Rolling Through the Rock: The Best of Newfoundland In 2 Weeks
This tour of "The Rock" (a local nickname for Newfoundland) brings you to the capital city, but it also takes you to Viking ruins. In other words: I cover a lot of ground here. Be prepared to burn several tanks of gas and plenty of rubber. Bring coffee.
Days 1-3: St. John's
Few places in North America are more convivial, seafaring, or musical than St. John's. You're absolutely required to have a pint (or fake it) in a local pub while trying to catch the local traditional music act. I'd say it's worth 3 nights of your time if you include some sort of excursion into the countryside; the area's many outfitters can help.
Drive north from St. John's about 160km (99 miles) on the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy. 1), exiting at Clarenville and continuing 65km (40 miles) east on Route 230 to Route 239. Turn south on Route 239 and continue about 2km (1 1/4 mile) to the turnoff for
Days 4-5: Trinity
Set in the land of icebergs, Trinity is a lovely town in an inaccessible place. You have to drive 72km (45 miles) down a side road off the already sparse Trans-Canada Highway just to get there; then do the same in reverse later. There's enough scenery here to eat. If it's iceberg season (that is, late spring), stay a few nights and watch for the big boys. Again, local outfitters can help you see them: Some run boats right out to the great icy masses.
Retrace your route back along Route 230 to the Trans-Canada Highway at Clarenville (save miles by cutting west on Rte. 233). Head north on the Trans-Canada, soon passing through
Day 6: Terra Nova National Park
Terra Nova is a convenient stopping point on the way to Gros Morne, but it's also a park with excellent family attractions -- more than probably any other provincial or national park in eastern Canada.
Continue west along the Trans-Canada Highway about 420km (261 miles) to Deer Lake, then follow Route 430 further west to
Days 7-10: Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park is absolutely the one must-see place in Newfoundland, and if you go nowhere else, go here. You'll be tuckered out by the drive, but once here you'll realize what the big deal in the guidebooks was all about. Stay at least 2 (preferably more) nights right in the park, soaking up the atmosphere -- not only to take in the stupendous sights (huge cliffs, waterfalls, beaches, Arctic flowers, snowshoe hares, and the like) but also to rest up for the long drive to your next wonderful destination. A true hiking enthusiast could probably spend a week here happily.
Drive about 338km (210 miles) north along Route 430 to the Route 436 turnoff. Continue about 9km (5 1/2 miles) more to
Days 11-13: L'Anse aux Meadows
Eleventh-century Viking artifacts were discovered at Newfoundland's northernmost tip in 1960. This site -- and the artifacts culled from it -- are well worth a visit.
Return about 400km (249 miles) along Route 430 to Deer Lake, then continue another 265 km (165 miles) along the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy. 1) to
Day 14: Port aux Basques
Traveling to Port aux Basques will take you the better part of a day. This town is the docking point for another ferry that carries you back to Cape Breton Island. There's little to do here, and it's best used as a staging area -- your last souvenir-grab on The Rock -- before your passage back to Nova Scotia.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.