Want to experience the majestic beauty of Canada’s Gros Morne National Park? We spent 10 days camping in the park and exploring the epic fjords, towering summits, and stunning coastlines of Gros Morne during our 5-week RV road trip through Newfoundland and were instantly captivated. In this guide, we break down what to do in Gros Morne to be able to fully experience all that this gem has to offer.
About Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park holds within its boundaries an impressive and diverse landscape of mountains, dramatic fjords, and rocky cliffs carved by glaciers as they moved out to the sea millennia ago.
This rugged coastline on Newfoundland’s western side is the perfect destination for nature lovers who seek the opportunity to explore forests and grasslands where moose and woodland caribou roam, walk on the Earth’s mantle, camp on a volcanic sea coast, or tour through fjords where you can see the scars of Earth’s history.
Named for a time when the French fished along this area of Newfoundland’s coast, Gros Morne most likely means “big isolated hill” and within moments of driving into the park’s boundaries it is easy to see how this place distinguishes itself from the rest of the island (or as locals refer to it, “the rock”).
We were fortunate enough to visit in 2023, when Parks Canada was visiting Gros Morne’s 50th anniversary, a milestone of preservation for this epic and unique land with a storied past. It is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as one of the Earth’s first 100 Geological sites named by the International Union of Geological Sciences.
Covering over 1,8000 square kilometers (or around 700 square miles), there is no shortage of adventures to be had in Gros Morne National Park. We spent 10 days in the park and were completely in awe the entire time. It offers great views, but also a sense and reminder that the story is so much bigger than yourself. The park is truly a can’t miss destination that is hard to capture with words written on a page.
You’ll just have to experience it for yourself!
Where is Gros Morne National Park located?
Located in Atlantic Canada, Gros Morne National Park is located on the western side of Newfoundland, Canada’s most eastern province.
Being located on the island of Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park is remote and not the most straightforward destination to visit.
You can fly to the island and rent a car, but a popular way to arrive is by ferry so that you can arrive with a vehicle with which to explore…you won’t find much public transportation on the island outside of St. John’s!
Ferry from North Syndey Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques Newfoundland: 7-hour ferry ride, followed by a roughly 3.5-hour drive to Gros Morne
Labrador Ferry from Blanc Sablon Quebec to St Barbe Newfoundland: 1-hour 45-minute ferry ride, followed by a roughly 2-hour drive south to Gros Morne
Nearest airport: Deer Lake (YDF), which is a 30-minute drive from the park along the Viking Trail
Plan to RV or Road Trip around Newfoundland? READ MORE:
Visiting Gros Morne
Gros Morne National Park is part of Parks Canada and does require an entrance fee.
The park is split into sections, with the distinctive Tablelands section of serpentine barrens being about a 1-hour drive from the more northern section characterized by fjords and the Long Range mountains.
Admission Cost ($CAD):
If you will be visiting multiple Canada Parks in the course of a year, a Discovery Pass may be a better deal. These work at most Canada Parks destinations, including National Parks and National Historic Sites. They can be ordered online or purchased at many Canada Parks locations, including Gros Morne. They are valid for 1 year.
Discovery Pass Cost ($CAD):
Reduced service fees apply from November 1 to May 15 for the winter months
Best Time To Visit Newfoundland & Gros Morne
Gros Morne was our first main stop after arriving on the ferry in Port Aux Basque for our 5 week RV road trip around Newfoundland. We arrived July 2nd and although initially had a few days of rain and clouds, enjoyed spectacular weather for the rest of our time in Gros Morne and for the rest of our trip.
We heard from multiple locals that Newfoundland has about 3 weeks of great weather a year in the month of July and from our experience, this was spot on.
Newfoundland gets on average over 60 inches of rain a year, with precipitation over 200 days a year.
May and June are popular months to visit for iceberg viewing along the northern side of the island, which can extend into July depending on the year. We were lucky to visit in July, have great weather, and see icebergs, puffins, and whales during our trip!
Early summer to early fall will be your best bet for visiting Newfoundland, with earlier months being better for iceberg viewing, the middle of the summer potentially having the best weather and wildlife opportunities, and fall being quieter and filled with beautiful color as the seasons turn.
Best Things To Do in Gros Morne National Park
We were pleasantly surprised at just how much there was to see and do in Gros Morne National Park. We spent 10 days in the park, which gave us a great buffer for inclement weather and allowed us to take our time and experience a variety of opportunities in the different sections of the park.
