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Travelers to Newfoundland rave about Gros Morne National Park, but there's serious radio silence about the province's only other national park, Terra Nova, on the island's eastern shore perhaps three-quarters of the way from Port aux Basques to St. John's.

There's a reason why it's not talked about so often; words like dramatic and grandeur don't really describe the place. Instead, this is a pleasant park with acres and acres of boreal forest, coastal landscape, and low, rolling hills: more pastoral than jaw-dropping. So the terra, however nova it is, isn't likely to take your breath away, with one possible exception: the cliffs and hills at the mouth of Newman Sound. More than likely, a visit here will simply leave you soothed and relaxed.

Activities and facilities at Terra Nova have mostly been designed with families in mind. There's always something going on, whether it's games with starfish at the interpretation center or movies in the park's main campground. Terra Nova also has a fine "junior naturalist" program, and many of the hikes here are of just the right length for younger kids to handle; there's also a relatively warm swimming area at Sandy Pond.

If your goal is to put some distance between yourself and the masses of RVs headed for St. John's, head for the backcountry section of this park. A number of campsites here are only accessible by foot, canoe, or ferry; once there, you'll be able to scout for bald eagles and shooting stars in complete silence.