To view fossils in the Reserve visitors must take a guided tour.

**Please call well ahead of your planned visit to ensure availability and avoid disappointment**
Space on interpretive tours is limited.

Guided tours to view the fossils are available from Natural Areas Interpreters. For more information about guided tours (mid-May to mid- October) call (709) 438-1011 to speak to one of the Reserve's Interpreters.

Guided Tour

Normally, there is one guided tour per day, which leaves the Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre in Portugal Cove South at 1 p.m. Tour participants are recommended to arrive at the Interpretive Centre no later than 12:30 p.m. Guided tours of the exhibit room at the Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre, run jointly by Natural Areas and Cape Race-PCS Heritage Inc. interpreters, take place daily at 11 a.m.

Important Information:

  • As tours are often fully booked, be sure to reserve your guided tour well in advance of your planned visit.
  • The 6-kilometre (round trip) hike is unsuitable for persons with hip, knee or foot problems.
  • There are no toilet facilities within the Ecological Reserve.
  • Wear footwear appropriate for backcountry hiking. Sandals are not permitted.
  • Dogs are not permitted on the tours.

Description of the Tour Route:

An official Natural Areas Interpretive Guide will take you on a 45 minute (3 kilometre, one-way) walk to Mistaken Point. The undulating path winds over the barrens along the coastline and is rated as a moderately difficult hiking trail. Initially this route follows the track leading to the former seasonal fishing site at Watern Cove. Remnant rock ‘fish flakes' (used for drying cod) can still be found in the area.

Beyond the Watern Cove River, the trail enters part of the Fossil Protection Zone -- an area of coastline within the Reserve where fossils are most vulnerable to the effects of erosion and human activities. In certain cases, such as for scientific research, entry permits can be issued for access to the Fossil Protection Zone. However, public access to the zone is generally restricted to ensure protection of these world-class fossils.

Organized tour groups (for example, from universities, conferences or schools) must obtain an Educational Tour Permit before visiting the Reserve.

Additional Advice for Visitors to the Reserve:

  • Public access to the Reserve's fossil-bearing surfaces is by official interpretive tour only.
  • Space on interpretive tours is limited. Please book well beforehand (call 709-438-1011) to ensure your group can be accommodated.
  • Read the Rules & Regulations before visiting and abide by them when in the Reserve.
  • To confirm a reservation, all tour participants must arrive at the Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre by 12:30 p.m. on the day of the tour.
  • All guided tours are offered free-of-charge (in 2016) through NL Natural Areas Division by trained Park Interpretation Technicians.
  • The Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre is owned and operated by a not-for-profit community organization, Cape Race - PCS Heritage Inc., and admission to view exhibits at the Centre is by donation.
  • Dress for open-country walking. There is a high probability you will encounter a combination of cool, windy, wet and/or and foggy conditions.
  • Bring sun screen and insect repellent.
  • Tours typically take 3˝ - 4 hours.
  • From the Centre, it is a 30 minute drive upon the gravel Cape Race Road to reach the trailhead where the hike begins.
  • The tour involves a 6 km round-trip hike (3 km one-way) and it takes approximately 45 minutes (one-way) to reach the Mistaken Point fossil viewing site.
  • Return time to the Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre, Portugal Cove South is approximately 4:45 to 5 p.m.
  • The route is rated as a moderately difficult hiking trail. Tour participants require a reasonable level of physical fitness. The overall distance (6 km) may pose the greatest challenge for some.
  • Sections of the trail are muddy and can be slippery when wet. This is especially true of the approaches to Watern Cove. You are advised to use caution in these areas.
  • Proper hiking footwear and rainwear are recommended.
  • Sandals are not permitted.
  • There is a small river crossing with stepping stones to walk on. Depending upon the water level, your feet may get wet.
  • It is a good idea to bring water, a snack, and binoculars.
  • Please note there are no toilet facilities in the Reserve.
  • Cliff edges are dangerous. Stay on the trail.
  • Dogs are not permitted on guided tours

Contact Information

For more information about guided tours (mid-May - mid-October) within Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, call the Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre in Portugal Cove South and ask to speak to one of the Reserve's Interpreters.

Reserve Interpreters

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve

Tel: (709) 438-1011

For information on Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve permit requirements for Research, Educational Tour groups or Commercial Operators, or the Reserve's Fossil Protection Zone, contact:

Richard Thomas, Reserve Geologist

Tel: (709) 438-2400


Tony Power, Manager

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve
Tel: (709) 438-1012

For general information about Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve or any of the other sites in the Province's protected areas system, please contact

Natural Areas Division

Tel: (709) 635-2040
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