The Exploits River, 246 km long is the longest river on the Island of Newfoundland. Its tributaries, the Lloyds and Victoria rivers, rise in the southwest corner of the Island and flow northeast into Red Indian Lake (250 km2). The Exploits begins at the northeast outlet of the lake, where a dam regulates its flow. The river valley is flat and the river wide and shallow. At GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, the river turns northeast and empties into the Bay of Exploits on NOTRE DAME BAY. It is dammed at numerous points and harnessed for hydroelectric power, notably at Grand Falls-Windsor and BISHOP'S FALLS. Through enhancement measures, the Exploits River has become known for its ATLANTIC SALMON run. Originally kept to the lower river because of falls at Grand Falls and Bishop's Falls, the construction of fish passage systems and fishways combined with stocking have spread the fish throughout most of the Exploits' watershed.

The origin of the name, which appeared as early as James COOK'S charts of 1774, is unknown. In 1810-11 an expedition led by David Buchan travelled up the river on snowshoes, encountering a camp of BEOTHUK at Red Indian Lake.