America has the Grand Canyon.
Nepal has Everest.
What about Newfoundland and Labrador?
This was the question we posed to our readers, inviting nominations for the natural attractions they felt would be worthy of such an esteemed title. After being inundated with nominations for potential wonders via mail and online, Downhome staff selected 17 entries for public voting. The top vote getters will be revealed as the 7 Wonders of Newfoundland and Labrador in the July issue of Downhome magazine, along with several honorable mentions brought forth during the nomination process. Voting takes place online at www.downhomelife.com/7wonders from April 14 until May 6. Read on for short descriptions of each of our 17 finalists.
The barren, brown Tablelands stand out amid the lush greenery of Gros Morne National Park. The area owes its unique appearance to a material originating in the earth’s mantle, forced to the surface during plate collision millions of years ago.
Mistaken Point Fossils
Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve is located near Portugal Cove South on the Avalon Peninsula. Thousands of fossils embedded in the rocks here are the oldest biologically complex organisms found anywhere on earth.
Many years ago, the land above two side-by-side sea caves collapsed near the tip of the Bonavista Peninsula, forming the attraction ominously named “The Dungeon.” Sea water rushing through the two channels is a sight to behold.
One of Newfoundland and Labrador’s major seabird colonies, Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve is home to 24,000 Northern gannets, 20,000 black-legged kittiwakes, 20,000 common murres and other species. Many of the seabirds nest on a sea stack close to shore, making for spectacular, close-up views.
In the heart of Gros Morne National Park is Western Brook Pond, a land-locked freshwater fiord carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. Stunning waterfalls cascade down over 600-metre cliffs into the water below.
Part of the Humber River, Big Falls is the centrepiece of Sir Richard Squires Memorial Provincial Park. Here, salmon leap out of the water in an attempt to reach the top of the falls. According to the Atlantic Salmon Federation, it is “usually the best single location in North America for watching Atlantic salmon leap a waterfall.”
Located along the coast between the Goulds and Bay Bulls on the Avalon Peninsula, the spout is a wave-powered geyser and a popular natural attraction that draws hikers to this section of the East Coast Trail.
Fortune Head Fossils
At the Fortune Head Ecological Reserve, located on the Burin Peninsula, 541 million-year-old rocks mark the geologic time boundary between the Precambrian era and the Cambrian period. Fossils embedded in those ancient rocks illustrate the beginning of increasing biological diversity of life on Earth.
While a series of curious holes in the cliffs in the Bonavista Bay community of Keels are nicknamed the “Devil’s Footprints,” the scenic spot does not appear to be Satan’s old stomping grounds. Instead, the cavities were created when limestone nodules in the rock weathered away.
The Man in the Mountain
While rough outlines of people, animals and objects are spied in many rocks and cliffs throughout the province, the unmistakable, chiselled face of the so-called Man in the Mountain, overlooking the Humber River near Corner Brook, is especially uncanny.
North of Cartwright, Labrador lies the start of the magnificent Wonderstrands, a stretch of coastline that looks like a California oasis. Measuring more than 50 km in length, relatively few have walked along this sandy beach, which is allegedly celebrated in Viking sagas dating back more than 1,000 years.
Thrombolites are prehistoric "living" rocks and are some of the earth’s most primitive life forms. Extremely rare structures, they have been found only in Flower’s Cove on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, and in western Australia.
Just outside Gros Morne National Park, near Wiltondale, is the Lomond Sinkhole - a massive crater measuring approximately 30 metres deep and 45 metres wide. A waterfall cascades into the sinkhole and disappears into an underground drainage system.
Limestone Rock Formations
Over the years erosion has carved spectacular shapes in the limestone cliffs located along The Gravels Walking Trail, an easy 3.5 kilometre (one-way) hike on the Port au Port Peninsula.
Burnt Cape is one of the most important botanical sites in the province. Located near the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, the unique landscape combined with cold climate conditions and calcium-rich soil allow the growth of several rare northern plant species - and is the only known place in the world where the Burnt Cape Cinquefoil grows.
Salmon are determined creatures, climbing ladders and leaping waterfalls to reach their spawning grounds. On the eastern shores of the Great Northern Peninsula near Roddickton-Bide Arm, however, they swim through an 800-metre limestone tunnel to get to their destination - the only known place in the world where this occurs.