Drumheller is a town in the Alberta Badlands region of Alberta, Canada, famous for the rich deposits of fossils found in the area. Set in a characteristic "badlands" valley carved in the plains by the Red Deer River, Drumheller rose through coal mines — now abandoned — early in the 20th century. Now this town of 8,000 gets hundreds of thousands of visitors between May and September, making it the hub for tourism in the area.
Drumheller's tourism is strongly seasonal. Many attractions are closed or open limited hours from October through April.
The town is nestled in the Red Deer River valley. Near the bridge where the highways cross the river stands an 86 ft (26 m) tall sculpture of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Visitor's information centre, so this makes a good reference point. Downtown Drumheller is just south and east of this bridge.
Drumheller tourist information is broadcast on FM 94.5.
The weather is usually very hot in the summer (above 30°C, 85°F). Remember to carry mosquito repellent — there are lots of mosquitoes around!
Drumheller is located at the convergence of provincial highways 9, 10, 56, 575, and 576.
Drumheller is 135 km northeast of Calgary, about 1 hour 45 minutes by car. Drive north along Highway 2, then east along highway 72 and then highway 9. An alternative route is east along the Trans-Canada Highway, then north along Highway 21, and east along highway 575, approaching the town from the west.
Tour companies offer day trips to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Drumheller Valley. Call the Royal Tyrrell Museum for more information.
Independant travellors staying in Calgary, but wishing to see sights in the Drumheller area without renting a car, may wish to consider the Canadian Badlands Day Trip from Calgary. Sights include the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Horseshoe Canyon, the Atlas Coal Mine museum and the hoodoo rock formations. Serious dinosaur fans may find the visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum somewhat hurried due to time constraints.
Drumheller is a small, rural town. The downtown is compact and easily walkable. Beyond that, you will need an automobile. A bicycle would also do, but during tourist season it is hot, and the roads don't have good bike lanes.
- 1 The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Highway 838 (From the intersection of Railway Ave S / Hwy 575 and Bridge St / HWY-56 / HWY-9, go north on Bridge St for 1.2 km, crossing river. At well-marked intersection,turn left (west) onto Dinosaur Trail / Highway 838. Go west for 5.2 km. At Tyrrell Museum sign, turn right (north) onto the museum's road, go north for 0.9km to the museum.), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Tue-Sun (plus Mondays in September) 10AM-5PM, fall/winter (Labour Day weekend to mid-May). Daily 9AM-9PM, spring/summer (week before Victoria Day to week before Labour Day). A spectacular range of exhibits and activities showing off the rich fossils of the Alberta badlands, from dinosaurs to pollen. Plenty to see and do. Hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. There are a variety of moderate hikes to fossil artifacts, starting from the museum during the summer months. Toll free phone in Alberta: 310-0000 then +1 403-823-7707. Toll free phone in North America (outside Alberta): +1-888-440-4240. Adults $18, seniors (65 and up) $14, youth $10, children 6 years and under free; family of two adults and up to 6 children age 7 to 17 $46; two-day tickets available for 1.5 times the single-day price. Call for discounts for larger groups of 15+.
- 2 Drumheller Visitor Information Centre, 60 - 1 Avenue West (On Riverside Drive at 1 St W, under the World's Largest Dinosaur), toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10AM – 5:30PM; 9AM-9PM in July and August. Free maps and free tourist advice. Gift shop. Books room in area hotels. Features the World’s Largest Dinosaur statue, 6 feet tall, 151 feet long, four times the size of a real Tyrannasaurus Rex. For $3, you can climb up inside it and look out over the badlands. Free.
- [dead link] Midland Provincial Park, Highway 838 (Near the Royal Tyrrell Museum), ☎ . On the site of an abandoned coal mine, this land houses the Royal Tyrrell museum. It also has day use sites for McMullen Island and Mine Sites 1, 2, and 3. No camping. Washrooms available.
- [formerly dead link] Homestead Museum, 901 North Dinosaur Trail, ☎ . Open daily. Over 10,000 artifacts from the Victorian and Edwardian era, including a two-headed calf and a complete house bought from an Eaton's catalogue. $5/person, $3/senior or youth.
- Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site, 110 Century Drive (20 minutes SE of Drumheller along Highway 10), ☎ . May to September 9-5. Climb the last wooden tipple in Canada. Learn how coal was sorted, stored, and shipped in this unique processing plant. Walk the gantry – a gradual ascent - 125 feet up to the top of the Tipple to learn about the reality young boys faced: that the dangers of the surface were a training ground for the formidable "belly of the beast. Follow in the historic footsteps of the miners. Put on a cap lamp and hike up the inclined conveyer tunnel to the mine entry, set high in the Badlands. Explore the dark side of coal mining – learn about accidents, brawls, the women, and the unmentionable side of Drumheller Valley history. $10 per person, $30 Family.
