Drumheller, Alberta, a short, 90-minute drive from Calgary, is in the heart of the Alberta badlands, in the midst of the dinosaur hunter’s paradise. In and around Drumheller, new species of dinosaur, as well as complete dinosaur finds, rare fauna and animal fossils, like the Albertasaurus Rex, are regularly found. Home to the Royal Tyrell Museum, the world-renowned dinosaur museum and interactive tourist area, Drumheller is a dinosaur hunter’s paradise, and a great place for any family to visit. Just don’t pocket any dinosaur bones or fossils that you may stumble upon while hiking, as that is quite illegal.
Of course there is more to Drumheller than just dinosaurs and the world’s richest deposits of ancient fossils, like the arts scene, which, ironically, is pretty much either based on or made up with dinosaurs and other fossils. Not surprisingly, there is a charcoal-drawing gallery, with charcoal so abundant in the region. Campers can take delight in camping where dinosaurs once roamed freely, and may even mistakenly pick up a dinosaur bone while fetching fire wood.
When in Drumheller, is well worth a drive to Edmonton, Alberta, to visit the biggest mall in Canada, a mere 2 ½ hour‘s drive North. With go-carts, 3-D movie theatres, gigantic wave pools with slides and other fun water games, and over 10 MacDonald’s restaurants (more than most towns in the Prairie Provinces), there is something for everyone, and everyone will be amazed. Leave a full day for this trip, as it will take you that long just to walk the miles and miles of the mall’s hallways, let alone play time, eating and shopping.
However, the main draw to visiting Drumheller, aside from camping in Canada’s bad lands, is the dinosaurs, both in the ground, and fully assembled in major museum show-room shape. Marvel at the largest dinosaur in the world to be found and fully reconstructed, and walk along the trails that first gave up her long dead lizard-friends.
Travel to Drumheller in the winter months is not for the faint of heart, as the cold Arctic winds can bring temperatures to well below -30 degrees Celsius, before the wind-chill factor, which can add another 20 degrees of bone-chilling cold. The summer months can prove to be rather humid and extremely hot, but not quite as hot as Arizona, with temperatures in the high 30’s in the days, and evenings dropping to the low 20’s (degrees Celsius).
Pack plenty of bug spray, and, if you plan on having campfires, buy the wood from enterprising locals. It is extremely expensive to buy campfire wood at Provincial Parks, and you are not allowed to pick wood up off of the ground to burn, even for meals. In the Parks, expect to pay $7-$10 for a bundle of 10-12 quarter-cut, small logs, with a few thin branches thrown in. Drive around and visit some farmers, who will fill your trunk and interior for $20 or so.
When traveling to Drumheller, the most likely reason is to visit the bad lands, the home of the dinosaurs, as more than a quarter of a million people normally do, do not expect to find empty accommodations with no prior reservations made. Make your reservations at least three to four months in advance, if you want to stay in the more camper-friendly private campgrounds. Alcohol is not allowed in the Provincial Parks, fires have to be out by 2300 hours (11pm), and noise has to stop at 2100 hours (9pm). At the private campgrounds, you will find a much more liberal attitude, no fire restrictions and organized fun. Boats, bikes and fishing gear are suggested additions to your packing, if there’s room.
Enjoy your time in Drumheller, and hopefully you’ll find a piece of our prehistoric past yourself. If you do, make sure that you turn it in to the authorities, because the consequences can be quite severe.
Travel smart. Travel informed.