If you ever want to know anything about Dinosaurs and be astounded at artefacts which are millions of years old, you’ve got to take a trip to Drumheller in Alberta, Canada. It’s a small town, about 90 minutes to the north-east of Calgary and set in the most impressive scenery imaginable – the ‘Badlands’. To describe them as a mini-grand canyon wouldn’t be far from the truth and whilst it may take time and effort to get there, it’s a location that will reward you in astonishment and wonder.
Once founded on coal, Drumheller’s main attraction these days is being home to one of the most pre-eminent dinosaur museums in the world – the Royal Tyrrell Museum. The museum continues to discover amazing dinosaur fossils across the province and attracts both tourists and palaeontologists from across the globe as a research centre and tourist site. The range of fossils and dino-skeletons which are on display throughout the huge presentation areas are simply astounding. Even if dinosaurs aren’t your thing, you can’t help but marvel at what has been discovered and is right there in front of your eyes.
We’d been advised to book on one of the museum’s dinosaur digs which takes you into the fossil fields and just like any palaeontologist, you’re there on your hands and knees brushing the sand and stone in search of actual artefacts. It’s a great experience and not just a mimic of the real thing – this IS the real thing and you’re actually there, knelt on the fossil fields and potentially discovering the next big find …. talking of which, this pic below is the latest on display which was discovered only in 2005 …
You won’t be surprised to learn that back in the main town of Drumheller, they welcome visitors with the ‘World’s Largest Dinosaur’ – I kid you not. Featuring in the Guinness Book of Records and standing 26m high, you can climb up the inside of a model T-Rex, and look out through its teeth at the surrounding view. It’s fun and wacky, and brings a smile to everyone’s faces. In the town, there are model dinosaurs everywhere so you certainly know you’re arrived in the right place!
There’s a Dinosaur Trail Drive which takes you alongside and past the impressive canyons and Red Deer River. The canyons are spectacular and completely at odds with the almost totally flat landscape which surrounds then. You see the various stratas of rock layers which have been naturally formed over millions of years so any geologist will think they’ve gone to heaven and back just witnessing the view. For us mere mortals, all you can do is gaze in awe at such beauty that’s been created.
Then, there’s the Hoodoos. Hoodoos take millions of years to form from the effects of erosion caused by water, wind, and frost. They stand 5 to 7 metres tall and each one is a sandstone pillar resting on a thick base of shale that is capped by a large stone. The solid, strong capstones protect the softer, underlying base creating their unique mushroom-like shape. However, the hoodoos are eroding at a rate as rapid as one centimetre per year – quicker than virtually any other geological structure. The varied colour and texture of the rock, visible as horizontal banding on the hoodoos, is based on the ancient environments of the inland sea and coastal swamps once present during the Cretaceous period – between 70 to 75 million years ago. It’s almost incomprehensible something that old! There again, they are in absolutely good company set alongside the dinosaurs and our visiting grandparents 🙂
Another trip worth making whilst you’re there, is along Highway 10X from Rosedale – just outside of Drumheller – to a small hamlet of Wayne. Another one for the Guinness Book of Records, you can drive over the most bridges (11 in total) across the shortest distance – 6km in total. Wayne itself, originally was home to over 2,400 people, but now has a mere 33 remaining living there. It’s fast approaching almost ghost-town status and has the ‘Last Chance Saloon’, built in 1913 and one of Alberta’s only operating cowboy relics.
In terms of old ages past, it’s a trip full of history and relics – and another item ticked off our bucket list – and a ‘must-do’ for anyone visiting Alberta. Get it on your list!
Now, onto our next bucket item …. 🙂