DRUMHELLER, “The Dinosaur Capital Of The World”

Gem with “hoodoos”

Prior to the coronavirus-19 pandemic I was in Drumheller, the “Dinosaur Capital of the World”. Travelling with me in the heart of the Canadian badlands were my daughter, Marie Anne and her husband, Jerry, and their children, Cassy and Cole.

Drumheller is a small town of 7,982 inhabitants in Alberta located more than 100 kms. northeast of Calgary. For anyone visiting Calgary , Drumheller is an absolute stop and it’s well worth it. Exploring it’s surrounding badlands is a learning experience. Why are they called the “badlands”? Due to its extreme temperatures, water scarcity and rugged terrain the indigenous Lakota people were the first to call these places “maco-sico” or “land bad”.

Drumheller is widely recognized as the “dinosaur capital of the world” because of the high concentration of dinosaur fossils and skeletons found in the area.

The discovered fossils come from 60 different species of dinosaurs. What are dinosaurs? Dinosaurs are extinct reptiles with four limbs and a long tapering tail ranging in size from a few feet to almost 100 feet long. Million of years ago Drumheller was tropical which was conducive to plant growth where dinosaurs, chiefly terrestrial , carnivorous and herbivorous, could live and flourish.

A Canadian geological surveyor, Joseph Tyrrell, stumbling upon a 70-million-year-old dinosaur skull, discovered dinosaur bones in Alberta’s badlands and coal land deposits around Drumheller in 1884. As a tribute to him, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller was established and opened in 1985. The museum hosts Canada’s largest collection of over 160,000 catalogued fossils, with 800 of them on permanent display. It is a museum like no other and great for all ages. We spent hours at the main area of the museum, the Dinosaur Hall, which houses over 30 mounted dinosaur skeletal frames. Our two grandchildren, Cassy and Cole, had so much fun viewing and admiring the dinosaur skeletons in various sizes.

However, the world’s largest dinosaur, the fiberglass Tyrannosaurus Rex, could not be seen in the museum. The largest dinosaur measuring 26.2 meters (86 ft. high) is located somewhere else, at #60, 1st Avenue West of the town, and we had to climb 106 stairs, for a small fee of $3.00, to the top where 12 persons can fit in the mouth at a time. A female, it is 151 feet long and cost $1,065,000 million to build.

Driving southeast of the town along Hwy. 10 we discovered the “hoodoos” of Drumheller valley. These hoodoos are oddly-shaped rock formations created by erosion, naturally shaped by wind and water. Standing up to 20 feet tall they are called “hoodoos” because they are kind of eerie They also have other names from “fairy chimneys” to “goblins”.

Just 9 kms. from Drumheller, don’t miss to take a stroll across the historic swaying bridge of Rosedale, also known as Star Mine Suspension Bridge, the 117 meter-long pedestrian suspension bridge across the Red Deer River built in 1931 to give coal miners easier access to the Star Mines area. There’s a little danger even if you swing the bridge because the sides of the bridge are high.

With the surge of the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic learn more about doing your part to limit and contain the spread of the virus before travelling to Drumheller. And don’t forget – masking, sanitizing, distancing (mask, hugas, iwas).