Geology & Fossils
Travel Back in Time
Newfoundland and Labrador is home to some of the oldest rocks in the world, and its unique geological landscapes attract scientists and rockhounds from across the globe. These ancient treasures provide an incredible chance to go back in time and interact with rocks that date back to billions of years ago. Whether it's ocean floors that surged up due to continental collisions, or coming face-to-face with astonishing evidence of early life on the planet, the province's rocks are a unique chance to witness our planet's history.
Though there are far too many to name, Newfoundland and Labrador's staggering geology offers something for everyone. First, travel deep underground to learn Planet Earth's story from its very core at the Johnson GEO CENTRE. Get to know the volcanoes, earthquakes and natural forces that shaped our world from beneath its surface at this impressive geology centre, 85% of which lies underground and carved into half-billion-year-old rock.
Take the ferry to Bell Island and descend into an iron ore mine that operated from 1896 to 1966. The guided tour begins in the Bell Island Community Museum and will lead you straight down into what was once the world’s largest submarine iron ore mine. Learn about the antique tools of the mining trade and discover what it was like to have worked underground.
Walk on water at Gros Morne National Park, where a 1.2-billion-year-old ocean floor emerged when the continents collided during their drift. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a section of the ancient Appalachians known as the Long Range Mountains, which stretch the entire length of Newfoundland's west coast.
The barren Tablelands also tower over Gros Morne National Park, looking more like a scorched desert than a traditional Newfoundland landscape. This timeworn outcrop – an ultramafic rock known as peridotite – was forced up from the Earth's depths during a plate collision millions of years ago.
Witness 80% of our planet's geologic history from a single breathtaking view at Torngat Mountains National Park. In just one landscape, you can observe towering mountains, coastal cliffs, vegetated covers, deeply incised fjords and sheer cliffs that cut out perpendicularly from the rock's fabric.
Come face-to-face with some of the earliest evidence of life on the planet at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve , a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Embedded in Mistaken Point's tilted and cleaved landscape, trapped in ancient volcanic ash, you will find the world's oldest complex multi-cellular fossils, which date as far back as 565 million years. These extraordinary impressions are the missing link that Darwin was looking for to perfect his theory of evolution. Mistaken Point is the only place in the world where you can see such an ancient, diverse community of deep-sea floor organisms conserved in place. The fossils have been immaculately preserved for study, but can only be viewed while on an official tour.
A journey to the Manuels River will expose you to the world of the curious and unusual trilobite, a marine invertebrate that thrived in these waters hundreds of millions of years ago. You can view trilobite fossils scattered along the shale beds of the river's lower section. There are a variety of specimens of these prehistoric creatures on display, as well as guides to take you through the historic fossil sites.
Shortly after trilobites began roaming the seas, marine animals began to use food more efficiently, resulting in a dramatic swelling in the richness and diversity called the "Cambrian explosion." Along the rugged cape of Fortune Head Ecological Reserve lie the fossils that mark this fundamental change in life on Earth. Visitors can witness fossils that provide some of the earliest evidence of skeletal organisms on the planet from superbly exposed low cliffs.
On the west coast of Newfoundland, along the path of the Vikings, Table Point Ecological Reserve protects fossils and rocks that have set the standard by which other rock sequences of its age are compared. Within its ancient limestone exposures, a collection of remarkable fossils help illustrate the environment and provide one of the world's most interesting rock sequences of its kind.
In Stephenville you’ll find the 305-million-year-old petrified remains of the first mountain trees that produced seeds.
You don't need to be a scientist or a rockhound to enjoy the timeless history of this beautiful land. Whether you want to walk on billion-year-old ocean floors, soak in breathtaking ancient landscapes formed by colliding continents or examine some of the earliest evidence of life on the planet, Newfoundland and Labrador's spectacular, ancient geology has something for everyone.
Next travel deep underground for a guided tour to learn about our planet’s story from its very core at the GEO CENTRE. Take the rest of the day to tour exhibits, displays and trails.
Shuttle service (to and from boat tour), Boat tour, Box lunch, GEO CENTRE Day pass, Guided Tour, Gift.
