Located in the heart of Alberta, Canada, Dinosaur Provincial Park was initially established as Steveville Dinosaur Provincial Park in the year 1955. It was then declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. It is a two-hour drive from Calgary.
With around 150 full skeletons and more than 50 species of dinosaurs being discovered, this area is known to be most abundant in dinosaur fossils. It has some very precious fossil specimens found from the ‘Dinosaur Age.’ Apart from that, Dinosaur Provincial Park is also famous for its beautiful scenery and diverse plants and animals.
There are guided as well as self-guided tours at the park. But what tourists prefer more is undoubtedly the self-guided tour. The real fun is always exploring the place on your own as there is so much to do.
How to Get to Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is closest to the city of Brooks, so you can go ahead with these directions on reaching there.
1. For a distance of 11 km, go north on Highway 873 from Brooks.
2. You should then turn right on Highway 544 and continue for a range of 14 km.
3. You will then see blue-colored Dinosaur Provincial Park signs, which you need to follow.
4. Then turn left on P.R. 130, which a two way paved roadway at the Dinosaur Country Store. However, this gas station is closed, and the closest one is at Duchess or Brooks itself.
5. You then have to continue for 5 km to a four-way stop and then turn right and follow the road for 15 km along the Sandhill Creek Coulee.
6. You will spot three flags of Canada, Alberta, and UNESCO World Heritage Site at the top of the hill entrance. You have to move down the hill until you reach the park’s facility zone.
Rules to be Followed in Dinosaur Provincial Park
1. If you wish to do overnight camping, you should have a permit for the same.
2. Pets should be leashed at all times and are not allowed in public buildings.
3. Liquor is not allowed except at your registered campsite.
4. Hunting is strictly prohibited in Dinosaur Provincial Park.
5. Do not damage or cut any plant, fossil, or rock.
6. Fishing is permitted only in Red Deer River, and you need to obtain an Alberta Angling License for it.
7. Feeding or harassing wildlife is prohibited.
Here is a to-do list to make the most of your time at Dinosaur Provincial Park.
8 Cool Things to do in Dinosaur Provincial Park
1. Explore the Trails
Your priority should be hiking on the short trails. It is just like walking back in time. Everything is so beautiful, and there is such an awe-inspiring badlands scenery. Also, there is a significant possibility of you finding a dinosaur bone. It is as exciting as it sounds!
The Great Badlands hike and the Centrosaurus Quarry hike are some guided hikes you should sign up for. There are also short trails that are open for the entire year, including Badlands trail spanning 1.3 km, The Cottonwood Flats trail ( 1.4 km), the 0.9 km Coulee Viewpoint, the Prairie trail ( 0.3 km ) and the Fossil Hunters extending up to 0.9 km.
A. The Badlands trail
It is the first trail to be spotted on the public scenic loop road and is easy to find. There are pinnacles and hoodoos, sandstone ridges, and bentonite clay covered areas. The trail 30 minutes to be covered. However, one can stop and enjoy the breathtaking scenery around.
B. The Centrosaurus Quarry hike
It is mostly cold here but quite sunny. The hikes are canceled once the temperatures here rise above 34° C. The bentonite clay becomes too slick when it rains a lot. There are hills with varying colors like cream, grey, black and soft yellow.
It is easy to guess by the end of the hike why there were hundreds of skeletons of dinosaurs in a small area.
2. Outdoor Fossil Display Houses
These displays located at the public scenic loop road, show its tourists how a dig site looks in real. One of the popular attractions here is a paleontological quarry that was recreated version of an actual dig site in the park.
There are also the bones of ‘duck-billed’ dinosaur kept on display partially covered with the sediments in which it had got buried.
3. Click! Click! Click!
You can take fabulous pictures of the beautiful Alberta landscape that has a different vibe because all the beauty cannot be captured in the eyes.
Click some amazing pictures during the sunset or click from different angles at any time of the day to get that perfect shot!
The park offers you camping with all the comfort you can ask for. You may not prefer sleeping in a tent and adjusting to it.
Comfort camping resolves all of those issues. Equipped with heater, fridge, and bedding to make you feel comfortable as you are at home, comfort camping gives you the experience of night-out at the park.
If you are still not into camping, you can go for a stay at some of the family hotels in Brook which is a 30-minute drive from the Dinosaur Provincial Park listed below:
A. Heritage Inn
This hotel has many reasons to be cherished. Apart from the large rooms and laundry services, they have a hot tub, indoor pool, and fitness facilities to offer, too, which is loved by kids. And the free continental breakfast is like a cherry on the cake.
B. Days Inn
This hotel, too, offers an indoor pool and free breakfast. What makes this hotel unique is that it is pet-friendly.
C. Canalta Brooks Hotel
Apart from an indoor pool and a laundry room, this hotel has a water slide, which is a craze among not just kids but adults too!
5. John Ware Cabin
Alberta’s famous cowboy, who had transformed the outlook of ranching in the province, John Ware, is someone who’s legacy should be learned.
His cabin is well preserved in the park and has a lot of stuff on display for the tourists to see and discover themselves.
6. Cretaceous Cafe and Patricia Hotel
There could be no place as better than this after a tiring day exploring the park. It offers mouth-watering food and as exciting as its name is. Cretaceous Cafe is the perfect place to grab a bite!
Other than the Cretaceous Cafe, there is another place you should try out for its food: Patricia Hotel. Situated at a few miles distance from the Dinosaur Provincial Park, Patricia hotel is loved by families, hunters, and other people from all walks of life.
This place has a new tradition of allowing people to grill their hunk of beef or bison at the steak pit of the saloon.
7. Public Scenic Loop Road – Explore the Path
This is the best part of the park for most of the tourists. You can walk the path, drive, or just relax by the hoodoos. The track is all for you to explore until your heart isn’t contented.
For all of you who are still wondering what hoodoos are, they are sandstone pillars with large and flat stones above them and appear as if they are something made out of Flintstones.
8. Fossil Hunt
The self-guided tours are such a big plus point here that allow kids and adults to roam freely around just like the Jurassic giants did. This is also a reason why pre-schoolers learn to identify fossils at such a young age.
One can also try Explorer’s bus to double the fun. It’s a tour that takes you to different excavated sites. You are also taught how to identify bones amidst the rocks. If you still are not sure what you are holding is a bone, they ask you to go for a ‘lick test’ where a wet finger sticks a little if its a bone.
So these were some fascinating things to do and discover in Dinosaur Provincial Park. But before you are all set to go, there are some essential points for you to keep in mind and get all things going the right way :
1. If you are looking forward to the interpretive tours in Dinosaur Provincial Park, you should know that they run from mid-May to September. Also, they get booked fast, so make sure to sign up for them at the earliest.
2. Even camping reservations get sold out very fast. Alberta Parks open the tickets in April. But also if you are not very sure, there is nothing to worry about as they offer a 72-hour cancellation policy.
To get more information, you can check out the link below:
The best time to visit Dinosaur Provincial Park is between May to September as that is also the time when sunset tours are offered, which are ideal for the tourists who are fond of photography and the evening light up.
To learn about some other places as unusual as Dinosaur Provincial Park to visit in Canada, Click here.
Let us know in the comments below what things would you like to do if you get to visit the Dinosaur Provincial Park.