As you drive across endless golden prairies, the fertile land suddenly drops away into a strange and stark moonscape of striped hills and otherworldly rock formations. The badlands. Even the name is mysterious and maybe that’s why you’re compelled to explore. Knowing the very ground you walk on is rife with the ancient bones of the dinosaurs who once ruled this land somehow keeps you looking over your shoulder.
The badlands cut a swath through southeastern Alberta. The region has been a fossil hotbed since the 19th century and shows no sign of running out of old bones. Some of the most important dinosaur discoveries in the world were unearthed right here.
For a sweeping view of the badlands and the Red Deer River valley, climb up inside the world’s biggest dinosaur and gaze out from its fearsome jaws in Drumheller, the Dinosaur Capital of the World. On a smaller scale, the town’s Little Church only seats six. Check out the coulees, kilns and concerts in Medicine Hat. Do dinner and theatre in the tiny town of Rosebud, home of Alberta’s only professional rural theatre company.
Dinosaurs. Blackfoot. Hoodoos. Theatre. Here’s your insider Canadian Badlands checklist!
Canadian Badlands Road Trip
Experience the best of the badlands on a Canadian Badlands road trip. Follow the Dinosaur Trail (Hwy 838) to Horsethief Canyon and Midland Provincial Park. Cross the Red Deer River on the Bleriot Ferry. The Hoodoo Trail (Hwy 10) takes you to the Hoodoos site and the Rosedale Suspension Bridge. Drive scenic Hwy 10X over 11 bridges to the hamlet of Wayne and the historic Last Chance Saloon, where you can cook your own steak on the bbq out back.
Royal Tyrrell Museum
If you’ve never thought of a skeleton as breathtaking, the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller will change your mind forever. Superbly displayed dinosaur skeletons and other mysterious creatures of the past make the Tyrrell one of the best dinosaur museums in the world. Most specimens were found right here in Alberta’s badlands.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
You can almost feel the ground rumbling with the footsteps of the mighty beasts that roamed Dinosaur Provincial Park millions of years ago. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park contains one of the richest bonebeds in the world. Hop on the explorer’s bus tour – but book ahead, this is one popular ride. 200 km (124 mi) east of Calgary.
Canadian Badlands Passion Play
On the outskirts of Drumheller is a piece of the badlands that doubles for the land where Jesus lived and taught. In this magnificent natural setting, the Canadian Badlands Passion Play has captivated audiences near and far. Only a handful of performances in July so plan ahead!
The back nine of the Dinosaur Trail Golf & Country Club in Drumheller is said to be the most challenging on the continent – be ready to play precision golf! Other badlands courses include the Akokiniskway Golf Course in Rosebud; Hanna Golf and Country Club, the Speargrass Golf Course in Carseland, and Desert Blume Golf Course in Medicine Hat.