Days 1-3 - Dartmouth to North Sydney to St John's - 550 km/344 mi
The adventure begins! Pick up your RV from our Dartmouth, Nova Scotia location and head to North Sydney to begin your Newfoundland and Labrador adventure. If you’re travelling between mid-June and mid-September, plan to take the ferry from North Sydney to Argentia on the Avalon Peninsula. This ferry will put you in easy reach of St John’s, only 131km away. full details
The ferry does a night crossing three times a week so plan your itinerary to coincide with one of these crossings. If you’re travelling outside the Summer months, you will need to take the ferry from North Sydney to Port aux Basques – nearly 1000km from St John’s. Ferry crossing time from North Sydney to Port aux Basques ranges from 4.5 – 8 hours while the ferry from North Sydney to Argentia takes approx. 15 hours. Getting there is just part of the adventure! Advance reservations are required. Call Marine Atlantic’s reservation line at 1-800-341-7981 or visit their website www.marine-atlantic.ca.
In either case, plan to spend your first night either close to Halifax then drive to North Sydney to catch the ferry on Day 2 or drive to North Sydney after picking up your RV on Day 1 and spend most of Day 2 exploring the area around this section of Cape Breton Island before boarding your ferry. The North Sydney-Argentia ferry will have you arriving in St John’s on the afternoon of Day 3. Overnight in St John’s.
Day 4 - St John's
Tour St. John's, one of the oldest cities in North America and the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador. Some highlights include Signal Hill National Historic Site of Canada, Quidi Vidi Village, Commissariat House Provincial Historic Site, The Rooms, and the Johnson Geo Centre. full details
If you want to leave your RV behind and sightsee with a guide, McCarthy’s Party offer a number of guided tours, among them a 3 hour St John’s / Cape Spear tour which shows you the highlights of St John’s as well as taking you out to Cape Spear.
If you enjoy hiking and the outdoors, explore the East Coast Trail, a breathtaking coastal hike on the easternmost edge of Canada. Recommended trails stretch from Pouch Cove in the north, to Cappahayden in the south, along 320 km of coast. Take a refreshing walk on one of the many two- to three-hour paths along this spectacular trail.
Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours offer a whale and puffin boat cruise from St John’s Harbourfront between early May and late September. In the early part of the season you may even spot icebergs.
Overnight in St John’s or travel down to Butterpot Provincial Park – 20km west of St John’s.
CanaDream Club partners on today’s itinerary:
Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours
Day 5 - St John's to St Vincent's (or St Bride's) - 181-325 km/114-204miDepart St. John's for Cape Spear National Historic Site of Canada, the most easterly point in North America. Have your picture taken at the edge of a continent. Visit nearby Petty Harbour, a traditional Irish Newfoundland fishing community. full details
Continue down the Irish Loop Drive to the Bay Bulls/Witless Bay area where you can join Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Watch and take a boat trip out to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve - home to 2.5 million seabirds and the largest Atlantic puffin colony in North America. With all the fish darting beneath the waves, it’s also a great place to spot hungry whales, playing and feeding in the surf.
The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, four islands and the waters around them between Witless Bay and Bauline, is home to phenomenal numbers of seabirds that nest here to raise their young. About 530,000 Leach's storm petrels nest off Gull Island, with another 250,000 on Great Island. Green Island has 74,000 murres. And there are tens of thousands of Atlantic puffins – the provincial bird.
As your tour boat cruises near the islands – they are protected areas off limits to people – you'll see puffins running and skipping along the top of the water trying to get airborne. The chicks are tucked away in thousands of burrows on the steep sides of the islands. The burrows provide protection against marauding gulls. Here you'll also find razorbills, great black-backed gulls, northern fulmars, black guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes.
As for the whales, you’ll find mainly humpbacks and fin whales. About 5,000 humpbacks migrate to Newfoundland every summer and hang around to gorge on the plentiful fish.
If you’re feeling adventurous, explore the Southern Shore by kayak. Experienced sea-kayak guides will introduce you to paddling or customize a more challenging trip, depending on your comfort level. Imagine kayaking next to a 30-tonne humpback!
After lunch, depart for Ferryland, which was founded by Lord Baltimore in the early 1600's. The founders later moved to Maryland and its warmer climate. Visit the Colony of Avalon and discover the many artifacts found on the site of the original colony.
