Trans-Labrador Highway

Central & Western Labrador

Introduction and General Travel Advice




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 Labrador consists 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:

Please remember 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 other services.
    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 road.
    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.
    Generally 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 ferries.

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.

I recommend 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.


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