The road to Central Labrador and
Goose Bay starts at Baie Comeau, which is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, 440
km east of Quebec City (1216 km east of Toronto). The scenery east of Quebec City is spectacular up
to when you cross the Saguenay River at Tadoussac, on a free ferry. From
that point east to Baie Comeau, it is much flatter.
The road from Baie Comeau to
of two parts, politically speaking: Hwy 389 through Quebec to the Labrador
border (570 km), and the Trans-Labrador Highway (Hwy 500), which runs from the
border to Goose Bay, Labrador (560 km), for a total of 1130 km.
From a practical point of view,
the highway consists of two parts as well: paved and gravel. And after
traveling the entire route from Baie Comeau to Goose Bay and back on about
1600km of gravel road, you will
never again take paved roads for granted!!
From Baie Comeau to Manic 5 (212km) the road is paved, but it is twisty, narrow, and very hilly, with no real
shoulder. No gas until the
Manic 5 dam, 212km to the north.
Cautions and Advice:
above all, that although the Trans-Labrador Hwy has been rebuilt as a modern gravel road, it
is still a very remote area, with as much as 290 km between gas stations and
This is a raw, purely practical road. It is definitely
not a scenic parkway for tourists. The road was built for transportation
alone. There are no scenic pullouts, no rest areas, no campgrounds, and
very little signage to help guide you. You can camp wherever you want
(well, perhaps not officially, but I did), and
this usually ends up being in the old gravel pits that were used to build the
If the road is
dry, expect a complete whiteout from the dust after a truck passes you. Slow down and
pull to the right as far as you can safely go. This will help preserve
your front windshield (from flying stones), as well as keep you out of the way if the oncoming driver
does not pull over to their side of the road far enough. And watch out for
another vehicle following the first, suddenly appearing out of the dust cloud.
Watch for graders that are continually working on the road.
speaking, I found the truckers to be very considerate of the other vehicles on
the road. It's the occasional passenger vehicle and pickup truck being
driven by a maniac that are the problem. Be careful to stick to the right
side of the road over hills and around curves, in case one of those maniacs is
coming the other way at you.
Please Please Please slow down when approaching other
vehicles coming the other way!! They will thank you for preserving their
windshield! Many a time I cursed the idiot yahoo drivers who zoomed past me
going the other way, spewing stones across my windshield.
The dust will get into every nook and cranny of the inside of
your vehicle, no matter how well you have your windows closed. (Two
years later I still have Labrador dust coming out of my door panels!)
The biggest hazard on this road is the extensive sections of
loose and deep gravel. It's very easy to start fishtailing and end up in
the ditch. Sometimes the ditches are pretty deep, with no guardrail. The huge distances and straight sections may tempt you to drive a bit faster than is wise for
the road surface.
However, the road can be easily driven in an ordinary
vehicle. There is no special need for a 4x4. But make sure that your
vehicle is very reliable and in good condition. Getting parts for repairs
could take time (and probably mucho $$!). And if you need a tow...well that would probably cost
you big time.
Once you have driven this road, you will never again take
pavement for granted!
From Goose Bay you can elect to take the
ferry south. ***Please note that in 2003 the route
of the ferry changed*** It NO LONGER GOES TO LEWISPORTE on the island of
Newfoundland. Starting in 2003 the ferry from Goose Bay goes south to
Cartwright. From there you continue south along the Trans-Labrador Hwy to
Red Bay in Southern Labrador. From Red Bay continue west to Blanc Sablon where
you catch another ferry to Newfoundland, arriving at St. Barbe on the Great
Northern Peninsula. CLICK HERE for more info on
In June and
July there are trillions of blackflies. I found it impossible to be
outside for more than about 10 minutes because of them, unless there was a breeze
strong enough to blow them away. And I thought I was used to them from
northern Ontario. Don't underestimate them. I found the mosquito
population to be no more than northern Ontario. That doesn't mean that
there aren't lots of them - there are. I heard that by August they abate
somewhat, and that September is the best month to go from that point of
view. However, apparently by then there's lots more rain and overcast
skies, so you lose out that way.
that you fill up with gas whenever you get a chance. And make sure you
have whatever supplies you need for the next stretch of road. The stores
in the towns along the way may or may not have what you need.
Overall, I'd have to say that you
really have to love driving to enjoy this trip. But in my mind, it was
well worth the dust, blackflies, and gravel road. The silence and vastness
of the land, the overpowering feeling of remoteness and Nature more than made up
for any of the inconveniences.