Near Trepassey and St. Shott's, keep an eye out for the most southerly woodland caribou herd in the world. Trepassey was a stopover point for Amelia Earhart when she became the first woman to fly the Atlantic.
Overnight in St Vincent’s-St Stephen’s-Peter’s River. Located at the eastern entrance of St Mary’s, the incorporated communities of St Vincent’s-St Stephen’s-Peter’s River were visited by French and Portuguese migratory fishermen as early as the 1500s. Permanent settlement began with the arrival of English and Irish settlers who established a local salmon fishery. Here you may be able to view whales from the beach. Campgrounds and RV Parks are not as plentiful in Newfoundland as in other provinces. If you overnight in an area which does not have a designated RV Park, please be considerate to the locals and request permission to stay where applicable.
If you prefer to stay in an RV Park, continue your journey north on Hwy 90 then take Hwy 92 and 100 to St Bride’s where you will find an RV Park to stay at.
CanaDream Club partners on today’s itinerary:
Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Watch
Day 6 - St Bride's to Trinity - 172 km/107 mi
If you spent last night in St Vincent’s you may want to start out a little earlier as it will take you approx. 1.5-2 hours to reach Cape Mary’s Ecological Reserve this morning. For those who travelled the distance last night, it’s only a few kilometers to get to your next stop. full details
Located near St. Bride's, the Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, is the most accessible seabird colony in the province with the largest colony of gannets in Newfoundland and the third largest in North America.
The Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve is one of the great natural wonders in Newfoundland and Labrador. The 13.4 km paved road from Route 100 leads to a view immortalized in the Newfoundland folk song ‘Let Me Fish off Cape St. Mary's.’ The vantage point, a 15-minute walk from the interpretation centre, overlooks Bird Rock, the third largest nesting site for gannets in North America, and it offers a spectacular opportunity to photograph these gorgeous, golden-headed birds with the 2-metre wing span from a mere 15 metres (50 feet) away. This is also a nursery for thousands of murres and kittiwakes. During the summer months the cliffs are alive with birds. The waters here are also a great place to see whales. The sanctuary at Cape St. Mary's may be visited year round and no permit is necessary. The Interpretation Centre is open from spring until fall and there are guides to answer your questions and show you around. You can see Bird Rock through a huge window, through telescopes, or right up close, in person - and there are displays on the ecology and wildlife of the Cape. The centre also hosts an annual summer concert series.
Next, visit Trinity. Most of the old town is a national heritage community, and there are several provincial historic sites including the Trinity Arts Centre and Trinity Museum and Archives, as well as the Trinity Interpretation Centre. The main attraction here is not the architecture, however, it's the theatre festival Season’s in the Bight, run by Rising Tide Theatre. Rising Tide also performs the popular Trinity Pageant, a comedic walking tour of the town, which runs several times a week. In addition to its history, Trinity is also a great place for whale watching and several boat tour cruise the coastal waters in search of humpbacks and other species.
Overnight at Lockston Path Provincial Park Campground, 6km from Port Rexton. Reservations are essential and can be made through the Newfoundland Labrador Campsite Reservation service at http://www.nlcamping.ca/en/find.cgi?&by=province
Day 7 - Trinity to Terra Nova National Park - 207 km/130 mi
Journey back into history to the voyage of John Cabot. A Genoese adventurer known in his home town as Giovanni Caboto, he sailed from England to Newfoundland landing at Cape Bonavista in 1497. One of the must-sees here is the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site which has been restored to its original 1843 condition. full details
Other stops on your tour should include the monument to John Cabot located near Bonavista Museum and Mockbeggar Plantation Provincial Historic Site, The Ryan Premises National Historic Site of Canada, which tells the five-century story of the fishery, the replica ship The Matthew and the Matthew Interpretation Centre, as well as the Dungeon Provincial Park.
Terra Nova National Park is a great place to stop for a stroll near Newman Sound, or visit the Interpretation Centre to take a boat tour or to learn about the marine habitat of the area. The park's 400 square kilometres protects a typical Newfoundland habitat of sheltered bays, rugged shores along the ocean and rolling, forested hills with numerous ponds and bogs. Keep an eye out for ospreys, eagles, lynx and moose.
