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July 08, 2016

Gros Morne, Newfoundland & Labrador

Have you ever dreamt of cruising through mountains and water carved during the ice age? What about climbing part of the Appalachian Mountain Range formed over 1.2billion years ago? Or walk the Earth's mantle, forced up by tectonic plate collisions hundreds of millions of years ago?
All of these things happen in one incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site and Parks Canada National Park - Gros Morne, Newfoundland. The National Park is located on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean. Newfoundland & Labrador (NL) is the most easterly province of Canada and is the only place in the world to have it's own timezone.
Panoramic View L-R: Gros Morne Mountains, Tablelands
I have been lucky enough to explore this amazing park (1,805 km2/697 sq mi) on three separate occasions thus far. Dates have ranged from June/July to August and early September - all including camping at Berry Hill near a small but beautiful town in Newfoundland called Rocky Harbour. Parks Canada Reservation Info for Gros Morne can be found here!
The major highlights that everyone going through the Park should see and experience are hiking the summit of Gros Morne Mountain, hiking/boat touring Western Brook Pond and it's amazing sights and exploring the Tablelands. Take your time and enjoy the incredible scenery, mouth watering food, abundant wildlife and the friendliest people on the planet. You will not be disappointed.
Gros Morne Mountain, the second highest mountain peak in NL, has an elevation of 806m/2,644ft above sea level. The 16km hike from the parking lot has a bit of everything. Make sure you are prepared for a lengthy hike with lots of water, some snacks and suitable footwear. I've done the hike with friends of varying fitness and have completed round-trip in 5 hours but have also taken as long as 8 hours. One tradition I have maintained is enjoying a nice cold beer once we reach the summit. There are so many incredible aspects of this hike, start early in the day and give yourself ample time to stop and just enjoy the great outdoors.
Personally, I have two favourite spots along the 16km hike - first is 10 Mile Pond, which you will see about 8.5kms into the hike once reaching the summit and beginning the descent around the back of the mountain to the original ascending point. This beautiful "pond" as they say in NL is breathtaking to say the least.
My second, is the view and refreshing feeling of the small pond on the way back down the side of the mountain. It's deepest point is roughly 3ft which means you can walk across the entire thing and cool off those tired legs and feet. This point is roughly 10kms into the 16km hike.
Western Brook pond, which is a naturally formed fjord containing the highest rating of pure water possible, is another incredible area of this National Park. It is roughly a 25minute drive from the Gros Morne Visitor's Centre. The drive alone is magnificent as you have brazen Atlantic Ocean waves and wind battered vegetation on one side and then Long Range Mountains on the opposite. The hike to the base of the fjord is 3km and very easy. It is very flat and even wheelchair accessible.
We also took a guided boat tour with BonTours (roughly $60 CDN) and had an incredible time exploring this ancient area. The tour is 2 hours long and should be booked ahead of time to ensure availability. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and friendly, definitely a must on any trip to Gros Morne National Park!
Lastly, we have the Tablelands. This area of the Park more-so resembles Mars with its orange rock and vegetationless surface. This area of the Park is about a 1hour drive from the Park Visitor's Centre, which loops around Bonne Bay and through Wiltondale.
The hike/trail itself is fairly easy and has a fair amount of boardwalk for visitors to use. I went above and beyond to get to higher ground amongst this alien environment. It's a unique place not only to NL but to the world for its geological significance.
Shallow Bay, Gros Morne National Park

Weather can range quite broadly depending on the time of year. Summer months are beautiful and full of sun while Spring and Fall are cooler. Winter sees the area filled with snow and more wildlife such as Caribou, Arctic Hares, Moose (all year) and Black Bears (all year). If Winter is your time to shine be sure to check out snowshoeing and snowmobiling excursions throughout the park.
Overall this is one of the best National Park's I've yet to visit. If ever in Newfoundland & Labrador, this is a must see! It has something to offer every visitor, even white sandy beaches at Shallow Bay. And as they say in NL, Yes By!
- KC

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