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For uncounted millennia, Newfoundland has been a land of natural beauty, full of wonders just waiting to be discovered by generation after generation of visitors. Even now, though the area has been explored and colonized, it remains as it has always been – a territory that makes visitors feel that they are the first to set foot on its ancient soil. As you travel along a route that takes you along the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, you’ll be able to glimpse icebergs as they float past, and without a doubt you’ll see moose as they graze without fear near the roadside.
Channel Port-aux-Basques is known as the gateway to Newfoundland, so it seems fitting that it’s the starting point for this road trip. The area was originally charted by Captain James Cook in the mid-18th century and in the present day it handles nearly all of the road traffic of people entering and leaving the island. Besides the breathtaking views – especially at sunset – be sure to visit Bottle Cove, where you can watch whales from the shore and explore caves at low tide, or dig for mussels as you like. Codroy Valley makes a great place to go bird watching and to take in the awe-inspiring sight of the Long Range Mountains. The Railway Heritage Centre showcases the local railroad history with an intriguing array of displays and exhibits, and the Rose Blanche Lighthouse is another popular tourist stop, as it’s the last granite lighthouse on the Atlantic Coast.
Our next stop of Deer Lake lies northeast on PR-1, and the drive takes you through 167 miles of some of the most overwhelmingly beautiful scenery you’ll ever behold. Have your camera ready; you’ll have no shortage of photo opportunities along the way.
Once you pull over and make camp at Deer Lake, you may be tempted to kick back and experience the natural wonders all around you. The forests, hiking trails, and lake itself are a captivating lure; by all means feel free to indulge in those temptations. Once you’re ready to soak in a bit of local color, head to town and explore the Whalen Regional Heritage Centre, which delves deeply into Deer Lake’s logging past. If you plan your visit at the end of July you can experience the Humber Valley Strawberry Festival, which is a ten-day celebration of the joys of all things strawberry. The festival has been a local staple for nearly thirty years, and features activities and events such as the cutting of the world’s largest (60 feet long) strawberry shortcake, horseback riding, canoe races and – of course – strawberry-eating contests.
Leaving Deer Lake via the northbound Highway 430, we travel for a little over 250 miles to our destination spot of Quirpon, situated near the northeast tip of the island. Travelers are drawn to this remote location for some truly unique sightseeing experiences. Chief among these is the watching of icebergs as they float past. One can sit for hours on the shoreline’s rocks and observe these massive ice floes as they break apart in the water, and experience the dazzling color spectrum as the sunlight dances off their sparkling contours. The lighthouse at Quirpon is another popular location; view the terrain from on high as it sprawls into the distance. One of the truly unique sights to see is the Viking site at L’anse aux Meadows, discovered in the early 60s. The archaeological remains consist of dwellings and workshops, and are evidence of European settlement of the New World as many as five centuries before the arrival of Columbus. Stand on these grounds, where individuals such as Eric the Red walked for the first time so very long ago; it’s an experience not to be missed.
Newfoundland remains as it has always been, and as it is always likely to be: a place of retreat, of beauty, and of uniquely beguiling natural charm that will keep drawing visitors for ages to come.