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How to Get From Calgary to Drumheller + Best Stops 

How to Get From Calgary to Drumheller + Best Stops 

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Are you trying to figure out how to get from Calgary to Drumheller? I have everything you need to know plus all the best stops below! 

Since we live nearby, we have made the trip to Drumheller several times and helped friends and family who visit plan the logistics of the trip. There are a lot of incredible viewpoints, history, and geological wonders that you can miss on the drive if you don’t know where to look!

Plus, should you rent a car to get there? Take a tour? What’s the most cost-effective way? Don’t worry, we answer all of this and more below! So keep reading for everything you need to know. 

About the Drive from Calgary to Drumheller

Horsethief Canyon, Drumheller
The views of Horsethief Canyon are spectacular!

If you are driving from Calgary to Drumheller, I suggest taking this route through the prairies since it has lots of great stops. It starts by taking Highway 2 (Deerfoot Trail) north out of Calgary before turning onto Highway 566. You’ll follow 566 until the turnoff to Highway 9 which takes you all the way to Drumheller.

In total, I’ve found it takes about 1.5 hours to drive the 135 km (84 mi) from Calgary to Drumheller in good weather. It’s a flat and straightforward drive without any winding roads. Just fill up your vehicle with gas in Calgary and hit the road – although there are gas stations along the way if needed.

The Best Ways to get from Calgary to Drumheller

Drive Yourself – Rental Car or Your Own Vehicle

Baley and Daniel driving to Drumheller from Calgary Canada
Time for a road trip!

With how easy the drive to Drumheller is and the great stops on the way, I think driving is the best option. If you don’t have your own wheels, getting a rental car is what we recommend. It’s cheaper in the long run instead of trying to book transportation and offers the most flexibility. 

We’ve always had great experiences renting vehicles through Discover Cars. They have multiple pick-up and drop-off points in Calgary and one even in Drumheller so it’s a quick and easy process. If you’re wondering if the website is legit, we have an honest review on Discover Cars here!

The Badlands have some pretty cool things to see which I’ll tell you about below so if you’re curious about them keep reading!

Things to do in Drumheller 

A dinosaur fossil at the Royal Tyrrell Museum
Seeing dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell is a must!

1. Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum

The number one thing to do on a trip to the Badlands is visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum. This is dino country after all! Around half a million people visit this museum every year making it the most visited provincial museum in Alberta.

Once inside, you’ll wander through the five phases of mass extinction with some of the best dinosaur fossils I’ve ever seen front and center. About halfway through, there’s a Learning Lounge with hands-on activities like racing different species of dinosaurs around a track or putting your head in a T-Rex simulator. It’s fun for us big kids too – we really got into the dino racing!

There are also special tours and activities you can add on. Last time we were here, we did the fossil casting workshop for $10 CAD per person. We cast a Megalodon and Mastodon tooth, which made a great souvenir. As our fossils dried, a paleontologist showed us other fossils – we even got to hold fossilized dinosaur poop!

Timed tickets are available online and during the summer, timeslots do sell out. Adults are $21 CAD, kids ages 7-17 are $10 CAD and children under six are free. The museum is open year-round, but hours vary depending on the season, so check the website before you go.

2. Check out the Hoodoos

If you’ve never seen Hoodoos before, these are rock formations created when softer rock is eroded by the wind. These are striking columns that stick up out of the ground and honestly, I think they look like something from another planet!

The Hoodoos are located about a 15-minute drive from Drumheller. These are the best ones I’ve seen in Canada! Make sure to walk along the short boardwalk to get a closer look.

There’s a $2 CAD parking fee to park here for as long as you like and an ice cream shop and other food trucks are also here along with washrooms.

3. Explore Horsethief Canyon

Unsurprisingly, this canyon is named for thieves who stole horses and hid them here! Nowadays, Horsethief Canyon is a great place to take in some of the views the Canadian Badlands are famous for.

The canyon is located just 16 km (10 mi) northwest of Drumheller and there’s a drive-up viewing area so no need to hike. If you do feel like a hike, I suggest the Horsethief Canyon Trail which takes you down into the canyon to explore amongst cacti and desert-like landscape.

4. Take photos at the World’s Largest Dinosaur

View from the mouth of Tyra the T-rex in Drumheller and worlds largest dinosaur statue
The view is pretty sweet from Tyra’s mouth!

There’s no missing this dinosaur in Drumheller! Tyra – a T-rex – is the world’s largest dinosaur at a towering 25 meters (82 feet) tall.

The best part of visiting (as long as you don’t mind stairs!) is climbing the 106 steps to get into the dinosaur’s mouth. It costs $5 CAD per person or $15 CAD for a family.

While this is a quick stop, it makes for a good photo and view of Drumheller! Plus there are lots of fun dino-themed items in the gift shop here too.

5. Visit the Little Church

This is a great place for a photo! The Little Church was first built back in 1968 and rebuilt in 1991 and is still a place of worship today. It only fits six people inside, but there’s stained glass, pews, a steeple, and a pulpit – they pack a lot in!

