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 eastern Canada 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 Western Brook Pond, so you can be better prepared when you’re ready to go there and perhaps even have a much better time than we did (even though we did enjoy ourselves for the most part).
There are a lot of things we learned about Western Brook Pond after the fact that we’ll apply if we happen to next time, so let’s get into this.
The 10 things you need to know about Western Brook Pond before you go:
- You need to hire a guide to hike to the main area of Western Brook Pond.
- You can hike to this spot without a guide, but you need to get approval first.
- There is another hike called “The Long Range Traverse” and it goes on the top of the Fjords at Western Brook Pond.
- To explore the Fjords by boat, requires you first get to the dock and that’s requires 2 kilometer walk (one way).
- You need to reserve a spot on the boat before going (there are usually long lines year round).
- The boat ride through Western Brook Pond is about 5 hours long (totally worth it).
- The boat docking area of Western Brook Pond provides food.
- It can get really cold on the boat ride, so if you go there, be prepared.
- Hiking the other Fjords is nearly impossible unless you go hire the guide and go the main route.
- Taking the boat ride might be more than enough for most people to see the beauty of Western Brook Pond.
These are the 10 lessons I learned from visiting Western Brook Pond and I will explain them in detail coming up in this article, to help you better prepare in case you’re planning a trip there. Let’s start:
1) Details about hiring the guide and hiking to the main spot in Western Brook Pond:
There is no fee to actually hike the trail up to Western Brook Pond’s main iconic spot, but there is a requirement to hire a guide who will lead you there. The cost? $250 (CAN) per person!
And if you don’t know which spot I am referring to, let me explain:
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).
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 if you plan to really do this hike:
- Reserve the boat ride AND guide in advance.
- Be prepared to pay upwards of $300 (CAN) per person to go.
So keep this in mind as I did not see this info on the sites I was researching.
2) You can hike up Western Brook Pond without a guide, but be prepared for red tape (regulations):
To do the hike without a guide, you need to reserve it many weeks in advance and basically prove that you’re a competent hiker who basically:
- Understands directions.
- 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.
I used to think this was money grab, but when I started hiking more remote spots around the world like Coyote Gulch, my position on that changed. In that spot, I wish I had a guide, because getting lost was easy.
That experience reminded me of Western Brook Pond and how getting a guide would be worth it if I ever return, but I still wouldn’t charge so much for it though.
3) A less talked about hike in Western Brook Pond is 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) Do the boat tour, but be prepared to walk 2 kilometers to the dock first:
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 boa (not to mention the walk back to your car afterwards).
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.
Just keep this in mind before you go.
My buddies and I were unprepared and had to do this walk twice.
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 (this is the reason we had to walk on the 2 KM path twice).
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 ride in Western Brook Pond.
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.
There are inner areas on the boat to walk into if you get cold, but because crowds can fill up the boat quickly, you may not always have space.
My advice if you don’t already have a warm winter jacket is to get one and if you want suggestions, the REI Co Op Stormhenge 850 Down Jacket is a top recommendation (speaking from experience).
I wish I had it when I went there, but I only ended up getting it a few months after this road trip. It definitely would have kept me very warm on this boat ride.
9) Thinking of hiking the Fjords in secret? Think again:
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.
I actually considered going around the dock and looking for some path to hike the Fjords myself. Looking at it from a distance, I thought how hard could it be?
Well after going on the boat ride, I saw it was nearly impossible, at least without proper gear and experience. Have a look at the image on the right:
There aren’t even any beaches in the gorge and the mountains are so steep, that it is impossible to hike. This is what MOST of the Fjords at Western Brook Pond look like.
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!
What should you wear and bring if you’re hiking to the Western Brook Pond overlook?
If you’re just doing the regular tour (nothing overnight, just a day hike), expect the trip to be about half a day and here’s several products that’ll make that hike way more enjoyable and easier:
More questions about Western Brook Pond you may hear out there:
How long is the Western Brook Pond hike?
3-4 kilometers one way and it is strenuous to reach the top and get to the overlook.
Can you swim in Western Brook Pond?
Not officially inside as there are no beaches since the landscape is nearly impossible to disembark on from a boat, but outside Western Brook Pond there are official beaches.
Are there fish in Western Brook Pond?
Yes there are many different types of fish in Western Brook Pond.
Can you kayak Western Brook Pond?
According to some sources yes, but due to the strong winds in this area, kayaking in Western Brook Pond can be highly dangerous. It’s better to take the boat tour instead.
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 eastern Canada road trip there with my friends.
4) I would also recommend reading up on what other locals and tourists who have explored this place recommend doing. You can get a lot of that on this Tripadvisor page on Western Brook Pond.
I can tell you those 2 areas were spectacular, especially if you love coastlines with beautiful mountains and views!