9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Drumheller
In 1884, by sheer chance, geologist J. B. Tyrrell stumbled across some dinosaur bones lying among the cacti and stones of the Alberta Badlands. About 75 million years ago, many dinosaurs roamed the region around Drumheller - at one time a vast inland lake with a tropical climate and lush vegetation. Quite unwittingly, Tyrell started the "great Canadian dinosaur-rush": paleontologists and collectors from around the world streamed into the Badlands in their horse-drawn wagons, and dug up many of the skeletons, which can be seen today in numerous museums, including some outside Canada.
See also: Where to Stay in Drumheller
1 Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology
The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology displays hundreds of fossils, including dinosaur skeletons. The most modern museum techniques have brought millions of years of the earth's history back to life. Easy to use computer terminals, provide visitors with an insight into the fascinating evolution of life on earth. Located on the north bank of the Red Deer River, the museum opened in 1985 and has since draw worldwide acclaim for its paleontology research and exhibit facilities. A primeval garden shows tropical and subtropical plant species at the start of the Carbonaceous Period with their modern descendants.
2 Dinosaur Trail
Along Highways 838 and 837, the Dinosaur Trail takes in the area of steep and barren rocky slopes, from which wind and rain have revealed whole dinosaur skeletons and carved mushroom-shaped pillars known as "hoodoos". The 48-kilometer tour lies to the west of Drumheller, and edges Red Deer River. Besides the scenery, there are a number of attractions along this drive. Leaving Drumheller, at the bridge where Highway 9 crosses the river, visitors can climb inside a giant tyrannosaurus rex sculpture - titled as the world's largest. Along the river, there is an old coal mine that's been preserved as Midland Provincial Park (also where the Royal Tyrrell Museum is located). Further northwest, Bleriot Ferry carries passengers across the Red Deer River and has been in operation since 1913.
A tour of the Badlands follows Highway 9, northeast of Calgary, and passes through flat hills and partly irrigated arable land until arriving in Drumheller in the Red Deer River Valley. Some 17 kilometers west of Drumheller, the deeply slashed Horseshoe Canyon is a large chasm resembling a mini Grand Canyon. It shows the forces of erosion in the area and the complete lack of vegetation. The little vegetation that does grow in the Badlands includes sagebrush, greasewood bushes, and cacti.
4 Hoodoo Trail
This scenic drive offers great views of hoodoos, which are sandstone rock pillars in strange, gravity-defying shapes. A charming tour starts from Drumheller on Highway 10 to the east. After about eight kilometers, the route passes the Rosedale Swinging Suspension Bridge, originally built by the workers of the Old Star Coal Mine. It leads across to a now unused coal mine. The drive returns along the same route.
5 Horsethief Canyon
After a small chapel built in 1957 collapsed, Horsethief Canyon Viewpoint was constructed on the Dinosaur Trail to offer a good view of the various sedimentary layers in the canyon. The canyon is so named because thieves once used the tucked-away area to hide stolen livestock. Footpaths lead down into the canyon to fossilized oyster beds, though it is easy to get lost.
6 Editor's Pick Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site
On Hoodoo Drive, visitors can tour one of the many coal mines near Drumheller. Atlas Coal Mine offers underground tours through the mining tunnels and rides on a narrow-gauge train. The mine closed in 1979, part of a shift to natural gas as a heating fuel. The East Coulee School Museum is another local attraction in what's now nearly a ghost town, and introduces school life in the year 1936.
Address: 110 Century Drive, East Coulee
7 Dinosaur Provincial Park
Located in the Red Deer River Valley and northeast of Brooks, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to rich deposits of dinosaur bones. The Badlands park has a visitor center with extensive exhibits and welcomes dinosaur hunters for guided hikes, bus tours, and hands-on excavations. Besides dinosaurs, the wide and barren landscape of hoodoos and canyons is its own attraction.
8 Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park
To hunt large numbers of bison, Cree First Nations people would drive animals along the high-level plateau and over sharp cliffs above the Red River Valley. This Badlands park is about 100 kilometers north of Drumheller, and offers camping, bird watching, and canoeing. Keep an eye out for fossils too - the park has an important Albertosaurus bone bed.
9 Vulcan - Vulcan Trek Station
The Vulcan Trek Station in the town of Vulcan is a Star Trek-themed information center with a Captain and crew who can answer your questions about the town and its sci-fi attractions. The building itself is shaped like a spaceship, and is home to an extensive memorabilia collection. Near Highway 23, the Vulcan Starship FX6-1995-A was unveiled in 1995. A walking tour, memorial plaque, and walk of fame turn the whole town into a Trekky favorite.
Address: 115 Centre St E, Vulcan
Where to Stay in Drumheller for Sightseeing
We recommend these convenient hotels in Drumheller with easy access to the top sites:
- Heartwood Inn & Spa: 3.5-star hotel, friendly staff, uniquely decorated guestrooms, spa services, French toast breakfast.
- Ramada Drumheller Hotel & Suites: mid-range pricing, pool with waterslide, free continental breakfast, fitness center.
- Super 8 Drumheller: two-star hotel, family rooms are available, indoor pool and hot tub, free breakfast and parking, fitness room.
- Econo Lodge Inn & Suites Drumheller: budget hotel, central location, great service, clean rooms.