Alberta, Canada is famous for its provincial parks – there are almost 500 different ones. But this one is particularly special. Dinosaur Provincial Park was declared a World Heritage UNESCO site in 1979. The reason? Fossils from 58 different dinosaur species have been discovered there. More than 500 different specimens have been painstakingly removed from their resting place and sent to museums all over the world.
Now, one thing to keep in mind is that the funky little town of Drumheller, noted for its whimsical statuary of dinosaurs and the famous Tyrrell Museum, is NOT right next to Dinosaur Provincial Park. It is located about an hour and 45 minutes northwest. You can easily visit both places in one day but you will want to plan for that extra drive.
Dinosaur Provincial Park is located in the Badlands of the Red River Valley about 2 hours east of Calgary. This area is characterized by an arid terrain with sedimentary rock that has been extensively eroded leaving steep slopes, gulleys and hoodoos (towers of rock).
The park covers an area of 80 square kilometers and features not only dinosaur fossils but other types of fossils including fish, reptiles and plants. Fun Fact: The park has been showcased in many films and TV shows, including the 2005 film “Land of the Dead” and the TV series “Dino Dana.”
There are lots of things to do in the park. You can camp overnight; you can hike trails for miles and miles; you can even play paleontologist and search for dinosaur bones!
If you are making your way back west, like we were, you can stop in Drumheller, Alberta. This dinosaur-themed town is located in the Alberta badlands. You will find great hikes and fascinating geology here as well. The town is very proud of its association with the Badlands and being built on land where dinosaurs once roamed.
Drumheller has been christened itself, “Dinosaur Capital of the World” and has the World’s Largest Dinosaur to prove it! Don’t worry, this T. Rex is actually 4 times larger than the real one would have been. If you’re feeling frisky, you can climb the 106 steps up inside Mr Rex for a bird’s eye view of the town.
But the real reason to visit Drumheller is the Royal Tyrrell Museum where you will find amazing dinosaur specimens and an interactive experience. Located 6 km northwest of Drumheller in Midlands Provincial Park, The Royal Tyrrell Museum is fun for the whole family!
The museum is named after Joseph Burr Tyrrell, a geologist who discovered the first dinosaur fossils in the area in 1884. The Tyrrell collection includes over 160,000 individual specimens, making it one of the largest dinosaur fossil collections in the world.
The museum boasts resident PhDs in paleontology, paleobotany and paleoecology. These scientists are continuing their research and excavation of the surrounding area which is rich in fossils and history. There is a Badlands Science Camp where both junior and senior high school kids can have an amazing experience learning about fossils and paleontology.
If you find yourself in Albert on the corner of Tyrannosaurus Rex Drive and Albertosaurus Street – you are in Drumheller!
Other articles you might enjoy about travelling through Canada:
Have you ever seen a Puffin? (Newfoundland)