Outdoor Adventures

Everybody do the dinosaur: Alberta’s fossil-rich history means tons of dino-related places to go

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Look, just because the last two Jurassic Park movies were both totally bunk shouldn’t mean your feelings about dinosaurs have fallen to match. Especially given that Alberta is such a fossil-rich place—considered  right up there with the Gobi Desert in Mongolia in terms of the sheer volume of things that can be unearthed. Hell, a brand-new species of dinosaur—Regaliceratops peterhewsi, nicknamed “Hellboy” due to a similarity with the comic-and-movie character—was discovered and displayed as recently as 2015. You just paid taxes for that year!

With all of that in mind, when planning out your summer adventure schedule, why not honour your inner eight-year-old and scope out some of the dino-related places scattered across the province?

Royal Tyrrell Museum 

Well, duh: Drumheller’s famous museum is an anchor in a list about dinosaur-stuff in Alberta. Its collection of fossils tallies up to more than 120 000, but there’s a bevvy of things to do in the area—open seven days a week from May until the end of August, the museum offers tours of the Badlands (nearby Midland Provincial Park), a chance to dig for fossils, a few different interactive presentations and considerable amounts of other programming. There’s also suggested itineraries for both families and adults sans kids, which can be browsed at
tyrrellmuseum.com.

Philip J Curie Dinosaur Museum

Alberta’s other dinosaur museum is a relatively new addition to the landscape—it opened its doors in September 2015 (and if you want to read about the architecture of the place, skip back to Page 18). Located just west of Grande Prairie and named for one of Canada’s most renowned palaeontologists, it offers its own trove of programming: museum exhibits, a speaker series and more, which you can peruse at dinomuseum.ca.

Dinosaur Provincial Park

This UNESCO World Heritage Site sits two-and-a-half hours southeast of Calgary (near Brooks). Encompassing just under 74 kilometres of the Red Deer River valley, it’s known as a hotbed of fossil finds, with some 40 specifies having been discovered within its borders. In terms of how you can use the space: there’s a field station/visitor centre of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, both hiking trails and guided tours (on foot and by bus), plus year-round on-site camping. Also: In the same area sits John Ware’s Cabin—a restored space once used by the legendary African-American cowboy—which has a visitors centre. Go to albertaparks.ca/dinosaur.aspx for more info.

Jurassic Forest 

This one’s relatively close to home: a 40-acre prehistoric preserve, just north of Edmonton (Gibbons). It’s an old-growth forest that’s been dotted with dinosaurs. You can ride a triceratops, and while we’re not talking a real, living, Jurassic Park-like  triceratops, I still don’t know what could be a more compelling reason to go. There’s also mini golf, a scatter of kid-friendly activities, and flora-and-fauna based tours, if the plant-life is more your thing. Full details at jurassicforest.com.

 

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