Overnight in Terra Nova National Park (Newman Sound Campground (serviced) or Malady Head Campground (unserviced)). Reservations may be made through the Parks Canada Campground Reservation Service.
Day 8 - Terra Nova National Park to Twillingate - 166 km/140 mi
Depart for the ‘Road to the Shore’ at Gambo, the birthplace of Joseph R. Smallwood, the first premier and one of the original Fathers of Confederation. Visit the Smallwood Interpretation Centre. Along Route 320/330, watch for icebergs as well as whales. full details
Don't miss historic Greenspond Courthouse, the architectural gem of the region, and The Barbour Living Heritage Village in Newtown.
This afternoon we reach the Road to the Isles’ at Gander Bay, visit the Boyd's Cove Beothuk Interpretation Centre at Boyd's Cove. At Twillingate you can visit the Twillingate Museum, craft shops, and the Long Point Lighthouse. Twillingate is at the centre of Iceberg Alley. Make sure you take a whale and iceberg watching tour with Twillingate Adventure Tours or Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours. A discounted rate is available to CanaDream guests when booked through CanaDream. Grab your camera and go coastal!
For many years, Twillingate was the centre of the Labrador and inshore fisheries in the area. The town's most famous resident was opera singer Georgina Stirling. In the late 1800s, Miss Stirling, who was known professionally as Marie Toulinguet, won acclaim for her performances at the Paris Opera and La Scala, in Milan. Unfortunately her concert career was cut tragically short by voice failure and she returned to Newfoundland to live out her days in her home town. Her story and that of the town is told in the Twillingate Museum in the former Anglican Rectory.
Twillingate and New World Island host the Fish, Fun and Folk Festival, The Rooms, which highlights some of the best West Country English dance, song, recitation and music. Held every July, the festival also features crafts, baked goods, picnics and a lively party spirit.
The nearby Long Point Lighthouse, built in 1876, is one of the best places in Newfoundland to see icebergs. Built on a bluff, it overlooks the outer reaches of Notre Dame Bay. You may also catch a glimpse of the huge whales that spend their summers feeding along the coast.
Overnight in/near Twillingate. There’s a private campground closeby or you could try the campground at Dildo Run Provincial Park, 20km south of Twillingate.
CanaDream Club partners on today's itinerary:
Twillingate Adventure Tours
Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours
Day 9 - Twillingate to Gros Morne National Park - 420 km/263 mi
Our next destination is Grand Falls-Windsor. Highlights are the Mary March Regional Museum, Logger's Exhibit and the Salmonid Interpretation Centre, a fabulous place to watch Atlantic salmon as they migrate to their spawning grounds. full details
For a unique Islands Experience, you may wish to plan for at least another day or two to explore both Fogo and Change Islands. Anglers might want to consider hiring a local guide in Indian Bay, Musgrave Harbour, Gander Bay, Glenwood, Appleton, or any other community that has easy access to rivers, lakes, ponds and hundreds of miles of forestry, for a chance to go salmon or trout fishing.
From Grand Falls-Windsor, continue along the Trans Canada Highway to Gros Morne National Park for your overnight stop. There are a few private campgrounds in the area along with national park campgrounds in various parts of the park. See http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nl/grosmorne/visit/visit4.aspx#a01 for more information.
Days 10 & 11 - Gros Morne National Park
Next, your journey takes you north along the Viking Trail and Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the spectacular ocean scenery and mountains. Hike the hills and trails. Choose from quiet paths to shifting elevations that overlook spectacular inland fjords, or hike over rocks that were once on ocean bed. full details
The Tablelands is a 600-metre high plateau of mantle rock, one of the world's best examples of rock from the earth's interior. Visit the Discovery Centre at Woody Point and at Trout River Pond, take a boat tour and learn more about the geological history of the park and perhaps see a moose graze on the shore.
Next, stop off at the Gros Morne National Park Visitor Centre in Rocky Harbour. Here, you can view several videos on the history of the park. Staff are available to answer any questions. Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, only 10 minutes from the interpretation centre, is a great spot for a picnic lunch, and don't forget to see the museum inside the lighthouse.
If sailing on a freshwater fjord sounds romantic, be sure to take a boat tour on Bonne Bay (departs from Norris Point Dock) with Bontours or visit Western Brook Pond before leaving the park.
