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When it comes to exploring Canada’s prehistoric past, there is no better place to visit than Drumheller. Located in Southern Alberta, Drumheller is home to large collections of dinosaur remains and also a world-class museum.
The region is called the Badlands, and back when the dinosaurs were around, the area provided the perfect conditions to create fossils – lots of them! In fact, some of the most important fossil discoveries were found in this area and many of them now live in museums around the world.
With that said, Drumheller offers a lot more than just dinosaur fossils. In fact, there are a ton of awesome things to do in Drumheller including scenic flights and historic tours. You’ll find cute restaurants here and plenty of hiking trails. Honestly, it’s such a fun place to visit and you’ll keep busy exploring all the best things to do and see in Drumheller.
In this blog, I share the 27 best things to do in Drumheller so you can pair your dinosaur learning experience with other fun activities and attractions!
Things to do in Drumheller, Alberta
1. Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum
The number one thing to do on a trip to the Badlands is to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. In fact, about 375,000 tourists visit the Museum every year making it the most visited provincial museum in Alberta! Surely, 375,000 people can’t be wrong and the Royal Tyrell Museum is easily one of the best things to do in Drumheller – if not, all of Alberta!
Be sure to take your time going through the Museum as there is a lot to learn! A self-guided tour of the Museum takes you through the five phases of mass extinction. A lovely halfway break is visiting the Learning Lounge full of hands-on activities enjoyed just as much by the adults as the children. Put your head in a T-Rex simulator and look for prey or race different species of dinosaurs around a track to see which is fastest.
You can also do special tours and activities within the Royal Tyrrell Museum. These include hiking tours and checking out a real dinosaur dig. The last time we were there, we decided to do the 45-minute fossil activity for $10 CAD per person. We were able to cast a Megalodon and Mastodon tooth, which made a great souvenir of our trip. As our fossils dried, a paleontologist showed us many other fossils – and we even got to hold fossilized dinosaur poop!
The highlight for me though was the fourth extinction – a viewing hall that features complete skeletons of all the familiar dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Velociraptor, and even a dinosaur of the long-neck variety. When going through the underwater dinosaur section, be sure to look up to not miss the giant Plesiosaur suspended from the ceiling right above you.
Finally, turning the corner to the fifth extinction, you’ll see one of the few complete skeletons in the world of a Woolly Mammoth.
New to the Museum since the last time I visited is an outdoor play area for the kids that is much appreciated by families. It gives the kids a chance to run and burn off any remaining energy around before getting in the car.
As always, the Museum exits through a gift shop for your chance to pick up a souvenir or two.
Timed tickets can be purchased online for your desired entry time months in advance. During peak season, tickets do sell out, so be sure to buy them early to avoid disappointment. Adults are $21 CAD, and children under six are free. A day pass for a family costs $50 and is automatically applied to your cart once you account for everyone in your group.
A $6 add-on children’s activity book is available, but I would not buy this again as there is far too much to do and see for your child to ever have time for it at the Museum.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum Museum is open all year round, but hours do vary depending on the season. From September 1st to May 14th from 10 am to 5 pm every day except Mondays. However, the museum is open on Monday public holidays.
2. Take photos at the World’s Largest Dinosaur
In the center of Drumheller stands the world’s largest dinosaur, Tyra – a T-Rex, of course. Tyra stands 25 meters (82 feet) tall and weighs 65 tonnes! This is a really cool experience in Drumheller and one that kids love.
There are 106 stairs to get to the dinosaur’s mouth – it’s that tall! The dinosaur is part of the visitor’s center and can be entered through the center’s gift shop. It costs $5 CAD per person or $15 for a family.
Entry into the dinosaur is staggered, so you are guaranteed time alone in the dinosaur’s jaws to get the perfect picture of yourself and the great scenic view of Drumheller without any strangers in your photo.
Climbing all those stairs and making your way down may make you tired; browsing the gift shop on your way out is a great way to catch your breath.
