skip to Main Content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Time In Dinosaur Provincial Park

How to get the Most out of Your Time in Dinosaur Provincial Park

Dinosaur Provincial Park in eastern Alberta is one of the must visit sites in the province. It’s got two major things going for it – badlands scenery on steroids and more complete dinosaur skeletons than anywhere else in the world. Here’s how to get the most out of a visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park.

First – don’t do the following. 

The phone rings and the frantic person on the end of the line says “Can you hold the tour?” Jarrid Jenkins, Head of Visitor Services in Dinosaur Provincial Park tells me he gets a lot of these calls every year. It seems people confuse the town of Drumheller with Dinosaur Provincial Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact these two places are a TWO HOUR DRIVE APART but the message often doesn’t get through. Just so you know – they won’t hold the tour.

Second – sign up for the Sunset Tour.

How to get the Most out of Your Time in Dinosaur Provincial Park

An air conditioned bus takes you into the backcountry

Offered between May and September, the sunset tour is ideal for photographers and those who appreciate the evening light. In June and July the two hour tour starts at 7 PM, so you don’t quite get the full sunset experience. You might do better late in the season to actually see it setting. Nonetheless, you do get access to parts of the park that are otherwise off-limits. The pace is relaxed as you make approximately three stops.

The best badlands scenery in Canada seen at the golden hour - Dinosaur Provincial Park

The best badlands scenery in Canada seen at the golden hour

Great texture with all the rock ripples - Dinosaur Provincial Park

Great texture with all the rock ripples

The Valley of the Moon area in Dinosaur Provincial Park

The Valley of the Moon area

Dinosaur Provincial Park at sunset

It’s hard to put the camera down with such fantastic light

Third – Take a Backcountry Hiking Tour in Dinosaur Provincial Park

There are a number of tours aside from the sunset tour to do in the park. Some of the choices include a four hour Great Badlands hike, the Centosaurus Quarry Tour, fossil safaris and guided excavations that vary from one day to three days in length. None of them fit with our schedule but Jarrid Jenkins came to the rescue and kindly took us scrambling and hiking in the backcountry.

We ended up climbing to the top of the highest butte in the area – and then looked for a safer way down – as it’s always easier going up than down. Along the way we passed areas that were littered with turtle, fish and crocodile skeletons. We also found our fair share of dinosaur bones in place. Once you knew what to look for it wasn’t hard to find fossils.

The backcountry is a treat to hike – especially when the sun isn’t blazing. Temperatures were a comfortable 27°C so it was easy to spend several hours out exploring. Just don’t forget a hat and several litres of water on whatever tour you do.

Lots of iron staining on these rocks - Dinosaur Provincial Park

Lots of iron staining on these rocks

Finding bones in situ - Dinosaur Provincial Park

Finding bones in situ – Dinosaur Provincial Park

We found lots of petrified wood in Dinosaur Provincial Park

We found lots of petrified wood in the park

Fantastic view from the top of the butte - Dinosaur Provincial Park

Fantastic view from the top of the butte

Looking for fossils - Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

John and Jarrid looking for fossils

Fourth – Go Camping or Glamping in Dinosaur Provincial Park

In Dinosaur Provincial Park you have a choice of traditional camping with your RV or tent but you can also avail yourself of their comfort camping option. While similar to glamping, you will have to share bathrooms and make your own meals – and there isn’t a butler to be seen. But really, it’s a great alternative to traditional tents.

Our room had a fan – that made sleeping in 35 °C heat doable, a heater for cooler nights, a dining table, small couch, BBQ, a coffee maker and all the linens and kitchen utensils you’d need. Furniture is locally made – a nice touch. Outside, not only is there a stellar view of the Red Deer River but you can plunk yourself down in an Adirondack chair to admire said view. A couple of picnic tables and a fire pit will keep the smores lovers happy.

Comfort camping in Dinosaur Provincial Park

Comfort camping tents come with locally made furniture, a mini fridge, linens, kitchenware

A view of the Red Deer River from our tent - Dinosaur Provincial Park

A view of the Red Deer River from our tent

Red Deer River, Dinosaur Provincial Park

Looking down the river from our tent

Our tenting neighbours enjoying a fire and the sunset - Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

Our tenting neighbours enjoying a fire and the sunset

Fifth – Check out the birds in Dinosaur Provincial Park

The other highlight of our visit to the park was the birding. John couldn’t sit still as he was so busy looking at birds. Two of the more interesting birds we saw were the lark sparrow and the common nighthawk. And nothing beats waking up in the morning to the sweet song of a bird you don’t usually hear.

Lark sparrow - Dinosaur Provincial Park

Lark sparrow

In total we had just under 24 hours in the park. In hindsight, I wish we’d had another night, especially as the camping experience far exceeded my expectations.

For more information on the park’s interpretive programs, visit the Alberta Park’s website.

If you’re interested in comfort camping, book in advance as its popular. I do recommend spending an additional $25 for the riverside units as opposed to the units in the cottonwoods.

How to get the Most out of Your Time in Dinosaur Provincial Park
Thank you to Travel Alberta and to Alberta Parks for help in making this trip a reality. And a big thank you to Jarrid for giving up your morning to show us around!

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 15 Comments
  1. A fascinating place on so many levels. The geology, the paleontology, the archeology, the ornithology and every other kind of ‘ology you can think of. And when your brain needs a rest; enjoy a truly magnificent land and riverscape under the shade of a hundred year old cottonwood tree. One night is not enough! Go for two, three four nights.

  2. Okay, I’m ready for the ‘comfort camping’ section. And I can’t believe how many times I’ve been to Drumheller without realizing that Dinosaur Provincial Park was so far away.

  3. Dinosaur Provincial Park has been on my Alberta bucket list for a while. It looks so unreal, and finding random fossils on a hike, how cool is that?

  4. The views are AMAZING Leigh. If it was the old days of film, I’ll bet you would’ve used them all up in the first couple of hours. I’m excited to visit this park one day. Comfort camping looks like the way to go.

    1. @Miranda I was more than pleasantly surprised at how great the comfort camping was – and highly recommend the experience. And Dinosaur is always a treat to see – especially when you can get into the backcountry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Close search

Cart