My Newfoundland Winter Bucket List
9 Things to Do in Newfoundland in Winter
It’s no secret that me and winter in Newfoundland don’t always get along. It can be wet, cold, sloppy, and grey. Days are short. Sidewalks disappear. The most common weather pattern is snow turning to freezing rain, turning to rain, and then a freeze so you’ve got to time your shoveling just right.
But there are also a ton of awesome things to do in Newfoundland in winter. So in my effort to embrace more positivity in 2018 I’m putting together a winter bucket list of outdoor adventures which will hopefully shift my winter attitude from barely tolerable to downright enjoyable. Winter gets more wintry the further west you go in Newfoundland with Corner Brook being the epicenter of all winter activities. But alas, I’m based on the east coast so I’m looking a little closer afield to get my winter kicks.
No matter if you’re looking to ski on the east coast of the island at White Hills near Clarenville or on the west coast at Marble Mountain near Corner Brook, ski season is short and sweet in Newfoundland. It’s been more than a few years since I’ve strapped on some skis but I love it so this is #1 on my winter bucket list.
White Hill Resort has 26 runs and is typically only open on weekends (Fri-Sun) from late December into March. They’re less than two hours from St. John’s which makes it doable as a day trip, though I’d prefer to go out for the weekend to maximize my time on the slopes.
Marble Mountain is harder to get to from St. John’s. You’re looking at either a 7 hour drive or a flight to Deer Lake followed by a half hour drive. But they have the best skiing east of Quebec so putting in the effort to ski their 39 runs is in your best interest.
Can you believe that I haven’t been snowshoeing since back in Girl Guide days? There’s are lots of places to go snowshoeing in and around St. John’s so the fact that I haven’t been, just isn’t right.
I don’t even need to own my own snowshoes, Pippy Park will rent me a set so that I can explore one of their groomed trails. And for the first time, snowshoes will also be available for rent at Bowring Park on the weekends. I think getting out in nature would definitely help make a more enjoyable Newfoundland winter.
Ride a snowmobile for the first time
Yes, I’ve lived in Newfoundland for 14 years and I’ve never once been on a snowmobile. Maybe it’s time for that to change. There are over 5,000km of trails through forests and along the coastline with beautiful ocean vistas.
While I obviously don’t have my own machine and have no plans to buy one, there are outfitters who can take me on a guided tour so…no excuses.
For as long as it’s been since I’ve gone skiing, it’s probably been longer since I’ve gone sliding. But what could be more fun on a winter day than packing up a Thermos of hot chocolate and taking your crazy carpet to a good old sliding hill?
There are a few to choose from near St. John’s: Pippy Park, Bowring Park, Victoria Park (except no crazy carpets allowed at that hill). I’m willing to bet pretty much every town in Newfoundland has at least one good sliding hill.
Go skating on The Loop
The Loop is an outdoor ice skating trail in Bannerman Park in St. John’s. It’s been open for a few years now but my skates have never seen it. I’m only doing myself a disservice. So this year, I will go skating on The Loop.
Pippy Snowbike Festival
In early February, Pippy Park will host the Snowbike Festival. If you’re a fat tire biking enthusiast, you can take part in the 10km group ride around Pippy Park. If, like me, you’ve never ridden a bike with 4” tires, you can try out the shorter beginner demo loop. I’m actually pretty excited about this one.
While I can’t find any fat bike rental places in St. John’s, if you’re in Corner Brook, drop by Cycle Solutions and they can hook you up.
I’ve ziplined in three countries so far and the one thing they had in common: warm! I have yet to zipline in Canada but I think taking a zip over Petty Harbour when it’s covered in snow would be the prettiest.
There are actually two zip line options in Newfoundland: North Atlantic Zip Lines in Petty Harbour near St. John’s and Marble Zip Tours near Corner Brook. So not matter which end of the island you’re on, you’re covered.
Go ice fishing in Terra Nova
Where I grew up in New Brunswick, ice fishing was really common. Every winter fishing shacks would spring up on the frozen Kennebecasis River. Some of them were quite fancy. I imagine there were many hours spent staring down a hole in the ice waiting for something to bite. Despite how common it was, I never actually did any ice fishing myself.
In Newfoundland, where most people live near the ocean, rather than the river, ice fishing isn’t as common, but it’s possible. This winter, for a scant five weeks, you can go ice fishing on Dunphy’s Pond in Terra Nova National Park. So all I need is something with some gear to bring me along.
Have a boil-up
This one might have to go hand in hand with a snowshoeing or sliding outing. A Newfoundland boil-up is basically an outdoor picnic, usually in winter. You cook up your food and boil water for tea over an open fire. Tea is a must. I’ve never had a proper boil-up in the woods. This must change.
So there you go, the makings of a truly enjoyable Newfoundland winter. Check in with me in March to see how many things I checked off the bucket list.