3. Explore Horsethief Canyon
Horsethief Canyon is named after the outlaws who hid the horses they stole in the canyon back when the Canadian west was the final frontier. The canyon is located just 16km northwest of Drumheller and is a very interesting place to visit. The views are spectacular and shouldn’t be missed when visiting the Canadian Badlands.
Horsethief Canyon has a drive-up viewing area, so you can take in the beauty of the valley with less effort than it took to climb the world’s largest dinosaur. For most, this is a far as they go.
However, for the more adventurous, consider hiking the Horsethief Canyon Trail down into the canyon to explore. Although the trail is short, you can then head off and explore parts of the canyon yourself. The trail is not well defined so just make your own way down. There are lots of cacti around and the entire canyon looks like a desert wasteland.
This is one of the best outdoor things to do in Drumheller – so be sure to check it out!
4. Check out the Hoodoos
The hoodoos are synonymous with the Badlands, and luckily for you, there are some located only 14 kilometers from Drumheller!
For those who don’t know, hoodoos are a distinct rock formation created when softer sedimentary rock is eroded by the wind, forming large columns that stick out of the earth up five to seven meters tall. They take millions of years to form and always have a hard rock on top of them.
The Hoodoos in Drumheller are impressive and they’re the best ones I have seen in Canada, especially with their unique shapes. There is a short boardwalk around the hoodoos which gives you a really close look at them.
There is a $2 parking fee to use the parking lot, but the natural outdoor attraction is technically free. Hoodoos are delicate, and several of the hoodoos are roped off for preservation.
This is just a quick activity in Drumheller and you can easily explore all of the Hoodoos in under 30 minutes.
5. Hike in Horseshoe Canyon
Horseshoe Canyon is a large canyon 17km west of Drumheller. It’s very similar to Horsethief Canyon, however, the canyon gets its name from its horseshoe shape. It’s a typical badlands scene of dry soil, very little vegetation, and the very distinctive erosion of the canyon walls.
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. Many will just admire the view from here and it’s the most popular way to experience the canyon.
Within Horseshoe Canyon though, you can hike the Horseshoe Canyon Trail. The roughly 3-kilometer loop navigates the canyon giving you a new perspective. The trail is well defined but you can also make your own path and explore.
Proper footwear is recommended for hikers as the ground varies between rocky and sandy. There are slippery descents and steep inclines when you enter and exit the canyon.
At the top of the canyon, there are also picnic shelters and outhouses. Visiting is completely free!
6. Midland Provincial Park
Midland Provincial Park sits at the center of the Canadian Badlands and is nestled against the town of Drumheller. This rather small provincial park was created in order to protect the region’s coal mining history but is also where the Royal Tyrell Museum is located.
There are many hiking trails in the park, and the Royal Tyrrell is the starting point of the aptly named Badlands Interpretive Trail. This moderate hiking trail will wind you through the badlands and back to your car in 1.4 kilometers. This is a fairly easy hike that should only take about 30 minutes.
There are two other areas to explore in the park called the McMullen Island day-use area and Midland Coal Mine day-use area. There are more trails to hike from each location including the Midland Coal Interpretive Trail where you’ll learn all about the coal mining in the area and see old machinery.
At McMullen Island day-use area, you can enjoy a picnic or even a short walk. There is a trail here that connects Drumheller to the Royal Tyrell Museum as well as another along the Red Dear River.
A new addition to Midland Provincial Park is a disc golf course. The course has two separate loops of nine holes and is considered relatively large for a disc golf course (as it is hopeful the course will one day be used for national tournaments.) All you need to enjoy the course is a frisbee. Adequate signage throughout the park explains the game for those who are new.
7. Visit the Little Church
A top-rated tourist attraction in Drumheller is the Little Church. First conceived in 1968 and rebuilt in 1991 by inmates from the Drumheller federal prison, it is still a place of worship. Inside, it seats only six people and you can expect to see stained glass, steeple, pews, and pulpit.
It’s a great place for a photo and the door of the church is left open for visitors to explore. This is a cool free activity in Drumheller. Kids typically love it – it is just their size!
