August is a great month to enjoy milder temperatures on Canada's Atlantic Coast.
I spent two wonderful summer months in 2010 enjoying parks, cities, beaches, and much more in Canada’s Atlantic Coast provinces.
The article Oh, Canada! (April 2012 PN) covered the first part of this journey. That trip took me to spectacular locations in Canada’s maritime provinces such as Fundy National Park in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island National Park. The second leg of my journey took me further north to explore the natural wonders of Newfoundland.
An accessible boardwalk is at Sandy Pond in Terra Nova National Park.
Welcome to The Rock
A six-hour ferry ride from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, aboard the The Joseph and Clara Smallwood took me across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Port dux Basques.
I was greeted by the sight of rugged mountains, sea cliffs, and houses clinging to the shoreline. At first glance, I gained an appreciation for why Newfoundlanders call their island the “rock.”
As I drove north to Deer Lake (166 miles), I was surprised to find the highway is well-engineered with wide shoulders and fairly gentle grades. I eventually turned onto the Viking Trail. The road meanders in and out of small fishing villages, along the coast, and through parts of Gros Morne National Park.
Gros Morne National Park
To get my bearings, I stopped at Parks Canada’s Discovery Centre in Gros Morne.
It’s a modern and accessible facility perched high on a precipice just above the town of Woody Point. The center’s huge windows offer spectacular views of the fjord of Bonne Bay.
A trip to this side of the park must include a drive through the Tablelands, a dry red and brown moonscape-like terrain, caused by the upward thrust of the Earth’s mantle due to plate tectonics.
The startling geology of the Tablelands is best seen along Highway 431, the road leading to the small fishing village of Trout River. The town is known for its popular half-mile-long boardwalk and marine heritage museums.
I headed north to Norris Point, a relaxing small town suited to adventure activities. This was the best place in Gros Morne for learning about the diverse marine ecosystem of Bonne Bay. It’s a masterpiece of glacial landscaping and for viewing the Tablelands from the water. Bon Tours (bontours.ca) offers wheelchair-accessible tours, including sunset cruises.
In the heart of Gros Morne National Park is Rocky Harbour, the largest community in the area. I used this centralized location as my home base for exploring the park’s many attractions.
A short distance away is the Gros Morne Recreation Complex overlooking the picturesque Rocky Harbour. The site features a 25-meter pool with a shallow bay allowing easy access for people with mobility concerns.
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