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.
Gros Morne National Park was created in 1973, and received UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1987.
The park is located 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 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 1300mm.
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.
Fees and permits
There is a daily entrance fee for the park, and fees for camping, backcountry hiking, and so on.
A car is probably the most convenient way to get around - 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 - 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.
The Town of Rocky Harbour is an enclave within the park. It 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 lots of great 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.
Daily Gros Morne National Park pass rates: adults $9.80, senior (65+) $8.30; youth (6-16) $4.90; child (5 and under) free; family/group (up to 7 people, maximum of two adults) $19.60. (2017 rates.)
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.
- [dead link]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.
- Anchor Pub in the Ocean View Hotel, Main Street, Rocky Harbour. Jube-Sept: live music every night. Join a traditional Newfoundland kitchen party! Main dishes $9-13 (pub food).
There are a number of 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
- Several B&Bs - see the Rocky Harbour tourism site's list. Example rates: $90-130 double with private bath.
- The Ocean View Hotel, Main Street, ☎ , toll-free: , 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.
- Fisherman's Landing Inn, Rocky Harbour, toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. 3½ star accommodation. Fitness room. Restsurant. Live music in the Skipper's Lounge $160-200.
- Gros Morne RV Campground (Directions from Deer Lake: travel 45 mins to Rocky Harbour, take first left past Visitor Centre.), ☎ (in season), toll-free: (reservations only). fully serviced sites with 30 & 50 amp hookups. Efficiency motel units. Accessible washrooms. Kitchen shelter. Free WiFi. Dumping station. Sites $25-37.
Parks Canada maintains five campgrounds located throughout the park. The services available vary campground to campground, but may include toilets, showers, hot water and kitchen shelters.
There are a number of primitive and backcountry campsites scattered around the park - reservations through Parks Canada are often required. Backcountry hiking and camping requires additional fees and permits.
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.
- 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.