Trans Labrador Highway
I just came back from a wonderful 2 days roadtrip from Montreal (Quebec) to Labrador City (New Foundland). I left Montreal at 6 a.m. Saturday morning and I was back in the Eastern Townships yesterday by 6:30 p.m. Saturday, I drove for 14½ hours almost non stop until I got to Fermont (Qc) near the Lab border north of the 52nd parallel and another 14½ hours back on Sunday.
It was an amazing experience! When I left highway 138 in Baie Comeau to take route 389, I entered a whole new world, a world of pines trees, wild rivers and lakes, wildlife and of course huge hydroelectric installations. The route is paved until you get to Manic 5 (on km 211) which is the largest hydroelectric installation of its kind in the world (150 meters high approx., see this website for more info : http://www.hydroquebec.com/visit/cote_nord/manic-5.html). The route is the most twisted I ever encoutered during my roadtrips. You can visit the Manic 5 installation for free, there's a 105 minutes guided tour available.
After that, the route is unpaved (except for a short stretch of road) until you get to Gagnon, a mining town closed in 1985 due to the closing of Fire Lake Mine nearby. The unpaved route is better than the paved one because of all the potholes and you can easily reach a speed of 90-100 km/h without any danger. The route is then paved from Gagnon to Fire Lake and gets unpaved again until Mt Wright. That stretch of road (67 km) is the most dangerous (and deserted) because it's pretty twisty and you can't go faster than 60 km/h unless you're an expert (or crazy:-). More information on route 389 and Trans Lab Highway: http://www.labradorwest.com/get_here/r389.htm
Of course, you got to watch for animals on the road, I saw mooses, porcupines, squirrels and rabbits. I don't think I met more than 10 vehicles between Baie Comeau and Fermont, and most of them were 18 wheels. I passed one of them on an unpaved road, but I don't recommend it, it's almost suicidal especialy when the driver isn't slowing down. Usually drivers are very courteous, that was THE exception:-) I never saw so much black flies and flying bugs of all kind, as soon as you stop your car they surround you, but they didn't seem to bite too much. The sceneries are absolutely gorgeous, this region of Quebec and Labrador is probably one of the only wild area left in America with maybe places like Northwest Territory, Yukon, Nunavut and Alaska. You get to see the bliss of nature in the absence of men (except some minor exceptions in the Manic area), beautiful wild flowers, virgin mountains, some taïga vegetation (between boreal forest and toundra). To see some pictures go to : http://www.amxfiles.com/stoneji/97trip
Gas and lodging are rarely seen between Baie Comeau and Fermont. You sometimes have to drive for more than 290 km to find a gas station. Gas station are to be found in Baie Comeau, Manic 2, Manic 5, Relais Gabriel and Fermont.
For accomodations, you can find 1 or 2 not so good looking motel rooms for 20$-85$ in Manic 2 and Manic 5. I think there's also some rooms avaliable at Relais Gabriel (between Gagnon and Manic 5). It think camping is still the best option, you can sleep anywhere you want, on the side of the road, in Gagnon, in front of a nice lake, no one will bother you, the nearest police station is in Baie Comeau! I saw plenty of RV, 18 wheels vehicles, and simple cars parked for the night. In Fermont, there are some rooms in B&B's and in the Hotel but they're expensive for the location (45-90$), same thing for Lab Cty and Wabush (NF).
I went to a nice campground in Lab city called Duley Lake Family Park and they had nice quiet spots for tent campers on the waterfront for only 9,20$ CAN. I just slept in my car (it was 10 p.m. and we could still see some daylight) and woke up very early in the morning, took a hot shower (a sign said that I had to pay 2,00$ for it, but everyone was asleep so..too bad!:-) and I was back on the road. It was very foggy in the morning because of all the lakes and the change of temperature (16 degrees Celsius in daytime and 2-3 degrees at night) and even at 3:00 in the morning, it wasn't dark anymore (it's wasn't like north pole, but almost!:-).
I would've like to stay longer but gotta get back to work on Monday :o(. This place is a paradise for hunters, fishers, hikers, kayakers, and for all nature lovers. I'll surely go back as soon as I get more time (and money) to visit the iron mines, hike the Monts Groulx and try to get to the Atlantic Coast to go whalewatching, maybe see some icebergs and polar auroras. I could go on and on about this, but I got to go:-)
Have a nice day,
Ps-I just hope my written English is not too poor:-( If so I'm sorry about that!:-)
Sounds like a really neat trip, Gen. Great trip report! Maybe along with my plans to visit a Canadian country-western burger bar, I'll need to go this way when I come to Quebec. Why do I always have to drag out my maps after I read one of your posts! :) Bob
Wow, Gen! That sounds like a great adventure! You've seen some fantastic scenery, it sounds like. The wilderness and wildlife both would be very cool to experience. You're right in that there's not many places anymore where you can experience that.
And your English is great! :-)
Photos of Trans Labrador Highway trip
Check out my pics : http://glauzire.photosite.com
Fabulous Thank you
This is a fabulous account of your trip. Just what I was looking for. Thank you!
PS: wish I could see the pictures; the url does not work
I would to ask u
Did you fish there ?
I am planing to go there but just for fishing fun
And would like to know good spot
Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum --
Gen's post on this trip was made in September 2004 -- so I don't think she will be responding to this query. Also, her photo display is no longer active.
Maybe someone else will have fishing intel for you!