Have you ever thought, hmm it would be cool to walk on Earth's mantle? Well, even if you've never thought that specific thought, in Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park you can do just that!
The Tablelands were formed when two of Earth's tectonic plates collided many years ago, exposing its mantle. The very distinct red and barren landscape is hard to miss! It's definitely not the type of landscape that comes to mind when you think of Newfoundland or Canada.
The Tablelands trail itself is a short and easy one. From the parking lot to the platform, it's a distance of 4 km return, and takes roughly 1.5 hours to complete. It's mostly flat and paved with gravel or wooden boardwalk panels. It ends at a platform with an amazing view of the Winter House Brook Canyon which was carved out by a glacier!
You can keep exploring off-trail past the platform. If you do choose to do that, bring some good shoes as it is a very rocky landscape, and it's quite easy to roll your ankles!
Because the soil here is so deprived of nutrients, not much manages to grow here, but I did enjoy spotting the few wildflowers that were able to bloom in this environment. Did you know that Newfoundland's official flower is the pitcher plant? That's right - the plant that attracts and traps its prey in its jug-like vessel! The pitcher plant can be found at The Tablelands, so keep your eyes open for them if you decide to give this place a visit.
The Tablelands is definitely worth a visit if you're visiting Gros Morne National Park. In fact, because it is one of the rare visible examples of continental drift, it's one of the reasons why the park was given its UNESCO World Heritage Site status!
Want to get here?
Getting here: You'll have to get here by car!
Address: Route 431, Trout River Road, Woody Point
Admission: Admission to Gros Morne National Park is free in 2017 thanks to Canada 150! Normally, you will need to purchase an entry pass to get into the park.
Estimated time to spend here: Around 1.5 hours, longer if you explore off the trail.
Tours: Parks Canada has a number of guided tours that you can take advantage of. Click here to visit their site for updated tour information. If, like me, you can't make your itinerary work to join one of the guided tours, you can borrow a device from the nearby Discovery Centre (or download an app) to have a virtual guide named Fred point out some of the interesting spots on the trail. Fred is a hoot. He made me crack up a couple times with his jokes!
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