Travel

Essential Itinerary: Winter in Western Newfoundland

A three-day guide on where to stay, what to do and how to make the most out of your time exploring Western Newfoundland 

  • Sep 04, 2023
  • 729 words
  • 3 minutes
Western Newfoundland is the perfect place to explore by snowmobile. (Photo: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism ©Dru Kennedy)
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Adventurous, accessible and, well, just plain fun — it’s easy to be smitten with winter in western Newfoundland, studded as it is with untouched powdery expanses, ancient glacier-carved fiords, quiet trails, snow-covered mountains and some of the best winter pursuits you’ll find anywhere. But jaw-dropping good looks aside, the appeal runs deeper. The wit and warmth of the people is sure to tickle, delight and lift you up, and there’s activity to suit all skills. Corner Brook, a mountain-ringed paper-mill town at the base of the Great Northern Peninsula, excels with choose-your-own adventures practically on its doorstep. Here’s a three-day guide, including a day trip to Gros Morne National Park to snowshoe the Tablelands.

Shelley snowshoeing the Tablelands. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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Snowmobile riders. Shelley in red with a fellow rider. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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Day 1 Snowmobile and spa

9 a.m. | Fresh powder on Mondays

Snap on a full-face helmet (Super Dave Osborne daredevil vibes!) and spend a morning zipping groomed snowmobile trails from Hughes Brook into North Arm Mountain with veteran guide Darren Park of Four Seasons Tours, powering past frozen hayfields and ponds, eyes peeled for moose tracks and bald eagles. Hungry? A mid-tour break at Park’s lakeside cabin wows with roasted capelin, moose sausage, smoked mackerel and toutons, all enjoyed beside a toasty woodstove.

Having fun on the snowmobile. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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The dashboard of a snowmobile. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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3:30 p.m. | Zen cycle

Après-skidoo, keep the bliss going, soaking in Marble Inn Resort’s Harmonia Saltwater Spa & Healing Centre’s thermal cycle. The circuit includes a dreamy labradorite steam room, halo salt therapy, a dry sauna, a saltwater pool and icy plunges.

7:30 p.m. | Wild bolognas!

For dinner, pop into buzzing Best Coast Restaurant, connected to Boomstick Brewing and the swish 36-room Hew & Draw hotel, the trifecta that three years ago sparked a downtown renaissance. Be sure to try a Wild Bologna IPA — it’s fun to say and, like most things here, comes with a story (it’s named for a local sasquatch.)

Enjoying a drink at Boomstick Brewing and Hew and Draw Restaurant. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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Marble Inn Resort’s Harmonia Saltwater Spa & Healing Centre. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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Day 2 adventure day

9:30 a.m. | Character and slippers

Score hand-knit slippers and peak fun browsing the Newfoundland Emporium, three character-rich floors of woolens, maps, jams, records and 5,000-plus books! “Every captain who ever got off a ship thinks he can write a book,” says Dave LeDrew, 88, the spoons-playing raconteur who has run the Broadway business since 1989. “We like to say we’re the biggest Newfoundland store. No one’s ever argued the point.” 

noon | Lunch & learn

Fuel up and find life advice (word searches too) splashed playfully on the walls at Corner Brook’s first board-game café. Lunch at Sugar & Dice is first-rate, with menu items like carrot-ginger soup, strawberry dream smoothies and partridgeberry and coconut scones. 

2 p.m. | Blow me down

Cheeky humour deliciously reigns everywhere — even cross-country skiing 42 kilometres of glorious, groomed trails at Blow Me Down Trails on the outskirts of Corner Brook. Look for the life-size mirror proclaiming “Newfoundland’s best skier.” It’s Instagram gold.

A selfie stop while cross-country skiing. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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Shelley cross-country skiing in the Tablelands. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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Day 3 Gros Morne winter 

8 a.m. | Chase the horizon

Rise early to drive 90 minutes north to Gros Morne National Park to meet Tour Gros Morne for a surreal day snowshoeing the Tablelands, one of the few places you can walk the Earth’s mantle. The guided adventure begins at mountainside-chic Gros Morne Inn and treks through this barren, bizarre landscape, where toxic metals in the rocks mean little grows and the slant of gnarled trees tells which way the wind blows. The walk is dreamlike, with few landmarks to provide perspective and views eventually opening over Bonne Bay, the deep, double-armed fiord. The journey ends at the inn with a chef serving lobster bisque, scallops and fried moose at a fireside, al fresco “mug-up.”

Boil up after snowshoeing. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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Toutons (a type of pancake) on a snowmobile break. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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7 p.m. | Boatloads of fun

Newfound Sushi, a local staple for date nights and girlfriend catch-ups, satisfies your Japanese food cravings. Order the “dory load” of sushi (yes, it comes in a miniature dory), and don’t skip dessert. The black sesame ice cream is heaven-sent.

Where to stay

Once digs for visiting paper mill brass, history is a welcome guest at the century-old Glynmill Inn, a Corner Brook icon that has hosted countless celebrations. Linger over breakfast in the Carriage Room with its tall windows, glimpsing grounds where you can stretch your legs exploring tree-lined walking trails and the pond.

Newfoundland Corner Brook Emporium owner. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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Exploring Newfoundland's Tablelands. (Photo courtesy Shelley Cameron-McCarron)
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