Gros Morne National Park is located on the western edge of Newfoundland along the Gulf of St Lawrence. It has a lovely visitor center located towards the southern entrance of the park just south of the town of Rocky Harbour.
Route 430 runs from Deer Lake all the way up to the northern tip of the western part of Newfoundland. The main part of Gros Morne National Park can be found along this route with another large section of the park off Route 431. As you drive along Route 430 you will have some ups and downs over hills with stunning vistas of the gulf and the Long Range Mountains (the most northern part of the Appalachian Mountains).
Big Level/Gros Morne Mountain Area – Along Gulf of St Lawrence
This section of Gros Morne National park is along the northwestern part of the park and features a variety of activities and sights. It is where our campground, Green Point Campground, is located.
Western Brook Pond
This beautiful freshwater pond (i.e., lake) is set in the Long Range Mountains and surrounded by steep rock about 2,000 feet high. The lake is about 10 miles long and averages a couple of hundred of feet deep. It is known as one of the purest lakes in the world and has very limited human use. Boat tours provide the opportunity for visitors to tour the fjord and they have special certification to ensure their operations have minimal impacts on the environment. There is a 3km hike from the parking lot to get to the boat dock. There is a ticket office, a cafe, and restrooms located at the dock along with some interpretive signs. The day we went it poured and poured and poured rain. After a 3km walk you can be sure everyone who was there was drenched and frozen to the bone. Fun! But beautiful!!!
The wreck of the SS Ethie from 1919 can be viewed at low tide along Martin’s Point just south from Western Brook Pond. The ship was purposefully run ashore during a violent storm by the captain and all aboard miraculously survived. The local dinner theater in Cow Head, just up the road, has a production detailing the events of that fateful night and is their longest running show. We were not there at low tide, hence the poor photo.
Just south of Green Point Campground, along the southern point of the Coastal Trail, is where the Bakers Brook empties into the Gulf of St Lawrence. There is a lovely beach there along with a small fishing village. Another trailhead is located there which leads inland to the falls. We did not get a chance to hike to the falls but we hear it is a lovely hike with beautiful falls.
Lobster Cove Head
The Lobster Cove Head area has a century old lighthouse which can be visited along with a multitude of trails around the area. It sits prominently on a point looking out to the Gulf of St Lawrence and also back into Bonne Bay. It has great views and a nice lighthouse to tour.
Rocky Harbour is a small picturesque town of just under 1,000 people that sits in the middle of Gros Morne National park along Bonne Bay and offers a variety of restaurants, lodging, and shopping. It has become a key tourist town for the park and offers scenic views and access to trailheads.
Norris Point is about 10 minutes south of Rocky Harbour and sits on Bonne Bay where the bay separates into the East Arm and the South Arm. As you come into town there is a place called The Jenniex House which not only offers a few items for sale (food and souvenirs) but also has a spectacular viewpoint. On down by the harbour there are boat tours, water taxis, along with an aquarium called the Bonne Bay Marine Station.
The other section of Gros Morne National Park is along Route 431 which you get to from Wiltondale on Route 430. There is a summer-only pedestrian ferry that provides transportation between Norris Point and Woody Point but if you want to visit some of the other sites in the park then you will need you car.
Lomond is the one of the first settlements you encounter as you drive along Route 431. It offers spectacular views, boating, fishing, kayaking, and picnic areas.
As you continue west past Lomond on Route 431 you pass through Glenburnie, Birchy Head, and Shoal Brook on your way to Woody Point. All towns offer fantastic views of the bay and the surrounding mountains. Woody Point sits on Bonne Bay, just a short pedestrian ferry ride over to Norris Point (but is an hour by car), and is a small village of almost 300 people and is home to a variety of heritage buildings. The town had a tragic fire in 1922 where about 58 buildings were destroyed. The lighthouse from 1919 is still standing. The town offers a few restaurants which look charming and seem to be on the bus tour route.
The Gros Morne National Park Discovery Center is located near Woody Point and offers a gift shop, cafe, interactive displays, and trailheads to various trails heading up the mountain. It also offers some spectacular views of the surrounding area. We stopped by and had some great soup and coffee out on the deck while soaking in the sun and the magnificent views.
This area of Gros Morne National Park is one of the few places where the earth’s mantle is revealed. The ground was pushed up from the earth millions of years ago so the soil lacks the nutrients required for plant life and has a barren like appearance. There are trails allow you to wander around this barren landscape.
Trout River is a small village and is located in the furthest reaches of the park near Trout River Pond. The Trout River Pond area is the backside of Tablelands and has boat tours available. The Trout River Campground (National Park) is located nearby. This area of the park is where you will likely see bear, moose, and caribou.
We absolutely loved this park and did not have near enough time to see and do everything we wanted to. It is a fabulous national park as are all Canada National Parks and we can’t wait to return.