- 3 Willow Creek Hoodoo Interpretive Trail (take Highway 10 southeast for 16km, look for sign marking turnoff, drive 1 km NE to parking area). Hoodoos are a characteristic rock formation of the badlands. Looking like 2m tall mushrooms, they were formed when a cap of more resistant rock protected the softer rock underneath from erosion. Hoodoos can be found in other parts of the region, but this trail makes a few of them easy to visit. A picture there shows that, sadly, there are fewer hoodoos now than even a few decades ago, as erosion and tourist curiosity take their toll. The trail is under 1 km and an easy scramble across rocks. Parking area includes covered picnic tables and chemical toilets.
- Mountain View Helicopters, ☎ . Sightseeing flights over Horseshoe Canyon. $40/person for 2-3 people.
- Fossil World, 1381 Dinosaur Trail North (on the way to the Royal Tyrell Museum), ☎ . Dig up and take home fossils.
- Greentree Mall (Highway 10 East), ☎ . Open daily.. Mall has a variety of shops, including food, gas, auto service, clothing, haircuts, and more.
- Vietnamese Noodle House (2 St W at A Ave W). Tu-F 11AM-9PM; Sa Su noon-8PM. Vietnamese noodles, ice cream, and a variety of other everyday fare in an unpretentious setting.
- [dead link] Bernie and the Boys Bistro, 305-4 Street W, ☎ . Tu-Su 11AM-9PM. Burgers, subs (sandwiches), salads, pasta, pizza.
- Triumph Cafe, 100 S Railway Ave, ☎ . 6AM - 10PM. Located in The Drumheller Inn.
- Sizzling House, 160 Centre St, ☎ . Szechuan, Peking, and Thai Cuisine. Weekday buffet lunch. Buses welcome. Claims recommendation by "Where to Eat in Canada" as one of country's top 500 restaurants.
- Fred & Barney's Family Restaurant, Highway 9 S (Across from Jurassic Inn), ☎ . Chinese & Western buffet. Bus tours welcome.
- Sublime, 109 Centre Street (Right across from the Arena), ☎ . Tu-Su 5PM-9PM. Fine dining made from a Red Seal Chef Dennis Standage. One of the best little restaurants in Alberta. $15-40.
- The Recovery Tap House, 30 Railway Avenue West (Downtown Drumheller), ☎ . 11AM - 2AM. Great steaks, sandwiches and regular pub food $10-20, daily lunch specials.
- Super 8 Motel, 800- 680 2nd St SE, ☎ , toll-free: . Waterslide, guest laundry, high speed internet. Family suites and kitchen suites available.
- The Drumheller Inn, 100 S Railway Ave, ☎ , fax: . Air-conditioned rooms, indoor pool, whirlpool. "Drumheller's only full service hotel", they claim.
- Best Western Jurassic Inn, 1103 9 Hwy S, ☎ . Pool. Hot tub. Guest Laundry. High speed Internet.
- Rivergrove Camground (Across the river from the World's Largest Dinosaur), ☎ , fax: . On the river, just across from downtown. Cabins. Full service facilities. Washroom & showers. RV waste dump. Laundry.
- Horsethief Canyon. Northwest of town on North Dinosaur Trail / Highway 838, past the Royal Tyrell Museum.
- Horseshoe Canyon. Beautiful badlands geology. On Highway 9 southeast of Drumheller, some 40 km distant. Good hiking, if the rain hasn't made the rocks too slippery. Believed by some to be haunted.
- The Dinosaur Trail is a 48 km excursion. Drive northwest and north out of Drumheller on Highway 838. Pass the Royal Tyrrell Museum and Horsethief Canyon. Highway 838 then turns west, and crosses the river at Bleriot Ferry. Ask the Visitor Information Center about the ferry's hours. Go a bit further west, then south on Highway 837, which follows the west bank of the river back to just south of Drumheller.
- The Hoodoo Trail is a drive along Highway 10 through Rossdale, Cambria and to East Coulee. On the way you pass the Willow Creek Hoodoos interpretive trail (see Cambria), 16 km southeast of Drumheller. In East Coulee, visit the Atlas Coal Mine, a National Historic Site featuring Canada's last wooden tipple (structure for emptying coal out of train cars).
- Rosebud Theatre, Rosebud, 35 km southwest. Drive south on Highway 9. After it turns west, drive 16 km more to get to the Rosebud crossing.
- Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks, 177 km to the southeast, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has fossil exhibits that complement the Royal Tyrrell Museum here. But allow at least three days to see them both. The drive takes about 2 hours 15 minutes by car. Take highway 56 southeast and south for 73 km to Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway. Go 56.1 km east to Brooks. Exit there, go 6 km north on Highway 36, and then east along Highway 54 to the park.