I try not to take for granted that we live an hour and a half away from one of the most notable museums of paleontology in the world - the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology is Canada's only museum dedicated exclusively to dino-science, and is noted for its onsite research and collection of more than 130,000 fossils. It's an easy, scenic drive from Calgary, and so when Ford Canada offered up a Fusion Sport as part of a plan to encourage Canadians to explore the country we live in, we hopped in, gassed up (they provided a gas card!), picked up some coffee and hit the road. (Also, I have a soft spot for the company - my grandad, Fred, and his brother, Bill, built the Ford Motor 'Plant 2' during the post-war era.)
If you've never driven to the Canadian Badlands, it's spectacular - you drive through an hour of rolling farmland, and it suddenly opens up to the landscape you see above - Horseshoe Canyon is the first scenic stop, where you can look out over two glacier-carved coulees that form a horseshoe shape, surrounded by flat prairie. You can see the history here - and there are plenty of cool hikes to take - I particularly love the hoodoos trail.
In town, the World’s Largest Dinosaur is one you can actually go inside - climb the stairs and peek out from its mouth for a T-Rex view. From there, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is just a few minutes north on the Dinosaur Trail.
My son was late to the dinosaur game - he didn't care about them much as a little kid, but now, at 11, he can rattle off dino names and facts, and stump everyone with his dino trivia. There's plenty to see and do at Tyrrell - we loved the Grounds for Discovery exhibit of personal stories and amazing specimens that have been discovered as a result of the Museum’s collaboration with numerous industries - we loved reading about the amazing finds workers came across doing road construction, mining, wind turbine development and oil and gas exploration.
Check out this fact sheet!
They also put on inexpensive public programs, including guided hikes and archaelogical digs where guests use real tools and techniques to uncover fossil replicas in a simulated dig site, a walk that brings you to the Seven Wonders of the Badlands, and overnight sleepovers. And yes, they even do badlands science camp.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum is open daily from 9-9 for the busy summer season, but with plenty of parking and a ton of space inside, it never feels crowded.
While you're in the area, it's worth popping over to see the Last Chance Saloon in the Rosedeer Hotel - about 10 minutes from the town, on a road that winds back and forth across 11 bridges that once transported coal from town to town over a small river, is the tiny hamlet of Wayne, Alberta – population: 27. Or go visit the historic Atlas Coal Mine, which is about 20 minutes SE of Drumheller (you pass by a cool vintage ice cream and burger take-out joint too).
Thanks to Ford Canada for loaning us this fantastic vehicle - we're in the market for another car, and it was nice to take it out on the road for a real-life test drive - I didn't understand the big deal about it being 325 horsepower (about as much as a truck) until it was time to go up hills and pass on the highway - it was nice to have that extra power behind us. It handled smoothly and was fun to drive - and with features including various driving assists, pre-collision pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, a back-end camera, blind spot warning and the ability to connect your phone and tap into music and maps - I didn't want to take it back!
Here's to many more Canadian road trips - all summer long.