There are some places so breathtaking in Canada, that even the best photographs barely convey the beauty and scale of them. Newfoundland’s iconic Western Brook Pond Fjord located in Gros Morne National Park is one of those places. With more photos slowly popping up on social media, travel brochures, and websites of this picturesque location, everyone wants to know, “How can I get here?” Getting here requires some time and effort, but that only makes the views that much more rewarding.
If getting straight to the views is your top priority, book a flight into Deer Lake Regional Airport which will put you just 30 minutes away from the park entrance. If you have a bit more time to explore the province and want to take the scenic route, land at St. John’s International Airport and spend a few days exploring Newfoundland’s capital city before hitting the road. The drive from here is just over 650 kilometres to the entrance of Gros Morne National Park which can be done in one long day of driving (about 7 hours non-stop) or broken up into a leisurely two-day adventure with an overnight stop in Gander.
Once you’ve reached the entrance to the park, you’ll start a scenic drive along the coast on Highway 430 passing the small coastal towns of Rocky Harbour, Lobster Cove, and Green Point until you reach the Western Brook Pond parking lot. From here there are a few different ways to explore the stunning fjord, depending on your time and the experience you’re looking for.
Option 1: Hike down to the dock and enjoy the views from the water
If you’re short on time, or just looking for a quick day trip, this is the option for you. From the parking lot follow the Western Brook Pond Trail approximately 3 kilometres across the gravel and boardwalk path as it makes its way down to the water. Once at the dock spend some time soaking in the views and exploring the side trails before making your way back to the parking lot.
Option 2: Book a boat tour and explore the fjord
If you’re looking to explore more of the Fjord, a boat tour with BonTours comes with the added benefit of knowledgeable commentary and a few scenic stops along the water’s edge. Make sure to reserve your ticket in advance online!.
Once you’ve made your way down to the docks, you’ll hop on board the boat for a two hour tour of this spectacular glacier-carved, land-locked fjord. See waterfalls cascading 2,000 feet down the staggering cliffs and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Be sure to have your camera charged and ready!
Option 3: Hike up to the top of the gorge
For even more adventure sign up for the guided hike option with BonTours. This full-day, 12-kilometre journey to the top of the gorge requires a good amount of physical fitness and some hiking experience.
The day starts with a high speed shuttle boat taking 30 minutes to cross the fjord to the far end where you’ll begin your hike. From there, you’ll wander through pristine forest wilderness, cross river beds, and see waterfalls as you wind your way up the mountain. Finally after 3.5 to 4 hours of hiking, the top of the gorge is visible and the valley of Western Brook Pond opens up below you. This is the view you’ve been waiting for! Snap the selfie of a lifetime with a picture perfect vista behind you. After a rest for lunch it’s back down the way you came and back across the fjord soaking in the views one last time. The total day out with Bon Tours is approximately 10 hours from start to finish, including the time to get back to the parking lot. Enjoy a hot shower, a good meal, and a cold drink afterwards — you’ve earned it!
Option 4: The long range traverse
If you really want to get into the wild and have experience hiking in the backcountry, consider tackling the long range traverse. This unmarked route starts with the same BonTours boat shuttle mentioned above, and then covers 35 kilometres of hiking, usually taking 3-4 nights to complete. Advance reservations with Parks Canada are a must for this trail as a quota system is in place. You will also be required to attend an orientation session the day before your scheduled departure and pass a backcountry skills and wayfinding test before being allowed to depart on the trail.
With that in mind, those who are up for the challenge will be rewarded with a sense of wilderness and some of the world’s most jaw-dropping landscapes. Campsites with tent pads are set up at navigation checkpoints along the way giving you a place to pitch your tent and rest for the night as you make your way across park. Hikers may come across moose, black bears, coyotes, and a variety of bird species along the way. Snow is common on the trail until July and weather can vary greatly day to day.
The trail starts with a steep ascent to the top of the gorge for your first day. From there the landscape flattens out, but still has several hills and valleys along the way, giving each day of the hike its own unique challenges. The traverse finishes off with a climb up Gros Morne Mountain for expansive views in all directions. Once completed you’ll end your final day at the Ferry Gulch Campsite before hiking out to the Gros Morne Mountain Trailhead parking lot. Enjoy a few days back in town resting your feet and treating yourself to some locally cooked meals as you reminisce about your adventures in Newfoundland!