CanaDream Club partners on today's itinerary are:
Bontours - Bonne Bay Tour
Day 12 - Gros Morne National Park to Pinware Provincial Park - 317 km/199 miAs you travel north you will notice the landscape changing as you pass through the communities along the Viking Trail. In Port au Choix visit the Port au Choix National Historic Site of Canada with its ongoing archaeological dig and view the artifacts of the Maritime Archaic and Dorset peoples who occupied the area thousands of years ago. full details
Sail Iceberg Alley aboard the Apollo. Stroll the ship's deck and enjoy the refreshing sea air. You will likely have an opportunity to marvel at the sight of majestic icebergs and breaching whales. Crossing time is approximately one hour and 45 minutes. Check the ferry schedule at http://www.tw.gov.nl.ca/ferryservices/schedules/j_pollo.html#schedule. Aim to catch the afternoon sailing where available to give you enough time for the crossing and to reach your overnight destination once you arrive in Labrador.
Arrival in Blanc Sablon marks the beginning of your Labrador experience. While in Labrador, enjoy pastries made with berries, such as partridge berries, bakeapples, and blueberries which grow wild on the Labrador barrens.
Overnight at Pinware Provincial Park – reservations essential.
Day 13 - Pinware Provincial Park to Red Bay to Blanc Sablon - 120 km/75 miArrive at Red Bay National Historic Site of Canada, World Whaling Capital, AD 1550-1600. At the Visitor Centre, experienced guides will interpret the Basque whaling activity in the area during the 16th century, highlighted by over 15 years of archaeological research. full details
The whale oil refinery at Red Bay is considered to be the first industrial site in the New World.
Why not try a traditional Labrador Breakfast of ‘flummies,’ fish cakes and more. Arrive at the Labrador Straits Museum located on the main highway near Point Amour. The exhibit covers the last 150 years. Discover the artifacts of a past century, the tools, weapons and household goods with which ancestors made a life for themselves in the Labrador Straits.
If you’re up to the challenge at Point Amour Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site, climb the 122 steps to the top of the castle-like structure, which is the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada. On a clear day, the island of Newfoundland may be seen across the Strait of Belle Isle.
Overnight in Blanc Sablon (catch first ferry to St Barbe on Day 14).
Day 14 - Blanc Sablon to St Barbe (Ferry) to St Anthony - 221 km/139 mi
Today we head back to Newfoundland on board the Apollo then drive to L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the Visitor Centre, chat with the interpretative staff, see the short video which explains how the site was discovered and, as a highlight, tour the reconstructed sod huts as animators recreate daily life from a 1,000 years ago. full details
Explore the replica Viking village of Norstead and sail aboard a replica of an 11th-century Viking boat.
As you drive to St. Anthony, stop by one of the local craft stores to pick up specialty jams and jellies. In St. Anthony visit the Grenfell Properties, including Grenfell House and Grenfell Interpretation Centre, which also houses Grenfell Handicrafts.
Overnight at Pistolet Bay Provincial Park.
Days 15 & 16 – Pistolet Bay Provincial Park to Corner Brook – 316 km/198 mi
Today travel to Corner Brook. full details
On your way back, why not stop into the community of St. Pauls and take a boat tour to see seals or any scenery missed during your stay in Gros Morne National Park.
For Adventurers: Kayak or canoe the Humber River, which winds its way into Corner Brook or sea kayak the Bay of Islands, explore towering cliffs and sea caves etched in 500 million year old pillow lava.
Leave the world of light and venture into the unknown. Let a local outdoor adventure operator take you caving or spelunking. Explore one of the spectacular caves just outside Corner Brook. Fascinating geology awaits you.
There are a number of private campgrounds in the Corner Brook area and you should have no problems finding a place to stay tonight. Break your journey here for an extra day and explore the area beforel continuing south to Port aux Basques on Day 17.
Day 17 - Corner Brook to Port aux Basques - 221 km/139 miIf shorebirds are your interest, travel down Route 1 towards Port aux Basques and stop in the Codroy Valley where the Grand Codroy Wetlands Ramsar Site is recognized by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. The 925-hectare area at the mouth of the Grand Codroy River consists of a large coastal estuary containing flats, sandbars exposed at low tide and sandspits covered by dune grass. full details
Portions of the wetlands are covered by thick eel grass. There are also four small islands in the wetlands. The estuary provides habitat for large flocks of Canada goose and black duck, and smaller numbers of pintail, green-winged teal, American wigeon, and greater scaup. Newfoundland's west coast is a north-south flyway for many migrating birds, and the wetlands provide food and a resting stop in spring for northbound birds that have just crossed the Gulf of St. Lawrence and, in fall, a stopover for the return flight south. It's also a good place to see rare species blown off course during migration.
