A UNESCO World Heritage site, Gros Morne National Park protects an area of impressive natural beauty, rural Newfoundland culture, and unique geological wonders. The park's namesake mountain, Gros Morne, is the second highest point in Newfoundland at 806 metres. Its French meaning is "large mountain standing alone," or more literally "great sombre."
It covers an an area of 1,805 km² (697 sq mi).
Gros Morne is a member of the Long Range Mountains, an outlying range of the Appalachian Mountains, stretching the length of the island's west coast. It is the eroded remnants of a mountain range formed 1.2 billion years ago.
The park's operating season is from mid-May to mid-October: most facilities are open seven days a week, including holidays. This is the high season, so you should book your accommodation well in advance. The park is open in winter with some activities available in winter. All major travel routes are maintained throughout the year, although temporary closures or warnings may come into effect in the event of adverse weather conditions.
The Gros Morne National Park Reserve was established in 1973 and received UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1987. It became a national park on October 1, 2005.
The park is in the Long Range mountains, an extension of the Appalachian chain running up the west coast of the island of Newfoundland. The landscape of the park is mountainous and rugged, and has a number of interesting geological features, including a number of fjords and the barren Tablelands.
The park's rock formations include oceanic crust and mantle rock exposed by the obduction process of plate tectonics, as well as sedimentary rock formed during the Ordovician, Precambrian granite and Palaeozoic igneous rocks.
The Tablelands, found between the towns of Trout River and Woody Point in south west of Gros Morne National Park, look more like a barren desert than traditional Newfoundland. This is due to the ultramafic rock—peridotite—which makes up the Tablelands. It is thought to originate in the Earth's mantle and was forced up from the depths during a plate collision several hundred million years ago. Peridotite lacks some of the usual nutrients required to sustain most plant life and has a toxic quality, hence its barren appearance. Peridotite is also high in iron, which accounts for its brownish colour (rusted colour). Underneath this weathered zone, the rock is really a dark green colour.
The most notable animal in the park is the moose, part of a booming population that was introduced to Newfoundland around 1900. Other common wildlife in the park include an ecotype of caribou (R.t caribou), black bears, red foxes, Arctic foxes, snowshoe hares, red squirrels, lynxes, river otters and beavers. Harbour seals are common in St. Pauls inlet, and whales (pilots minkes, humpbacks, fins) may be in the area especially during the capelin season in early summer. Many bird species can be found in the park, from shorebirds along the ocean to birds of the bogs and interior forests.
The climate in this part of Newfoundland is on the cool side of temperate - daytime highs are around 20°C in the summer and -5°C in the winter. Annual precipitation is just over 1300 mm.
Most visitors to Gros Morne will probably either fly in to the airport at Deer Lake, about an hour away, and rent a car there (a number of major rental companies have a presence), or take the ferry from North Sydney in Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques. Reservations for the ferry are essential.
- 2 Deer Lake Regional Airport (YDF IATA), 1 Airport Road Suite 1, Deer Lake (35 km from the southern park boundary.), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The airport is served by direct daily flights from Montreal (May–October), Toronto, Halifax, and St. John’s. Intra-provincial flights are available between Deer Lake and St. John’s. There are bus services that can also provide transportation from the town of Deer Lake to Gros Morne.
By car & ferry
If driving from the Canadian mainland, the shortest way to Gros Morne is via the ferry service between North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. It is 300 km from Port aux Basques to the southern park boundary, about a four-hour drive.
- Marine Atlantic, toll-free: (reservations), e-mail: email@example.com. Ferries run year-round between North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Port aux Basques on Newfoundland’s southwest coast. Ferry service between North Sydney and Argentia, on Newfoundland’s east coast, is offered from mid-June to late September. The crossing time from North Sydney to Port aux Basques is approximately 6 hours, and 11 hours from North Sydney to Argentia. Reservations strongly recommended.
- Labrador Marine. Summer. This ferry links northern Newfoundland with southern Labrador.
Fees and permits
These numbers were updated in 2018.
