Some of Newfoundland’s most mesmerizing scenery is contained within GROS MORNE NATIONAL PARK, its bays, wild beaches, straggling villages and wizened sea stacks with a backcloth of bare-topped, fjord-cut mountains. The park’s forested lower slopes are home to thousands of moose, woodland caribou and snowshoe hare, and minke whales regularly feed in Bonne Bay. Gros Morne has also attracted its fair share of artists and musicians, highlighted at the Trails, Tales and Tunes festival (w trailstalestunes.ca) held in Norris Point each May.
Most visitors come here during the short summer season (June–Sept), and other times you’ll find many services shut – the exception is the peak winter season (Feb–April), when the park experiences another mini-boom in snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
The best way to experience Bonne Bay is by guided boat tour with Bontours (July & Aug daily 10am & 2pm; June & Sept daily 2pm; $45/2hr; t 709 458 2016 w bontours.ca), departing from Norris Point Waterfront. You can also tour the bay by kayak with nearby Gros Morne Adventures (rentals $35/1–2hr, $55/4–8hr; guided tours $55–65; t 709 458 2722, w grosmorneadventures.com). On a clear day the bay serves up some rich sights, with whales, otters, seals and bald eagles sometimes spotted. The company also arranges serious hikes around Western Brook Pond (three nights; $1295).
The remote Western Brook Pond, reached by just one access point, 25km north of Rocky Harbour beside Rte-430, is one of eastern Canada’s most enchanting landscapes, 16km of deep, dark-blue water framed by mighty mountains and huge waterfalls. From the car park it’s a forty-minute (3km) walk on a well-maintained trail through forest and over bog to the edge of the lake. When you get to the end, don’t skimp on the two-hour boat trip (reservations required; July & Aug daily 10am & 11am; $56; 12.30pm & 1.30pm, $65; 3pm, 4pm & 5pm, $60; June & Sept daily 12.30pm, $60) operated by Bontours. The boat inches its way between the cliffs right to the extreme eastern end of the lake, past several huge rockslides, dramatic hanging valleys and former sea caves now marooned high above the water.