Drumheller is a town in the Southern Alberta region of Alberta, famous for the rich deposits of fossils found in the area. It is an important centre for Palaeontology in Canada. Set in a characteristic "badlands" valley carved in the plains by the Red Deer River, Drumheller rose through coal mines — now abandoned — early in the 20th century. Now this town of 8,000 (2016) gets hundreds of thousands of visitors between May and September, making it the hub for tourism in the area.
Drumheller's tourism is strongly seasonal. Many attractions are closed or open limited hours from October through April.
The town is nestled in the Red Deer River valley. Near the bridge where the highways cross the river stands an 86-foot (26 m) tall sculpture of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Visitor's information centre, so this makes a good reference point. Downtown Drumheller is just south and east of this bridge.
Drumheller tourist information is broadcast on FM 94.5.
The weather is usually very hot in the summer (above 30°C, 85°F). Remember to carry mosquito repellent — there are lots of mosquitoes around!
Drumheller is located at the convergence of provincial highways 9, 10, 56, 575, and 576.
Drumheller is 140 km (87 mi) northeast of Calgary, about 1 hour 45 minutes by car. Drive east along the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) to Highway 9, which travels north and east to Drumheller. An alternate route is to drive north along Highway 2, then east along Highway 72 (exit 295), which connects with Highway 9 in the small town of Beiseker. Travelers can approach from the east by taking Highway 9 (Saskatchewan Highway 7) from Saskatoon or taking the Trans-Canada Highway from Regina and then go north on Highway 56.
Tour companies offer day trips to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Drumheller Valley. Call the Royal Tyrrell Museum for more information.
Independent travelers staying in Calgary, but wishing to see sights in the Drumheller area without renting a car, may wish to consider the Canadian Badlands Day Trip from Calgary. Sights include the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Horseshoe Canyon, the Atlas Coal Mine museum and the hoodoo rock formations. Serious dinosaur fans may find the visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum somewhat hurried due to time constraints.
Drumheller is a small, rural town. The downtown is compact and easily walkable. Beyond that, you will need an automobile. A bicycle would also do, but during tourist season it is hot, and the roads don't have good bike lanes.
The badlands landscape is visible all around the town, as it is set in the valley. Although the Horseshoe and Horsethief canyons are good viewpoints to look over town, the best introduction to the landscape is probably on the trails leading from the Tyrrell Museum. The trails there have good views through the canyon, and information signs to give and introduction to the geology. They are all free to access, and it's probably around 2 hours to wander around outside there on clearly marked and graded trails. There are considerable steps, though - so access still requires some moderate fitness.
- 1 The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Highway 838 (From the intersection of Railway Ave S / Hwy 575 and Bridge St / HWY-56 / HWY-9, go north on Bridge St for 1.2 km, crossing river. At well-marked intersection,turn left (west) onto Dinosaur Trail / Highway 838. Go west for 5.2 km. At Tyrrell Museum sign, turn right (north) onto the museum's road.), ☏ , toll-free: (outside Alberta; 310-0000 then fee number in Alberta), fax: , [email protected]. Tu-Su (plus Mondays in September) 10AM-5PM, fall/winter (Labour Day weekend to mid-May). Daily 9AM-9PM, spring/summer (week before Victoria Day to week before Labour Day). A spectacular range of exhibits and activities showing off the rich fossils of the Alberta badlands, from dinosaurs to pollen. Interesting even to people who aren't fans of dinosaurs, which is confirmed by the hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. There are a variety of moderate hikes to fossil artifacts, starting from the museum during the summer months. Adults $19, seniors (65 and up) $14, youth $10, children 6 years and under free; family of two adults and up to 6 children age 7 to 17 $46; two-day tickets available for 1.5 times the single-day price. Call for discounts for larger groups of 15+.
- Suspension Bridge.
- Hoodoos Trail. — a 500-m easy loop trail takes you out to see a collection of 10 fantastical stone columns with caprocks. It's 16 km SW of Drumheller; take Highway 56 to Highway 10 on the way to East Coulee, and look for the signs.
- 2 Drumheller Visitor Information Centre, 60 - 1 Avenue West (on Riverside Drive at 1 St W, under the World's Largest Dinosaur), toll-free: , [email protected]. Daily 10AM – 5:30PM; 9AM-9PM in July and August. Free maps and free tourist advice. Gift shop. Books room in area hotels (they have a board to check availability and pricing for that night). Features the World’s Largest Dinosaur statue, 6 feet tall, 151 feet long, four times the size of a real Tyrannasaurus Rex. For $4, you can climb up inside it and look out over the badlands.
- 3 Midland Provincial Park, Highway 838 (Near the Royal Tyrrell Museum), ☏ . On the site of an abandoned coal mine, this land houses the Royal Tyrrell museum. It also has day use sites for McMullen Island and Mine Sites 1, 2, and 3. No camping. Washrooms available.
