Dinosaur Park

The coulees and buttes of the badlands found in the Red Deer River Valley are littered with dinosaur bone beds. Visitors have many opportunities to watch or even participate as yet more exciting discoveries are made.

This tour again starts in Calgary with a pleasant 138 kilometre or 86 mile drive to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology near Drumheller, Alberta. The museum is home to the largest collection of complete dinosaur skeletons in the world.

“One of the things that really sets us apart,” says Martie Hickie, the museum’s head of community relations, “is the opportunity to see or even join a dig that is underway. Fossil material is literally being collected in our back yard offering a more complete visitor experience.”

More than 200 dinosaur specimens, the largest under one roof anywhere, are displayed at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. Display information is augmented by slide shows, video mini-theatres, computer stations and hands-on scientific experiments.

Next stop is Dinosaur Provincial Park UNESCO World Heritage Site, near Brooks, Alberta. This is where much of the museum’s fieldwork takes place. While scientific staff work to unravel the mysteries of the dinosaurs, park guides present that information to visitors through various tours and programs including bus trips and guided hikes.

Two full days should be budgeted for the park. Entry to much of Dinosaur Provincial Park is restricted to the guided tours, which have limited capacity. The most common regret expressed by visitors who stay less than a day is that they didn’t allow enough time to participate in a natural preserve tour.

The Dinosaur Country tour winds up a short drive further south near the small town of Warner, Alberta. In 1987, amateur archeologist Wendy Sloboda made a dramatic discovery. She uncovered small fossil fragments of eggshell in the badlands of the Milk River Ridge, which led to the unearthing of Hadrosaur nests, eggs and embryos embedded in the coulee banks.

Devil’s Coulee, as it is now known, is the first dinosaur-nesting site discovered in Canada and the second in the world with dinosaur embryos in the eggs. Regular tours of the area are offered and there is an interpretive centre in the town of Warner.