- Daily fees
- May 16-Oct 31. Adults $9.80, seniors $8.30, families $19.60, children under 18 free.
- Nov 1-May 25. Adults $7.80, seniors $6.80, families $15.70, children under 18 free.
- Annual passes. Adults $49.00, seniors $41.70, families $98.10, children under 18 free.
- Wilderness hiking fees. Long range reservation fee $24.50, Long Range hike $83.40 per person, North Rim hike $68.70 per person, combined Long Range and North Rim hike $122.60 per person.
Parks Canada Passes
The Discovery Pass provides unlimited admission for a full year at over 80 Parks Canada places that typically charge a daily entrance fee It provides faster entry and is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Prices for 2018 (taxes included):
- Family/group (up to 7 people in a vehicle): $136.40
- Children and youth (0-17): free
- Adult (18-64): $67.70
- Senior (65+): $57.90
The Cultural Access Pass: people who have received their Canadian citizenship in the past year can qualify for free entry to some sites.
A car is probably the most convenient way to get around, because the park is huge, and things are far apart. Biking may also be an option, if you don't mind lots of hills.
Be careful if you drive at night, since moose are often spotted on the roads in Newfoundland, and collisions are common. An adult moose can weigh well over a ton, and hitting one at highway speeds is likely to be fatal. Moose are most active around dawn and dusk, so be vigilant if you're driving at those times.
- 3 Rocky Harbour (Inside the park.), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This small town has accommodations, restaurants, shops and services, and is an excellent base for exploring the park.
The landscapes in Gros Morne are breathtaking. Even the views from the roads around the park can be pretty impressive.
- There are about 20 marked day-trip hiking trails in the park, ranging from fairly short, relaxing walks to the challenging climb up Gros Morne mountain. Don't miss the Tablelands, and the view from the top of the mountain really is worth the hike.
- One of the more strenuous dayhikes is the 16-km hike over Gros Morne Mountain. This trail is also called the James Callaghan Trail after the former British Prime Minister, who visited in 1976, in recognition of his conservation efforts.
- The interior of the park can also be accessed, notably through the multi-day Long Range Traverse between Western Brook Pond and Gros Morne Mountain.
- The park is home to many arts festivals, including: Gros Morne Theatre Festival[, Writers at Woody Point, Gros Morne Summer Music, and Trails, Tales and Tunes.
- Explore the villages and towns within the park - there are lots of small shops and restaurants.
- Boat tour on Western Brook Pond, ☎ , toll-free: . 3-hour tour. The park's largest glacially-carved fjord is Western Brook Pond. This 16-kilometre long, 165m deep lake is home to Atlantic Salmon, Brook Trout, Arctic Char, and an unusual colony of cliff nesting gulls. The boat tour can be reached via Route 430, 27 km north of Rocky Harbour. From the parking lot there is a pleasant 45 minute walk (3 km) to the dock over the coastal plain. Along the way, there is a variety of plant life and wildlife, and interpretive panels dotted along the trail. At dockside, there is a sheltered waiting area, indoor washroom facilities, canteen services, gift shop, and picnic areas. $58-67 adult; $26-32.50 age 12-16; $20-25.50 under 12. July & Aug: up to 7 trips/day, June & Sept: 1/day at 12:30; May & Oct: depending on demand.
- Bonne Bay Boat Tour, ☎ , toll-free: . Two-hour tour of the two connected fjords of scenic Bonne Bay. Opportunities to view and photograph eagles, moose, whales, and seabirds. Partake in a tradition known as a “screech in” ($10 additional fee) featuring live traditional music, a cod fish, Sou’wester, and a little of the Newfoundland Screech (rum) and come away with a certificate declaring you an “honorary Newfoundlander”. $45 adult; $19 age 12-16; $16 under 12. July & Aug: 10AM and 2PM, June & Sept: 2PM.
Handmade wool clothing (especially socks) is ubiquitous.
Snowshoes, homemade quilts, wool sweaters, wood carvings, photography, Newfoundland preserves, handmade porcelain jewellery, Newfoundland music.
