Exploring around Drumheller – dinosaurs and a suspension bridge

I suggested to my daughter yesterday that we go to Drumheller for lunch, and it turned into an excellent day. So excellent that I’ve had to break it up into 2 blog posts.

We hit the road at about 09:30. It’s just over an hour’s drive, and there’s a whole lot of flat country along Highways 567 and 9 west of Drumheller.

Highway 567 east of Airdrie, Alberta
Highway 9 west of Rosebud.

Highway 9 west of Rosebud, Alberta
We’d seen some snow remaining from the blizzard 2 days earlier, and the size of the some of the drifts were surprising.

Snowplow on Alberta Highway 9
Things got ugly in a hurry east of Rosebud, and we saw 2 cars still off in the weeds. That snowplow seemed to be working in the wrong area.

Car off the side of Alberta Highway 9
At 10:15 we stopped at Horseshoe Canyon, which I first saw in 1958. It’s much more developed now, and there are trails down into it.

Horseshoe Canyon, Alberta
Horseshoe Canyon has always fascinated me, and some day I’ll get here when the time and weather are both conducive to having a better look at it.

Horseshoe Canyon, Alberta
The huge hole that Drumheller sits at the bottom of (it’s the valley of the Red Deer River) is quite amazing.

Dropping into the valley of the Red Deer River at Drumheller
On our wander around Drumheller, the world’s largest dinosaur was a must-stop. It was built in 2000 at a cost of about $1.6 million.

The world's largest dinosaur at Drumheller, Alberta
There are dinosaurs of all sizes and types around Drumheller, and before going into the visitor centre, I detoured for a photo of this particularly cute one.

Dinosaurs at Drumheller, Alberta
For $4 you can climb up into the world’s largest dinosaur’s mouth. A portion of the revenue from the attraction go into the World’s Largest Dinosaur Legacy Fund – to date, more than $540,000 has gone back into Drumheller and area projects.

Climbing up into the World's Largest Dinosaur
It’s a pretty cool view from the jaws of the beast! 🙂

The view from the jaws of the World's Largest Dinosaur at Drumheller, Alberta
The big dinosaur is part of a very nice park that includes other attractions including a water spray park. The big guy is the furthest in this line (actually, they call it “she”).

Clock ad smaller dinosaur at the World's Largest Dinosaur
Our chosen place for lunch, Bernie and the Boys Bistro, was reporting on their Facebook page that due to the blizzard, their truck with supplies hadn’t arrived and they may not be open. But we drove over for a look, and they were.

Bernie and the Boys Bistro, Drumheller, Alberta
Since my son’s name is Steve, I had to try their Steve’s Dad’s Burger – a big patty with cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and a hot and creamy Diablo sauce. It was excellent.

Bernie and the Boys Bistro, Drumheller, Alberta
I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Bernie and the Boys. It’s a bit 1950s diner, a theme I love, and there are lots of neat little touches like the hot dog on the fan above our table.

Bernie and the Boys Bistro, Drumheller, Alberta
Andrea had vaque memories of a suspension bridge across the Red Deer River, and the women at the visitor centre gave us a map showing the way to the Star Mine Suspension Bridge a few miles away at Rosedale.

Star Mine Suspension Bridge at Rosedale, Alberta
The 117-meter-long bridge (that’s 334 feet long) was originally built in 1931 to access the Star Coal Mine. It was used until 1957, and the following year when the mine closed, the Alberta government rebuilt the bridge as an historic attraction.

Star Mine Suspension Bridge near Drumheller, Alberta
Far above the Red Deer River, one of the hundreds of coal mine workings in the area can be seen. In dry weather, some good hiking is available from the end of the bridge, but the trails were deep mud yesterday.

Red Deer River at Rosedale, Alberta
Looking down into the Red Deer River. None of the people fishing near the bridge seemed to be having any luck.

Red Deer River at Rosedale, Alberta
Along the Valley Mine Driving Tour, the Drumheller Rotary Club has installed about 20 very good interpretive panels at old coal mine sites. At many of the locations, you would never know that a mine or even a town had existed.

I’m a big fan of hoodoos, and the small East Coulee Hoodoo Park was our next stop. They’re really small compared to the ones I hiked into near Muncho Lake this summer, but they’re much more accessible.

East Coulee Hoodoo Park
There are some wonderful formations in the sandstone. Where there was no metal sidewalk, the trail was extremely slippery!

East Coulee Hoodoo Park
Looking down from the upper part of the walk.

East Coulee Hoodoo Park

Our next stop was the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site, but I’ll tell you about that in my next post.


Exploring around Drumheller – dinosaurs and a suspension bridge — 10 Comments

  1. My daughter and her husband were in the Yukon in August and she clued me in on your website, Love the pics and love the Yukon, Thanks a bunch!!

  2. Isn’t Drumheller and area great? I was there on Sunday, the day before the storm. My son enjoys seeing dinosaurs everywhere so it is always a hit when we stop there. The Atlas mine tours are totally worth it also.

    • Drumheller really is a destination now. I could probably spend a week here. The visit to the Atlas Mine was great, and now I’d like to do a full tour.

  3. Hi Murray: We did not have enough time to do Drumheller justice. We took the short Badland Guided Tour and recall the lighter coloured bands of earth is actually volcanic ash now turned into bentonite, a main ingredient in kitty-litter. It can absorb a lot of water and becomes very slippery when wet. You do an excellent job of uncovering and sharing facts and I look forward to your next longer visit to this most interesting and unusual place in our wonderful country.

    • There’s never enough time, is there, Leo? I saw a panel describing the bentonite, I think at the hoodoos. It’s quite incredible how slipper it gets! When it takes 2 blog posts to even briefly describe a single destination, I know that I need to come back again 🙂

  4. Murray – Fantastic! I love Drumheller and always was curious to see what it was like in winter, but am never out that way outside of the summer months.

    BTW, where abouts are you going in Ontario here? You picked a great time – weather is awesome and the leaves are just starting to turn. If your going anywhere near the Ottawa valley, I have a couple of routes I could mention for some scenic fall foliage drives (the ones not full of tour buses that only locals know).

    • Hi AJ – we’re just going to be in London visiting with Cathy’s family for the week. The weather sure isn’t working out for us – today is horrible! 🙂

      • Nice. I have a couple friends in London and the surrounds – It’s a nice area!
        I can assure you, outside of the odd annoying fall storm, the weather is generally pretty good this time of year. I have always said, there is one bad wind storm that rolls through each October and removes most of the leaves from the trees in one swoop. Apparently that was last night for us!
        But the weather looks solid this week so hopefully you get a couple of good days before your headed home.