Sunday, April 29, 2012

Backyard Bucket List: Drive the Dinosaur Trail in Drumheller, Alberta (Part One)


I grew up in the area around Drumheller, and spent many a fine day exploring the dinosaur-saturated streets during the summer months of my youth. It was always fun to see the variety of dinosaur statues and paraphernalia that Drumheller had to offer, but I guess when you grow up with it, it isn't super exciting or interesting. I do remember a day in high school when my best friend and I took it upon ourselves to photograph one another with every single dinosaur statue in town (there's A LOT, so it took us all day to do this), but other than that, I didn't have much to do with Drum's tourist options. Yeah, I'd been to the museum (I'd even slept over inside of it when I was about ten years old) but even that was "old" to me.

Drumheller Alberta Canada, things to see in Drumheller
Yes, I wore that sweater in public by choice - I had STYLE!

Fast forward about twelve years. I have lived away from Drumheller for years, and now am seeing just how much fun this town can be for someone looking for a couple days of adventure. The "Dinosaur Trail" road that cuts through the Drumheller valley has many interesting pit-stops along the way. This post, part one, takes us halfway down the Dinosaur Trail to the Royal Tyrell Museum and the town of Drumheller. The other half of the trail will be featured in future posts. (Like this one about the Hoodoos and Suspension Bridge.)

Drumheller Alberta, Amazing Race Canada, Drumheller Badlands
Entrance to Horse Thief Canyon in Drumheller, Alberta. 

A: Horse Thief Canyon
I've already skipped the Bleriot Ferry, which takes visitors across the Red Deer River and onto the Dinosaur Trail. I've never been on it, as it runs only at certain times of the year, and sporadically at that. It's easy enough to drive over the river on the bridge, but you can hit up the ferry if you like. Once past the town of Munson, you'll notice you are headed into the valley. Before your car even dips down into a forward slant, you'll have the chance to pull off the road to a look-out point known as Horse Thief Canyon. This is a splendid introduction to the Drumheller Valley and its stunning "badlands". The hills are a singular sight: striped and layered with the paintbrush of time, they roll out across the valley in vibrant color.

Drumheller Alberta, Amazing Race Canada, Horse Thief Canyon
A shot of the colorful layers of the Drumheller Valley Badlands in Alberta, Canada.

As a kid, my dad's friend Dave used to take us out to this canyon to go hiking and search for fossils. We found one once, a fossil of an ancient sea creature. We were so excited! (Now I know Dave planted it there... The area has been picked over so much that chances of actually finding a fossil are slim to none, and it is also discouraged so that the natural area doesn't get ruined by thousands of tourists trampling here and there.) Regardless of your paleontology skills, the canyon has gorgeous views, a nice hiking trail when it isn't muddy, and is a great spot for a picnic. Last time I was there (this past weekend in fact), it was spring and the crocuses were blooming - a sure sign of the season!

Drumheller Badlands, Horse Thief Canyon, Alberta Canada
A spring crocus peeks through the grass in the Drumheller Badlands.

Drumheller Alberta, Amazing Race Canada, Drumheller Badlands
I enjoy the view of the stunning Horse Thief Canyon in Drumheller, Alberta.

B: The Little Church
Get back in your car, wave good-bye to Horse Thief Canyon, and drive a few more miles down into the valley. You will go past several gorgeous farms that are nestled alongside the riverbed, and a very unique golf course. Then, tucked into the side of Dinosaur Trail, you will see the Little Church. Don't go too fast or you'll miss it!

things to do in Drumheller Alberta, Alberta Canada, Dinosaur Trail
The "Little Church" in Drumheller, Alberta.

The church fits about six adults, and that's pushing it. It was built in 1968 and is supposedly used as a place of worship, but I can't picture someone actually going there with intentions to do anything but take wacky pictures. It is mainly a tourist attraction and that's about it. It's cute though!

things to do in Drumheller Alberta, Alberta Canada, Dinosaur Trail
Squishing myself into a tiny pew in the Little Church at Drumheller.

After the Little Church, the next stop is the Royal Tyrell Museum. I have been there several times, but have not explored it since it underwent major renovations a few years ago. I do have plans to go tour through it in May, so I will be picking up this post from there, beginning at the museum and working my way further down the Dinosaur Trail to the hoodoos, suspension bridge, Atlas Coal Mine, and more!

things to do in Drumheller Alberta, Alberta Canada, Dinosaur Trail
The Little Church in comparison to a 5'4" travel blogger!

Stay tuned for more Backyard Bucket List, but my next stop and the next post will be about my upcoming trip - to St. Louis!!

3 comments:

  1. I love the Royal Tyrell museum! I was always jealous of the kids who got to do the overnight thing there. I haven't been there since I was little, but it is one of my fondest memories. I still have a purple stuffed dinosaur toy I bought from there named Lilian. It would be interesting to see how it has changed. Sorry I keep commenting on your blog; I feel kind of weird because I'm like the only one. I hope you don't mind?

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    1. Ha ha - I love that you comment on my blog. Yes, I have noticed you are the only one... hopefully you start a movement! And that's a great name for a stuffy!

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  2. I know the first time I got a comment from someone who wasn't my close friend/family, I was glowing for days, haha! Also it might seem weird that I said I was sorry, since I know most bloggers want fans, right? But I think I inherited the "apologize for everything" trait of the Canadians from my grandparents. I even say it a bit like a Canadian.

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