Take a rafting tour and paddle down the Exploits River.
The Exploits Valley begins in the town of Badger. In Badger, take Route 370 south along the Exploits River to Buchans and the island’s second-largest lake, Red Indian Lake. Historically, this area was the winter territory for the now-extinct Beothuk people. This area is also known for its wilderness experiences, and adventure guides will happily arrange backcountry tours for you.
The Exploits is the longest river on the island and hosts the king of game fish – salmon – with as many as 30,000 making their way upstream to spawn every year. Head back to the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1) to Grand Falls-Windsor, where the Salmonid Interpretation Centre tells all about this remarkable (and great tasting) fighter. On a rafting tour, you’ll paddle down the Exploits River, navigating the waves at Badger Chute or enjoying a relaxed float downstream. More experienced rafters can tackle the rapids of the Exploits Canyon.
In Grand Falls-Windsor, visit the Mary March Provincial Museum, which explores the 5,000-year human history of the area.
In Grand Falls-Windsor, you’ll find the Mary March Provincial Museum, which explores the 5,000-year human history of the area, including the Beothuk. Walk one of the town’s trails, like the Corduroy Brook Nature Trail, and visit the Nature Centre to learn about the wetlands and its flora and fauna. If you’re visiting in winter, stick around for the Mid Winter Bivver. This annual festival includes snowmobile trail rides, gourmet trail lunches, night rides and stargazing, dinners with wine pairings, and live entertainment.
Nearby Bishop’s Falls, formerly a major railway hub, is home to one of the longest train trestle bridges in the country. The Trestle stretches across the Exploits and now carries hikers and ATVs instead of trains, but its almost 300-metre length gives an indication of why this river divided the island for centuries. In the winter months, this bridge is popular for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. For a sweeping view of the river, head to its riverbanks and the Fallsview Municipal Park.
Enjoy horseback riding at Brookdale Country Inn in Bishop’s Falls.
This area also has a number of farm experiences, including horseback riding at Brookdale Country Inn and even a petting zoo at Green Valley Farms. In the fall, visit the pumpkin patch and the corn maze.
Below Bishop’s Falls, the Exploits River empties into the Bay of Exploits, a picturesque area dotted with islands. Route 350 takes you to the western side of the bay and Botwood, which in the 1930s was a refuelling stop for the first transatlantic air passenger service. To learn more about the era’s rich aviation history, visit the Flying Boat Museum housed inside a former WWII anti-submarine base at the Botwood Heritage Park, Museum, and Archive. Further delve into Botwood’s past by admiring the 13+ artistic murals located throughout town. Each one chronicles important moments in time, and amongst them is the largest mural in Atlantic Canada at 9,000 square feet. Stretch your legs on the Botwood Walking Trails and soak up the seaside views – on the Killick Island Walk you’ll even see WWII bunkers.
In Point Leamington, climb to the summit of Rowsell’s Hill Nature Trail for views over the whole area.
North of Botwood, the road forks at Northern Arm. Route 350 continues to Leading Tickles while Route 352 takes the scenic road along the Bay of Exploits to Fortune Harbour. The road follows the coast, with ample iceberg viewing opportunities in the spring. Nature is in big supply around these parts, and in Point Leamington, climb to the summit of Rowsell’s Hill Nature Trail for views over the whole area. In Fortune Harbour, you can join a kayaking tour around the coast, including a paddle to resettled Exploits Island.
Back towards the Trans-Canada Highway, take Route 351 to Norris Arm and explore the historical exhibits at the Fox Moth Museum. The Norris Arm Heritage & Arts Centre is also here, with regular events like dinner theatre and musical shows. At the JAS Silks Studio, learn about silk painting, and silk and block printing.
Throughout the Exploits Valley – from Badger to Norris Arm and everywhere in between – you’ll find a wide variety of outdoor adventures on both land and water, ranging from fishing and hiking to wilderness lodges, snowmobile and ATV tours, sea kayaking, canoeing, and iceberg viewing.
Road Trip Tips:
Please check exact directions and road conditions before you start each road trip. Visit www.511nl.ca for current road conditions.
Distances are estimates and for guidance only. Routes can be taken as is or in reverse order.