Gros Morne Travel Guide
After three years of travelling to Gros Morne, I have finally put together my Gros Morne Travel Guide. I went to Gros Morne for the first time in 2018 and fell in love with the west coast of the island. The major thing that we did in 2018 was climb Gros Morne mountain, which if you are planning to do be sure to read the linked post. We went back again in 2019 and 2020 and the experience was just as amazing. It is easily the most beautiful part of the island and I say that as a die hard townie. In my Gros Morne Travel Guide you will find my recommendations for hiking, things to do, where to stay, and place to eat.
One thing that surprised me when I visited the first time is the size of the park. I don’t think most people realize that it will take 2+ hours to drive from one end of the park to the other. This is important to keep in mind as you are planning your Gros Morne Adventure because you want to plan out the activities that are in the same area so you aren’t driving constantly from one end to the other. I cover all the places we have stayed in the Where To Stay section below but thinking about location and driving time is important due to the size of the park.
Gros Morne Travel Guide: Things To Do
This is not a full list of things to do. This is a list of things I have done and would recommend. Again, like the list of hikes it is in the order of location from the southern end to the northern end of the park.
This is a spot I would like to explore further. We stopped in here last summer after our Green Gardens hike for a quick bite at The Merchant Warehouse. We had the seafood basket and it was great pub grub with a nice view of Bonne Bay. While we were in Woody Point we went for a walk and there seemed to be lots of shops and places to explore but most of them were closed that day which I believe was a Sunday.
I can’t give you the exact location (what fun would that be!?!) but hopefully the pictures help. As you are driving along route 430 heading towards Rocky Harbour there is a Trilobite under a rock on the side of the road. It is overlooking a lake. Here are a few pictures to help you locate it and hopefully finding it is a little fun adventure.
Kayaking Bonne Bay
We have been trying to kayak Bonne Bay since 2018. We booked a tour that year and the weather didn’t cooperate. Last summer we really had our heart set on renting kayaks ourselves rather than a tour. We had kayaked a few times with tours over the past couple of years. While they are good we both prefer to be able to set our own pace and explore on our own. We tried three times to rent them out and due to weather or timing it just didn’t seem to work out. On the third day when we showed up they said they weren’t doing individual rentals that day due to weather. However, an hour later it seemed fine out so I called again and magically they were offering rentals. The moral of the story is don’t give up!
I was so glad it worked out because we had the best time! We explored Bonne Bay on our own for over two hours. It was really spectacular and the views were unreal. We are planning on buying our own kayaks this spring so hopefully we won’t run into rental issues again but whether you take a tour or go it on your own I highly recommend this!
Bonne Bay Marine Station
We did a tour of the Bonne Bay Marine Station in 2018. This is a great activity to take in on rainy day! It is a mini aquarium with all sorts of marine animals found in Bonne Bay. We even saw a blue lobster! The tour is only about an hour and is run by science students. Bruce did a course here when he was in University so this place is near and dear to his heart.
Boat Tour of Western Brook Pond
We did this in 2018 and it is a must do for a first-time trip to Gros Morne. If you have seen any brochures advertising Gros Morne you have likely seen a picture of the view of the fjord from the Long Range Traverse. While you won’t get the same view unless you decide to take on the 4 day trek you will get a beautiful up close view of the fjord from the water.
The walk into Western Brook Pond looking at the Fjord is incredible. The walk in takes about 45 minutes, the trail is nice and flat but leave yourself enough time to enjoy the views. The boat tour is operated through Bon Tours and you should book it in advance. They did not operate in 2020 due to Covid-19 and I don’t think a decision has been made yet for this year. If they don’t operate the tour, the walk into the pond is still worth the trip. You’ll just have to return to the park to enjoy the spectacular views of the fjord up close!
Western Brook Beach
This is just up the road from Western Brook Pond on the left side. It is a gorgeous white sandy beach. The day we visited it was enough to blow the head off ya. So we couldn’t really enjoy it but I’d recommend dropping by here and seeing if you have a more enjoyable experience then we did.
We camped in Shallow Bay last summer and the beach here is stunning. White sand beach as far as you can see. There is a reason they call it Shallow Bay, you can walk out into the water for what feels like forever with water up to your waist. The shallow water makes it warm and comfortable to actually swim in, a rare treat in the cold Atlantic waters of Newfoundland.
