could then see all of the trails and could pick and choose between them.
The first hike I went on was the Tablelands. The official trail is about four km long and takes you to the Winter House Brook Canyon. But I didn’t stop there. I had a secret map with a trail on top of the Tablelands. It climbs all the way to 618 meters elevation and is about 13 km long. The views are breathtaking! But I must warn you; this was an off-trail hike. You must be prepared when taking it. You will need a compass and plenty of water and snacks to keep you going. Weather is also especially important. Do not attempt this hike on a cloudy and rainy day.
Another must do hike is a Gros Morne Mountain which is the second highest peak on Newfoundland. It’s a 16km hike which takes between six and eight hours. They call it “the beast” because it is a very steep climb, so you need to be prepared for it. The most important thing is to plan this trail for a sunny day. It is not recommended to approach it when it’s cloudy because you might get disoriented and get lost.
Some other fantastic trails worth recommending are Berry Hill Trail, Green Gardens, Lookout Hills Trail and Western Brook Pond hike.
For those who don’t enjoy much hiking, there are other options to fill your time. I loved sitting by the fire (there are designated areas in the campsites where bonfires are allowed) and reading a book. There are also number of communities around the park such as Woody Point, Rocky Harbour, Norris Point or Trout River which you can visit and relax while looking at the ocean and surrounding mountains. Some attractions, such as the Discovery Centre in Woody Point, are open this year; others, such as the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse and the Broom Point Fishing Exhibit, will have to wait for another year.
Eating while camping in Gros Morne
Many of you might not be familiar with camping. I know that I was not, because where I come from camping is not a popular way to spend time. So, one of my worries was how to go about getting food when I am in the middle of the national park in a tent.
I can assure you that there are plenty of ways to get your daily calorie intake, even in times of pandemic. First of all, I recommend taking a cooler with you filled with food and ice packs. It will keep food cool for a good few days. Before going on a camping trip, you can buy canned meals, vegetables and dry goods such as rice or pasta. Get yourself a stove and few propane cylinders and that should be sufficient. On top of that, many people might want to use the bonfire to cook their food. If you run out of your food supplies you can purchase them in local stores which can be found in Trout River, Woody Point, Rocky Harbour etc.
Lastly, there are many lovely restaurants in the communities in Gros Morne and you can visit them and try local food. They often serve fresh fish and other seafood.
Why Gros Morne National Park is a must visit destination
This park has some of the world’s best examples of the tectonic plates processes. When you visit you will see the fjords, waterfalls and tableland mountains and you will be able to learn more about the history of glaciers and their movements. You will get more understanding of the geological events that took place when our land was covered by ice. Gros Morne National Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it is definitely worth spending some time there. I cannot recommend it enough! So if you wonder what to do with your last few weeks of this summer or the early part of fall (and Newfoundland’s west coast is even more beautiful with fall colours), do consider heading to the West Coast of Newfoundland and I am sure you will not regret it.