Rocky Harbour has several gift shops and art & craft galleries, including:
- Endicott's Crafts, Main St South. year-round, every day 9AM-9PM.
- Fisherman's Landing Crafts, Main St at Harbour View. year-round, every day 9AM-9PM.
- Gros Morne Crafts & Internet Cafe, 111 Main Street North, ☎ , . summer: Monday thru Saturday 9am - 7pm.
- Gros Morne Visitor Centre Gift Shop, Highway 430 - 3 km east of Rocky Harbour, ☎ . May 2-19: M-F 9-AM-4 PM; May 20-June 30 and Sept 6-Oct 30: 9AM-5PM; July 1-Sept 5: 8AM-8PM.
- Gros Morne Wildlife Museum & Gift Shop, 76 Main Street North, ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com. July and August: 9AM-9PM. Seal skin & fur products. Antler & bone carvings. Taxidermy items. Camping/hiking supplies. Fishing supplies
- Treasure Box, 72 Main Street, ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. mid-May-Dec 24: 8AM-8PM. Hand knit sweaters, mitts, socks, and hats. Framed & matted limited edition prints. Tilley Endurable Hats. Stained glass products. Local books and music
- Uniquely Newfoundland Gallery, 21 West Link Road, ☎ , , toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. year-round, every day 9AM-9PM. 100% wool sweaters. Quilts. Silk scarves. Newfoundland books. Jams. Candles. Folk art. Pottery. Carvings
Seafood! There are restaurants in Trout River, Woody Point and Rocky Harbour. Try cod tongues if you get a chance.
Beer is available in convenience stores - look for something made by the Quidi Vidi Brewery if you want to try something local.
- 1 Anchor Pub, Main Street, Rocky Harbour (In the Ocean View Hotel.). Live music every night from June through September. Join a traditional Newfoundland kitchen party! Main dishes $9-13 (pub food).
There are B&Bs, motels and hotels in the various towns within the park. B&Bs are amazing in Newfoundland. Just ask around and don't be shy. These are great people, you often feel like you are visiting family.
In Rocky Harbour
There are several B&Bs in Rocky Harbour that cost around $90-130 for a double with bath.
- 1 The Ocean View Hotel, 38 Main St, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ocean front rooms offer a view of the harbour and Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, which are especially rewarding during sunsets. Restsurant, pub, free WiFi, wheelchair accessible. $155-181.
- 2 Fisherman's Landing Inn, 21-29 W Link, Rocky Harbour, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. 3½ star accommodation. Fitness room. Restsurant. Live music in the Skipper's Lounge $160-200.
- 3 Gros Morne RV Campground (Coming from Deer Lake, travel to Rocky Harbour and take first left after Visitor Centre.), ☎ (in season), toll-free: (reservations only), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. fully serviced sites with 30 & 50 amp hookups. Efficiency motel units. Accessible washrooms. Kitchen shelter. Free WiFi. Dumping station. $25-37.
Parks Canada maintains five campgrounds in the park. The services available vary campground to campground, but may include toilets, showers, hot water and kitchen shelters.
Camping fees per night (2018):
- Berry Hill and Green Point - serviced, water and electricity $32.30
- Green Point and Trout River - Unserviced with toilets and showers $25.50
- Lomond, Berry Hill and Shallow Bay - Unserviced with toilets and showers $25.50
- oTENTiks glamping, and rustic cabins $120.00
There are primitive and backcountry campsites scattered around the park. Reservations through Parks Canada are often required. Backcountry camping fee: $9.80 per person per night (as of 2018).
Encounters with wildlife can be a real concern, even on short, front-country hikes. Bears, moose, caribou and other large animals are common in the park, so be sure you know what to do should you run in to one. Ask the park staff if you're not sure.
Some of the hikes in the park can be challenging, and weather conditions can change rapidly. It's a good idea to always carry plenty of water, some food, and rain gear.
- Emergency telephone, ☎ .
- Corner Brook, the largest town on the west coast of Newfoundland, is about a 90 minute drive to the south.
- L'Anse aux Meadows, the site of the first Viking landing in the New World, is several hours drive to the north along route 430.