Dubbed the Dinosaur Capital of the World, Drumheller is in the heart of the Alberta Bandlands about a 90 minutes drive northeast of Calgary. At the epicentre of all things dino is the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
While our own Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto has a mighty collection of dinosaurs, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is gallery after gallery after gallery of huge dinosaurs on display. And the adventure continues outside too. Guided tours and trails through the Midland Provincial Park let the littlest of palaeontologists explore the very spots where many of these fossils were found.
You can easily spend the whole day. Here’s how:
Visit the Galleries: Over ten galleries and exhibitions full of spsecimens and full-body models of creatures from long ago.
Watch palaeontologists at work: One of our favourite areas is the Preparation Lab where you can watch scientists work on real specimens. When we were there, curatorial staff was in the gallery working on one of their latest finds.
Book a program: The Dinosite! guided walk ($10 per person; 3 & are free) was amazing. The guide took us through the Badlands where participants got to hunt (and find!) some dinosaur bones. (By the way, everything stays put – there is a big fine for removing anything from the provincial park.) There are other programs for kids of all ages, like the Dig Experience for kids +7. Book in advance to ensure your spot.
Attend a free program: Check the calendar for the daily schedule of events. We took in a “Science Talk” at the outdoor auditorium and learned about dinosaurs and reptiles. There is also story time.
Play outside: Cenovus Palaeo Play Park is an outdoor playground with a covered sandbox where kids can dig and discover replicas of dinosaur bones.
Getting there: From Calgary, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is 140km northeast of Calgary. 6 km outside of Drumheller. Free parking onsite. For a quieter experience visit in the fall or winter or during the evening in the summer months.
Low-down: In the summer, it’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. From October to May it’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Mondays.) Adults are $18, Youth (7 to 17) $10 and kids 6 and under are free. You can purchase tickets and reserve programs online. Audio guides in multiple languages available ($4). Gift shop at exit.
Snack time: There is a cafeteria with fast food type options (and some prepackaged sandwiches and salads.) You can also bring your own food and picnic on the grounds.
What to wear: If you’re planning to explore the Badlands, wear runners. Mandatory if you register for one of the programs. Wear a hat and bring bug spray and sun screen during the summer months.
In the hood:
- Hoodoos Trail: Alberta isn’t just about the Rockies. The Badlands are just as beautiful. Be sure to drive 15 km southeast to explore the rock formations along this trail.
- World’s Largest Dinosaur: You can climb the stairs for a view out of the mouth of the World’s Largest Dinosaur. There is a splash pad and community swimming pool at the base.
- Dino Photo Opps: Tour the 3rd Ave to find all the dinosaur sculptures.