An ideal amount of time for exploring Gros Morne would be about 4-7 days or more depending on what you want to see and do and if you want to explore outside of the park as well.
These are the very best of what to do in Gros Morne to consider adding to your itinerary or bucket list:
Hiking is one of the absolute best ways to experience the most of Gros Morne National Park. The park is a nature lover’s playground and with over 60 miles (100km) of established trails to choose from, there is plenty to inspire you and fill your days with awe.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the Newfoundland pitcher plant lining the trails! This carnivorous flower is the official plant of Newfoundland and can be found on many of the park’s trails.
Gros Morne Mountain
Gros Morne Mountain is the second-highest mountain in the province of Newfoundland. Sitting at just over 2,600 feet high (807 meters), hiking to the summit is a challenging adventure up a steep scree slope and down a long boulder-filled path of Ferry Gulch.
From the summit at the top of Gros Morne Mountain, you are rewarded with views of the surrounding Long Range Mountains, ponds, valleys, and vistas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
If you are not an experienced hiker, you can opt to hike the shorter and much milder Approach Trail along Crow Gulch brook to the base of Gros Morne Mountain and still appreciate its’ magnitude and beauty from below!
Discover the fascinating geology of the world while enjoying this unique opportunity to walk on the Earth’s mantle.
The Tablelands stand out among the landscape of Gros Morne, as a towering plateau of orange and brown, contrasting the green and gray of the other features of the park. There is a short established trail, but you are also able to explore off-trail for more adventure.
Formed deep in the middle layer of the Earth, the mantle you are walking is substances half a billion years in the making. It was thrust up as ancient continents collided, building the Appalachian Mountains.
More than 400 million years of erosion have since revealed what we see today; an orange landscape much like what you might find on Mars.
Green Gardens Trail
Green Gardens is one of our favorite trails in Gros Morne and one of the top things we recommend to do when visiting the park.
The trail starts hiking up through the serpentine barrens of yellow and brown that distinguish the Tablelands, before descending into the boreal forest. Winding your way through the forest, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife (we saw plenty of droppings, but unfortunately no moose or caribou).
In the shade of the trees, you will pass a rushing waterfall before emerging out into a lush meadow that sits atop the volcanic cliffs that completely took our breath away. You might also run into the local sheep herd that grazes here throughout the summer months!
We were fortunate enough to secure a permit to camp in the backcountry here overnight and it was truly an experience we won’t forget. Sunset here is out of this world and the stars fill the night sky with constellations that fill you with wonder.
There is just something special about Green Gardens and you have to see it for yourself to experience it.
Along the Coastal Trail, you can walk through wildflowers and tuckamore forest, explore cobble beaches, watch for seabirds and whales, and take in the beautiful coastline that sits in stark contrast to the mountains and cliffs towering nearby.
The Coastal Trail is also a perfect place for a dreamy sunset where you might just have a stretch of the rocky beach all to yourself.
For a more epic adventure off the beaten path, consider off-trail hiking in the Tablelands or other backcountry hiking adventures in the park to some of the more remote and pristine areas that only a number of adventurous souls have seen!
Shallow Bay Beach
This stretch of any beach is a great place to relax, swim, and enjoy beautiful views of Shallow Bay and nearby Cow Head.
This area has a playground, kitchen shelter, bathrooms, changing rooms, and outdoor showers.
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse is one of the most popular destinations in the park and it is easy to see why.
This picturesque lighthouse is surrounded by coastal tuckamore forest and is a great place to hike a few easy trails through the trees, get expansive views of the coast and Rocky Harbour, and make your way down to the water’s edge to explore some tide pools. You can also enter the house by the lighthouse to see the cultural exhibit housed here.
This is also a great location for a land-based whale-watching opportunity and a sunset! As we stood on the coast of the headland looking out at the sun setting over the water, we saw a pod of whales spouting rainbows at the surface of the ocean!
Western Brook Pond Boat Tour
Between talking to other people visiting the park and to Park Rangers in the Visitor Center, it was clear that the Western Brook Pond Boat Tour is the top thing to do in the park.
This signature experience takes you on a guided boat tour into the now-landlocked freshwater fjord of Western Brook Pond, with views that you might expect more from parts of the world like Norway rather than Atlantic Canada.