The rich and diverse human history of Newfoundland and Labrador is unlike anywhere else in the world. This self-drive tour will guide you to a series of Historic Sites and UNESCO World Heritage Sites representing all the cultures who have lived here – from the oldest known burial mound in North America to some of the earliest European settlements and industries in North America.
Observe archaeologists uncovering the past before your very eyes!
Package includes 90-minute tour and return shuttle service (pickup at hotels and B&B's in St. John's)
*Just 25 minutes from St. John's.
* Offers are subject to availability. Taxes are extra. You may have to pre-book and/or mention
the promotion at the time of booking. Please check with the operator for more details.
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Torngat Mountains National ParkThe Inuit cultural experience. Fjords, mountains, and river valleys found within this park offer visitors life-altering experiences.
Woody PointEasy 4 -km return trail that showcases exceptional geology and unusual plants. A must-see and must-do first stop in Gros Morne National Park. Best explored with a Parks Canada guide.
DoverA walkway with steps leads right up to the site. From there you can see part of the fault line that marks the boundary between two ancient tectonic plates. Good view of Dover.
Sally's CoveFollow the trail to the shores of Western Brook Pond and spectacular cliffs of the Long Range Mountains. Bogs, forested ridges of the coastal lowlands, access for the boat tour and back county hiking.
Flower's CoveThe only access to surrounding communities in the 1900s. Thrombolites are primitive life forms, bun-shaped, & these unicellular critters left a good-sized trace of their existence in the fossil record
St. John'sPark surrounds the Johnson GEO CENTRE on Signal Hill Road. It features 8 looped walking trails covering 1.6 km, views of the city, and storyboards that cover geology and botany.
Portugal Cove SouthMistaken Point’s 580-560 million year old fossils represent the oldest & largest-known, complex, multicellular organisms in the world. Imagine the thrill of seeing these creatures for the first time
Portland CreekA natural rock archway created by tidal action. Parking and picnic area provided. Camping is not permitted.
St. LawrenceDiscover the heroic story of the St. Lawrence miners, who saved the lives of 186 sailors from shipwrecked American WWII U-boats. Enjoy a guided tour and picnic lunch at a shipwreck site.
Pynn's BrookEnjoy a self-guided tour of our gardens, described as “Newfoundland Informal”, which incorporates native and non-native plants. Also a hot spot for birds with over 80 sighted species.
Manuels, Conception Bay SouthAncient trilobite fossils, interactive exhibits, stream table, accessible walking trails, geocaching, birdwatching, guided trail tours, gift store, café with Lunch on the Rocks, rainy day activities
Battle HarbourA restored salt fish premises and community, Battle Harbour is a designated National Historic Site. Guided walking & boat tours to see whales, icebergs & resettled communities. Gourmet quality dining.
BonavistaOne of the most photographed sites in the province– experience 19th- century lightkeeping life in this 1843 lighthouse. A great spot to see whales, icebergs, and puffins.
Portugal Cove SouthRegister here to engage a guided tours to the Mistaken Point UNESCO World Heritage site. The Centre interprets Mistaken Point fossils, Cape Race light station, shipwrecks & local ecology.
Grand Falls-WindsorThis network of trails and bridges can be accessed and enjoyed by all ages and abilities. Plants, birds, and other wildlife are abundant.
StephenvilleAn easy, scenic 16.5-km signed walk through the community of Stephenville. Also passes through the 20-acre Blanche Brook Park and a 300,000,000-year-old fossil site.+1 (709) 643 4806
Woody PointTrail provides beautiful vistas as it meanders through the hills of Woody Point, passes through the downtown core, and saunters past the iconic lighthouse ending on the tranquil beaches of Woody Point
Fleur de LysOnly known soapstone outcrop in the northern hemisphere that preserves evidence of Palaeo-Eskimo vessel carvings dating back 1,600 years.
StephenvilleJust a few hundred feet from the highway are petrified trees, samples of the first seed- producing trees that grew on mountain slopes more than 305 million years ago.+1 (709) 649 2038
Baie VerteA “tunnel” displays and illustrates the life of a miner from the late 1800s to present day. The Norm Peters Room Exhibit is named for a prospector many years ago from our neck of the woods.