Home Destinations Exploring Drumheller: Dinosaurs, Mining History, Biking, & More!

Exploring Drumheller: Dinosaurs, Mining History, Biking, & More!

by Karen Ung
Go underground at Atlas Coal Mine, drive 10 bridges to a rockin’ saloon (and haunted hotel), or bike through the badlands to the renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum. The experiences you can have in Drumheller are varied and unique – perfect for history buffs, dinosaur lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
 Exploring Drumheller
Exploring Drumheller

Drumheller Driving Route

Drumheller Road Trip Map
Drumheller Road Trip Map
Image Credit: Google Maps

This 50-kilometre driving route takes you from Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site to The Little Church near the Royal Tyrrell Museum. We recommend starting in East Coulee and visiting the Royal Tyrrell Museum in late afternoon. The museum is open until 9 pm in the summer months, so you have plenty of time to explore without crowds (peak hours are from 10 am to 3 pm). If you’d like to stay for the weekend, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails, theatre performances, and other attractions to explore.

1. Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site

Train Tour at Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta
Train Tour at Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta

Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site is Canada’s most complete historic coal mine. For the best experience, sign up for a tour (or three) to learn about coal mining and East Coulee life in the 1930s.

Tunnel Tour at Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta
Tunnel Tour at Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta

You get a discount if you sign up for the Train Tour, Tipple Tour, and Tunnel Tour. I wasn’t sure the kids would make it through that many tours one after another, but our guides were engaging and energetic, so we had a great time and learned a lot. At the end of the day, when I asked the girls what their favorite part was, they said “Everything!” Open May 11-October 14, 2019. Read more about our awesome day in this story: Journey back in time at Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site.

2. East Coulee School Museum 

East Coulee School Museum
East Coulee School Museum

East Coulee School Museum is a small museum featuring local artifacts, some fossils, and special programs. If you plan ahead, you can book the Recess and Class Tour to see what school was like in the 1930s. Watch out for that strict School Marm! Our kids also enjoyed doing the scavenger hunt to earn a prize. Afterwards, have homemade pie in the Willow Tea Room, then hit the retro playground outside. Open May to September 10 am to 5 pm.

3. Hoodoos / Hoodoo Trail, Drumheller

Drumheller Hoodoos
Drumheller Hoodoos at sunset

Hoodoos are a striking natural phenomenon that define the Badlands. The best accessible examples near Drumheller are 15 minutes east of town on Highway 10. An interpretive trail, hoodoo trail, has viewing platforms and signs that explain how and when the hoodoos formed. Please do not climb on the hoodoos! These ancient structures are easily damaged. The best time to visit is sunrise or sunset when the light accentuates the different colors in the rock. Note that the trail has stairs so it is not stroller friendly. Click here for the Google Maps location of Hoodoo Trail.

To see even more hoodoos, visit Dinosaur Provincial Park (about two hours from Drumheller). For more information, read our story Exploring Dinosaur Provincial Park.

4. Star Mine Suspension Bridge, Rosedale

Star Mine Suspension Bridge, Rosedale, Alberta
Star Mine Suspension Bridge, Rosedale, Alberta

The 117 metre long Star Mine Suspension Bridge, also known as Rosedale Suspension Bridge, was built in 1931 so miners could walk from town to Star Mine (closed in 1957). Bounce your way across, explore the badlands on the north side of the Red Deer River, do some fishing, then get an ice cream at Asteroid. There is no charge to visit the bridge.

5. Wayne & The 11 Bridges

Rosedeer Hotel, Wayne, Alberta
Rosedeer Hotel, Wayne, Alberta

Drive or bike the 11 bridges to the hamlet of Wayne! Once home to 2,490 people when the mines were open, only 31 live there now. Have lunch at Last Chance Saloon (check the schedule to see when they have live music!), get ice cream or a quirky souvenir at Jojo’s Haberdashery, camp at 11 Bridges Campground, or stay at The Rosedeer Hotel if you dare (the third floor is rumored to be haunted). Built in 1913, the Rosedeer is the only original building still standing in Wayne.

The first bridge en route to Wayne, Alberta
The first bridge en route to Wayne, Alberta
Fun fact: The 6 kilometre stretch to Wayne is in the Guiness Book of World Records for having the most bridges per distance. There are 11 single-lane metal bridges in total; the 11th is just past the Rosedeer Hotel.

To get there, turn off Hwy 10 onto the 10X.