It’s completely free to visit and is even booked out for (very small!) wedding ceremonies. The Little Church is on the road between the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Drumheller Golf Course and its location is also on Google Maps.

6. Cactus Coulee Fun Park

Whenever we’re here with our family, we always get a bit competitive at Cactus Coulee Fun Park! There’s an 18-hole mini golf course that’s only $10 CAD.

Or we like the go-karts and driving around the huge track here. There are three different types of go-karts to choose from and it’s priced by the minute starting at $24 CAD for 10 minutes. My tip is to purchase 20 minutes though as then you get free ice cream. Win-win am I right?

7. Tour the Atlas Coal Mine

Before dinosaur tourism was the main game in town, coal mining was at the heart of Drumheller. Touring the Atlas Coal Mine is a hands-on way to learn more about the mining industry here.

There’s a general admission of $15.95 CAD, but I recommend adding on a tour since that’s the only way to fully explore the area that once was a working coal mine. Tours can be booked online and they often sell out.

The two tours I’d recommend are the train ride which is about 25 minutes and you’ll ride on a 90-year-old locomotive! And my favorite tour is the Underground Experience. It’s about a 75-minute hike to various spots both under and above ground. Hard hats and lights are supplied.

8. Drink locally brewed beer at Valley Brewing Co.

Traveling, hiking, and dinosaur fossil hunting is tiring work, so stopping at Valley Brewing Company is a great way to relax and recharge. It’s Drumheller’s first and only microbrewery and if you know us, we never turn down a good craft beer!

The May Day Kettle Sour Series is my favorite, and I grabbed one of each flavor to take home. The tasting room also has a nice patio and there’s food from Tacos Del Ray with all the favorites like tacos, nachos, and quesadillas. The atmosphere was great, and there’s even an option to fill a growler on the way out. 

9. Eat a burger at Bernie and the Boys

The large burger at Bernie and the Boys
I didn’t order this massive burger, but I wanted to show you how big it is! Photo credit: Bernie and the Boys

Bernie and the Boys is THE place to go for burgers and milkshakes in Drumheller! It’s known for the giant mammoth burger made with a 24oz Alberta beef patty – now that’s big. It’s a bit too much burger for me, so I usually go for the single bacon cheeseburger and since milkshakes are a weakness of mine, I order one of those too!

There are dozens of milkshake flavors – I think they had 75 the last time I was here! While it was hard to narrow down, I went with the Swiss Chocolate Almond and have no regrets.

The restaurant is within walking distance of the world’s largest dinosaur, so if you walked up all those stairs to the top, reward yourself with a trip here after!

10. Go antique shopping 

Going antiquing is a guilty pleasure for me and luckily, there are some great little antique stores in Drumheller. The last time I was in town, I stopped at Neat Stuff Antiques and Collectables and grabbed a rustic bucket for my garden.

I also recommend popping into the Homestead Antique Museum to see everything from antique cars and farm equipment to an Eaton’s Catalogue house. These homes were ordered from a catalog and shipped by rail across the country. Imagine if you could buy a home like that off Amazon today … somehow I don’t think free shipping would apply!

Related Read: For even more recommendations, check out our full list of things to do in Drumheller!

Where to Stay in Drumheller 

I like staying in a budget hotel simply because I love spending my money on activities instead. For budget travelers, the Travelodge by Wyndham Drumheller is a great option. I think it’s a nice hotel for the price which is typically around $100 CAD – a rarity in Canada! I love the location along the river that’s also within walking distance of town. They also have large family rooms at amazing prices. Check availability and book a room online here.

If you would like a little more luxury the Ramada by Wyndham would be my top pick. The hotel is in the moderate budget category with prices ranging between $180-$250 CAD but it offers really nice facilities such as a swimming pool with a hot tub and an included breakfast. They also have rooms with jacuzzis! Book the Ramada in advance here!

Tours from Calgary to Drumheller

I love tours because they are just so convenient, especially when going to and from Drumheller. They take you by all of our favorite spots and give you an insight into the Badlands only a guide can offer. If you don’t want to rent a car or just want to get out and back to see the highlights, then a tour is my pick!

Private Sightseeing Tour from Calgary to Drumheller

Dinosaur fossil at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller
Fossils at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller!
Bailey poses with the Drumheller hoodoos
The hoodoos in Drumheller!

I’m a big fan of this private tour because you visit all of the best geological wonders of the Badlands and have an extensive amount of time at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. This is great for larger groups because the price per person goes down the more people you have.

Since it’s a private tour, you get round-trip door-to-door service from your hotel which is always a selling point for me. And with multiple start times, I love that you don’t have to drag yourself out of bed early to do this if you don’t want to.

Two of the geological highlights are the Hoodoos of Drumheller and Horsethief Canyon which have some of my favorite views of the Badlands. I love the Royal Tyrrell Museum’s extensive fossil collection and it’s one of the best paleontology museums in the world! You do have to pay for entrance to this museum and the Atlas Coal Mine ($36 CAD combined), but they are optional – although I recommend both!

