From Port aux Basques to Gros Morne

Southwest Newfoundland has an intriguing mix of attractions and events, and there's lots to distract you along the road to Gros Morne. There's the granite solidity of the Rose Blanche lighthouse, a summer theatre festival, great birdwatching and salmon angling, and an ancient French homeland.

Day 1 - Off the Ferry, to the Lighthouse

After exiting the ferry at Port aux Basques head for the Visitor Information Centre to find out what there is to see and do in southwest Newfoundland. Then drop by the Railway Heritage Museum for the story of the "Newfie Bullet," the narrow gauge train that ran across Newfoundland from 1898-1988.

Forty-five minutes east of Port aux Basques on Route 470 is Rose Blanche Lighthouse, one of the last granite lighthouses on the eastern seaboard. In nearby Isle aux Morts, learn the inspiring story of the Harvey family who rescued people from two stricken ships in the 19th century.

Head back through Port aux Basques to J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park to look for the endangered Piping Plover. Be careful where you walk along this lovely sandy beach.

Southwest Newfoundland is an important stop for migrating birds. Off Route 1 on Route 406, there's an interpretation centre and the Wetlands Trail where you can spot both migrators and resident birds.

Overnight in the Codroy Valley.

Day 2 - The Americans & the French

This morning, drive out to Cape Anguille, the westernmost point on the Island of Newfoundland. There's a lighthouse here, plus beaches and an estuary to explore.

While heading North on Route 1, be sure to enjoy a side trip to the coast (Routes 405 or 406). When you reach Route 490, take a left and head past the estuary at Stephenville Crossing and on to Stephenville, former site of a U.S. Air Force Base. Check to see if the theatre festival is on.

Stephenville is the gateway to the Port au Port Peninsula, the traditional home of French-speaking Newfoundlanders. For 400 years, France ruled The French Shore, and many seasonal fishermen settled here. The area is famous for fiddle music, so make time for a concert or festival.

The biggest - literally - attraction on the peninsula is Our Lady of Mercy Church in Port au Port West. This is the largest wooden structure in the province and an impressive display of the community spirit that built it in the early 20th century.

Overnight on the peninsula or in Stephenville.

Day 3 - City by the Bay

Return to Route 1 and travel on to Corner Brook. This city of 25,000 is the second largest in the province. Its story is told at the Corner Brook Museum and Archives.

One of the highlights of the city is the Captain James Cook Historic Site. Before Cook became a famous South Seas explorer, he charted parts of the Newfoundland coast, including the area around Corner Brook and the Bay of Islands, which Cook's statue overlooks.

Highways 450 and 440 reach out into the small communities on the south and north sides of Humber Arm. Blow Me Down Provincial Park on the south shore has a fairly steep hiking trail, the Governor's Staircase, that provides a panoramic view of the bay. If going on the water is more to your liking, there are tour boat operators in Cox's Cove on the north side and another in Curling.

Just a few minutes east of the city, Marble Mountain offers year-round recreation. In summer, try the zipline, and in winter, it's downhill skiing and snowboarding. Other possibilities in the area including hiking, cycling, and caving.

Overnight in the city or nearby.

Day 4 - Beach, Picnic & Golf

North of Corner Brook, Pasadena makes a pleasant stop with its beach and picnic area. Then it's off to Deer Lake for a round of golf. Just outside the town is the Newfoundland Insectarium which has both live and preserved insects - and a butterfly pavilion that's not to be missed.

A short drive now takes you to Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a place that specializes in making people forget there is such a thing as worry. Where you spend the night depends on what you want to do tomorrow. Perhaps start with the southern part of the park, where you can walk on the Tablelands and soak up the seaside charms of Woody Point. If it's walking in the Tablelands and soaking up the seaside charms of Woody Point, then the southern part of the park is perfect. If you're going further north, drive on to Rocky Harbour or Norris Point.