The remoteness of the Trans-Labrador Highway challenges drivers from around the world. To survive this epic roadtrip into unparalleled wilderness, one must be as capable of dealing with mechanical faults as with persistent bloodsucking insects, bone-soaking rain, and moose hell-bent on auto-suicide.
For much of the 1185km you can feel like the Last Great Driver on Earth.
Length of Trip : About a 5-8 days return. It all depends on weather, road conditions, construction, and your pace. The guide suggests 8 hours from Baie Comeau to Labrador City, 6 hours then to Goose Bay and 8 hours to Blanc Sablon. Factor in an additional 1-2 hours per day for rest stops, wildlife viewing, construction delays, and bad weather.
Cost : Gas, accommodation and meals. Being this remote, things can be a little pricier.
Best time to go : July and August, although things get going May to September.
Wheelchair friendly : Yes
Family friendly : Yes (I hope your kids like being in the car)
Where to eat : Although rest stops are few and far between, most of the small towns and villages you pass through have a restaurant, usually attached to the local hotel. Here’s a list of the places I visited: Port Hope Simpson: Alexis Hotel – wonderful service from this family-run hotel/restaurant. Port Hope Simpson: Campbell’s Place. Freshly baked bread with partidgeberry jam = great breakfast! Forteau: Seaview Cottage and Restaurant. Staple diner fair. Just ask for “da restaurant!” Happy Valley-Goose Bay: Bentley’s Beer Market (97 Hamilton River Rd). Good views, cheap pool tables, a friendly server who looked like Samwell Tarly from Game of Thrones, and a good place to try cod tongues for the first time. There’s a Jungle Jim’s in the Hotel North II. Load up on the traditional jigs dinner buffet at Mariner’s Galley just outside the airport. Red Bay: Whaler’s Restaurant & Cabins: Traditional diner fare, good soup for upset tummies! Labrador City: I drove around for a while looking for something different before settling on the Pizza Delight chain next door to the Northern Inn motel. It was actually pretty good! They let you grill your own bread, and you can go heavy on the garlic butter. Big portions for the price too. Also tried the Jungle Jim’s in the mall for lunch. Go for the burgers over the healthy looking stuff (which isn’t nearly as good). Churchill Falls: Midway Restaurant is your only option, located in the community centre/hotel/supermarket. Top up on poutine before or after your underground tour.
Official Site : Download the essential driving guide at www.tourismlabrador.com
Where to Stay : There are hotels and B&B’s at various communities along the route. Consult the driving guide for more info. Here’s a list of some of the places I stayed at: Forteau: Grenfell Louis A Hall B&B (also known as “Peggy’s”). A former Grenfell hospital with a warm, homely and historical feel. Wonderful clean rooms, outstanding breakfasts, and a host aka Peggy who goes the extra mile (always important on an epic road trip!) Port Hope Simpson: Alexis Hotel – Clean, comfortable, and wonderful service in this family owned hotel/restaurant. Labrador City: Northern Inn and Suites – clean, comfortable centrally located motel next door to the Pizza Delight. Red Bay: Whaler’s Restaurant & Cabins: Located in Red Bay and include a restaurant, gift shop and several cottages located throughout the Community of Red Bay; all of which overlook the ocean.
Getting There : You can visit Central Labrador via route 389/500 starting at Baie Comeau Quebec (Via 389), traveling north east to Route 500 to Labrador City and then east past Churchill Falls towards Goose Bay.
Note from Robin : Although conditions would be ideal for a rental car, most rental agreements in Newfoundland specifically prohibit taking the car on the Trans-Labrador Highway. So there goes that idea. The bugs are ferocious. You will want to camp wherever there is a breeze, and have a good supply of Deet. There is no cell phone service, but you can borrow a free satellite phone for use between Labrador City, Goose Bay and Port Hope Simpson, with drop-offs at hotels along the way.
Red Bay: End of Gravel
A scene for 1100km
Checking out the Wonderstrand
Crossing Time Zones
I brake for bugs
With many a winding turn
Typical gas station
Check your fuel!
Site Tour of Churchill Falls
Day One: Labrador City
Written in the dust