There is an interpretation centre directly on the estuary and an interpretation trail running along the banks of the Grand Codroy River, an easy restful walk from the interpretation centre to Grand Codroy Park. Interpretation panels enhance the understanding of estuaries, ecosystems, species adaptation, and models for environmental stewardship.
Just a 10-minute drive from Port aux Basques takes you to J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park, where the shoreline offers a stretch of sheltered beach with soft, powdery sand. The park is a good place to see the piping plover, an endangered bird species with only 500 or so in Atlantic Canada and fewer than 5,000 in total worldwide. Cheeseman Park, Grand Bay West, Searston and Sandy Point (further north near St. George's) all have sandy beaches that the plovers favour, and these are recommended viewing areas (but please don't disturb the birds). Look here also for the common loon, murre, Canada goose and pine grosbeak. You'll also find the white admiral and Atlantis fritillary butterflies.
Overnight at Port aux-Basques. There’s a couple of private campgrounds to choose from or you can stay at the J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park campground, 10km east of the ferry.
Day 18 - Port aux Basques to North Sydney (Ferry)
Sailing times for the Port aux Basques to North Sydney ferry vary depending on the day you are planning to travel. On most days during the peak summer months there are three sailings and we recommend you aim for the mid-morning sailing if it is offered. Crossing time is 5-7 hours which will put you in North Sydney for an overnight stay. full details
Enjoy a spectacular view of the southwest coast of Newfoundland and the houses of Port aux Basques on the treeless landscape as you leave the port. Whales are a possibility. Get out on the deck of the ferry and keep your camera handy.
Day 19 - North Sydney to Halifax - 407 km/255 mi
Your most direct route from North Sydney to Halifax takes you through Baddeck, New Glasgow and Truro before heading east into Halifax. If you have a day or more to spare before dropping off your RV, we recommend you spend some time around the Bay of Fundy area, perhaps doing a full or half day tidal rafting trip on the Shubenacadie River with Shubenacadie River Runners. full details
The Bay of Fundy has some of the highest tides in the world and a rafting trip here is truly an exhilarating adventure. There are a number of private campgrounds in the area. If you prefer to just head back to Halifax, look for a campground in the Halifax area as you’ll need to have your RV back at CanaDream between 8.00am and 10.00am in the morning.
CanaDream Club partners on today's itinerary are:
Shubenacadie River Runners
Day 20 - Drop off RV in DartmouthSadly, your tour has ended and our friendly staff at CanaDream will be happy to transfer you to the airport or to your hotel after you drop off your RV at our location in Dartmouth. full details
If you're planning on spending a few days in the Halifax area before heading home, our knowledgeable staff will be happy to give you ideas about things to do and to let you know about any discounts available in the area through our CanaDream Club program.
If you enjoyed this tour, please check out others at www.canadream.com/tripplanning. We look forward to welcoming you back again in the future.
The following information may be of use when planning your Newfoundland and Labrador RV vacation. full details
Newfoundland Labrador Provincial Historic Sites
If you’re planning to visit more than 3 provincial historic sites whilst in Newfoundland Labrador, ask for a Season Pass which will give you single entry to all provincial historic sites for one person for a year. Single entry family passes are also available covering 2 adults and 3 children 17 and under for a very moderate cost.
National Historic Sites
Parks Canada offer two types of passes for admission to National Historic Sites.
The Discovery Pass offers admission to all national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites for one year. Adult and family passes are available. Family passes are valid for up to seven people arriving together.
The National Historic Sites Pass offers admission to historic sites only. The Family/Group pass admits up to seven people with a maximum of two adults visiting a site together.
AcknowledgementsCanaDream wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Tourism Newfoundland & Labrador for the bulk of this driving itinerary. Activity and campground suppliers included in this itinerary are suggestions from CanaDream and not Tourism Newfoundland & Labrador. full details
Photos courtesy of Tourism Newfoundland & Labrador.