visit the badlands in...
Favorite thing: visit the badlands in south-eastern Alberta, home to some of the world's most concentrated areas of dinosaur fossil beds and an amazing eroded landscape. A trip to Alberta without seeing the badlands would be incomplete!
Photo: My sister, my mom and me peering into the badlands in August 93 - what an intriguing site!
THE ROYAL TYRRELL MUSEUM OF PALEONTOLOGY
Favorite thing: The Royal Tyrrell Museum is the big attraction in Drumheller.
Is has the label "ROYAL" as Queen Elizabeth toured the museum and was so impressed that she ( and only she can do this ) gave it the " Royal " designation .
Budget 4 hours to see the displays.
They also have :
( 1) guided walking tours through the
(2) day long dinosaur digs .
Reservations are required for this one.
These tours will be cancelled if it rains , so plan accordingly.
Everyone we have met that has been to the Royal Tyrrell was very impressed.
LOOKING FOR DINOSAUR BONES
Favorite thing: In the Drumheller badlands and along the " Dinosaur Trail" NW of Drumheller it is possable to find dinosaur bones that have just been exposed by rains or the winter runoff.
You will have to do a lot of walking through sometimes precarious terrain and you will have to pay attention .
It takes a lot of luck . Do not try to remove anything you find .
Favorite thing: From 1911 to 1979 coal was mined in Drumheller. The last mine , Atlas Coal Mine closed in 1979 and is now a tourist attraction .
Up to 160 mines were in production in the Drumheller area at the peak of the coal mining era.
In the 60's and 70's , as the mines closed , Drumheller's population was comprised of a lot of bachelors . Someone even labelled Drumheller the "Bachelor Capital of the World". The bachelors are now gone , you missed them ladies , and tourism and dinosaurs have taken their place.
Favorite thing: Formed by the meltwaters of the last ice age, the valley of the Red Deer River cuts a deep gash through the dulcet prairie about 140km east of Calgary, creating a surreal landscape of bare, sun-baked hills and eerie lunar flats dotted with sagebrush and scrubby, tufted grass. On their own, the Alberta Badlands - so anomalous in the midst of lush grasslands - would be worth a visit, but what makes them an essential detour is the presence of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, amongst the greatest museums of natural history in North America. The museum is located 8km outside the old coal-mining town of Drumheller, a dreary but obvious base if you're unable to fit the museum into a day trip from Calgary.
Fondest memory: Drumheller is also the main focus of the Dinosaur Trail, a road loop that explores the Red Deer Valley and surrounding badlands; you'll need your own transportation for this circuit, and for the trip to the Dinosaur Provincial Park, home to the Tyrrell Museum Field Station and the source of many of its fossils.
- Family Travel
The Dinosaur Trail
Favorite thing: The Dinosaur Trail is a catch-all circular road route of 51km embracing some of the viewpoints and lesser historic sights of the badlands and the Red Deer Valley area. The comprehensive Visitor's Guide to the Drumheller Valley (free from the Drumheller infocenter) lists thirty separate stop-offs, mostly on the plain above the valley, of which the key ones are: Horsethief Canyon (17km west of the museum) and Horseshoe Canyon (19km southwest of the museum on Hwy-9), two spectacular viewpoints of the wildly eroded valley, the latter with good trails to and along the canyon floor; the Hoodoos, slender columns of wind-sculpted sandstone, topped with mushroom-like caps (17km southeast of Drumheller on Hwy-10); the still largely undeveloped Midland Provincial Park, site of the area's first mines and criss-crossed by badland trails, now home to an interpretive center (daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; free); and the Atlas Coal Mine (mid-May to early September daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; $2), dominated by the teetering wooden "tipple," once used to sort ore and now a beautiful and rather wistful piece of industrial archeology.
- Family Travel
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Favorite thing: Drivers can feasibly fit in a trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park the same day as the Tyrrell Museum, a 174-kilometre run from Drumheller to the park, and then head back to Calgary on the Trans-Canada, which runs just south of the park. The nearest town is Brooks on the Trans-Canada, 48km west of the Field Station of the Tyrrell Museum, the park's obvious hub (May-Sept daily 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Oct-April Sat & Sun only 10 a.m.-5 p.m.). The excellent provincial campground in the park is open year-round, but only serviced from May to Sept ($6).
Fondest memory: Nestled among some of the baddest of the badlands, this landscape is not only one of the most alien in Canada, but also one of the world's richest fossil beds and a listed UN World Heritage Site (over 300 complete skeletons have been found). The field station has a few self-guided trails and a small museum that goes over the same ground as its parent in Drumheller, leaving the real meat of the visit to the Badlands Bus Tour, a guided tour of the otherwise out-of-bounds dinosaur dig near the center of the park (May-Sept 10 tours daily; $3.50). A few exposed skeletons have been left in situ, and panels give background information on the monsters. The station also organizes two-hour guided hikes.
- Hiking and Walking
Highway 3 and the South
Favorite thing: The most travelled route across southern Alberta is the Trans-Canada, direct to Calgary; Highway 3, branching off at Medicine Hat, takes a more southerly course across the plains before finally breaching the Rockies at Crowsnest Pass. This quieter and less spectacular route into the mountains holds a trio of worthwhile diversions: the brand new Carriage center near Cardston, the marvellously monikered Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump heritage site, and Waterton Lakes National Park, a cross-border reserve that links with the United States's Glacier National Park.
- Family Travel
Favorite thing: The badlands are best seen in early July when the grass is still green and rain if it falls accentuates the colours in the landscape.
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