- [dead link] Homestead Antique Museum, 901 North Dinosaur Trail, ☏ . Open daily 10AM-5PM (May-Oct), extended hours in summer, closed after Thanksgiving. Over 10,000 artifacts from the Victorian and Edwardian era, including a two-headed calf and a complete house bought from an Eaton's catalogue. $5/person, $3/senior or youth.
- Mountain View Helicopters, ☏ . Sightseeing flights over Horseshoe Canyon. $40/person for 2-3 people.
- Fossil World, 1381 Dinosaur Trail North (on the way to the Royal Tyrell Museum), ☏ . Dig up and take home fossils.
- Greentree Mall (Highway 10 East), ☏ . Open daily.. Mall has a variety of shops, including food, gas, auto service, clothing, haircuts, and more.
- Vietnamese Noodle House (2 St W at A Ave W). Tu-F 11AM-9PM; Sa Su noon-8PM. Vietnamese noodles, ice cream, and a variety of other everyday fare in an unpretentious setting.
- Bernie and the Boys Bistro, 305-4 Street W, ☏ . Tu-Su 11AM-9PM. Burgers, subs (sandwiches), salads, pasta, pizza.
- Triumph Cafe, 100 S Railway Ave, ☏ . 6AM - 10PM.
- Sizzling House, 160 Centre St, ☏ . Canadian Chinese. Weekday buffet lunch. Buses welcome.
- Fred & Barney's Family Restaurant, Highway 9 S (Across from Jurassic Inn), ☏ . Chinese & Western buffet. Bus tours welcome.
- Sublime, 109 Centre Street (across from the arena), ☏ . Tu-Su 5PM-9PM. Fine dining made from a Red Seal Chef Dennis Standage. One of the best little restaurants in Alberta. $15-40.
- The Recovery Tap House, 30 Railway Avenue West (Downtown Drumheller), ☏ . 11AM - 2AM. Great steaks, sandwiches and regular pub food $10-20, daily lunch specials.
- The Vintage Tap House.
- Super 8 Motel, 800- 680 2nd St SE, ☏ , toll-free: . Waterslide, guest laundry, high speed internet. Family suites and kitchen suites available.
- The Drumheller Inn, 100 S Railway Ave, ☏ , fax: . Air-conditioned rooms, indoor pool, whirlpool. "Drumheller's only full service hotel", they claim.
- Best Western Jurassic Inn, 1103 9 Hwy S, ☏ . Pool. Hot tub. Guest laundry. High speed Internet.
- Rivergrove Camground (across the river from the World's Largest Dinosaur), ☏ , fax: . On the river, just across from downtown. Cabins. Full service facilities. Washroom & showers. RV waste dump. Laundry.
- 4 Horsethief Canyon (17 km (11 mi) northwest of Drumheller on North Dinosaur Trail / Highway 838, past the Royal Tyrell Museum.).
- 5 Horseshoe Canyon (23 km (14 mi) southwest of Drumheller on Highway 9). Beautiful badlands geology; offers good hiking if the rain hasn't made the rocks too slippery. Believed by some to be haunted.
- Dinosaur Trail. The Dinosaur Trail is a 48-kilometre (30 mi) excursion. Drive northwest and north out of Drumheller on Highway 838. Pass the Royal Tyrrell Museum and Horsethief Canyon. Highway 838 then turns west, and crosses the river at Bleriot Ferry (the Visitor Information Centre can provide the ferry schedule). Go a bit further west, then south on Highway 837 to Highway 575, which follows the west bank of the river back to just south of Drumheller.
- 1 Bleriot Ferry (Highway 838 over the Red Deer River), ☏ . May 5 to late May: 8AM-7PM; late May to early Sep: 8AM-11PM; early Sep to Oct 30: 8AM-7PM. free.
Rosebud (Alberta) is 35 km (22 mi) southwest of Drumheller. Drive south on Highway 9. After it turns west, drive 16 km (9.9 mi) more to get to the Rosebud crossing.
- East Coulee is 20 km (12 mi) southeast on the Hoodoo Trail, a drive along Highway 10 through Rossdale and Cambria. Access to the Willow Creek Hoodoos interpretive trail is in Cambria, 16 km (9.9 mi) southeast of Drumheller. The Atlas Coal Mine in East Coolee, a National Historic Site, features Canada's last wooden tipple (structure for emptying coal out of train cars).
- Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks, 177 km to the southeast, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has fossil exhibits that complement the Royal Tyrrell Museum here. But allow at least three days to see them both. The drive takes about 2 hours 15 minutes by car. Take highway 56 southeast and south for 73 km to Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway. Go 56.1 km east to Brooks. Exit there, go 6 km north on Highway 36, and then east along Highway 54 to the park.
|Routes through Drumheller|
|Calgary ← Beiseker ← Jct S N ←||W E||→ Morrin → Saskatoon|
|ENDS at W E ← East Coulee via ←||S N||→ Morrin → Camrose|
|Routes through Morrin|
|Calgary ← Drumheller ←||W E||→ Hanna → Saskatoon|
|Olds ← Three Hills ←||W E||→ END|
|ENDS at W E ← Drumheller ←||S N||→ Big Valley → Camrose|