Carved by glaciers, this tour gives you an up-close look at the towering billion-year-old cliffs and cascading waterfalls 2,000 feet high that surround the pure waters of the pond left behind after glaciers moved through during the last ice age 10,000-25,000 years ago.
If a boat tour is not within your budget, you can hike out to viewing areas of the fjords and pond along the Western Brook Pond Trail free of charge. You could also try to get a permit to hike the unmarked backcountry trail to Snug Harbour and camp on the shores of Western Brook Pond (for experienced hikers only).
Bon Tours Western Brook Boat Tour Cost: $72 Adult; $39 Youth / Child (plus Gros Morne entrance fee cost)
Green Point Geological Site
Want to see fossils? At Green Point Geological Site you can explore interesting layered rocks from the bottom of an ancient ocean formed around 500 million years ago and look for fossils that have been locked in time.
Geologists discovered fossils that define the boundary between the Cambrian and Ordovician periods here, making Green Point a world geological benchmark (one of the main reasons Gros Morne has been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site).
This area is best explored at low tide where you can see more of the rocks exposed and is also a great spot to hike around on top of the grass-covered cliffs to see things from a different vantage point.
SS Ethie Shipwreck
Visit the site of a shipwreck that occurred during a devastating winter storm in 1919. All passengers aboard the boat were saved, but the shipwreck is a constant reminder of the unforgiving nature of the sea and Mother Nature over 100 years later.
Nestled between the Lookout Hills and Norris Point, Bonne Bay is a picturesque setting for boating and water activities like kayaking.
Look out over the Bonne Bay from the top of the Lookout Trail, go on a sunset cruise with live music through Bontours, or check out the Bonne Bay Marine Station.
After exploring the Tablelands, stop off at the Discovery Center and explore the town of Woody Point. Here you can get great views of the Tablelands, find Woody Point’s lighthouse, and look out over the blue waters where South Arm and Bonne Bay meet.
Rocky Harbour is a charming and historic fishing town with local shops and dining, as well as an active harbor. It is the largest community in Gros Morne and makes for the perfect home base while exploring the different areas within the park.
Purchase local knitting at the Treasure Box, get “screeched in” or experience a kitchen party at the Anchor Pub, an check out the fresh seafood market down by the fish sheds!
As firm believers that nature is at the heart of fulfilling travel, we recommend camping as a way to immerse yourself in the amazing natural scenery of Gros Morne National Park.
We loved camping in our fifth wheel at Berry Hill Campground! We had a secluded unserviced site nestled in the trees and it was the perfect centralized location for all of our adventures in and around the park.
The park has a few established campgrounds with varying accommodations:
- Berry Hill Campground: 69 sites; 64 reservable online, 2 oTENTik sites, 3 rustic cabins, 25 sites with electric, water, and firepit, 41 unserviced sites with firepit
- The most central camping option in the park, closest to Rocky Harbour. Also close to Gros Morne Mountain, Bakers Brook Falls, and Lobster Cove Lighthouse. The best option for RVers, with sites that will fit rigs up to 40 feet long
- Green Point Campground: 33 sites; 23 reservable online. 8 sites with water, electricity, and firepit, 23 unserviced sites with firepit
- Another fairly central campground is located about 15 minutes further north of Rocky Harbour compared to Berry Hill. This campground has some water view sites and a dog park! A good options for smaller RVs and tents
- Trout River Campground: 38 sites; 29 reservable online, 1 oTENTik site, 38 unserviced sites with firepits
- This campground is located in the Tablelands section of the park convenient to Bonne Bay, Tablelands Trail, and the Discovery Center. A good options for smaller RVs and tents
- Shallow Bay Campground: 62 sites; 44 reservable online, 1 oTENTik site. 11 sites serviced (water and electricity), with firepit, 49 sites unserviced with firepit
- This campground is the furthest north of all campgrounds in the park, but is convenient to Cow Head, Arches Provincial park, and has quick beach access.
