Home Destinations Exploring Dinosaur Provincial Park

Exploring Dinosaur Provincial Park

by Karen Ung

Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located near Brooks, Alberta. Explore the badlands, go on a dinosaur dig, camp near the hoodoos, and more!

Every time I visit Dinosaur Provincial Park, I am astonished when the prairie gives way to badlands. The landscape suddenly changes from flatland to a world of whimsical hoodoos, striped hills, and sculpted coulees that looks it came from a Dr. Seuss book! Take a walk at sunset and the hills come alive with vibrant shades of red. Between the spectacular scenery, epic dinosaur tours (participate in a guided excavation!), and warm weather, it’s easy to see why Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top places to camp in Alberta.

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Dinosaur Provincial Park

Things to Do in Dinosaur Provincial Park

  • Hiking (info below)
  • Paddling on the Red Deer River (Bring your own boat – no rentals available)
  • Year round RV & tent camping: from early October to early May there are no firewood sales, no water, no showers and no flush toilets
  • Comfort camping: Each unit sleeps 3-4 people
  • Self-guided hikes & outdoor displays (free)
  • Geocaching: The park currently has 3 geocaches and 1 Earthcache.
  • Fishing – Fishing is permitted in the Red Deer River. See Alberta Fishing Regulations for more information.
  • Free presentations in the amphitheatre
  • Guided hikes & tours including photography tours ($) include: Centrosaurus Quarry Hike, Explorer’s Bus Tour, Fossil Safari, Sunset Tour, Fossil Prospecting, Great Badlands Hike, Guided Excavations (1, 2 or 3 days)
  • Children’s & Family Programs ($) include: Palaeo Lab Program, Palaeo Puzzlers
  • Dinosaur Digs ($)

Hiking in Dinosaur Provincial Park

There are five self-guided interpretive trails in the park. Our children (3 & 5 at the time) had no difficulty with any of them! Here’s a trail summary:

  • Stroller-friendly / wheelchair accessible trails: Cottonwood Flats (1.4 km), Prairie (0.3 km), and Trail of the Fossil Hunters (0.9 km)
  • Easy trails: Badlands (1.3 km), Cottonwood Flats, Prairie, and Trail of the Fossil Hunters
  • More challenging: Coulee Viewpoint (0.9 km)
  • Best trail for a hot day: Cottonwood Flats. Huge cottonwoods provide shade and wildlife viewing opportunities.

If you only have time to do one hike in the park, I would recommend the Badlands Trail (easy) or Coulee Viewpoint (moderate). Both are particularly beautiful at sunset.

Please note that bikes are not allowed on the interpretive trails. You can, however, bike on the 3 km ring road. Bike racks are available at each trailhead if you would like to bike from camp.

To explore other parts of the park, sign up for a guided tour! Reservations required.

Camping

At Dinosaur Provincial Park, most tent & RV campsites are large and shaded by cottonwood trees. There is a power loop as well as an unserviced area for tents and many amenities (see below) including showers, a nice playground, and boat launch.

Park Amenities

  • Dinosaur Visitor Centre: Visitor Information, Gift shop, washrooms, ticket pick-up and pick-up/drop off location for tours, Exhibit Gallery ($) – admission includes free family theatre programs, Free wifi
  • Free amphitheater presentations
  • Campground Office
  • Cretaceous Cafe
  • Convenience Store
  • Playground
  • Showers – take $1 coins
  • Laundry
  • Pay phone

Know Before You Go 

Mosquitoes

At certain times of year, the mosquitoes can be really bad. My advice regarding mosquitoes follows:



  • Bring strong bug spray (the stuff for kids/families is not strong enough) & mosquito head nets.
  • Cover up as much as you can.
  • Bring a bug screen shelter.
  • Consider Comfort Camping if you do not have a bug screen shelter so you can have more space to relax away from the bugs.
  • Visit the park earlier or later in the season when there are no bugs. May long weekend and late September are particularly lovely!
  • Check TripAdvisor reviews to see what the bug conditions are like before you go.

Rattlesnakes

There are prairie rattlesnakes in the park. They are usually not active during the day, but keep your little ones close and don’t let them poke sticks (or hands or feet) in holes!

Guided Tours and Family/Children’s Programs

The tours and programs at Dinosaur Provincial Park are amazing so they get booked up quickly! Reserve your tour/program early to ensure you get spots. Over the years, we have enjoyed the Fossil Safari program, fossil casting, Explorers Bus Tour, and Dino Stomp Tour. We’ve heard the Centrosaurus Guided Hike and guided excavations are great too! Read about our experience on the Dino Stomp Tour here: Fall Fun in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

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John Ware Cabin, Dinosaur Provincial Park

Insider Tip

Allow at least two days so you have time to explore the park and take a tour.

Where Is It?

Dinosaur Provincial Park is located 220 km south-east of Calgary, about 50 km from the town of Brooks. The park is NOT IN DRUMHELLER!

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