Drumheller, Alberta - Vacation with Children

Trip Start Jul 05, 2005
Trip End Jul 15, 2005

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Wednesday, July 6, 2005

  My husband and I wanted to take our two young children on a holiday and at the time they really liked dinosaurs and our son liked cowboys so we chose Drumheller, Alberta.

  Drumheller was named after a man 'Sam Drumheller', the surrounding Red Deer Valley was home to many dinosaurs millions of years ago.  Fossils of these prehistoric animals are often discovered in what is called the 'badlands'. 

After arriving at the Calgary airport we rented a vehicle and drove about 2 hours to the 'badlands' in Drumheller.  We checked in at the Best Western Jurassic Inn and booked a family suite with a small kitchenette.  This was perfect for us as our children were both under eight years of age and our youngest was still taking afternoon naps.  The hotel had a small pool, located close to restaurants and grocery stores.  The hotel is not very fancy or modern but it was clean, staff was friendly and helpful and the price was reasonable.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum www.tyrrellmuseum.com is a must see when in Drumheller.  It's located on Hwy. 838 about 6 km from town.  Dinosaurs that roamed Alberta millions of years ago are in the museum for you to look at.  Our son was a little frightened when he first walked into the museum.  These dinosaurs are huge to adults but can look like giant monsters to children, especially if they watched 'Jurassic Park'.  Many young families were here visiting the museum and I didn't see any children run out screaming!!   We bought disposable cameras with a flash and gave one to each of our children - they loved it!  The T-Rex was one of the most impressive dinosaur fossils, the bone structure looked just as frightening as it would have with the skin on.  The ceiling held a giant sea creature, I have no idea how they managed to suspend that fossil.  You can easily spend 2-3 hours with children in this museum and on the way out there is a gift shop where the kids can purchase a keepsake fossil.

During the week we discovered an area called Dinosaur trail, it's a 50 km circle trail taking you through the badlands to 'hoodoos' which are mushroom shaped rock formations created by thousands of years of wind and rain.  These were incredible to stand next too, so many different shapes and sizes.  The hoodoos are very delicate, you can't stand on them or they will break - some people actually do stand on them thinking it will make a good picture.  When we were visiting one of the hoodoos were broken and several tour buses stopped to look.

We toured old coal mines like the Atlas Coal Mine a national historic site www.atlascoalmine.ab.ca .  It's open from May to October for tours inside the mine.   It's the last one of it's kind in the area.  Personally, I am afraid to go into a coal mine so I stayed outside.

While driving on dinosaur trail we saw a rope bridge, old ghost towns that looked like a cowboy movie set.  In fact some movies have been filmed (all or part of) in the Drumheller area like Shanghai Noon, Legends of the Fall and Unforgiven.

 Later in the week we drove to Calgary to visit relatives and spent a day at the Calgary Zoo, a day at a pioneer village called  'Heritage Park Historical Village'.  Actors roam around the park dressed like they lived in the early 1880's and put on shows like an election or wedding.  When we visited they were having a heated public political debate that was worth watching, it really gives you an idea of what it was like to live back then. 

I think this type of trip is perfect for young families.  For adults Drumheller could be a little boring if you stayed for a full week, I would only stay for two or three days and move on to Calgary.
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