5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Dinosaur Provincial Park
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Would you go on a hike to uncover 71-million-year-old dinosaur fossils? When I was researching activities to partake on our road trip to Canadian Badlands, I was overjoyed to find that Alberta Parks offers numerous interpretive programs for visitors to explore the remarkable landscapes of Dinosaur Provincial Park in Southern Alberta. As the world’s richest dinosaur fossil site, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a true paradise for fossil hunters. Removing fossils is strongly prohibited, but uncovering never-before-seen fossils will without a doubt make an incredibly terrific memory. That’s why when I found vacancies for the Centrosaurus Quarry Hike, I quickly clicked on the ‘reserve’ button. It should be all good, right? No no no…
Immediately after I made the payment, confirmation email detailing the ticket pickup location and meeting time arrived at my inbox. It was then I took a closer look at where it really is located on the map, and realized… Dinosaur Provincial Park is NOWHERE NEAR Drumheller (the heart of the Canadian Badlands which is widely recognized as Dinosaur Capital of the World)!! The two locations are 2.5 HOURS away. Since our hotel was in Drumheller, that means we would need to make a day trip just for the hike and spend at least 5 hours driving on the highway!!
Poor Kev. I felt terribly sorry for making him drive for so long. But as soon as we approached the park and descended into the valley, we saw a world truly like no other stretched before us. All our fatigue dissipated. Breath-taking scenery, unearthly rock formations and cool cottonwoods… it’s worth all that driving in one day. If you haven’t been to Dinosaur Provincial Park, make it your next destination. Here are the reasons why:
01| It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Nestled 48 km northeast of Brooks, Alberta, Dinosaur Provincial Park is home to more than 44 species of dinosaurs that roamed the earth 75 million years ago. The Park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979 for 3 reasons:
- the exceptional abundance and diversity of dinosaur and other vertebrate fossils
- the largest and most spectacular badlands in Canada
- the endangered river edge habitat, including extensive groves of plains cottonwood trees that provide critical living space for many bird species.
02| It connects you with the nature
Leave your day-to-day life behind and venture into the rugged badlands! Surrounded by deep and winding canyons, multi-coloured eroded sediment layers of sandstone, and hoodoo rock formations, it is hard to not be amazed by the beautiful moonscape-like topography.
Equipped with nearly 200 campsites for tents and RVs, Dinosaur Provincial Park really brings you closer to the nature. Despite the harsh, desert-like environment, the Park supports a rich bio-diversity. Several species of cactus can be found here along with the plans cottonwood trees, blue grama grass, sage and Saskatoon bushes. Over 165 species of birds can be seen, including the ferruginous hawk and golden eagle. Of the animal world, you can see cottontail rabbits, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, weasels, porcupines, red fox and bobcats!
Pro tip: May-June is great for bird-watching; mid-June for flowering cactus; September for fall foliage.
03| It is a paradise for landscape photography
Dinosaur Provincial Park is for sure a favourite place for photographers both amateur and professional alike. Its stunning wilderness, dramatic colours, captivating shapes, and extreme weather make it the most unusual and photogenic place to explore and photograph. To capture the mystery and magic of this place, head out early in the morning or late afternoon when the the light is soft and casts a warm glow on the landscape.
Pro tip: Join the Sunset Tour which will take you into some of the secret areas of the Natural Preserve for a quieter nature experience.
04| It hones your skill as an amateur palaeontologist
Want to participate in a fully authentic dinosaur dig? This is your chance! Join a guided tour to explore the restricted areas of this rugged badlands. With an experienced technician as your guide, you will learn the techniques of excavating dinosaurs and experience the excitement of fossil prospecting as you hike through the spectacular terrain of the badlands. Your work will contribute to the ongoing research at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. And who knows, your might make the next big fossil discovery!!!
Pro Tip: A large portion of the park is a Natural Preserve accessible only through guided programs (available from mid-May to mid-October). To participate in prospecting and excavation, you will need to join a tour. A variety of programs are available for all ages – outdoors or indoor, easy or strenuous, from less than one hour to multi-day. Reservations are highly recommended.
[bctt tweet=”Be a fossil hunter & journey through Dinosaur Provincial Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site!” username=”fortwoplz”]
05| It provides clues to our planet’s distant past
The Park is a giant laboratory of past life. Over 44 species, 34 genera and 10 families of dinosaurs from the late Cretaceous Period (75-77 million years ago) have been found here, including more than 500 complete skeletons. This is about 4-5% of the world’s known dinosaur species.
Take a look around the park geology and you will find evidence that this area was once a lush coastal plain adjacent to the Bearpaw Sea. The climate was subtropical, similar to northern Florida today. Countless creatures flourished there – fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, primitive mammals, and of course, dinosaurs.
But today, we see this desert-like landscape as a result of glacial melt-water from the end of the Wisconsin Ice Age, about 15,000 years ago. What exactly happened in between? How did the dinosaurs become extinct? Is it because of disease? climate change? Or meteor impact? The answer is hidden in the fossils as you journey through dry streambeds and sandstone ridges.
The eerily beautiful scenery at Dinosaur Provincial Park is captivating. And being able to see dinosaur fossils in situ is nothing short of mind blowing. I could think of many more reasons to convince you to come visit, but no reason for you to delay your trip.