6. Drumheller Visitor Information Centre, World’s Biggest Dinosaur, and Rotary Spray Park

World's Biggest Dinosaur, Drumheller, Alberta
World’s Biggest Dinosaur, Drumheller, Alberta

Let the friendly staff at the Drumheller Visitor Information Centre help you plan your trip, climb up inside the world’s biggest dinosaur for a unique view of Drumheller (small admission fee), then cool off at the Rotary Spray Park. The info centre is a good starting place for the city bike paths too! For a fun, family-friendly bike ride, check out our story Biking from Downtown Drumheller to the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

7. Royal Tyrrell Museum

Black Beauty T-Rex at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller
Black Beauty T-Rex at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is Canada’s pre-eminent dinosaur museum with one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs. Allow at least two hours to see all the galleries; you will need more time if you plan on attending special programs. The museum also has a cafeteria, gift shop, amphitheatre, and awesome dino-themed playground.

Open 7 days a week from May 15 – September 30. Open Tuesday-Sunday from October 1 – May 14.

8. The Little Church 

The Little Church, Drumheller, Alberta
The Little Church, Drumheller, Alberta

The Little Church is a tiny white chapel that seats thousands, six at a time. Located west of the Royal Tyrrell Museum on North Dinosaur Trail. Free admission.

Biking and Walking Trails 

The Downtown DinoWalk is a family favorite! Find 20 dinosaur sculptures while you explore downtown Drumheller. Check out the online map with information about each dinosaur here.

 Biking in Midland Provincial Park, Drumheller
Biking in Midland Provincial Park, Drumheller

Bike from the world’s biggest dinosaur (26 metres tall) to the Royal Tyrrell Museum via McMullen Island Park and Midland Provincial Park. Don’t miss Midland Coal Mine (free to visit); it’s a short detour off the main bike path. 7 km one way. Details in Biking from Downtown Drumheller to the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

Lookout beside Royal Tyrrell Museum
Lookout near Royal Tyrrell Museum

Trails near Royal Tyrrell Museum: Take the stairs next to the museum to a panoramic lookout, or hike the Badlands Interpretive Trail, a scenic 1.4 km loop. Learn how the badlands were formed and why so many fossils have been found around Drumheller.

Save with the Experience Alberta’s History Pass

Get unlimited admission for one year to historic sites, interpretive centres and museums operated by the Government of Alberta with Experience Alberta’s History Pass. Attractions include: Royal Tyrrell Museum, Frank Slide interpretive Centre, Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump and many more. $120 family pass, $50 adult, $40 senior, $30 youth, FREE for kids 7 & under.

Getting Here

Horseshoe Canyon, Alberta
Horseshoe Canyon, Alberta

Drumheller is located 1.5 hours northeast of Calgary. Horseshoe Canyon is a nice stopping spot en route.

Where to Stay

Quality Hotel, Drumheller
Quality Hotel, Drumheller

Quality Hotel Drumheller is conveniently located near Downtown Drumheller, Reptile World, and New Castle Beach. They offer free continental breakfast, pet-friendly rooms, an exercise room, and business centre.

Bleriot Ferry Provincial Recreation Area has a basic campground 24 km from Drumheller, just off the highway. Sites are available on a first come, first served basis. For a fun excursion, take the three minute ferry ride (free!) across the Red Deer River, then drive south Dinosaur Trail to Orkney Viewpoint.

There are also several private campgrounds to choose from. One of the most popular is River Grove Campground and Cabins which has nice shaded sites by the river, close to the Drumheller Visitor Information Centre and Rotary Spray Park.

Special Events

One of the top 10 Gran Fondos in Canada, the Gran Fondo Badlands boasts several courses with dramatic scenery for road riders (50/75/100/140/160 km) and mountain bikers (92 km Gravel Grinder). June 22, 2019.


Mine and Dine at Atlas Coal Mine and East Coulee School Museum: Go back to 1937 and be a miner for the day. You will dress like a miner, make a brass tag, light your own carbide lamp, then go to work in the mine. After getting paid, head to East Coulee School Museum to make noodles from scratch and have a Hungarian family-style meal! Limited dates and availability. Learn more here.

Badlands Amphitheatre, Canada’s largest outdoor stage, hosts the amazing Canadian Badlands Passion Play (July 5-21, 2019) each year. This summer, you can also catch Jann Arden (August 10, 2019), and Walk Off the Earth (August 24, 2019).

Rosebud Theatre puts on several shows per season. Check out their calendar and book tickets here.

The Drumheller Dinosaur & Comic Expo brings in fans of “comics, games, sci-fi, anime, cartoons, and dinosaurs” for two days each year. August 24 & 25, 2019.

Disclosure

Thank you to Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee School Museum, and Alberta Parks for hosting us! All words and opinions are my own.

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