Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta
I'm going to reveal a tiny secret to you. You may stroll among the dinosaur fossils that once roamed the Earth millions of years ago at one particular location in Canada. a location with the remains of several dinosaurs, including Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus rex. a location where you may enjoy the majesty and beauty of nature in a manner that very few people ever get to. It seems too wonderful to be true, isn't it? Okay, so it's not. It's true. Dinosaur Provincial Park is its name.
About two and a half hours' drive to the east of Calgary, in the Alberta badlands, is Dinosaur Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the richest dinosaur fossil beds in the world and is 74 square kilometres in size. Here, fossils from more than 40 different dinosaur species that lived between 75 and 65 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period have been found. The park also protects a wide variety of dinosaur-coexisting vegetation and animals, as well as breathtaking geological structures that shed light on Earth's past.
If you’re a fan of dinosaurs, or just curious about the past, this is a place you don’t want to miss. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you some of the highlights of my visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park, and give you some tips on how to make the most of your trip.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to Dinosaur Provincial Park is by car. You can rent a car from Calgary or any other nearby city and drive along Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) until you reach Brooks. From there, you can follow Highway 876 south for about 50 kilometers until you reach the park entrance. The road is paved and well-maintained, but be prepared for some twists and turns as you descend into the valley.
Alternatively, you can take a bus from Calgary to Brooks and then arrange for a taxi or a shuttle service to take you to the park. This option might be cheaper if you’re traveling alone or in a small group, but less convenient if you want to explore the park at your own pace.
Where to stay
There are several options for accommodation in and around Dinosaur Provincial Park. If you want to stay inside the park, you can choose from camping, comfort camping, or lodges.
Camping is the cheapest and most adventurous option. There are two campgrounds in the park: one near the visitor center and one near the river. Both have basic facilities such as showers, toilets, fire pits, and picnic tables. You can bring your own tent or trailer, or rent one from the park. Camping fees range from $28 to $38 per night depending on the season and the type of site.
Comfort camping is a more luxurious option that offers pre-set canvas tents with wooden floors, beds, furniture, heaters, fridges, and electricity. You also get access to a private washroom with hot water and flush toilets. Comfort camping fees range from $120 to $160 per night depending on the season and the number of people.
Lodges are the most comfortable option that offer private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, air conditioning, TV, and Wi-Fi. You also get access to a shared kitchen, dining room, lounge, and patio. Lodges are located near the visitor center and can accommodate up to four people per room. Lodge fees range from $150 to $200 per night depending on the season and the number of people.
If you want to stay outside the park, you can find more options in Brooks or other nearby towns such as Patricia or Duchess. You can choose from hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, or guest houses that offer various levels of comfort and amenities. Prices vary depending on the location and quality of the accommodation.
What to do
There’s no shortage of things to do in Dinosaur Provincial Park. Whether you’re interested in history, science, nature, or adventure, you’ll find something that suits your taste.
One of the main attractions of the park is the guided tours that take you to see some of the most spectacular fossil sites in the world. You can choose from different types of tours depending on your level of interest and physical ability.
The Fossil Safari is a two-hour tour that takes you on a bus ride through the park and stops at three different fossil sites where you can see bones and teeth of various dinosaurs. You’ll also learn about how fossils are formed and preserved, how paleontologists excavate them, and what they tell us about life in ancient times.
The Explorer’s Bus Tour is a three-hour tour that takes you on a bus ride through the park and stops at four different fossil sites where you can see bones and teeth of various dinosaurs, as well as other fossils such as shells, plants, and insects. You’ll also learn about the geology and ecology of the park, and how the landscape has changed over time.
The Centrosaurus Quarry Hike is a four-hour tour that takes you on a hike through the badlands to a massive bone bed where thousands of Centrosaurus (a horned dinosaur) died in a flood. You’ll get to touch and examine some of the fossils, and learn about how they were buried and exposed by erosion.
The Bonebed 30 Hike is a five-hour tour that takes you on a hike through the badlands to a remote site where dozens of Albertosaurus (a smaller cousin of T. rex) were found together. You’ll get to see some of the bones in situ, and learn about how they died and what they ate.
The Fossil Prospecting Hike is a six-hour tour that takes you on a hike through the badlands to search for new fossils. You’ll get to use tools and techniques that paleontologists use, and maybe even make a discovery of your own.
All of these tours require advance booking and have limited availability. They also have different age and fitness restrictions, so make sure you check the details before you sign up. The tours cost between $15 and $85 per person depending on the type and duration of the tour.
If you prefer to explore the park on your own, you can also do that. There are several self-guided trails that you can follow at your own pace. These trails range from easy to moderate in difficulty and length, and offer scenic views of the badlands and the river. You can also visit the visitor center, where you can see exhibits, displays, and videos about the park’s history, geology, paleontology, and ecology. You can also browse the gift shop, where you can buy souvenirs, books, toys, and more.
Another option is to join some of the programs and activities that are offered by the park staff. These include interpretive talks, demonstrations, workshops, games, crafts, and more. You can learn about topics such as dinosaurs, fossils, rocks, plants, animals, astronomy, and more. These programs are usually free or have a small fee, and are suitable for all ages.
When to go
Dinosaur Provincial Park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is from May to October. This is when the weather is warm and dry, and most of the facilities and services are available. The peak season is from July to August, when the park is busiest and most crowded. If you want to avoid the crowds, you can visit in May or June or September or October.
The winter season is from November to April, when the weather is cold and snowy, and some of the facilities and services are closed or reduced. The park is quieter and less crowded during this time, but also less accessible. Some of the roads and trails may be closed or slippery due to snow or ice. Some of the tours may not operate or have limited availability due to weather conditions. If you want to visit in winter, you should check the park’s website for updates and advisories.
Tips for visiting
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park:
- Plan ahead. Book your accommodation and tours in advance to secure your spot. Check the park’s website for updates on weather conditions, road closures, trail conditions, fire bans, etc.
- Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that are suitable for hiking and exploring. Bring layers of clothing that you can adjust according to the temperature. Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellent to protect yourself from the sun and bugs. Bring a raincoat or umbrella in case of rain.
- Stay hydrated. Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and energized. There are no water fountains or vending machines in the park, so you’ll have to bring your own or buy them from the visitor center or the camp store.
- Respect the park. Follow the park rules and regulations, and respect the wildlife and the environment. Do not touch, collect, or damage any fossils or rocks. Do not feed or approach any animals. Do not litter or leave any trace of your visit. Stay on the designated roads and trails, and do not wander off into restricted areas.
- Have fun. Enjoy the beauty and wonder of Dinosaur Provincial Park, and have a memorable experience. Take lots of pictures and videos, but don’t forget to look around and appreciate the moment. Share your stories and impressions with your friends and family, and encourage them to visit the park too.
Dinosaur Provincial Park is a unique and amazing place that offers a rare opportunity to see and learn about dinosaurs and their world. It’s a must-see destination for anyone who loves dinosaurs, history, science, nature, or adventure. If you’re looking for a fun and educational trip that will leave you in awe, this is the place for you.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post, and that it inspired you to visit Dinosaur Provincial Park. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. I’d love to hear from you.