Just east of Grand Falls, as the highway follows the Exlpoits River into the Bay of Exploits, you can see rock cuts exposing walls of volcanic basalt, also known as black granite. East of Rattling Brook on Norris Arm, the flat land has few rock outcrops and is covered by a mixture of spruce, larch and fir forests. The landscape is broken up by streams and ponds, and the un-treed areas covered by quilts of green sedgy fen and sphagnum moss bogs.
At Bishop’s Falls is a power dam across the Exploits River. This 10 metre dam was built in 1980 to power a mill adjacent to the river. The mill’s pulp output was piped 20 km south to Grand Falls to another mill which made it into paper. Since the 1970s the mill at Bishop’s Falls has been closed down. A kilometre south of the dam is a railway trestle bridge over the Exploits River now used by the T’railway recreation path that is part of the Trans-Canada Trail
At Rattling Brook, you pass a 11. megawatt hydropower generating station (to the west, closer to the shore), taking advantage of a 100 metre drop from Amy’s Lake just to the east of the highway
As of August 2008, there are no gas stations along the highway between the towns of Gander and Bishop’s Falls. This dam and generating station was built in 1958, and was upgraded by 3 MW in 2009. The salmon that used to run this river were transferred to Great Rattling Brook, southeast of Grand Falls-Windsor.
The Bay d’Espoir region, known for its dramatic glacially-carved fjords, can be accessed via the Bay D’Espoir highway near Botwood. Botwood, Point Leamington, and Leading Tickles can be accessed via Route 350 (the Botwood Highway), at an interchange at Bishop’s Falls, just west of the Bridge over the Exploits River. This area was featured in Farley Mowat’s autobiography, “Bay of Spirits”, published in 2006.
Notre Dame Region
The Isles of Notre Dame region of the province, which includes Fogo, the Twillingate Islands, New World Island, and surrounding areas. This area was once inhabited by Archaic and Paleo-Eskimo peoples, and you may see herds of whales cavorting within sight of shore. These communities can be accessed via Route 340 at the Notre Dame Junction interchange to Lewisporte.
As the highway approaches Gander, you see hills of fir, birch and spruce forests covering gentle valleys of lakes, ponds, rivers and bogs. The area has undergone a century of logging and you will also see signs of some long-ago forest fires. There was a great fire in 1904, when a third the island was ablaze, and in 1961 when 270 fires destroyed a million acres of forest in the province.
Gander Lake is a thousand feet deep (300 metres), and is a cold lake and not very productive for fishing. The lake-shore holds the promise of hard rugged granite cliffs, water-sculptured soft sedimentary promontories and lonely ‘pine-tree ‘ islands.
For aviation buffs there is the North Atlantic Aviation Museum in town, covering the history of transatlantic aviation, from the 1930s through 9/11. Gander became famous during the Second World War as the jumping off point for ferrying bombers from North America to Europe, and again on 9/11 when the World trade Centre attacks grounded all aviation in and to-from North America. 10,000 people landed at Gander that day and were accommodated for several days until flying was deemed more secure. This episode is now celebrated in the Broadway musical “Come From Away”. The Gander Airport is to the east of town.
Square Pond (which isn’t actually square) is the habitat of the largest land-locked Arctic char in the Island, with the best char fishing from ice break-up in May until late June . The lake also has brook trout, sea-run Atlantic salmon, and the spirited Ouananiche (land-locked Atlantic salmon) to make any fishermen happy.
Gambo is the hometown of Joey Smallwood, the province’s first premier, and the person who brought Newfoundland into Confederation in 1948. There is a museum in town, on Route 320.
On the hill coming down to Gambo, there is Joey’s Lookout, on the west-bound side of the highway. At 50 metres above sea level, you are standing on a kame deposit laid down by streams which flowed from the side of the Ice Age glaciers from 10,000 years ago . To the north, you see Freshwater Bay with its shorelines, slowly rising from the sea since the glacier retreat.
Just east of the 320 junction, is the 20 foot deep Gambo bog and the rock studded Gambo River, which carved this valley. The Gambo river drops 10 metres a very short distance to the ocean, form the 15 kilometre long Gambo Pond. Route 320 takes you north from Gambo to Wesleyville, and the homes of past great sealing captains -the Keans, the Winsors and the Blackwoods .
The Trans-Canada Highway is one of the main roads leading into this treasure trove of natural beauty. However, with sections of the road in serious disrepair, the province made upgrades a priority and took advantage of $1.2 million in funding through the Major Infrastructure Component of the federal Building Canada Fund.
Work was completed in good time to fix rutting problems, renew the asphalt, and replace culverts. Lanes and the roadbed were also widened to make turning easier at an intersection next to the park’s boundary.
Near Gloverton, astride the Terra Nova River is a rare pasture 9for Newfoundland). This was until very recently, an acid peat bog, which was densely covered by knee-high goowiddy of sheep laurel and Labrador tea. Perhaps you can see parallel ditches constructed to drain the bog. The land is now producing carrots and many other vegetable crops.
Terra Nova National Park
Park admission is not required to use Route 1, but you do need a national park pass to stop inside the National Park (in 2017 this requirement is waived)
Terra Nova National Park features rugged topography built on ancient (600 million years old) Precambrian rock, covered with a dense, dark boreal forest, and occasionally broken by fen or bog filled hollows. The forests extend to the edges of steep-sided fjords and rounded salt-water bays. Rising back after the glaciers receded, and then being filled by rising ocean levels, the valleys like Newman Sound and Clode Sound extend out many miles beneath the ocean, and have sharp sided cliffs plunging to 900 feet. The park offers opportunities to explore an unspoiled coast line with its marine environments knitted into Boreal forest.
To the north of the park is the Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary, which encompasses two tidal inlets. Around 30 species are recorded regularly within Newman Sound and Southwest Arm
In the park, take time for a visit to Ochre Hill, a fire tower just northeast of the highway. You can see the advances and retreats of the great ice masses, which shaped the park. There are vividly illustrated in displays on the hill, and you can take a short self-guided tour, following a glacier trail to see striated and polished rock and thin lichen vegetation. Along the roadside near the turnoff to Ochre Hill, you may notice silver reflectors on green poles, designed to reflect headlights and discourage moose from being on the highway.
The Bonavista Peninsula is featured in the song, “This Land is Your Land” in the line, “From Bonavista to Vancouver Island”. Route 230 extends about 90 kilometres to the town of Bonavista at the end of the peninsula. In 2014, Newfoundland resurfaced and improved part of Route 230, including improved drainage, new culverts and guardrails, upgraded shoulders and fresh paving.
On Route 320 to the east of Georges Brook, you can go to Smith’s Sound, the starting point of Cormack’s Trail, which follows the cross-Island trek of William Epps Cormack and his Micmac guide, Sylvester that began on September 5 , 1822. Though he was trying make contact with the vanishing Beothuk natives, he provided the first detailed descriptions of the unknown interior, and named many landmarks.