This tour is hands down one of the best ways to experience the highlights of the Badlands at your own pace!

Private Badlands Tour with Bonus Scenic Stops

Bailey taking in the views at Drumheller
Incredible!
The view of Red Deer River from Orkney viewpoint, Drumheller Canada
Looking at Red Deer River from Orkney Viewpoint!

What I like about this private tour to Drumheller is that it takes you to some stops that are off of the traditional Badlands tourist trail. I’d say this tour is great for adventurous people who love beautiful views as well as amazing museums!

It wouldn’t be a tour of the Badlands if you didn’t go to iconic spots like the Hoodoos, Horsethief Canyon, and Horseshoe Canyon, so of course, you get plenty of time at each. But what I really like is that you go to both the Rosedale Suspension Bridge and Orkney Viewpoint. Two less touristy spots that offer amazing views of the area.

But aren’t the Badlands known for dinosaurs? Yup! And not only will you see all sorts of cool dino stuff at the world-famous Royal Tyrrell Museum, but also snap a picture with the world’s largest dinosaur! Entrance fees to the museums aren’t included, but the combined cost for both is only $30 CAD per person. The second museum, East Coulee School Museum, is a fascinating look into the life of miners in the 1930s.

This tour can take a max of 5 people and the price per person goes down the larger the group. That makes this an excellent choice for families or groups of friends! 

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Best Stops between Calgary and Drumheller 

Iron Horse Park 

A train at Iron Horse Park 
Photo credit: Iron Horse Park 
Riding the trains at Iron Horse Park near Calgary
Photo credit: Iron Horse Park 

Do you like trains? How about history? Iron Horse Park is a fun-filled experience for anyone who likes either and doubly fun for people who like both! It’s an especially great stop for families with kids who might need to get some wiggles out while on the journey to Drumheller.

Iron Horse Park is a rideable miniature railway that takes you on an interpretive journey over 1.6 km (1 mile) and back in time to experience life during the pioneering days. What I think makes this so much fun are the train replicas you ride that run on diesel or steam!

Only 30 minutes north of Calgary, this is a great first stop and a delightful way to start your day. It’s only open on Sundays from Victoria Day Weekend to Thanksgiving Weekend. Hours are from 11-4pm. Entry is free, but train rides are $3 CAD per person (cash and card accepted).

Skydive Extreme Calgary

Skydive Extreme Calgary
Photo credit: Skydive Extreme Calgary

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush Skydive Extreme Calgary will give you just that but over the incredible Badlands landscape! We’re big on skydiving, so this is an easy choice for adventure seekers like ourselves.

If you’ve never been skydiving, this is a great place to try it out. Their certified and friendly staff make sure you are fully taken care of the entire time. And if you are trained to jump solo, this should be on your skydiving bucket list! From the sky, the landscape seems to extend forever.

Located about an hour north of Calgary, jump packages start at $299 CAD for groups of two or more doing tandem jumps. You’ll need to contact them in advance to secure your spot, so I recommend reaching out sooner rather than later. The weather does dictate how long you will be there, but from my experience, be ready for anywhere from 2 – 4 hours.

Horseshoe Canyon

A view of Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller
Horseshoe Canyon is a great stop to check out

Horseshoe Canyon is a large canyon only 15 minutes outside of Drumheller. It’s very similar to Horsethief Canyon, however, the canyon gets its name from its horseshoe shape.

Above the canyon, there is a viewing platform only minutes from the parking lot for visitors to get a great birds-eye view over the canyon. Most people just admire the view from here before continuing on to Drumheller.

Within Horseshoe Canyon though, you can hike the Horseshoe Canyon Trail. The roughly 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) loop navigates the canyon and the trail is well-defined and easy to follow. I’d recommend good hiking shoes or runners as the ground is rocky and sandy and there are some slippery descents and steep inclines when entering and exiting the canyon.

Drumheller Welcome Sign 

Taking a picture with the "Drumheller" sign
It’s a pretty cool sign!

The Welcome to Drumheller sign is pretty epic as far as ‘Welcome To’ road signs go. It features an enormous tyrannosaurus rex ready for a selfie with you.

I just had to get a photo … I mean, did you even visit Drumheller if you didn’t get a picture with the sign?!

Related Read: Ready for another road trip? Check out these 8 road trip itineraries that all start from Calgary!

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Read our honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a photo in the Calgary Tower
Thanks for reading!

Hopefully, you’re all set for your trip from Calgary to Drumheller! Since Drumheller calls itself the “World Capital of Dinosaurs” you’re guaranteed to see a few while in town, but there are also some amazing viewpoints of the Badlands and other fun activities to keep you busy.

If you’re exploring the province, have a look through our other Alberta blogs for more ideas! I’ve spent a lot of my life living and traveling around Alberta, so I have lots of local tips to share. Here are a few blogs to get you started:

33 BEST Things to do in Calgary, Alberta

How to Get From Calgary to the Columbia Icefield + Best Tours

10 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Edmonton & Choosing Your Route