Located a few hours Northeast of Calgary in the Badlands of Alberta, Drumheller is most famous as being the Dinosaur Capital of the World. Yet, while there are so many dinosaur-related activities and educational experiences to enjoy, Drumheller is also home to some unreal lunar-esque landscapes, a wealth of fascinating recent history, and great outdoorsy experiences.
I have now been to Drumheller twice; once on a family vacation when I was twelve years old, and once this past summer when I decided to rediscover it on a solo journey. Visiting Drumheller the second time around was just as awe-inspiring as it was the first and I had so much fun re-exploring all this awesome region has to offer.
The 10 Best Things To Do in Drumheller, Alberta
Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum
It may be a bit touristy (but, who are we kidding, most of Drumheller is touristy), but a visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum is an absolute must. Located just outside of town, the museum is home to excellent exhibits showcasing dinosaurs, fossils, and information from different prehistoric periods.
If you’re looking to see some real dinosaur bones, including a fully reconstructed Tyrannosaurus Rex, this is the place go. Note though that this place can get super crowded during peak hours in the summer, so if you’re headed this way and want to avoid the rush, go right when it opens or about an hour and a half before closing.
Go Inside the World’s Largest Dinosaur
Sitting pretty at 151-feet long, 86-feet tall, and weighing over 65 tonnes, you’ll have no trouble finding the World’s Largest Dinosaur. This T-Rex statue is 4.5 times larger than a real T-Rex would be, and it cost over 1 million CAD to build. I’ll admit, I haven’t been up there since I was a kid, but if you want the full Drumheller experience, then you have to climb the 106 stairs to the top.
Also, the Dinosaur is right beside Centennial Park, so if you travel to Drumheller in the summertime with tots in tow, then a stop at the splash pad will help quell that intense summer heat.
Wander Midland Provincial Park
Located just 6km west of Drumheller and home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum rests Midland Provincial Park, a place with awesome scenery and many biking and hiking trails. One of the most popular trails in the park is the Bandlands Interpretive Trail; a 1.4km loop beginning at the museum that takes you through absolutely gorgeous landscapes.
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Explore Downtown Drumheller
A city riddled with Dinosaur statues, ice cream parlours, quaint streets, and cute little shops, downtown Drumheller is worth a wander. My advice is to stop in at one of the local cafes for a bite to eat before hitting up some of the more time-consuming sites.
Visit the Rosedale Swinging Suspension Bridge
This 117-meter long pedestrian suspension bridge crosses the Red Deer River, and is situated just outside of Drumheller in Rosedale. Constructed in 1931 and once used by coal miners, the bridge today is a popular spot for fishing and as a starting point for hikes around the region.
See the Hoodoos
The Hoodoos are probably my favorite site in all of Drumheller, and are icons of the badlands. These 20-foot tall sandstone rocks were created over millions of years by wind and water erosion. Together with the surrounding scenery the Hoodoos create a lunar-like ethereal landscape that must be seen to be properly appreciated. While you can’t climb through the Hoodoos themselves, as they are fenced off in preservation efforts, you can wander through the surrounding area.
In Blackfoot and Cree mythology, the Hoodoos are actually petrified giants that come alive at night to throw rocks at intruders and protect the area.
Explore the Atlas Coal Mine
Whenever I think of the Atlas Coal Mine, I think of an old photo taken there of my younger brother and I sticking our heads through one of those head-in-the-hole photo cutouts that made us look like old coal miners. I find it hilarious to look at to this day, and I’m not about to post it here, so I digress.
The Atlas Coal Mine is a National Historic Site that operated from 1936 through 1979, and is now open to visitors keen on learning more about the old-fashioned coal mining days, going through the conveyor tunnel, or up to the tipple.
Drive the Dinosaur Trail
A 48-kilometre trail beginning just outside of Drumheller proper, the Dinosaur Trail is a great way to see the unreal, sometimes-desolate landscape that makes up the Alberta badlands. With scenic stops along the trail such as Horsethief Canyon, the Bleriot Ferry Crossing (it’s free and will probably be the shortest ferry you ever take), Orkney Lookout, and the Last Chance Saloon, you’ll be stopping for photo ops every few minutes.
Hike Horsethief Canyon
I admit that because I drove the Dinosaur Trail in mid-July and the place was teeming with Rattlesnakes, I skipped this particular activity on my most recent visit to Drumheller. However, that’s not to say I didn’t hang out at the viewpoint for a while and take in the beautiful landscape of the canyon.
Before you head out for a hike through Horsethief Canyon, definitely prepare yourself with a walking stick, long pants, and a cell phone. Additionally, ask around and see what the Rattler situation is like… you won’t regret it.
Fun fact, Horsethief Canyon was named in the 19th century when it was discovered that stolen horses were being herded through the canyon.
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Visit the Ghost Town of Wayne
Once a coal mining town home to more than 3000 inhabitants, the population has dwindled down to less than 50 in recent years. Located about 10km outside of Drumheller, Wayne is a great place to go to check out some abandoned buildings and get some great photo op’s.
If you find yourself craving a bite while in Wayne, then definitely check out the Last Chance Saloon; a lively, popular little place that often hosts live music – including the annual WayneStock Festival.
Drumheller Packing Essentials
Water Bottle: A large, refillable water bottle is going to be a saving grace if you plan on visiting Drumheller in the summertime.
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Have you ever been to Drumheller? What were your favorite sites?