August 3 & 4th ~Dinosaur Provincial Park, Near Brooks, Alberta, Canada
The dinosaur story is best told in two parts – where they have been found (Dinosaur Provincial Park), and where they are displayed (Royal Tyrrell Museum). The two places are located about a 2 to 2.5 hour drive from one another. We decided to start just outside of Brooks, Alberta where Dinosaur Provincial Park is located.
Located just 30 miles (48km) NE of Brooks, it was a convenient diversion along the drive from Waterton Lakes National Park en route to Calgary.
“Dinosaur Provincial Park contains some of the most important fossil specimens discovered from the “Age of Dinosaurs” period of Earth’s history. The property is unmatched in terms of the number and variety of high quality specimens which, to date, represent more than 44 species, 34 genera and 10 families of dinosaurs, dating back 75-77 million years. The park contains exceptional riparian habitat features as well as badlands of outstanding aesthetic value.” ~ whc.unesco.org
There is an RV park right at the park, so we chose to arrive the night before. After getting set up, we decided to do the short scenic drive part that is open to the public. It gives you an introduction to the Badlands topography as well as two stops where dinosaur bones have been left where they were found, but encased in a plastic dome to protect them.
If you are just passing through and only have an hour, this would at least give you a taste of where the vast number of dinosaur bones and other fossils have been found.
If you have the time, I recommend visiting the park visitors center and making a reservation for one of the daily tours that takes you to the “closed” section of the park with a guide for a much more in-depth experience.
Since Tim and I are often flying by the seat of our pants and like the flexibility to stay for a while at places we love, and move on when ready, we usually don’t have any firm dates which makes it next to impossible to make those afore-mentioned reservations. So, up bright and early on the 4th, we were the first ones through the door at the park visitors center when they opened at 9:00. We inquired about any of the tours and were sadly told they were all sold out for the day.
I inquired if they had a waiting list for cancellations. No, sorry. Could we wait and see if perhaps someone would not show up? That was OK, and we were told to return at 9:25.
On our best behavior, we returned on time and were introduced to the waiting guide. But when time came for the tour, 23 of the 24 seats on the bus were taken. Oh well, we said our thanks anyways, and went back inside to view the rest of the displays and watch a short movie.
The display area itself is well done, but quite small. It simply whet our appetite to see more of the amazing dinosaur skeletons. This area is also considered the field station for Tyrrell Museum.
When viewed from the front, this Long-frilled ceratopsian appears heart-shaped.
Part way through the movie, I had a tap on my shoulder. The sweet cashier had tracked us down and said someone had just called to cancel for the 10:30 trip and if we wanted to stick around, she thought she could get us on that tour. We thanked her profusely and with a big smile, Tim and I took the last two seats on that bus.
I love how things seem to always work out!
The park is renowned for three things:
- Dinosaur fossils
- The Badlands
There are quite a few pictures of the badlands in this slide show, but I was quite taken with its unique beauty.
- A type of Cottonwood trees that need floods to reproduce and are now threatened – Sorry no pictures of the trees to share 😦
After seeing WHERE all the fossils were found, we were even more interested to see WHAT had been found. So, to complete the saga, we hopped back into Ellie Mae and drove the two and a half hours to the town of Drumheller to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology.
But that will just have to wait for our NEXT post.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for the kindness and professional courtesy that we were shown by the staff at the Dinosaur Provincial Park. They went out of their way to find us, and got us on the tour we wanted to take. The guide was excellent, well-informed, and was able to keep the commentary engaging for both the adults and children on the tour.
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