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Biking The Dinosaur Trail Near Drumheller

Biking the Dinosaur Trail near Drumheller

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.

COVID-19 update: In late April 2020 a reader said she drove to Drumheller to bike the trail like she does every spring. It was apparent to her that the town didn’t want visitors so she left. All the public parking was unavailable. I was in town in July and the locals were happy to have visitors again. Be sure to take LOTS of water on the bike ride as this part of Alberta gets hot.

Horseshoe Canyon in fall
Horseshoe Canyon in fall

Biking the Dinosaur Trail

In Drumheller look for a parking lot near the world’s largest dinosaur. It’s pretty easy to find. Look up and you can’t miss the dinosaur. It’s near the bridge going across the Red Deer River.

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

Head for Horse Thief Canyon

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 at the canyon 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

The Bleriot Ferry on the Dinosaur Trail

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, free cable ferry runs seasonally. Find more information here.

NOTE: As of spring 2020 to the best of my knowledge the Alberta government is planning to stop running the Bleriot Ferry. Double check to be sure. From the cyclists perspective that would be a shame as it’s such a lovely loop ride. I’ve checked websites and it appears to be still running in July and a local I spoke with hadn’t heard about any closure.

Crossing the Red Deer River on the Bleriot Ferry
Crossing the Red Deer River on the Bleriot Ferry

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

How much time do you need to bike the loop?

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 DrumhellerCombines hard at work 

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.

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 near Drumheller

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

Where to stay in Drumheller

There is no shortage of chain motels and hotels in Drumheller. The Canalta Jurassic is one of your best choices. But if you want to put money into a local’s hands – and you love the B&B experience along I would recommend The Heartwood Inn and Spa.

Further reading about bike rides in Canada

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Biking the Dinosaur Trail in Drumheller, Alberta

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 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 14 Comments
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. @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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

    1. @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.

  8. Hi Leigh,
    Thanks for the article! Looking for places to cycle around Calgary and this sounds great.
    A couple of questions though:
    1. Some of the “trail” is on the highway, correct? Is it well marked, or do you need to pull out the GPS at times?
    2. Having trouble finding info on the BLERIOT FERRY operations, the link you gave doesn’t seem to have hours/dates if operation. Do you have any more info?
    Thanks and happy cycling!
    Greg

    1. @Gregory All of the trail is along the highway but its quiet. Once you’re on it its very obvious. The ferry doesn’t run til the summer and then it literally just keeps going back and forth across the river, depending on who is waiting. It’s not a long wait.

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