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What a great post! I love seeing ancient natural landscapes and fossil hunting. I find ancient natural history fascinating.
This is really cool! I have like dinosaur related stuff since I was a child. Question, do you know why this place popped when you were doing research? Is this considered part of the greater badlands area? I have driven many hours to visit a place for a couple of hours. Sometimes, that effort is worth.
This is so cool and unique! There is something similar to this here in Colorado outside of Denver called Dinosaur Ridge. It’s pretty fascinating!!
I had no idea about this park, Cat. Thanks for sharing this post. Alberta is not so far from Oregon where my grandchildren live. Maybe we could do a road trip to see the dinosaur fossils. I’m sure this would be a great family outing.
Wow – what an experince!!
What a great post, this is so cool. You write about a lot of fun places.
Sounds like fun. I think I would like to visit the dinosaur park.
This is one of my absolute favorite places! We had such a good time there. We almost got canceled due to rain but in the end we were able to get out and find so many fossils. Just incredible!
That looks so cool! I love dinos-related stuff I’m sure I’d love this park!
I love that you can join a tour and go prospecting! Where we live in the UK is not far from where one of the first really famous palaeontologists – Mary Anning – discovered a lot of significant fossils on the sea shore. Her finds are displayed in the Museum in London, although at first, being a woman, she didn’t really get credit for it. How cool to see them in their natural environment rather than a museum!
I’ve been to the Badlands in the US so I know I would love the Canadian Badlands, and seeing all the dinosaur bones! How cool!
Wow – I love seeing dinosaur sites. This is going straight to my bucket list.
Wow! Would be fascinating to see dinosaur bones in person. I think I will just be as excited to see them as my toddler would be. Haha.
We made the same assumption when we visited Drumheller! It is an amazing place, though. We definitely want to go back again now that we have kids.
Five very good reasons. Plus my kids were head over heels about dinos at one point, so we all know a lot about them.
You had me at Dinosaur Park! Such a cool way to learn about history, geology, and biology in a single visit. What a beautiful place to learn and have fun.
Oh Dinosaur Provincial Park sounds amazing and something I would really really love to visit myself. My friends live in Canada and I am definitely going to recommend this to them. What a great why to learn about Dinosaurs. The landscape too is just stunning.
Haha for some reason when I saw the title of this post and clicked into it I was thinking it was going to be something like the movie Jurassic Park where they are (fake) dinosaurs roaming all over… Definitely not what this is! It looks really cool and I’ve always loved dinosaurs. I’ve had Alberta on my list for awhile now – nice to know there are a lot of diverse things to check out there. How awesome than you get to hold real dinosaur fossils. Reminds me of Joey from Friends.. 🙂 Ha. Thanks for sharing!
The idea of uncovering dinosaur fossils at the Park sounds intriguing and at the same time appealing. The landscape of the park looks straight out of Jusrassic Park. I can almost feel that full grown dinosaurs may leap out of the pictures at any time! I am sure you had a terrific time in the Park.
I would love to go visit this place. It looks like a beautiful place but also I would love to see the dinosaur fossils. Maybe next time I am in Canada I can arrange a visit too.
I’d totally go on that hike!!! First of all I like to hike and second I’m a sucker for UNESCO sites! So… yeah!!! Too bad, you had to spend 5 hrs driving in a day trip! But at the end its totally rewarding to visit this place! 🙂
Oh man. I lived in Alberta for a year and never heard of this place. I’m kicking myself now. We visited Drumheller after a guest t the hotel I worked at said Drumheller was more of a tourist destination than Banff (where I lived). I doubt that but Drumheller was such a cool place to explore and I bet being able to actually participate in an actual dig site was unreal. I would have loved that! Such a cool post, thanks for sharing!
I’m gonna bookmark this post. My boyfriend is a big fan of dinosaurs, history and archaeology – so this would make a wonderful present for him! Just need to find cheap flight tickets first 🙂
This has the little boy in me so excited. I mean, it’s dinosaurs real and in person. You can probably even look up at the rocks and see the KT boundary. I love it that there are over 200 campsites too. We would probably bring the car top camper and see dinos by day and a night sky full of stars.
I absolutely love the American badlands, I didn’t know there were some in Alberta I definitely have to check those out!
I am going to pin this for later! I just got an RV and this sounds like a great destination. The landscape is breathtaking!
This is so cool! I love that you can play archeologist and dig up your own fossil. Definitely worth the drive!
I’d never heard of Dinosaur Provincial Park but it looks fascinating! Hunting for dinosaur artifacts in the wild sounds like such an adventure. And the landscape is totally gorgeous!
I totally thought Dinosaur Provincial Park would be closer to Drumheller too, hah! The landscape here looks like something from the Land Before Time. It’s awesome how they’re still doing excavations today- would love to join a tour and get digging!
I love dinosaurs and this park looks like the perfect place for dinosaur lovers! It’s amazing how those fossils lasted for such a long time and so many of them there!
I’ve heard such wonderful things about this park and would definitely make the 5 hours of driving for it but still funny story about the mix up on location haha
Oh no, haha! A 2.5-hour drive each way? I hate it when I think something is close by, only to discover it’s not, haha. But this place looks so worth it!! I’ve visited archaeological digs before in Italy and Israel, but never a dinosaur dig. That would be incredible!