Suggestions where to go in Early to Mid October

I have to take a week off work in early to mid October. My girlfriend is not fond of hot places, so I am thinking maybe somewhere in Canada? We only have a week so I think a huge flight may not be a good idea. Would there be anything worth seeing in Newfoundland? We are in New England. Not terribly interested in whales but mink, marten, weasels, and shrews are examples of our interests.

Post author



  • JeffHigdon

    Fall is very nice in my home province of Newfoundland. One thing to keep in mind is that hunting seasons will be open (moose, caribou, black bear and game birds opens in September, snowshoe hare in early October). Hunting is very popular on the island, with participation rates about double that of the National average. If you’re out and about looking for mammals, you’ll see a lot of people out doing the same, with shotgun or rifle in hand. I wouldn’t stay away because of this, but you should wear blaze orange when in the field and be prepared to possibly see dead animals (moose in particular – being butchered in a place visible from a road, being packed out, in a truck bed, etc). Moose licenses are even issued in the two National Parks (to reduce browsing impacts), so you could see hunters there too.

    Mink (and otter) numbers have increased substantially in recent years as trapping effort has decreased. You can find both species in inland rivers and lakes and on the coast. Coastal areas are probably easiest. Short-tailed weasels are all over the place but sporadic, and I don’t know any particular hot spots. For Newfoundland marten, your options are in central Newfoundland (Terra Nova National Park) and on the west coast of the island. See location records in the 2022 status report –

    The only shrew in Newfoundland is the masked shrew, which was introduced to control larch sawfly. It’s widespread. They were also introduced to Labrador, which also has native water and pygmy shrews.

    From New England you could easily drive and take the ferry from Nova Scotia. If you do that, I would focus on the west coast of the island, around Gros Morne National Park (and to the south of the park for marten). You could also explore the Northerm Peninsula (north of the park), especially if you want to see caribou. If you fly, you can go into Deer Lake, Gander, or St. John’s (west to east). Deer Lake is best for the Gros Morne area, Gander is closest to Terra Nova, and St. John’s has the most flights, more options for rental cars, etc. With a week, you could easily fly into and out of St. John’s, spend some time exploring the Avalon Peninsula (Southern Shore for caribou, for example), and spend a couple days in Terra Nova NP.

  • JeffHigdon

    Mid-October is also the start of polar bear season in Churchill, Manitoba, and a week would give you enough time for a good trip flying in through Winnipeg (you’d likely have to overnight in Winnipeg in both directions). 3 or 4 days in Churchill should be enough time to see a few polar bears. Also likely to see red fox, with Arctic fox, Arctic hare, and caribou possible. There are mink, marten, etc around but it’s not a great place to look for those species. If this is something of interest I can provide more information on things to do, tourism operators to go out with, etc. If you’re on the North American Mammal Watching Facebook page, I recently shared a lot of Churchill information on a post there, too.

  • wildlife_watcher

    Thanks, I believe then we will either look into Churchill or more likely take that Ferry to Newfoundland (mainly because it will probably be simpler and cheaper to plan). The landscape of Gros Morne NP looks interesting. Do you know if it’s easy to travel there after the ferry with a regular passenger car?

    • JeffHigdon

      Yes, all highway (Trans Canada Highway and secondary highways) from the Port aux Basques ferry terminal to the park. It’s about 3.5 hours and most of that is on the TCH. The ferry crossing can be good for whales and seabirds if you do a daytime trip. By October it might be down to one crossing a day anyway. If you arrive on the island in the evening I’d consider overnighting somewhere close rather than driving much in the dark – moose numbers are down (by design) but still abundant enough to pose a real danger on the west coast at night.

      There are a few different areas of the park to stay. I like Rocky Harbour, but they’re all nice (and worth visiting). During the summer there is a boat taxi that goes between the communities on both sides of Bonne Bay, but I don’t know if it runs in the fall. You can drive from one side of the bay to the other, but the boat is faster (foot passengers only, though).

      If the weather allows, hiking Gros Morne Mountain would be a good bet – your best chance for Arctic Hare. Also good for moose, sometimes caribou and black bear. Rock Ptarmigan as well, if you’re a birder. Also hike the Tablelands. Not a hotspot for mammals, but the landscape and geology is incredible. It’s an easy hike on the Earth’s exposed mantle.

      (Sorry for the slow reply, I thought I had checked the box for new comment notifications, but I guess not)

  • wildlife_watcher

    No worries and thanks for the information. I will be coming first week in October so hopefully before any of the trails are inaccessible for the season.

  • wildlife_watcher

    Do you think the artic hare is possible to see on the maintain. I find that hike but it somewhat long about 10 miles and when I searched traveler photos I wasn’t seeing any of the hares which made me think maybe they are rare at least near the trail.

  • wildlife_watcher

    Meant Gros Morne Mountain, not maintain

Leave a Reply