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Dinosaur related sightseeing in Central Alberta
Hi everyone. I started this off as a personal reply to someone who
requested information on dinosaur related things to do and see in
Alberta. Since then, I've had a few requests from others for the
same information, so I thought I'd post it to the list.
My only trouble is going to be where to start! To keep
things relatively short, I'll try and stick to strictly dinosaur
related things to do and see. I've tried to order them from must
sees down to interesting if you've got the time. I've left out
the extremely tacky tourist oriented places. ;-)
1) Royal Tyrrell Museum: about 6km outside of Drumheller. A must see.
Probably the best fosil & dinosaur collection & exhibits in Canada.
Cameras are no problem; take all the pictures you want. Be warned that
taking pictures in the dinosaur gallery is a hit and miss operation;
many auto flashes have trouble with the big room, and even shots of
close up skeletons sometimes turn out dark. This year they have a
Devonian reef exhibit/dinorama that's quite interesting. A couple of
nice self guided walking trails, too.
2) Also at the museum; the Day Digs and Day Watch. For $75Cdn you can
spend a day in the badlands working in a bone bed quarry. I can
almost guarantee that you'll dig up at least one bone; I've never
missed in the nine full days I've spent at the site. You'll dig, map,
trench, plaster, you name it. You get to do literally everything.
I've already been four days this year. If you're got a day to spend,
and you're up to a day in the badlands, it's an experience you'll
remember for a looong time. For $8Cdn, you can take a Day Watch; a two
hour trip out to the quarry to watch the Day Diggers at work.
To give you some idea of what comes out of the site, 380 jackets were
taken back to the museum last year. We find a lot of hadrosaur bones;
mostly ribs and vertebrae; some carnosaur teeth (Albertosaurus), some
pachyrhinosaurus bones, bits of amber, some petrified wood,
meso-sequioa cones, and lots of other little tid bits.
3) Dinosaur Provincial Park; not in the Drumheller area, but about 90
minutes east; north and east of Brooks Alberta, off the Trans-Canada.
This is where most of the digs in Alberta are right now; the Day Digs
is in fact the only dig in the Drumheller area. The museum maintains
a permanent field station here, and you can sign up for bus tours of
the bone beds. Highly recommended. There are self guided walks as
well, but you'll do much better going on the bus tours; you get to
see a _LOT_ more. It is rattlesnake country, so watch what you step
on. A long way from Drumheller, and well worth the trip, if it's been
dry! If they got a lot of rain, as we did last June, the bus tours
often get cancelled, because the bentonite and smectite clays just
get too slippery for safety.
4) Horseshoe Canyon: about 15km west of Drumheller on Hwy 9. One of
the badland canyons, with miles and miles of walking trails. Quite a
treacherous slope (if it's been raining) leads down into the canyon;
from there, it's another world. Great viewpoint.
5) Dinosaur Empire: in the Drumheller arena. Just turn right at the
T-Rex sculpture, just before you go over the Red Deer River. An
exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs. Quite neat, especially if you have
kids. There's one exhibit that the bare metal "skeleton" of a
dinosaur that the kids can operate; move the various body parts and
such. One of the tourist info places is in the building next door.
6) Horsethief Canyon: about 10 km NW of the RTMP. Fossil oyster beds,
and walking trails. Another nice view, but not as spectacular to look
at as Horseshoe Canyon.
7) Fossil museum; downtown Drumheller. Lots of interesting fossils
from the area, including the pachyrhinosaurus skull that was the
first thing taken out of the Day Digs bone bed, back in the early
60s. The RTMP has a cast, but this is the real thing.
There are a couple of shops selling fossils in town, including the
Fossil Shop, just over the Red Deer River bridge as you're heading
out to the museum. It's very expensive. There's a more reasonable
place downtown, but it's name escapes me at the moment. I can
recommend the fossil stand at Horseshoe Canyon as giving pretty good
value for the money.
And I think that will keep you busy for a few days! If you come up
with any other questions you would like answered, let me know. Just
in case you're wondering, no, I don't work for them museum; I only
wish I did!