Jump back in time as much as 145 million years. A good portion of North America's Midwest was a lush subtropical habitat complete with a vast inland sea. This is where the dinosaurs roamed. Fast forward to the present to stand surrounded by the eroded chimneys of rock and maroon-striped canyons and coulees of the Canadian Badlands. The ancient seabed holds the world’s richest deposits of prehistoric fossils and dinosaur finds. Since the 19th century, many of the most important discoveries were made right here, including our very own Albertosaurus.
A brand new species of horned dinosaur, Regaliceratops peterhewsiwas recently discovered in southwestern Alberta. Visit the Fossils in Focus exhibit at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology and find out why it’s nicknamed “Hellboy.”
Alberta’s badlands can be found primarily in the central and southern parts of the province. But did you know we have badlands in the northwest? Alberta’s Fossil Trail spans 2,500 km (1,553 mi), running through the province from northwest to southeast.
Badlands. Bonebeds. Big. Here’s your Dinosaur Adventure checklist.
Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
Plan to spend the better part of a day here, just seven minutes from the town of Drumheller. This world class facility houses the largest collection of cretaceous fossils on the planet, including dozens of reconstructed skeletons. Find out why they call their T-rex “Black Beauty.” Learn about the "last sea dragon," a 75 million year old sea reptile. Visit the rotating exhibits featuring some of the most significant specimens in the museum’s extensive collection. Stay for a family sleepover and snore with the dinosaurs in Dinosaur Hall. Go on a genuine guided dinosaur dig.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its bonebeds and much of the Tyrrell’s excavations take place through their field station here. For dinosaur lovers who want to follow in the footsteps of palaeontologists, sign up for a 1, 2 or 3-day guided excavation program where you take part in real fossil digs that contribute to ongoing research at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
Visit our page on Dinosaur Provincial Park to learn about many more experiences you can take part in.
In Alberta’s northern badlands, close to Grande Prairie lies the recently discovered Pipestone Creek bonebed – a massive gravesite of the Pachyrhinosaurus, a plant eating dinosaur, dating back 73 million years. Much of the site is yet to be excavated and new discoveries abound.
Supporting this ongoing excavation is the new Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, fully opened to the public in September 2015. Named after the co-founder of the prestigious Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, this facility is an international institute for experiential learning and is rapidly becoming a mecca for palaeontologists around the world.
Immerse yourself in this highly interactive environment that uses state-of-the art technology where you can flesh out a skeleton at the touch of a button. Take a virtual helicopter tour of the bonebed or sign up for a real life tour. Displays include five newly named dinosaurs never before reconstructed.
Where the Dinosaurs Roam
Minutes from Edmonton but millions of years from the present, dinosaurs are on the move in Jurassic Forest. Take a guided safari around this 40 acre “prehistoric preserve” along a winding boardwalk through old growth forest. From the duck-billed Edmontosaurus to the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex, you’ll be surprised at just how realistic the forest’s 50 life sized animatronic residents are. Interactive displays and a palaeontological dig site offer deeper insight into the area’s rich fossil deposits.
Venture into Prehistoric Park at the Calgary Zoo to see life-sized dinosaurs around every corner. Don’t miss the popular Dinosaurs Alive exhibit, where 16 realistic, fleshy models move and roar – louder than the lions at dinner time! Hunt for fossils at the dig site and send a selfie of you and a dinosaur egg.
Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur and Heritage Museum
In the town of Warner about half an hour northwest of the Alberta/Montana border is a hidden gem of a museum devoted to a nearby find of a hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) nesting ground, complete with fossilized eggs, embryonic and young adult skeletons. Devil’s Coulee Museum tells a fascinating tale of discovery which went a long way to proving the theory that dinos were social creatures who came together to raise their young. New finds are ongoing. Take a two-hour guided hike into the heart of Devil’s Coulee and learn to identify fossils in their original settings.
A Different Take on Dino in the Canadian Badlands
- Visit the World’s Largest Dinosaur at Drumheller’s visitor information centre, climb up 25 m (82 ft) inside the T-rex for spectacular views through the open jaws of the beast.
- Get a bird’s eye view of the land the dinosaurs roamed with a Mountain View Helicopters aerial tour.
- Golf in Alberta’s ancient badlands amongst striped sandstone hills and pinnacles of eroded rock. Carefully constructed around dinosaur bonebeds, Dinosaur Trail Golf & Country Club’s back nine is said to be the most challenging on the continent.
Dinosaur Road Trips
Load up the RV, bring the family and make your own dino discoveries. We’ve put together a couple of multi-day road trips for you. Check out Dino Quest Across Alberta and Real Dinosaur Adventures in Alberta.