Are you planning a visit to Drumheller? Good choice! This is a great place to spend a couple days as you explore the beautiful province of Alberta, Canada. Here are ten fun things to check out during your visit.
Don’t forget to check out the town of Drumheller, itself! While there isn’t a whole lot to see in Drumheller, it has fully embraced its lot in life: the dinosaur. Keep your eye peeled for random dinosaur figures around town and for some of the street names!
The World’s Largest Dinosaur
The best of the dinosaur statues in Drumheller is also the world’s largest! Check it out in Centennial Park, which is also the location of the Visitor Center. The Tyrannosaurus Rex towers over the parking lot and Visitor Center at 26 meters (86ft). For a fee, you can climb inside the T-Rex for a view of the surrounding landscape. Or you can just have some fun in the parking lot taking photos of this very amusing sight!
Royal Tyrrell Museum – The Museum
Located six kilometers from Drumheller, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is a very cool place to spend a few hours. Not only is it a museum, it is an active centre of palaeontological research and is Canada’s only museum exclusively dedicated to paleontology. It makes sense that the museum is here in Alberta as this province has the greatest dinosaur diversity in the world!
What I especially enjoyed about this museum is the sheer number of real fossils it contains (i.e. not just casts); apparently, there are more than 130,000 fossils here! Ever wanted to see a real skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Albertosaurus, Stegosaurus, or a Triceratops? Well, come on down to this museum! There are also many other exhibits, including a garden with plants from prehistoric Alberta, a life-size model of a 375-million-year old reef, many cool-looking dioramas, and the remains of the world’s largest known marine reptile (it was 69ft long).
Royal Tyrrell Museum – The Walk
Right next to the museum, there is a lovely interpretative trail upon which you can wander and admire the badlands. This unusual terrain was created over 10,000 years ago by floodwaters from melting glaciers. The museum’s trail is 1.5km roundtrip along an easy trail. When I went late in the afternoon, it was quite quiet which made it easier to pretend I was on an alien planet!
The Little Church
Located near the Royal Tyrrell Museum, right by the side of the road, there sits a little white church. It was first built in 1968 and rebuilt in 1991. The church is tiny: it’s only 7 by 11 feet in size! The building can hold six people at a time and a minister; I found the place to be so peaceful so I can see why it is an actual place of worship and meditation.
This canyon lies about 10km past the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It’s similar to the Horseshoe Canyon, but is apparently less visited…which was strange to me as I much preferred Horsethief Canyon to Horseshoe. No one really knows why Horsethief Canyon is called that but some say stolen horses were once hidden here for rebranding before being sold. If you come here late in the afternoon during autumn, the light is beautiful and you’ll likely have it to yourself. You have the option to stay up above and drink in the expansive views or you can head down into the canyon itself – just be careful not to get lost!
This free, small cable-operated ferry runs across the Red Deer River. The ride across the river isn’t long, maybe five to eight minutes. It is the last operational ferry in the Drumheller region and it has been running since 1913!
As you head towards Drumheller after the ferry ride, stop at the Orkney Viewpoint that overlooks the Red Deer River Valley. In the late afternoon sun, the views are beautiful and sprawling. You may get lucky and hear the yips and howls of coyotes down in the valley!
These natural structures are iconic to Alberta’s badlands. A hoodoo is a sandstone pillar capped by harder stone. You can see some at the Hoodoo Trail near Drumheller. This trail is fairly short, only half a kilometer long, but apparently you can hike up the hillside for more expansive views, if you so wished. Hoodoos are very fragile so please don’t touch them!
The Town of Wayne
This town got its start due to a boom in the coal mining industry and in its heyday, it had more than 2500 people living here. The boom turned into a bust and now it has a population of only 31 people. But the popularity of the Last Chance Saloon, a family run joint, is probably one reason why Wayne has not totally died.
The hotel attached to the saloon was built in 1913 and is the only remaining structure from the coal mining days. But the saloon has all sorts of fascinating memorabilia and photographs to remind you of the area’s history. So definitely add Wayne and its saloon to your list of things to do near Drumheller!