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Have Kids, Will Travel: Drumheller

Bandlands

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.)

Ford 1

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

Dinosaurs

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. 

Tyrell 1

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!

Tyrell 2

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.

Tyrell 3

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).

Atlas coal mine

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! 

Highway

Here’s to many more Canadian road trips – all summer long.

 

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