A highlight of our trip to Newfoundland was returning to Gros Morne National Park on Newfoundland’s western coast. When visiting a place for the first time we often say, “We need to come back.” Much less often are we able to say, “It’s so good to be back,” especially when referring to more far-flung destinations. At the bottom of this article are links to previous posts on our earlier visit to
Our original goal on our first trip to Newfoundland was to get out on a boat on Western Brook Pond, a magnificent fresh-water lake surrounded by steep cliffs and massive waterfalls cascading down into the pond. We met that goal and so much more, and stayed in the park for the entire visit except to get groceries and manage plane flights.
On this return trip, before stopping at Gros Morne we visited numerous destinations on both the east and western coasts of the island. This time we drove, pulling our T@B camper along with us and staying in campgrounds rather than renting a house.
We have found that familiarity with an area is a real plus. Rather than spend lots of time getting our bearings, this second visit meant that we were already knowledgeable about places I could enjoy, and which ones were more challenging that I wanted to take on. We found a spot to camp in view of the mountains, a truly stunning place to witness nightly sunsets.
Driving, and camping along the way has much to recommend it. We had much greater flexibility in how long we stayed in each place, and easily moved on if one location was not a good fit for our needs. Some campgrounds had limited “hookups” (power and water at each campsite) which shortened some of our stays. The challenge of getting to Newfoundland from New England other than by air is that it involves a lot (really a lot!) of driving (and a ferry ride) to get to the island. If bringing a camper along, this also puts substantial demands on the person or persons maintaining all the systems that modern campers have.
The Tablelands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, had been recommended to us as an easy hike on our first trip. I did not find this to be true. Yes, the wide path is level, the area is filled with pitcher plants, and no trees grow on this barren area because of the extensive area of peridotite. Rocks scattered along the trail proved to make the path more difficult for me to manage than we first thought.
On our return trip, I opted to bring a book, take in the views from our truck, and watch the circus that is the Tablelands parking area on a typical summer day. The highlight (for me, not the people involved) was watching a large tour bus attempt to navigate the circular entrance that was lined with visitors’ cars. The outhouse had a near miss as multiple helpers directed the bus driver in turning around. I kept my head in my book–better not to look.
My husband missed the fun but had a wonderful hike to the top of the mountain, overlooking the area others down below explore.
We returned to a seaside village, Trout River, that we had visited before. The unseasonable heat made my decision to stay at the shoreline easy, while my husband once again headed along the coastal headlands in the area. Afterwards we found yet another Easy Walk along nearby Long Point Brook. A simple footpath offered solid footing for about a half mile, after which the trail grew more rugged and we turned back.
For the most part we avoided the park’s “Greatest Hits” and kept to small waterways and boardwalks along shorelines. The campground where we stayed offered amazing views and an Easy Walk down to the shoreline. We spent more time near our “residence” than we had on our previous visit since the campground offered so much for us to enjoy staying right there.
A fun part of returning to an area is noting the changes since you last were at that location. We stopped on our first visit at an unmarked access to a stream bed. The broken down bridge across the stream was a feature we noted, but did not closely investigate. Instead, we clambered down to the water’s edge and took in the sights and sounds of multiple cascades rushing past us. A favorite picture (headshot–see below) I use all the time was taken at this spot.
On our return visit, we found a newly constructed parking area, and the broken down bridge had been repaired. The water level was much lower than on our first visit. The drought in the summer of 2022 had a profound effect on many aspects of island life. Water restrictions were in place, no campfires were allowed in the campgrounds where we stayed, and uncontrolled wildfires in the remote center of the island threatened towns near the fires.
In the past we never paid much attention to campgrounds in our travels. Gros Morne offered us perhaps the starkest contrast between what we had seen on our first visit and what we had missed of the wonderful views from the park’s campgrounds. We stayed three days at the Lomond Campground, and felt ourselves lucky to end up in the overflow area where we had amazing views of Killdevil Mountain, and an Easy Walk to the shoreline of Bonne Bay.
For such a rugged place, we were able to find a surprising number of Easy Walks. Both at Gros Morne and other destination on the island. For now we are content to relive memories of time spent there. But someday we will go back. It’s a place that gets ahold of you, in the very best way. Thanks for coming along and Happy Trails!
Links to previous posts on Gros Morne–
Rivers, streams and waterfalls
Exploring Western Newfoundland–Gros Morne
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.
6 responses to “Return to Gros Morne, Newfoundland”
Gros Morne has been on my list!! So fun to read about the camping and all of the easy walks you were able to find there. Would love to get a camper some day. Did you rent it out there?
Oh, you must plan to go, Jill. A truly amazing place with so much to offer. We brought our own camper but saw rental camper on our travels. The most efficient way to get there is by plane. the most efficient way to get there with a camper is to take the ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques. (other ferries are twice as long and many more times as pricey.) Flights to St. John, NL are more likely to have rental campers. Let me know if you want to know more. I will post links to my previous Gros Morne posts on this most recent contribution.
Thanks for all of the info!! I’m going to start planning a trip. 🙂
Let me know how I can help–lots more Newfoundland posts on my blog–a magical place. We particularly loved the Port aux Basques area–surprisingly accessible trails–Blow Me down state park was perhaps our favorite spot for camping. so much to see in a very quiet area–about the only place we found roads quiet enough for safe road biking. Otherwise the few roads means truck traffic on most roads there.
Lovely trip down memory lane for me – we were there in 2011…. XXXXMarie
thanks for commenting–happy to stir memories–it truly is a magical place.