Why Newfoundland Should Be on Your RVing Bucket List
Getting to Newfoundland is not a simple task -- it is time-consuming, expensive and probably completely out of your way. But, it may be the best trip you ever take in your RV and will certainly provide you with dozens of great stories to tell by the campfire. We visited for a month, and the only thing we regret is not staying longer. So, what makes "The Rock" so special?
Epic Views & Outdoor Adventures
Newfoundland has some of the most beautiful, interesting and dramatic landscapes we've ever seen. Gros Morne National Park alone offers mountains, fjords, fishing towns, sandy beaches, marshes and even a barren area where you can walk on the Earth's mantle. You could easily spend a month hiking and exploring this area of the island without getting bored.
In addition to some insanely gorgeous and challenging hiking trails, Newfoundland also has plenty of opportunities for kayaking, many great biking trails, lots of boat tours and -- our personal favorite -- ATVing (the preferred mode of transport for many locals).
Our Top Picks:
ATV tour in Robinsons. This really set the stage for an amazing vacation. Paul and Ruth of Pirate's Haven ATV-Friendly RV Park, Chalets & Adventures treated us to an unforgettable day of adrenaline-pumping fun, gorgeous views and delicious local food. Plus, they were super fun to hang out with and had a great RV park where we could safely leave our home during our adventures.
Watching the waves near Point Riche Lighthouse in Port au Choix. This was such a simple thing to do, but it was our favorite moment from our trip. Just stunning, relaxing and restorative for our souls. We highly recommend spending a few hours there.
Hiking in Gros Morne National Park. There are dozens of great trails, but Green Gardens was a favorite because it was the most unique. It starts in the barren Tablelands area then moves into the lush, rolling forested landscape, before ending at a wooden staircase that leads down a cliff to a stunning beach. Totally worth the sore legs!
Searching for Icebergs in Twillingate. Although this area is a bit touristy and can get crazy when a big iceberg is sighted and everyone is trying to get a glimpse, iceberg hunting is a must in Newfoundland! We had a blast, even when we drove around with no luck. It was a highlight of our trip.
Sea Kayaking in Terra Nova National Park. There is something overwhelming and wonderful about getting out into the middle of a large body of water and admiring the views from that unique position. Being in the middle of the fjord in Terra Nova, with jellyfish under us and birds flying over us, was truly remarkable. There are kayak rentals across from the visitor center and they also offer guided tours or, if you aren't into paddling, they have some amazing boat tours as well!
Seeing St. John's from above at Signal Hill. Honestly, we didn't spend much time in St. John's. After weeks of no traffic, minimal restaurant options and lots of boondocking, being in a big city with tons of people, too many food options and expensive camping overwhelmed us a bit. However, we are really glad we made it to Signal Hill. Seeing the colorful houses and bustling city streets from above was gorgeous, and from the other side of the hill we saw vast ocean views. Just get there super early, so you can have room to park your rig.
Unforgettable Wildlife Sightings
Moose are abundant on the island -- as the road signs will constantly remind you. However, you are much more likely to see a whale than a moose (unless you go driving around at night, which we strongly advise against). There are also many puffin colonies where you can get an up-close look at the clowns of the sea. And if you are lucky, you can even spot a caribou in certain areas.
But you know what you won't see? Snakes! A few garter snakes have been spotted in recent years, but for the most part, snakes are non-existent and there are no venomous ones. For the first time in a long time, I wasn't on high alert on trails. So, feel free to run through the tall grass, spinning and singing like Julie Andrews -- I sure did!
Best Bets for Wildlife:
Moose: As I mentioned, these guys are a bit elusive. But, we had the best luck while hiking early in the morning. Just take some precautions if you spot one and keep your distance -- they can be dangerous.
Caribou: We were told they could be spotted up on the Northern Peninsula (a few hours from Gros Morne). And we lucked out by seeing a family at the Point Riche Lighthouse in Port au Choix.
Puffins: About mid-May through mid-September at the latest is puffin nesting season. There is a famed Puffin viewing site in Elliston where you can watch these silly birds as they nest on a nearby island. But, we had the best luck near the Bonavista Lighthouse, because they were flying overhead to fish. And if you want to get extra close, take a tour! There are tons of options, but our favorite was Molly Bawn Whale & Puffin Tour (south of St. John's) because of the small tour size and knowledgeable guide. The tour takes you into the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve to see the largest colony in North America!
Whales: Just bring your binoculars and scan the ocean! If you are there between May and September, you will likely see a ton. We had the best luck in Saint Vincent's on the Avalon Peninsula. The whales come up right next to the beach to feed on capelin and it is one of the most amazing things we've ever seen. But, if you want to get even closer, this is another time where a tour may be beneficial. Again, we liked Molly Bawn for this, but we also enjoyed our tour with Happy Adventures out of Terra Nova.
You can also see seals, otters, fox and tons of bird species. Apparently polar bears come in on icebergs on a rare occasion -- according to the locals at least!
Beautiful Boondocking & Campground Sites
While the Eastern Coast of the U.S. is lacking in epic, easy-to-find boondocking spots, the same is not true of its neighbor to the north. Newfoundland has dozens of great places to just pull off on the side of the road, and you may even get to look for icebergs or see the northern lights while you are there! But, if you like to have hookups while you travel, there are some great affordable campgrounds as well.
Our Favorite Spots:
- Pirate's Haven ATV-friendly RV Park in Robinsons
- Berry Hill Campground in Gros Morne National Park
- King's Point RV Park in King's Point
- Boondocking in Twillingate next to the ocean
- Newman Sound Campground in Terra Nova National Park
- Celtic Rendezvous by the Sea RV Park in Tors Cove
- Boondocking next to the Point Riche Lighthouse in Port au Choix
Rich Culture & Amazing People
If you enjoy history, you are going to need to plan some extra time in Newfoundland to stop at some of the museums, UNESCO World Heritage sites and cultural centers. The culture has ties to Viking, Irish, British, Aboriginal, Pirate and, of course, Canadian heritage.
You can see where archeologists dug up the remains of Viking past in L'Anse Meadows or see a current dig in Ferryland, learn how important seals were to the Aboriginals in Port au Choix, and see the past through local art in places like the small town of Botwood in Central Newfoundland.
But our favorite way to learn about the history of Newfoundland was through the locals. They are passionate about their past and embrace the many different types of people that make up their history. It really is quite beautiful to listen to them talk about their home.
And, although people in Atlantic Canada are all generally nice, the Newfies put the rest to shame. During our visit, we had dozens of heart-felt conversations, received many helpful tips and even became the adopted children of a couple who let us crash in their driveway.
While we boondocked at their house, we got to take part in the 60th birthday party of our host -- with about 20 of their closest friends. I got chills as we listened to them sing traditional songs around the fire until the early morning hours. And my eyes filled with tears when it was time to give our goodbye hugs.
The people in Newfoundland are just THAT special. If you love them like we do, you can even make your feelings official by becoming honorary Newfies like we did! During a "Screech-In" process, we made fools of ourselves at a local bar to get our certificates -- we even kissed a cod! But it was all in good fun.
When we hopped the ferry back to the mainland we were filled with so much overwhelming gratefulness for our experience. And we've missed that magical place and its people every day since.
Yes, you have to cross the border into Canada, drive across two provinces, and take a 7-hour ferry that will run you at least CAD$500 round-trip to get to Newfoundland. But if you enjoy nature, peaceful moments and long chats with interesting people, it is arguably one of the most wonderfully unforgettable places you will ever go in you RV. And, getting there is a pretty amazing adventure too (Cabot Trail anyone?).
Check out this page for more stories and tips from our adventures in Newfoundland.