As a rule we are at our happiest amongst the mountains and the trees, our idea of a perfect holiday is spending it in lush, green national parks surrounded by wildlife. Having said that, we spent a large proportion of our holiday last year in the red rock parks of Utah and absolutely loved it.
As a result we decided to spend a few days at the start of the trip making the journey east of Calgary out to the badlands of the dinosaur trail. This landscape is world famous for paleontological research and some of the most important dinosaur discoveries in the world have been made there.
Drumheller started life as a mining town and as that part of its industry declined it has certainly made the most of its dinosaur heritage. There are random dinosaur statues on the corner of most streets and it is also home to the World’s Largest Dinosaur, a hilarious tourist attraction that allows tourists to climb up and view the landscape from its mouth.
Just a few miles up the road you find the brilliant Tyrell Museum which is also a research station for paleontologists. The exhibits were interactive, engaging and at the point where I usually hit the wall in museums where I can’t look at another exhibit, this held my interest all the way round.
We only spent an afternoon at Dinosaur Provincial Park but it is small enough that you can take in all the sights in this time. It is pretty mind blowing to think that there were huge dinosaurs roaming around this land 65 million years ago and great listening to some of the discoveries that have been made there. Having said that, we hiked all of the short trails available at this park and found there wasn’t much to distinguish one from another.
For both areas we were supposed to stay longer than we did and moved on simply because we felt we’d seen everything pretty quickly. The raging thunderstorm that started when we were at Dinosaur Provincial Park sent us running for the now famous motel of doom rather than camp there but we were actually pretty relieved.
If you have an extra few days available it’s worth spending a little time checking out the sights but in all honesty, I wouldn’t rush back to either. Drumheller has the kitsch aspect and a brilliant museum whereas Dinosaur Provincial Park is quiet and good for wandering but there isn’t enough in our opinion to warrant a longer trip. The french trappers who first roamed through this area called it the les mauvaises terres à traverser (the bad lands to cross) and I have to say I agree with them. Although we enjoyed the couple of days we had, the prairie of eastern Alberta just wasn’t for us longer term.