A winter hike in the Drumheller Badlands of Alberta, offered a few surprises on a bluebird January weekend. I had been ready to give up on a winter hike in the Canadian Badlands until we drove up to the world-famous Royal Tyrrell Museum. If you wander past the entrance you land on the Badlands Interpretive Trail. Both the museum and the trail are located in Midland Provincial Park.
The Drumheller Badlands area is also home to Horsethief Canyon, located north of Drumheller off of the Dinosaur Trail. Don’t forget the icers on any of these walks.
The Badlands Interpretive Trail in the Drumheller Badlands
Although the website for the museum suggests that the Interpretive Trail is only open in spring, summer, and fall, I discovered otherwise. The trail had a light covering of snow and in places it was icy, but completely navigable even in winter boots. If we’d thought to put our icers on, the walking would have been a breeze.
While the actual Badlands Interpretive Trail is only a 1 km loop, there is the option to continue on trails that make up the Drumheller Badlands River Parks System (see the map below).
John and I were in explore mode, so we took off on what looked like a bike trail (as it was paved) and followed it until it met the highway (called the Dinosaur Trail in this part of the world).
It was an easy, scenic walk through the Drumheller Badlands scenery. We spotted curious deer checking us out from above on a couple of occasions. Once you reach the highway you have the option of retracing your steps or crossing the highway and following the trail for many kilometres – in both an easterly and westerly direction, often along the scenic Red Deer River.
In theory, you could spend a solid day hiking from the Royal Tyrrell Museum through to Drumheller and along the Red Deer River, though by no means would it be a wilderness walk.
The easy, family-friendly Drumheller Badlands hike in winter definitely exceeded my expectations. It packs a lot in a kilometre and I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in spring when the landscape turns green.
It would appear that 99% of visitors head straight to the museum as we only saw a few other people. Next time you’re in Drumheller, take at least a half hour to hike the Badlands Interpretative Trail. You’ll be happy you did.
Where is Drumheller?
Note: While Drumheller is the home of the world’s largest dinosaur, it’s actually located 165 km northwest of Dinosaur Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. People get this confused all the time because the area around Drumheller is home to plenty of badlands scenery and a museum known for its collection of dinosaur bones and fossils.
From Calgary it’s approximately 135 km northeast of the city – and about a 90 minute drive.
Location map of the Drumheller Badlands winter hike