If you’d like to go biking through an otherworldly landscape of canyons, hoodoos and coulees with the added attraction of seeing the world’s largest dinosaur, then you need to bike the Dinosaur Trail near Drumheller.

The city of Drumheller is just 90 minutes from Calgary but with its badlands scenery it feels a world away. On the drive there make the short-detour to see Horseshoe Canyon. It will whet your appetite for what’s ahead.

Biking the Dinosaur Trail

In Drumheller look for a parking lot near the world’s largest dinosaur. It’s pretty easy to find. Start from here heading west on Highway 838 towards the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology. If you’ve got a few hours slip in here before continuing. 

Biking the Dinosaur Trail near Drumheller

The world’s largest dinosaur in Drumheller

The biking is easy for the first 45 minutes or so as it’s mostly flat. As you curve northwest towards the Horse Thief Canyon Lookout you’ll hit a steep hill – offering a view of the Drumheller Valley, with the Red Deer River below. The skies are huge in this part of the world and the cloud formations stunning. Make the short side trip to the viewpoint before continuing on the Dinosaur Trail.

You might want to read: A Weekend Canoe Trip on the Red Deer River

Drumheller's Little Church

Drumheller’s Little Church seats six people at a time

Check out the Horse Thief Canyon Viewpoint near Drumheller

Check out the Horse Thief Canyon Viewpoint

Biking the Dinosaur Trail near Drumheller

The beautiful Horse Thief Canyon

Big skies near Drumheller

Big skies are actually a treat to see

At the 21 kilometre mark you’re in for a treat. There’s a wonderful downhill with a 13% grade that will have you at the Bleriot Ferry in short order. The small cable ferry runs seasonally. Find more information here.

The Bleriot Ferry near Drumheller

The Bleriot Ferry near Drumheller

On the far side of the river – which just takes minutes to cross, start climbing again to reach the plateau. At the top turn left onto Highway 837, continue past the spur to Orkney Lookout and east towards Drumheller. Along the way you’ll pass a handsome grain elevator.

Pass this grain elevator on the way back to Drumheller

Pass this grain elevator on the way back to Drumheller

Biking the Dinosaur Trail near Drumheller

Got lucky with a hawk sighting on the Orkney Viewpoint sign

Biking the Dinosaur Trail near Drumheller

Pretty cycling along the Red Deer River

At the 46 kilometre mark look for a T-junction that will take you back to your starting point via Drumheller’s industrial section. All told the Dinosaur Trail is 50 kilometres in length and should take 2.5 – 3 hours. Don’t forget a patch kit or you may end up like me – walking the last 7 kilometres!!

It was a 90 minute drive to get home – with the countryside continuing to delight until I reached the outskirts of Calgary.

Biking the Dinosaur Trail near Drumheller

Combines hard at work

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Reading Sharon Butala’s book The Perfection of the Morning a few years ago (one of my all time faves) opened by eyes to what the prairies could offer. Biking the Dinosaur Trail confirmed her observations. I highly recommend it though if you go in the summer be prepared for hot weather. Consider taking an insulated water bottle so you have something cold to drink. And don’t forget your patch kit!

Another biking option to the Dinosaur Trail

There is the option to bike east along Highway 10 to Rosedale and then south along a scenic section of Highway 10X to reach the hamlet of Wayne and the Last Chance Saloon. It would add 30 kilometres round-trip. In the fall it’s particularly lovely.

Beautiful country on the way to Wayne along Highway 10X

Beautiful country on the way to Wayne along Highway 10X

Have you ever explored the Drumheller area on a bike?

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Biking the Dinosaur Trail in Drumheller, Alberta

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Alouise says:

    I live in Edmonton, and I’ve visited Drumhellar, but I’ve never considered doing a biking tour there. I love the badland landscape down by Drumhellar. Great photos.

  • Alouise says:

    I live in Edmonton, and I’ve visited Drumhellar, but I’ve never considered doing a biking tour there. I love the badland landscape down by Drumhellar. Great photos.

    • I have a copy of the book Calgary: The 10 Premier Road Trips by Kathy & Craig Copeland. They can all be done in a day. I love exploring an area by bike and Drumheller’s roads and in particular the Donosaur Loop is a wonderful choice. There is almost no traffic & many people that passed me gave me a wave.

  • Sara says:

    Thanks for sharing those beautiful big sky photos. I lived in Edmonton for 4 years and while that part of Alberta doesn’t possess the same dramatic scenery as coastal BC, it is absolutely stunning in its own way.

  • Sara says:

    Thanks for sharing those beautiful big sky photos. I lived in Edmonton for 4 years and while that part of Alberta doesn’t possess the same dramatic scenery as coastal BC, it is absolutely stunning in its own way.

    • @Sara I loved the skies and actually think I’ll end up doing lots of exploring to the east. Photography has become a real interest and with all the drama on the prairies and the bird life I think I’ll be back often.

  • Gillian @OneGiantStep says:

    Hi Leigh and welcome to Calgary! Jason and I moved here from Victoria just ahead of you in April. I’m finding that I love, love, love the prairies and am looking forward to seeing what winter can bring. Drop us a line once you’re settled and maybe we can plan a hike together! Also thinking of a small travel blog meetup with @travelfootprint (from Lake Louise) in October. Cheers!

  • Gillian @OneGiantStep says:

    Hi Leigh and welcome to Calgary! Jason and I moved here from Victoria just ahead of you in April. I’m finding that I love, love, love the prairies and am looking forward to seeing what winter can bring. Drop us a line once you’re settled and maybe we can plan a hike together! Also thinking of a small travel blog meetup with @travelfootprint (from Lake Louise) in October. Cheers!

  • Lorinda says:

    Hi this looks amazing! Just curious if the trail was paved all the way? I am a wheelchair biker and can only really handle paved trails a two this point! Look forward to
    Your reply!

    • Leigh says:

      @Loirinda It was – pretty quiet for traffic too. There’s one good hill before and after the Bleriot ferry just as a heads up. All in all a varied, very pretty bike ride. Enjoy.

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