With campgrounds in Alberta Parks opening today for the first 90 days of the camping season, it’s time to start planning some more of your summer vacation. Today also marks the first day you can book Dinosaur Provincial Park’s Tours with their Reservations website online. Today I’m checking off another box on my bucket list and booking a full day guided excavation. I’m so excited to be spending the day with adults uncovering real fossils never before seen by human eyes. With so much to do on site, Dinosaur Provincial Park should be on your summer exploring list this year- the programming, facilities, and campground are all world class.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a must-see Alberta destination. In the past years we’ve tented amongst the giant popular trees and also stayed in their modern and cozy canvas tents along the river. The campground is located right in the middle of the valley, surrounded by hoodoos and endless hiking opportunities for all abilities. There’s a beautiful treed section of the campground and a section facing the hoodoos- just depends what you like. There’s also dinosaur themed playground and a creek to wade in on those hot, summer days.
Add on the option to go on an actual dinosaur dig, enjoy family programming like making your own fossil cast class, a guided hike through the badlands, or learning about prehistoric times in the Visitor’s Centre, there seems to be something for everyone. If you’re there on a weekend, be sure to take part in the free theatre programs too. My kids really enjoyed John Ware’s cabin on site and the interpreter was fabulous getting them involved with activities and helping them get excited about the history of the area. On our last trip we took part in the Explorer’s Bus tour which the four kids all loved. They even found real dinosaur bones and learned how to identify fossils from rocks (if you lick your finger and it sticks to the rock, it’s actually a fossil!). We also took part in Fossil Safari, but ended up getting rained out- however the guide had a back-up program inside including a behind the scene tour of the lab and some handling of real fossils. It was perfect for young minds. If you like your vacations to become educational, Dinosaur won’t disappoint.
If the incredible scenery isn’t enough to get you to head out to Dinosaur Provincial Park, maybe the modern amenities like free showers, free wifi, a yummy restaurant, a sandy creek to play in, the option of comfort camping (complete with air conditioning and a heater!) and endless photo opts might.
Look Forward to-
- The views. Oh those views.
- The facilities. As mentioned above, Dinosaur has been developed with both comfort and exploring in mind.
- Amazing programming for families and programming for Adult’s only.
- If you can’t get into the Programming, there’s self- guided interptive trails with uncovered fossils to check out, free of charge
- There’s really good food in the cafe if you don’t pack enough, need a cool treat after hiking or just need a break from cooking (and if you see someone who looks like me, give her a little wave- that’s my lovely niece scooping your ice cream!)
- The on-site Museum is very interactive and worth the small cost of admission for kids.
But be Prepared for-
- The Drive. At over 5 hours from Edmonton and 2.5 hours from Drumheller, budget your time accordingly. I would give yourself 2 days to fully experience Dinosaur.
- Mosquitos. Do not forget the bug spray. Enough said.
- The heat. The Badlands can have extreme heat waves. Pack hats, sunscreen and water accordingly.
- Booking all your camping and programming in advance. You will be disappointed if you make the trip and don’t have a campsite or a program to attend- everything fills up in far in advance.
Our insider tips-
If camping or comfort camping isn’t for you, there are multiple hotels in the town of Brooks, as well as Bed and Breakfasts in the surrounding area. It’s still worth the trip even if you don’t want to stay onsite. We loved our little canvas tent along the river- it felt like we were on luxury safari- and we were warm at night and cool during the day. Everything but our food was included. Definitely worth the splurge. There’s also Kinbrook Island Provincial Park about 30 minutes away with a beautiful beach, playground and a day use area to use in if the badlands get to hot, or if you’re in the mood for a change. Our biggest tip would be to plan out your trip with help from the Park’s website, but to also leave time to just relax and explore the valley. There’s so much much to do (and I’m always guilty of trying to do it all!) but don’t forget to enjoy.