Gros Morne National Park is a popular destination here in Newfoundland for tourists and locals, as it should be! I had my first experience with the park, and that side of the province, this summer and it was fantastic! There are so many options for visitors and I wouldn’t say there’s one way to do Gros Morne so instead of me telling you exactly how we chose to experience the beautiful fjords and breathtaking views I’m going to give some tips that will hopefully be helpful for people who are planning their first trip there!
Finding A Place To Stay:
This is going to sound silly, but I didn’t realize how huge the park actually was… I was picturing arriving and seeing a gigantic mountain and camping at the bottom of it. I mean we did see very large mountains but there were also a lot of options for places to stay. There are full service campgrounds, secluded campsites (where you need a special license in order to stay there), cabins (some are at the campgrounds) and of course hotels. Be careful when choosing your location, keeping in mind how far away your site is from the things you’re hoping to do while there.
*We chose to stay at the campground in Cow Head called Shallow Bay. It was on the furthest side of Gros Morne, but we chose that because it put us closer to St. Anthony where we were planning on going after our time around the park. It also was a full serviceable site (showers and wifi at the comfort station) with a gorgeous white sandy beach.
Choosing What You’d Like To Do:
Depending on how many days you have and what you’re hoping to get out of your trip, there are dozens of options. You could do one of the many hikes (Gros Morne Mountain being the popular and hardest one), explore the Tablelands, relax and take in the scenery, do a boat tour around Western Brook Pond to see the fjords, go kayaking or check out the heritage centres and historic landmarks.
Booking ahead doesn’t hurt- if you find online you can book ahead to reserve your spot, do it! We booked our Western Brook Pond tour and good thing we did because it was busy!
* We went to Gros Morne with our number one priority being to hike Gros Morne Mountain, we gave ourselves three days giving us some wiggle room in case the weather was poor. The second thing on our list we wanted to do was seeing the fjords of Western Brook Pond and other then that we left our time open to see what we wanted to do once we got there.
Weather– It’s Newfoundland, it can be sunny, rain, hail, snow and sunny again all within an hour. It’s good to have a backup plan in case the weather isn’t working out with what you were hoping to do.
*The weather wasn’t great for our few days and we REALLY wanted to climb the mountain so on the day that looked the best we said yolo, made sure we had rain gear with us and went for it.
Camping– If you’re tenting, having a tarp with you is helpful. A lot of tents had tarps either under their tent or tied to trees above their tent to help protect them from the rain. Some had the tarp over the picnic table so they could still cook and eat no matter the weather. Make sure you have everything you need while camping, although there are small local stores not too far away, you’re not going to find a large store in the park full of all of your camping needs.
Hiking– By now you’ve realized that climbing the mountain was our reason for going. We like hiking, we enjoy doing trails whenever we can, we felt that we were prepared. We had plenty of food, and almost enough water (ran out with one hour left), layers of clothing for sun and rain. The hike was strenuous, it takes roughly 6-8 hours (took us 8.5 because I fell on the way back down and had to take it really slow..) so make sure you start nice and early giving yourself plenty of time! There is actually a sign that says if you do not have a litre of water per person you need to turn around, they’re serious about how much water you need. Comfortable hiking shoes are a must! And of course sunscreen and bug spray.
Getting Your Park Permit:
When you enter the park on the side closest to Corner Brook (not the St. Anthony side) there is a little building on the right hand side of the road with a big Parks Canada sign. You need to stop and tell them how long you’re going to be in the park and get a permit, one you keep in your car and one you keep on you. Even if you are paying for a campsite or a cabin this is something completely different which you also need to have.
*When we were paying for our ticket for the Western Brook Pond boat tour they asked if we already had our park pass so it seemed like we also could have gotten it there.
And most importantly…. Have a great time! Please feel free to share with us your Gros Morne experience and any tips that you learned during your trip!