No matter where you live in this beautiful country of Canada there are opportunities abound for great getaways. Whether you live on the east coast, west coast, or interior, you could spend a life time exploring. So the focus of this post will be about a road trip we did almost six years ago on the rugged west coast of my home island: Newfoundland. I also think it’s about time for me to show my home the love it deserves and showcase some great trip ideas to think about if you are on that side of the country. So without further ado…
Deer Lake/Reidville’s Newfoundland Insectarium
Most trips to the west coast of Newfoundland start with a flight to Deer Lake. From there, the average tourist usually heads north to Gros Morne National Park or down to the city of Corner Brook. They are both great destinations and obviously topics in this blog, but before you speed out of under appreciated Deer Lake as quick as you can, make sure you check out the Insectarium. It is just across the Upper Humber in near by Reidville (ok… so not actually IN Deer Lake… but close enough). It’s a great place to bring the kids, or anyone else as a matter of fact, for a few hours. Thousands of live insects from around the globe, hands on exhibits with a very friendly staff that give you an up close look at the critters, a butterfly house filled with tropical butterflies and a nice garden, and many other really cool things are there to see. It was also named the best indoor attraction in Newfoundland by TripAdvisor.
I like to call Corner Brook NL’s adventure capital. There are lots of cool adventure sport ideas in this town to keep you busy. Let’s start with zip lining at Marble Mountain. I’ve zipped in a few places in Canada and this is still probably my favorite. It’s got a good mix of easy lines that give you a chance to check out the scenery and quick lines to get your blood pumping: nine in total, up to 2,000 feet long and 285 feet high. Also at Marble Mountain, a High Ropes Course to test your fear of heights. And of course, in winter Marble turns into the best ski hill on the east coast of Canada. 230 skiable acres and a pretty even mix of runs from green to double blacks make it very enjoyable.
Renting a mountain bike is also a great way to kill a day. Many kilometers of trails and diverse terrain. I would recommend Cycle Solutions for your mountain or road bike rental.
For a great view of the town and Bay of Islands, take a drive up to the James Cook National Historic Site, extra beautiful at sunset!
A trip to Newfoundland isn’t complete without a trip out to sea in search of icebergs and whales. There are quite a few tour companies to choose from. The one that we went with was Northland Discovery Iceberg and Whale Tours located in St. Anthony. We chose this company and location because it was later in the season, so icebergs weren’t making there way as far south due to warmer weather. We were treated to dolphins swimming along the boat, humpback whales fully breaching, and a couple of icebergs. Great day! There are also companies that offer guided sea kayaking tours to get as close as safely possible to the whales. (Whale photo courtesy http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com)
Lanse Aux Meadows
One of the greatest archaeological sites in the entire province is L’anse Aux Meadows. Found at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, it is a National Historic Site and the only authenticated Norse settlement in North America. It contains a recreated Norse village, museum, walking trails and the mounds of the original settlement from roughly 1,000 years ago.
Gros Morne National Park
This has to be one of my favorite national parks in all of Canada. There is near endless exploring to be had and some excellent front and backcountry camping. The obvious trial to recommend is the Gros Morne mountain trail. It is the highest point in the park, tough, but very rewarding. Green Gardens trail offers views of the contrasting landscape of Gros Morne. If you want the iconic picture of the Western Brook Pond Gorge, you’ll have to book a guided tour through Bontours. A hard 8 hour, 12 kilometer hike, but one of the most iconic pictures in the entire province. The cruise down Western Brook Pond is also a most see when in Gros Morne. Something much easier and still breathtaking would be the Tablelands trail. This marks the area where the African and North American continents collided.
Cow Head Beach
The water is a little chilly, but it is a beautiful wide sandy beach that’s also excellent for kids. Bring a frisbee or beach ball and spend a relaxing day here on your way up the Northern Peninsula.
At 814 m it is the highest point of elevation on the island. An excellent backcountry area that is overshadowed by Gros Morne, but holds just as much beauty. In winter it is a popular spot for local snowmobiling, but in summer it is deserted. Due to the late snow melt, it is an excellent place to see caribou. Be sure to do your research before you go as there is some route finding at times. A great resource is http://www.iatnl.com.
A very interesting natural archway just north of Parson’s Pond.
Port au Choix Archaeological Site
Artifacts such as tools, points, and structural remains from the native peoples who settled in this area have been discovered. It is also a National Historic Site. (Photo courtesy http://www.wikipedia.com)
This definitely isn’t a comprehensive list of things to do on the west coast. There are many more amazing places to explore. But if you are looking for a few ideas to get you started and give you a sense of what Newfoundland has to offer, I guarantee these locations will not disappoint. If you have any other ideas you would like to mention, please leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading!