WOODY POINT (Newfoundland)
Acclaimed for its unearthly landscape, Woody Point is probably as close to Mars as you will ever get in this lifetime. Situated on the west coast of the island, the Tablelands behind Woody Point in the Gros Morne National Park are composed of peridotite — like much of the surface of Mars — and NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, plus others are studying this unique land form searching for insights into possible bacterial life on the red planet. The story of the Tablelands earned Gros Morne its World Heritage Site status from UNESCO in 2010, and the area remains a geological wonder, showcasing a time when the continents of Africa and North America collided. When the plates struck 485 million years ago, the peridotite was pushed to the surface, and remained above sea level. The rock lacks the nutrients to sustain plant life, thus giving the Tablelands a barren, isolated appearance. As the name suggests, the flat topped mountains dwarf the tiny village (population 281!), yet Woody Point has retained its character and the historic houses and buildings dating from 1870 have been beautifully maintained.