The Caribou Trail (148 km)
For a complete change of scenery, you can leave the coast and drive through the interior. The aptly named Caribou Trail takes you to Burgeo and the stunning Sandbanks Provincial Park, a beautiful sandy beach in an area popular with sea kayakers. From here you can take the ferry to nearby Ramea, and the coastal boat to communities further East along the South Coast, Grey River and Francois, with connections to Gaultois and Hermitage.
A few kilometres north of Barachois Pond Provincial Park, Route 1 meets Route 480. Turn onto this highway for a trip to Burgeo and Sandbanks Provincial Park on Newfoundland's southwest coast.
The first 35 kilometres of the drive wind through river valleys and dense evergreen forest that cover the Long Range Mountains. Where the highway meets a woods road, the pavement heads south and the landscape begins to change. The trees thin out and eventually fade away to reveal barrens strewn with uncounted boulders called glacial erratics that were dropped where they sit today by glaciers that covered this area until 11,000 years ago. It's a wild land dotted with deep blue ponds. Keep an eye out for caribou along this southern portion of the two-hour drive.
Burgeo is one of the largest towns on the south coast, with a population of just over 1,200. The name was originally Portuguese "virgio," but evolved over the years. Settled by Europeans in the 1700s, Burgeo has grown into a major service and transportation centre for the western half of the south coast. The town is located on an island connected to the main portion of Newfoundland by a short causeway. From here you can hop an eastbound ferry to the island community of Ramea and the isolated outport of Grey River, or a separate coastal boat (with no automobile capacity) to Grey River and isolated Francois. Once a week this coastal boat goes to McCallum and Hermitage on Route 364. And on the second Tuesday of the month is makes an extra trip. Check the schedules before you go.
With its four, lovely sandy beaches, Sandbanks Provincial Park is the main attraction in the area. Sand dunes are relatively rare in Newfoundland, but you'll find them here. These fragile dunes are covered by grass and beach pea, and are easily eroded, so please stay on the trails. Plants and animals that tolerate both fresh and salt water are found here. Salt water flows up Grepsey Brook to Heron Pond at high tide, while the reverse happens at low tide. The park is also a good place to see shorebirds like sandpipers and waterfowl such as ducks and geese. Sea kayakers will find this an excellent place to dip their paddle.