Dino-Mite Daytrip

Dinosaur Daytrip
Dino-Mite Daytrip

What do you call Tyrannosaurus rex when it wears a cowboy hat and boots? Tyrannosaurus Tex of course, Alberta style.

While they passed beyond our world over 65 million years ago, dinosaurs are alive and kicking in our imagination. Luckily, Alberta is a hotbed for dinosaur fossils. Opportunities abound for daytrips or overnight visits to close-by locales where dinosaurs would have walked, ate and slept millions of years ago.

Drumheller is home to the Royal Tyrell Museum, a must-see for tourists and locals alike. It’s an easy daytrip from Calgary. Displays such as the Burgess Shale exhibit feed our adult brains while the full sized skeletons of gigantic predatory dinosaurs such as the Albertasaurus excite (and sometime scare) the kids. Admission is $30 for a family of four.

Beyond the museum, a climb to the top of the World’s Largest Dinosaur located in the town of Drumheller to peek between the world’s largest teeth is worth the $3 for admission. As you drive around town, play ‘spot the dinosaur’ and have the kids keep a look out for the many dinosaur statues that abound. On hot days a visit to the dino-themed (of course) splash park located in the giant predator’s shadow is a welcome relief, so pack suits and towels in the car. Breakfast or lunch at WHIFS Flapjack House for pancakes and java is another Drumheller must-do (yum). The kids will be entertained by the trains moving around overhead while you enjoy the delicious food. If you’re looking for a weekend escape, both the Ramada and the Super 8 are clean, comfortable and have two-story waterslides (perhaps the highlight of the trip for the kids, if truth be told).

You can check out the many hikes and self-tours around Drumheller, but when it comes to hoodoos, you can’t beat a visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park. Located south of Drumheller near the town of Brooks, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is the origin of many of the fossils located in the Tyrell Museum.

Visit the interpretive center, take a bus tour through the hoodoos, take a short interpretive walk that even a preschooler could finish, or sign up for a longer guided hike into the preserve. Hunt for fossils in the hoodoos; look for rattlers, scorpions as well as abundant local deer. Float down the warm meandering river or dive in. Submerse yourself into the bentonite clay on the Red Deer riverbank for a low-cost alternative to the spa mudwrap.

Camping is available year round. There are showers and a small convenience store on site. September weekends are the best time of year to visit Dinosaur Provincial Park. Many services such as the bone bed hikes and bus tours still operate but without the summer crowds. The same goes for Drumheller’s attractions. If you are thinking of paying both locations a visit in a single excursion, don’t rush the trip. Budget at least two and a half days.

Take a dino-mite day trip into prehistory and bring Tyrannosaurus Tex (oops we mean Rex) to life in the hoodoos this fall. The kids will love the giant reptiles, eerie hills and fossil hunting. You’ll love watching them learn about geology, paleontology and Alberta’s ancient past.

Royal Tyrell Museum
www.tyrrellmuseum.com
(403) 823-7707

WHIFS Flapjack House
(403) 823-5155
801 North Dinosaur Trail

Dinosaur Provincial Park
www.tpr.alberta.ca

Tested by Heather J., Calgary and
Sarah M., Toronto
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First published 2008.08.21

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