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What Is Gros Morne National Park?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
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  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2014
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Gros Morne National Park is lies within the Canadian National Parks system on the western side of the island of Newfoundland. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site. The park is the second largest, in the region known as Atlantic Canada, covering almost 700 square miles (1,800 square km). It is known for its scenery, wildlife, and natural beauty as well as its status as the location of numerous important historical and archaeological sites relating to the history of human habitation in this part of Canada.

The terrain of Gros Morne National Park is an excellent example of the process of plate tectonics. Geologists are able to use many of the features of this park and the data they obtain from them to show how plate tectonics shapes the Earth through the formation of new rock at continental rifts and the upheaval of portions of the Earth's crust from the sea floor. This area is a perfect example of how these forces shaped the Earth in past eras.

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Glacial forces from past ice ages have further sculpted and shaped the landscape, further illustrating how natural forces above ground continue to alter what was created by the forces within the Earth. Together, these forces have created a diverse landscape of mountains, alpine highlands, cliffs, fjords, and valleys. Numerous waterfalls, a result of the glaciers which carved the landscape during past ice ages, can be found here, as well as a highly varied coastal region with twisting inlets, sandy beaches, and rocky cliffs.

Visitors to this area are also attracted by the diversity and beauty of life in Gros Morne National Park. Tundra landscape, forest, wetlands, scrublands, and other features can all be found here. The park is home to many species of animals and is a nesting areas for many types of birds. Conifers, particularly spruce and fir species, dominate the forested areas, although others species such as birch and alder can be found as well. The waters around park are also popular for watching marine mammals such as seals and whales.

Human history plays an important role in Gros Morne National Park as well. Archaeologists have documented numerous sites of significance that show the area as having been inhabited by various groups for thousands of years, dating back to at least 3000 B.C. More recent historic sites indicate occupation by native North Americans up to 1,000 years ago, subsequent colonization by Europeans, and historic fishing villages dating from the 18th century.

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indigomoth
Post 3

@bythewell - I'd be happy to see the old settlements but if I went there it would be to hike around. The park looks absolutely beautiful and there are some amazing looking views and mountains and things there if you look it up on the internet.

And there's all kinds of things to do. I'm hoping to go there when I go to Canada to visit a friend who has recently moved there. We're planning on at least going kayaking, but hopefully doing some other things as well. He's hoping to go cross country skiing but he'll have to talk me into that I think.

bythewell
Post 2

@irontoenail - I guess it must have pretty good archaeological sites though, considering that it's a UNESCO World Heritage site.

I guess it could have been awarded that status just on the strength of the beauty and natural wonder of the landscape, but more likely it is actually a really good example of previous habitations.

It would have been very very cold up there 5000 years ago though, if I've got my history correct. It would have been during one of the ice ages.

What's even more exciting, I think, is that they recently discovered the remains of old viking buildings up there. The oldest European dwellings in the Americas.

People often say that the pilgrims were first, but that's not true. The Vikings were in Newfoundland long before the English and Spanish found them (and, of course, the ancestors of modern First Nation people found the lands even before that).

The idea of seeing real viking remains in Canada seems like a really bizarre and awesome juxtaposition to me.

irontoenail
Post 1

This park sounds amazing. I would love to be able to go and see it.

I'd be particularly interested in the archaeological sites. It's amazing to think of village remains which are 5000 years old but are still identifiable.

I often forget that there were people living in Canada before the Europeans arrived, because there is always so much emphasis on the arrival of the pilgrims and the American Indians they met, who lived in what is now the United States.

But there were just as many groups living further north, and this area, with its forests and ocean front would have been perfect for tribes to make a living off seafood.

I imagine there's not much to see, probably just some stones arranged in certain ways, or maybe some arrowheads or other stone tools found. But, it is exciting and adds another dimension to an otherwise really gorgeous and interesting place.

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