Thinking of visiting Western Brook Pond? I did and I loved it, but read this article before you plan your trip, because there’s 10 things you need to know which I wish I did prior to going there.
Some of these 10 things were unpleasant surprises for myself and the friends I went with and we had to adjust the then east coast road trip we did, and in ways we weren’t exactly happy with.
In the process, critical things we wished to see in this location (like the iconic view from a top the Western Brook Pond hike which everyone wants to do) couldn’t be done, or would cost too much to do and this was not very well explained in the sites we researched this topic on, before we went.
Thus after the trip and knowing what we now know, I’ll share all the surprising info I learned about this place, so you can better prepare when you’re ready to go there and perhaps even have a much better time than we did!
There are a lot of things we learned about this place that we’ll apply if we happen to next time, but all in all, there are overall:
10 things you need to know about Western Brook Pond before you go:
While the whole experience was awesome (I’ll show you pictures), I do wish I knew the following 10 things before I went:
1) Want to hike to the most popular scenic spot in Western Brook Pond (called the Fjord)?
Well it’s going to cost you a lot of money.
Western Brook Pond, and Gros Morne National Park in general have 1 iconic spot everyone wants to visit and that is the scenic hike that takes you to the overlook which allows you to see basically the whole pond.
You know, the one which looks like you’re in Norway…
Here is the Fjord in Western Brook Pond everyone wants to see in case you’re unfamiliar with the spot.
Well what we learned was that you could not get to that spot unless you hired a special guide. And that guide costs $250 Canadian dollars PER person to hire.
The fact that my group consisted of 3 people meant we could have to pay (in advance by the way) the guide $750 in order to do it. Now this was Canadian dollars, but it would still be about $500 for all 3 of us, which at this point was too much AND we had to schedule this hike a day or more ahead of time.
Plus, you can only start that hike IF you get on the boat tour, which itself also cost us $65 Canadian dollars per person.
So keep this in mind as I did not see this info on the sites I was researching.
2) Can you do the Western Brook Pond hike without a guide? Yes, but there’s red tape.
You need to reserve your hike many weeks in advance and basically prove that you’re a competent hiker who understands directions, compasses, how to survive, how to navigate and all those other sorts of things, including how to deal with wildlife, particularly the mass amounts of moose that live there (they are very dangerous).
Now going alone has it’s own set of fees involved, and I don’t know the specific numbers but keep in mind that you do need to experienced to do the hike, without a guide.
3) The scenic site at Western Brook Pond isn’t the only place you can hike through (There is one called the Long Range Traverse).
While Gros Morne National park itself has MANY hiking areas, the specific region surrounding Western Brook Pond has it’s own iconic hikes, including a trail to the actual scenic spot, a hike behind it called the Long Range Traverse which another popular one.
There is also another iconic one that takes you a top the very cliffs of Western Brook Pond.
Yes, this means you can literally camp out on TOP of the pond and get some great views. But again, these hikes require either a guide or special permission to do.
4) Most people do the boat tour, but to reach the dock, you need to walk 2 KM there.
This is actually pretty common information, but for anyone who has injuries or is handicapped, you need to consider this extra walk before you actually reach the dock and the boat.
The hike from the parking lot to the dock at Western Brook Pond is very easy to navigate, but it’s the distance that can be annoying if you’re already tired or injured.
5) Do the boat tour, but plan it in advance (reserve it!).
The boat tour is a MUST (I did it), but I didn’t know the number to reserve the tour until we got there.
You can do the tour without a reservation but that will only work out if there aren’t enough people already reserved to fill up the boat. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the next tour starts.
Call in advance and make a registration. Here is the Google business number and location for it.
6) Expect to spend at least 5 hours on the boat.
It takes about an hour to reach the dock, another hour to wait for everyone and get on the boat, 2 hours for the tour to get done and another hour to get back, and being that the whole region has other places to see, set aside 5 hours on this and plan your other hikes/trips accordingly.
7) No need to bring food, the dock has it.
The dock doesn’t just have a marina with boats, it also has some fast foods and a cafeteria where you can eat. I don’t recommend bringing food on the boat. Enter it on a full stomach.
8) If you go on the boat tour when it’s cold, wear really warm clothing.
I went there in September, a season where in that region, it gets to be around 50 degrees Fahrenheit at best, but at night that place can fall to below 0. Either way, know that while you are on the boat, that it does get windy and VERY cold, like it did when we were there.
9) In case you’re wondering, most of the hiking in the gorge is impossible.
There are some truly beautiful areas on the shore, but the landscape of this place is such that there’s almost no way one can hike through it. There aren’t even any beaches in the gorge and the mountains are so steep, that it is impossible to hike.
Other than the area you disembark on when you do the hike, or do the one on top of the gorge, there’s no way to actually get down to the gorge and hike there, even though it looks possible.
Plus it would be extremely dangerous if you tried.
10) The boat ride alone is more than enough for most people (it’s beautiful!).
I love hiking. I was strongly considering paying the extra money to hire a guide to do the scenic hike and get my picture taken there, but despite the setbacks and not being able to do it, I was extremely pleased with what I saw through the boat tour alone.
There are some seriously incredible sights in Western Brook Pond and the gorge itself that the boat goes through and I assure you that the scenes along there (such as the waterfalls that literally fall of the top of the gorge in many areas) make the boat tour enough.
So if you go there hoping to do the scenic route but perhaps can’t afford it, believe me, you’ll have more than enough beautiful pictures to take as it is, but now that you know about all these 10 things, you are more likely to have a even more enjoyable time than I did!
If you go there, do tell what you though of this amazing place below!
Wondering what else there is to do around Western Brook Pond?
1) You can explore the greater Gros Morne National Park, including Tablelands. Here’s 10 things to do while in Gros Morne National Park.
2) You can head further north to St. Anthony’s which is the largest town north of New Foundland.
If you have time to head east along the only road there, you will also be able to see icebergs and the official airport of New Foundland, which is St. Johns, a place I wish I knew about prior to visiting this province, because the Ferry ride there from Nova Scotia was very unpleasant (both ways) when I did an east coast road trip there with my friends.
I can tell you those 2 areas were spectacular, especially if you love coastlines with beautiful mountains and views!