God's Country – Western Brook Gorge

This Newfoundland tourism photo encourages visitors to come see the beauty that is Gros Morne National Park.


Having just spent a day at Western Brook Pond there (near Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland), I can tell you the fantastic photo beckons you properly. We barely scratched the surface on the treasures that are found in Gros Morne.


Gros Morne is a Unesco World Heritage Site. As our interpretive guide tells us, these sites “exemplify the beauty and richness of our planet, and the history and accomplishments of humankind. …


The landscape of Gros Morne tells the story of the Earth’s transformation. The rocks of Gros Morne National Park and the adjacent parts of western Newfoundland provide some of the world’s best illustrations of plate tectonics, one of the most important ideas in modern science.  For this reason, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural organization (UNESCO) designated the park a World Heritage Site in 1987.”

Of course, when you’re from a place, you rarely play tourist, and enjoy the treasures in your own hometown. I live in Ottawa now, and the only time I go to the Parliament buildings is when someone is visiting.
So this summer’s return trip to “home,” we decided to go to Gros Morne again, and this time do the boat tour of Western Brook Pond gorge.  This used to be a former fjord, but now the gorge is cut off from the sea, and is no longer filled with salt water.

Since a fjord requires salt water, and Western Brook Pond is now fresh, it is now called a “former fjord”.
Our interpretative guide tells us that “glaciers carved the massive cliffs at Western Brook Pond

as ice bit through this 1.2 billion-year-old block of granite and gneiss,


on their slow path to the sea.”  Pretty heady stuff for wee ones (or big ones) to fathom, especially since we were a family of 4, plus my 2 nieces (4 kids under 12). But… we were up for the challenge… or at least we agreed to take in the sights, and try to absorb some of the information!

We drove the hour and a half from Corner Brook to Rocky Harbour, and stopped at the Ocean View Hotel in Rocky Harbour to pick up our park passes ($19.20 for 2 adults, and 4 kids), and tickets for the 2 hour boat tour with Bon Tours ($130 for 2 adults and 2 kids, and an additional $21 for each of the 3rd and 4th children).


We drove north from Rocky Harbour to the Western Brook Pond park entrance, and hiked in (~45 minutes) from the highway to the gorge. About 60% of the hike is on a well-maintained, and level, wooden boardwalk over bog areas. About 40% of the hike is on a gravel path, with fairly gentle slopes, and climbs through the woods. (It would be do-able, but not easy, with a stroller and/or wheelchair.
It was a beautiful hike. For those who might need to rest throughout the walk, there are occasional benches, but they are few and far between.) Of course, you’re walking over bog, and wetlands…
We really enjoyed the walk, and made a game of reading all the interpretive signs about the formation of the land carved by glaciers, and how the bog came to be.

But, of course, the best part of the day was the boat tour.
What a fantastic experience.
The scenery is breath-taking. Majestic rocks that climb into the sky, and apparently have roots in the sea just as tall.

We wondered how the tourism boats came in. Our tour guide kindly shared that the larger boat was air-lifted in, piecemeal, and then assembled.  A smaller boat was  dragged by sleigh over ice-covered bog during winter.

The pictures here don’t do justice to the magnificent cliffs, and how it felt to be in a boat guiding between the peaks.  You see waterfalls, and evidence of huge rock falls. You learn about the different types of rocks, and layers, and shifts in plates.

 Simply, a geologist’s paradise. In fact, an interpretive guide says that “Gros Morne National Par is often referred to as the ‘Galapagos of Geology’.”

And you also see channels where caribou migrate down one mountain peak, cross the pond, and then go up another to reach “The Big Level” so they can nest, and have their babies each year.
Fascinating to see and touch what feels like the beginning of the earth.   And unearth your inner scientist. Or even your adventurist spirit!
It really is God’s country!