Arches Provincial Park is north of the park just a 20 minute drive from Cow Head. It’s just a quick stop in to see a very cool geological formation but worth the drive!
Gros Morne Travel Guide: Hiking
There is a ton of hiking to do in Gros Morne. There are lots of options and we have done a lot of them in our three trips to the best coast. Of course the mountain is a favourite but quite a challenge. These are our other favourites that are a little easier! These are ordered from the south end of the park to the northern end to help you with trip planning.
Trout River Pond Trail & Boat Tour
This trail is 14K out and back and really has some spectacular scenery. It takes you along trout river pond and on to the back of the tablelands. This means you get to experience two really different landscapes. One looks like Mars and the other is a forest. We also did a zodiac boat tour of Trout River Pond and it was really lovely. The pond is huge and they will actually show you the exposed mantle called the moho. We took the tour with Wild Gros Morne and really enjoyed it.
Green Gardens Trail
Green Gardens is an 11km out and back trail. It has recently undergone a revitalization that has changed the trail significantly. We hiked it just a week after reopening this summer. They have removed almost all stairs in favour of path. It’s very down hill on the way in and three big climbs on the way back. We saw beautiful landscapes and even a few wild sheep. The hills at the coast are just spectacular.
This trail previously could have been hiked as a loop but Parks Canada has not made repairs to damaged areas of the trail. We hiked a little past the closed sign to the fallen out stairs and then turned around. We didn’t hike the previous trail but I have a feeling it may have been more trail-like versus a path. Still a worth while hike!
This is a must when you are in Gros Morne. It’s relatively easy, flat and only takes about an hour. But it is stunning, the landscape feels like you are walking on mars. There are guided tours everyday but there is also an app called Parks Canada Guided Tour that was quite good that you can use while walking and learn a little about the landscape. This is not an overly taxing hike but I’d still recommend hiking boots or sneakers and a camera because you will want to take lots of pictures.
This is the one hike I recommend to everyone headed to Gros Morne. At 5km it is nice and short but the views are incredible. You hike 2.5km from the visitors centre in Woody Point up to the lookout point. While it is a bit of a climb the trail is newly graded so that it doesn’t get too steep at any given point. The lookout point gives you a view of pretty much all the major points of the entire park: tablelands, Bonne Bay and Gros Morne Mountain. All of the spectacular scenery you can handle from one point in the park.
Southeast Brook Falls Trail
This one can hardly be called a hike. It is a great place to stretch your legs as you are driving into the park. It’s about 750m walk down to the falls, snap a few photos and you’ll be on your way.
Gros Morne Mountain
You can read all about my experience here. Overall, it is an incredible hike but definitely not for a beginner. There are lots of great options if you are not up for this one.
Burnt Hill Trail
If you are visiting Norris Point this is a great little hike to get a lovely view of Bonne Bay, tablelands, Norris Point, and Neddie’s Harbour. I would recommend if you are heading to Norris Point to do some kayaking to take in this hike as well. There are a couple loops that will take you from about 1km – 3km so it’s not a very long hike but great rewards with those views.
Baker’s Brook Falls Trail
This is a 10km out and back trail that starts from the Berry Hill Campground. It is relatively flat overall with a few climbs as you get closer to the falls. There is an enclosure here where they are studying the impact of moose on vegetation. The moose can’t get in the enclosure so you can walk through it and see the difference. It was pretty interesting to see the difference in the habitat.
Once you reach the falls they are spectacular. Be sure to hike out to the lookout point to see them from a different point of view. If it is a nice day bring your swimsuit, lots of people were swimming there when we hiked in.
This 6km out and back trail is a great pre or post dinner walk along the shoreline. It only takes about an hour or so and is relativly flat. You can grab a coffee and go for a nice stroll at the end of the day. The waves along with the tuckamore make for some gorgeous views.
There are tons of other hikes to enjoy in Gros Morne. This is just a recap of the ones I have done. Check out the page linked above as well as the All Trails app to see a full listing of hikes to check out. If I had to choose my favourites I’d recommend the lookout trail, tablelands trail and Gros Morne mountain…if you are up for it!
Gros Morne Travel Guide: Where To Eat
While there are some restaurants in Gros Morne they aren’t super plentiful and it is always best to check ahead for hours of operation. I did hear many people talking about limited operations in 2020 due to Covid-19. I would expect a similar situation this year as well.
