Driving Tour of Newfoundland and Labrador
Dan’s Birthday Adventure
Dan Burgoyne and I set out for a self guided driving tour of Newfoundland and Labrador one day before his 66th birthday. Our drive includes four World Heritage Sites, whale watching, iceberg sighting, and traveling into the ancient landscape at Gros Morne National Park. Our trip is focused on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and the southern tip of Labrador.
Longing to Travel to a Particular Place
They say that the longing for travel is part of the entire travel experience. Why do we want to go here? Why Newfoundland? Why Labrador?
We’ve been to Nova Scotia, parts of Ontario, and Prince Edward Island, and Dan loves the Canadian maritimes because they’re so much like his home in Maine. Lately he’s had health problems. His mobility is limited and he’s in constant pain. Considering group tours are a good first look at a new destination, Dan’ mobility issues put group tours out of consideration because of their rigid schedules.
We need flexibility and places we can see that don’t involve a lot of walking. Dan still loves to travel and I figure we should travel as much as we can for as long as we can. So I got to work on the research and how best to do this in the time we had (10 days).
Self Guided Driving Tour Offers Flexibility
A Self Guided Driving Tour of Newfoundland – to include Labrador would be a perfect fit. So with his birthday approaching I asked him where he’d go if he could travel anywhere. Like most men, he hates questions like this. He’d really rather me say …. “We’re going here. You’re going to love it.”
So I helped him a little with the possibilities knowing the landscapes he tends to love. I said, “Alaska, Yosemite or Newfoundland… if you had your pick, which one?” He didn’t hesitate. He said, “Newfoundland.”
Why Newfoundland? It’s still Wild.
Of course he said Newfoundland. It was the one place I knew nothing about. Looking at it on the map, you have to either drive for days, from Maryland and then take ferries or fly in and rent a car. I knew nothing about Newfoundland. An Alaskan cruise would have been so easy. I know Yosemite and have been many times to places in the Sierra Nevadas. But Newfoundland was going to take some work.
I asked him, “Why Newfoundland?” He said, “It’s one of the last wild places in North America.”
We both love wild places. I’ve alway wanted to see Newfoundland since I read The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, and as an avid collector of Labradorite stones, Labrador has always fascinated me. Also, I would love to see an iceberg.
So I got to work on Dan’s birthday adventure trip and within a day was able to map out a 10-day self drive plan for the upper peninsula, which would allow to also travel to Labrador, stay in waterfront locations, and see the wilder side of Newfoundland. We flew into Deer Lake Airport, rented a car and headed out to Gros Morne National Park and spent the night.
On his 66th birthday, Dan Burgoyne woke up in a waterfront cottage in Rocky Harbor Newfoundland. Best birthday ever.
Crafting a 10-day Tour of the Upper Peninsula
Pick a Region – Don’t try to do Newfoundland all at once, and use Google Maps to plan out drive times.
Try not to drive more than two hours a day. You’ll see more, and remember more if you stick to a region.
Fly into a close regional airport. It may take some patience getting there (we had 2 stops on our way in), but it’s so worth it and saves time in the overall trip. Then rent your car from there.
Gros Morne – We had 10 days and wanted to include Labrador So we flew into Deer Lake Airport, rented a car there and spent our first night in Gros Morne National Park – just an hour’s drive from the airport. Because Gros Morne a UNESCO World Heritage site – and the Park is in the same league as USA’s Glacier National Park or Rocky Mountain National Park, we decided to stay for 3 nights total in the same place.
We spend Day 1 traveling and having dinner. Then Day 2 and Day3 were dedicated to sites in Gros Morne National Park.
NEXT STOP – Port au Choix is a good place to overnight as it is close to the Labrador Ferry and is home to an archaeological site of interest.
NEXT STOP – L’anse Amour is in Labrador not far from the ferry landing. The are burial mounds there as well as Canada’s tallest lighthouse. Great home base for 2 days of exploring in Labrador.
Red Bay – historic site and UNESCO World Heritage Site is in Labrador. The site interprets and chronicles the Basque whaling industry in Labrador.
NEXT STOP – St Anthony – a little village that is a good overnight spot for exploring the northern tip of the peninsula, which includes L’anse aux Meadows, the historic Viking site and interpretive center. This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. St. Anthony is also home to many whale watching and fishing excursions. And it’s know as a good spot to look for icebergs (before mid-July).
BACK to Gros Morne – Returning from St. Anthony, give yourself a day to get back there and see one more feature of the park before heading home. Deer Lake Airport is only an hour from Gros Morne.
Happy travels, Travel Hags.