One very popular site is Gros Morne National Park. "Gros Morne" means "large mountain standing alone," but the park has more to offer than just one mountain.
It is a special place for hiking, camping, and fishing. You can go for a day or a week, and rest assured be awed by the stunning landscapes of this behemoth of a park. Thousands of people visit it every year, engaging in their favourite outdoor activities and enjoying incredible natural wonders.
What are some of these wonders? Where should you go if you want to see small towns? What are some tips you should follow if you want to go hiking or camping?
The answer to these questions lies in one of Canada's greatest parks. Here is your comprehensive guide.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
1,805 sq km (697 sq mi)
October 1, 2005 (national park) August 1973 (national park reserve)
Geology and Soil
Home to some of the most stunning rock formations in North America, Gros Morne is made up of oceanic crust and mantle rock. The formation took place by sedimentary rock formed during the ordovician. Granites can be aged up to 1550Ma, with Ma meaning one million. Common collections which can be found here are greywacke, dolomite shale, quartzite, chert and limestone blocks with green, red and black colour patterns.
With so many different types of bedrock in the park, it's no wonder so many variety's of soil can also be found. In the northeastern area, stony sandy loam in found. In Cox's Cove however, you will find mostly band over shale, sand and limestone.
Getting to Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park is a Canadian national park and World Heritage Site. The park lies on the west coast of Newfoundland. At 1,805 km2 (697 sq mi), it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada.
If you are in the province, you can fly to Deer Lake Regional Airport and reach it with a 30-minute drive. The airport also takes limited flights from Toronto, Montreal, and other major cities.
If you are coming in from the mainland, you can take the ferry to Port aux Basques. The park is a four-hour drive from the ferry. You should book your reservation for the ferry, as tickets tend to sell out well before the summer and holiday season.
You can find a number of communities around the park. Cow Head, Norris Point, and Glenburnie have small stores and other accommodations. As with ferries, you should book your reservations well in advance, especially for a summer trip.
Gros Morne National Park Attractions
Gros Morne ignites the nature lovers curious mind and gives soul to the planet's history. The area is 500 million years in the making and offers much to do and see.
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse Exhibit
A popular gathering place for the coastal people of Newfoundland and travellers alike. You can explore this historical lighthouse, enjoy various coastal adventures and seaside strolls, or maybe just a lovely family (or romantic) picnic with a view of Lobster Cove Head.
The Freshwater Fjord of Western Brook Pond
There are no words to explain how powerful taking a cruise through Western Brook Pond can be. The grandiose, glacier carved and land locked fjord offer captivating views of 2000ft water falls, wildlife and billion year old cliffs.
Trek to The Summit
There's something for everyone on the trails of Gros Morne. For a more laid back vibe, easy trails are flat to gently rolling and are at an elevation of 0-100 meters. Moderate trails are gently rolling with some steep but short sections and elevate from 100-500 meters. For the experienced hiker, the difficult trails have many continuous steep sections and gain up to 500 meters of elevation.
The Tablelands are flat and rocky areas with mountains surrounding them. They resemble a desert, and they have very little plant life. They are unusual sites, and people have many questions about them.
What Type of Rock Are the Tablelands Made From?
Peridotite is an igneous rock, meaning it is formed through the solidification of lava. It comes from the Earth's mantle.
Peridotite is high in iron yet low in sulphur. This makes it brown, similar to desert sands.
Their rough exterior comes from exposure to the elements. Rain and the shifting terrain have chipped and broken the rocks.
How Were the Tablelands Formed?
The Earth contains several tectonic plates. These plates move around and sometimes collide with each other.
When they collide, they can rub against each other and form mountain ranges. They can also pull apart and form ocean floors and plateaus.
The Tablelands formed when tectonic plates collided with each other hundreds of millions of years ago. The collisions caused the ocean floor to rise upward.
At the time, all of the continents of the Earth formed one supercontinent called Pangea. As time passed, Pangea broke into pieces and formed the continents of today. But many of Pangea's features remained intact, including the Tablelands.
Scientists have come to these conclusions based on many pieces of evidence. They have found rocks that date to hundreds of millions of years ago. They have found very few animal skeletons in the ground, suggesting that the area was underwater for a period of time.
How Long Is the Tablelands Hike?
There are a few different hikes you can take through the Tablelands. The Tablelands Trail provides a one-hour hike along gentle terrain.
You will follow a roadbed as it goes around the base of a mountain. The trail ends at the Winter House Brook Canyon, which was carved by glaciers millions of years ago. You can take photographs of epic rock formations and gushing streams.
If you want a panoramic view, you can hike on the Lookout Hills Trail. It is a steep walk, but it is one that lets you see the entirety of the Tablelands. It takes roughly two hours to complete.
For a challenging hike, you can head out on the James Callaghan Trail. This lets you walk up the Gros Morne Mountain while taking in views of the Tablelands. You should expect to spend the entire day if you want to get to the summit.
Gros Morne National Park Map
Parks Canada provides maps for Gros Morne. We recommend getting a map with the general layout of the park, then you should get maps of the trails and mountains you plan on visiting.
The park contains more than 1,800 square kilometres of land and water. The park is north-south oriented. Trails and natural sites are located throughout the park, though most are congregated around Bonne Bay.
The park has coastal lowlands and alpine plateaus. This means that the altitude changes abruptly and the land is hard to navigate. Make sure you have a good pair of walking or hiking shoes wherever you go.
Gros Morne Mountains
The Gros Morne Mountain is the park's highest mountain. It is more than 800 metres tall, and it is a challenging climb. Walking the James Callaghan Trail is the best way to scale the mountain.
But there are other mountains you can see. Several of them lie along the Long Range Mountains, which are an extension of the Appalachian Mountains. They are small, allowing you to climb them within a day and take in various views.
Though the mountains are not high, they may be difficult to walk on. You should be familiar with good hiking practices, and you should have plenty of water and time. Use a walking stick to keep your balance on the steep incline.
The further you get from Rocky Harbour and other sites, the more difficult the mountains are. Some mountains are located along unmarked paths or roads. Be very careful on these mountains and bring a first-aid kit with you.
Rocky Harbour - In The Heart of Gros Morne National Park
Rocky Harbour is a small town located within Gros Morne. As the name suggests, it lies on the coast of Bonne Bay. It is one of the best places to live in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Visiting the town lets you see amazing views of the water and coastal grasses. But you can also find hotels, restaurants, and other attractions.
You can visit the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse and learn about fishing and shipping practices. The lighthouse itself seems picturesque, and it provides a good setting for group portraits.
The Annual Harbour Lights Summer Festival takes place during the first weekend of August. You can view fireworks shows, listen to live music, and buy items from concession stands.
Museums include the Gros Morne Wildlife Museum. You can see full-size representations of seabirds, fish, and mammals. If you want to buy a souvenir, you can stop by the gift shop and purchase pieces of seal clothing.
Rocky Harbour is the launch site for many boat and ferry tours. If you plan on taking several of these tours, you should stay in the town itself. Make sure you get to your boat well in advance so you can listen to safety instructions.
Gros Morne Cabins
If you don't want to stay in a hotel or inn, you can stay in a cabin. Rocky Harbour has a few dozen cabins sprinkled along the waterfront. They are small properties, ideal for solo travellers or couples.
You can also find cottages on the outskirts of Rocky Harbour and elsewhere in the park. Rustic cabins can accommodate entire families or couples with guests. Some cabins have covered porches, outdoor grills, and dining tables.
Look at your different options for cabins. Consider what you want to do in the park and find cabins that are as close as possible to your activities.
All cabins require money and reservations to rent. The prices are comparable to staying in hotels, though you may find less expensive cabins.
The further you are from Rocky Harbour, the fewer amenities you have. Most rustic cabins do not have electricity or running water. You can use a wood stove for heat, though you may need to find wood for it.
Gros Morne Hiking
There are dozens of hiking trails located throughout Gros Morne. You can find routes for beginners and experienced hikers.
Besides the Tablelands and mountain trails, you can find several easy pond trails. The Berry Head Pond Trail lets you view bogs in addition to the eponymous pond. If you want to go birdwatching, you can find many different songbirds and waterbirds along the trail.
The Mattie Mitchell Trail is a short interpretive trail. You can learn about the Mi'kmaq people, the original inhabitants of Gros Morne.
Hikers looking for a challenge can take the Snug Harbour Trail. This path follows the coastline of the harbour, but the path is muddy and lacks signs in places. You should bring additional shoes and wear thick socks while walking this path.
You can eat food wherever you want in the park. But you should not feed the wildlife, and you should not leave your food out, even if it is healthy food. Clean up any crumbs or trash you make and put your litter in a trash container.
While you go hiking, you can start geocaching. You can find caches along several trails, including Steve's Trail. Make sure you have your own GPS unit so you can locate the logbooks.
If you want to go off trails entirely, you can go wilderness hiking. The park has some backcountry routes through unmarked areas, but you can go off completely on your own.
Gros Morne National Park Camping
Gros Morne has five main campgrounds. Green Point is the only campground that is open year-round. The other four are limited to the summer and early fall.
The five campgrounds have limited capacity. You can camp in a tent, trailer, or RV with the amenities you need.
If you want to go primitive camping, you can find additional grounds for that. Primitive campsites lie along several park trails.
You must bring your own tent and tools, including portable stoves. You must follow good BBQ safety tips.
The sites are open year-round, but park officials do not maintain them between October and May. You must clean up any mess you make and you must respond to emergencies on your own.
Wherever you want to go camping, you must book a reservation in advance. You also need a camping permit for primitive sites.
Gros Morne does not have official Dark-Sky Preserves yet. But the park does set aside areas so you can view stars without light pollution. You can camp near these areas, provided that you keep your fires and lights to a minimum.
Gros Morne Fishing
Park officials regulate fishing within the park. You cannot fish in the Western Brook drainage basin or in the Trout River. You cannot use live bait, and you must stop fishing one hour after sunset.
You may catch trout, char, and Atlantic salmon. But you must obtain a fishing permit at a minimum. If you want to catch salmon, you must obtain an additional salmon license.
Besides these regulations, Gros Morne is a good place to fish. You do not need a guide in order to fish anywhere within the park. You can cook your catch or bring it home in a cooler.
You may go swimming at the places where you fish. You can also go swimming in the ocean, but you should be careful as ocean currents are powerful. Do not go swimming off the beach at Western Brook because the currents are very powerful there.
The Essentials of Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park is laden with natural wonders. Walking along the Tablelands lets you see ancient ocean floors. You can climb mountains and witness incredible panoramic views.
Rocky Harbour is a quaint town that gives you access to water tours. You can stay in an intimate cabin and go out when you want to.
But you can camp, including near areas for dark sky observation. You can also go fishing and eat your catch.
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