To be honest we have opted to cook most of our own meals during our time in Gros Morne. I am one of those people that actually enjoys meal planning and cooking so it isn’t a chore to create a vacation menu. We both enjoy cooking and most of the time it is more convenient to enjoy a quick breakfast before heading out. We also find it more relaxing after a day of adventure to head back to our cabin or tent and cook something up and relax around the fire. We likely have already spent enough time driving around during the day that I am not keen on having to head out again to a restaurant.
That being said we have enjoyed a couple restaurants in the Gros Morne area that I am happy to recommend.
We ate here in summer 2019. They didn’t open last year due to Covid-19 but hopefully they open this year. This restaurant is on the higher-end of restaurants in Gros Morne so it is definitely a treat! We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary here. The meal was really incredible and the view of Bonne Bay was spectacular. I highly recommend the Black Spruce if you are looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion or just enjoy a really lovely meal.
The Old Store Cafe
This little cafe is located in Norris Point and is great to stop in for breakfast or lunch. We stopped by here twice last summer and everything we ate was so yummy. They also have great coffee! I highly recommend visiting The Old Store Cafe for a really tasty and quick meal.
Crooked Feeder doesn’t serve food at the location in Cormack however I’d still recommend stopping in to try the beer! They have great beers and a lovely tasting room. Cormack is located on the drive on the way to Gros Morne. They do have a pub in Corner Brook and you should check that out if you spend time in Corner Brook on your way to the Park. Which you should, Corner Brook is lovely. There is a post forthcoming on my recommendations for spending time there.
Gros Morne Travel Guide: Where To Stay
Where you stay really depends on your itinerary. It’s something you really need to give some thought because the park is just so big. From Trout River at the south end to Shallow Bay at the North End is almost 2 hours driving. You really need to plan the things you want to do and where you want to stay accordingly.
I would recommend at least on your first trip staying in Trout River (southern end) of the park for a couple nights and then heading to a more central point like Norris Point or Rocky Harbour for the rest of your time. This will optimize your time driving so you are experiencing more and driving less.
We have rented two different cabins on our trips to Gros Morne. Bambury Chalets, which is located in Rocky Harbour was where we stayed the first year. They have individual chalet style cabins that have everything you could possibly need. I highly recommend these especially if you are staying with a group.
The other place we have rented was called The Storehouse in Norris Point. (Save on your first Airbnb rental using this link). To say this place is magical is an understatement. It is right on the water in beautiful Bonne Bay and the views are pure magic. This place is small and would only be good for two people. But if you are traveling as a couple, I cannot recommend it enough.
I also prefer Norris Point to Rocky Harbour. It’s quieter and less Touristy but that also means there’s a lot less to do there at night. We prefer to sit by the fire and relax but if you are looking for more nightlife there is more entertainment and restaurants in Rocky Harbour.
Other than the cabins, we have camped in both Trout River and Shallow Bay. We did an Otentik in Trout River with the most beautiful view of the Tablelands.
In Shallow Bay you are camping 5 minutes away from the most gorgeous white sand beach I have ever experienced in Newfoundland. I have visited all the Federal camp grounds in Gros Morne and Shallow Bay is the nicest. They also have newer facilities there.
However, depending on your plans any of the campgrounds there are lovely. Green Point is also right on the coast near Rocky Harbour and is a lovely spot as well. Berry Hill is more interior and seems like a nice quiet place to stay. As I said it really depends on your plans where staying makes the most sense but you will find no shortage of beautiful places to stay and camp in Gros Morne.
I hope my Gros Morne Travel Guide is helpful to get you stared on planning your trip to Gros Morne. Like I said, we have visited Gros Morne every summer since I went the first time in 2018 and I expect we will be making the trip again at some point in 2021. I love it there so much and still have things I haven’t done yet on my list:
- Hike Snug Harbour
- Standup paddle board (SUP) Bonne Bay
- Hike Lomond River
- Hike Berry Head / Hill
- The Mountain … again
- Water taxi over to Woody Point and explore more of that area
- Food tour
Just putting this post together and getting to relive all the memories of our trips there was such a joy. I just love the hiking, the views and scenery and the quiet moments of relaxing that seem to come together in a special way when visiting Gros Morne. I hope you get to experience this magic when you visit as well.
If you have any questions about Gros Morne please leave a comment or shoot me a message on instagram. I am always happy to chat about one of my favourite places in Newfoundland.