Activities and attractions to enjoy during the winter months
As you begin your descent from Calgary into the valley of Drumheller, it is easy to see why this is called Dinosaur Valley.
Local businesses sport colourful prehistoric creatures on their front lawns. Located on the main drag in the parking lot of the Drumheller Memorial Arena stands the “king,” a green and yellow Tyrannosaurus Rex measuring in at 26 metres watching over the town.
Most people know Drumheller as a popular tourist destination during the summer. However, there are many sights and activities to enjoy all year long. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is open from January onwards as well as other outdoor sights that can just as easily be viewed with the accompaniment of snow.
“We are the best place in the world for dinosaurs,” said Donald Henderson, curator at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
The museum showcases the last 20 million years that dinosaurs occupied the earth, with more than 11 exhibits currently on display.
“Cretaceous Alberta” features the Albertosaurus sarcophagus, a close relative of the T-Rex. The ferocious teeth of this predator greets the 400,000 visitors that visit the museum each year. This creature would have been around 3.5 metres in height, and weighed in at just over 2 tonnes.
“If you’re from Alberta I think it is important to visit the museum because it’s part of the history,” said Henderson.
During the winter months, the museum does not offer as many extra activities such as the guided scenic tour along the Badlands Interpretive Trail. However, things such as “camp-ins,” which allow children ages 5 to 13 to spend the night at the museum, are still ongoing.
Following the museum, a visit can be paid to the suspension bridge located in Rosedale, Alta., just a five-minute drive southeast of Drumheller’s town centre.
The bridge crosses over the Red Deer River and was once used by coal miners of the Star Mine. Now visitors can use it to fish, hike and get a view of the river, which resembles something out of a winter wonderland this time of year.
Also located in Rosedale is an outdoor rink equipped with a heated dressing room and bright lights for night skating.
Just south of Rosedale sits the historic “Hoodoos”. These natural sandstone structures are approximately five to seven metres tall, and have taken millions of years to form. Although they are too fragile to climb on, they make good photo opportunities for tourists.
Another attraction in this area is the Historical Park Sod House, located in Morrin, Alta. about a 20-minute drive north of Drumheller. The sod house was built in commemoration of the farming village’s existence.
“Sod houses were common in the area during the pioneering times due to lack of wood. The nearest place at the time to gather the necessary lumber to build a house was Stettler, which is approximately 75 kilometres away,” said Eleanor Bremer, part of the historical society in Morrin.
The sod house that sits in Morrin today is filled with antiques and furnishings of the pioneering days, donated by local community members in Morrin.
As you escape the valley and return to the city, the sights of Drumheller are a different experience than the hustle and bustle of the busy summers.
Rates at the Ramada Inn and Suites and the Super 8 Drumheller are less expensive in the winter season.
For more information on the town of Drumheller and surrounding area visit www.traveldrumheller.com.
For more information on the Royal Tyrrell Museum visit their website.