- Lomond Campground: 33 sites; 23 reservable online, 27 unserviced with firepit, 6 walk-in unserviced beach sites
- The most remote of the campgrounds in the park, Lomond is a great option for dry camping and boondocking close to the Tablelands
The park also has a few primitive hike-in campsites available by permit:
- Green Gardens (4 sites; we loved camping here, choose the final tent pad if you can for great views of the sunset and a cool ocean breeze)
- Snug Harbour (3 sites; this requires hiking an unmarked trail)
- Stanleyville (3 sites; located on the rocky shore of Bonne Bay at Paynes Cove)
- Ferry Gulch (3 sites; Gros Morne Mountain)
Pro Tip: Permits are available the day of. To secure yours, try to be at the Visitor Center or Discovery Center first thing in the morning on the day of your intended backpacking trip!
Map of Gros Morne Campgrounds
We highly recommend booking early to reserve campsites in Gros Morne National Park! There are also private campground options close to the park if you don’t score a site in the park or are looking for more amenities or services.
READ MORE: Complete Guide To Camping in Gros Morne National Park (coming soon)
Gros Morne is home to a variety of wildlife, making it the perfect place to see some animals up close in their natural habitat!
Animals that can be found in the park include moose (which were introduced to the island of Newfoundland around 1900), woodland caribou, Newfoundland Marten, arctic hare, rock and willow ptarmigan, brook trout, Atlantic Salmon, and the Canaday Jay.
While we were unsuccessful in our quest to see moose or caribou during our time in the park, rangers told us that moose can likely be seen along the trail to Bakers Brook Falls, while caribou are more likely to be seen in the colder months around the large coastal bogs of Rocky Harbour and in Trout River Gulch.
We did see ptarmigan and hare in the park, as well as many many frogs!
Day trip to Cow Head and Arches Provincial Park
About 45 minutes north of Gros Morne National Park, Arches Provincial Park is a great stop to take in the views of three remaining dramatic sea arches that have been carved by the ocean waves crashing to shore. This is a beautiful spot to take photos, walk along the beach, and admire the smooth round rocks found here.
Heading south back toward the park, stop off at Cow Head! Originally settled in the 1800s, Cow Head has great views of Gros Morne National Park and one of the longest sandy beaches in the area in Shallow Bay Beach.
We highly recommend taking the trail out to the lighthouse and the point of Cow Head Peninsula, where you can get amazing views of the area where the ocean crashes to shore.
Drive the Viking Trail
Starting in Deer Lake, the Viking Trail passes through Gros Morne and continues along the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland all the way up to the northernmost point of the province in L’anse aux Meadows.
At just over 300 miles, it could technically be done in a day, but this scenic drive is best enjoyed by taking your time.
Example stops along the Viking Trail:
- Gros Morne National Park
- Port aux Choix National Historic Site
- Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve
- St. Anthony
- L’anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO GROS MORNE
Getting To Newfoundland
Where To Stay
Gros Morne National Park Campgrounds:
- Berry Hill Campground
- Green Point Campground
- Lomond Campground
- Shallow Bay Campground
- Trout River Campground
Private Campgrounds & RV Parks Near Gros Morne:
- The Water’s Edge RV Park, Shoal Brook NL
- Elephants Head RV Park, Trout River NL
- Gros Morne/Norris Point KOA
Hotels, Cabins, & More:
Booking.com is a great place to easily search through local accommodations and quickly compare availability and pricing to land the best deals. Popular areas to stay near the park include:
What To Pack
The weather in Newfoundland can be unpredictable and change quickly and bugs can be a real nuisance. Here are some things to bring with you:
- Mosquito head net
- Waterproof hiking shoes (trails can be muddy and wet and my Columbia Peakfreak hiking shoes held up amazingly well)
- Sun shirt (these are great to hike in to protect you from the sun with built-in UPF, bugs, and help with moderating body temperature)
- Rain jacket
- Sunscreen, bug spray
- Hiking backpack, hiking poles
We highly recommend extending your trip to Newfoundland beyond the western side of the island! Some other amazing stops we enjoyed on our 5-week trip included:
- Iceberg viewing and biking history in Lanse aux Meadows and St. Anthony (article coming soon)
- Icebergs, whale watching, and coastal trails in Twillingate (article coming soon)
- Remote trails, boreal forest, and wildlife in Terra Nova National Park (article coming soon)
- Puffins, amazing coastal trails, whales, and historic sites on the Bonavista Peninsula (article coming soon)
- Driving the Irish Loop on the Avalon Peninsula (article coming soon)
- History, Food, and Fun in Newfoundland’s largest city, St. John’s