You get to the Little Church by following the North Dinosaur Trail between the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Drumheller Golf Course. It’s on your right but the church’s location is also on Google Maps.
8. Play mini-golf
Drumheller’s Cactus Coulee Fun Park has mini golf! They have a 9-hole western-themed course as well as a larger “pro” 18-hole course. Both are super fun and with two courses, it’s great for all ages.
Access to the 9-hole course is only $6 CAd and the pro course is only $8. Want to do both? For just $10 you can enjoy both courses. Use the 9-hole to warm up before testing your skills on the pro course. This is a really fun family activity in Drumheller.
Cactus Coulee Fun Park is open from 10 am to 6 pm from May to September.
9. Go go-karting
After mini-golf, stay at Cactus Coulee Fun Park to drive the go-karts around the ⅓ mile track. It’s big! There are three go-karts to choose from based on age and size: the bobcat, the super tomcat, and the two-seater jaguar.
The go-karts are priced per lap with 5 laps costing between $13 CAD and $16 depending on the kart you choose, 10 laps $24 to 28, and 20 laps $42 to $50. If you buy 20 laps you also get one free ice cream, but the catch is that you can’t share laps!
10. Walk on the Rosedale Suspension Bridge
The Star Mine Suspension Bridge sits on Mabbot Road, 9 kilometers from Drumheller in the tiny town of Rosedale. It stretches 117-meters across the Red Deer River and was originally built in 1931 to be used by miners to get to the Star Mine on the opposite side of the river.
Today, the bridge is popular with tourists and fishermen and makes for a great photo while in Drumheller.
The suspension bridge is currently closed for repairs, but the town is hopeful it will reopen as soon as possible. Be sure to check online before going to see if the bridge has reopened to avoid disappointment.
11. Explore Fossil World Dinosaur Discovery Centre
If dinosaurs and fossils are really your thing (and you didn’t get enough at the Royal Tyrrell Museum), then you’re in luck because Fossil World Dinosaur Discovery Centre is located within the town of Drumheller! Here, you’ll find over 1,000 fossils on display and ten life-like animatronic dinosaurs.
The museum caters more to young children or families and there are lots of interactive activities to keep the kids busy while there. Some of the most popular activities include a Fossil Dig, where everyone takes home a real fossil; and a Mineral Mine Experience, where you take home your own mineral from the mine.
Keep in mind, the Fossil World Dinosaur Discovery Centre is not a substitute for the Royal Tyrrell Museum and instead, another experience kids love.
Fossil World Dinosaur Discovery Center entrance is only $8 CAD per person, however, a Discovery Pass that includes every activity is $32. Personally, the $8 pass is what I recommend as the activities at the Royal Tyrell are better.
Related Read: For more museums, consider heading to Calgary. Checking out some of the city’s top museums is one of the best indoor activites in Calgary.
12. Watch the Badland’s Passion Play (or just visit the Amphitheater)
A Drumheller tradition is the Badlands Passion Play, performed annually in Drumheller every July since 1994. The play is very popular and tells the story of Jesus Christ.
Tickets go on sale a whole year in advance, costing $49-$79 CAD with early bird prices available. Even if you are not religious, the play is very entertaining and with great costumes and performers.
I personally have never been organized enough to get tickets to go for myself – but my grandma has! She absolutely loved every second of it, and as someone who’s attended theater shows all over the world, says the acting is some of the best she’s ever seen!
The play is performed in a natural amphitheater located only 10 minutes from downtown Drumheller and boasts Canada’s largest outdoor stage. In addition, the amphitheater hosts several other events such as a Roots & Blues Festival and a Canadian Icons Showcase featuring some of Canada’s greatest musicians that your parents might remember.
13. Tour the Atlas Coal Mine
Before dinosaur tourism, the main industry in the town of Drumheller was coal mining. Touring the Atlas Coal Mine is a fun, hands-on way to learn about the coalfields and the importance of the railway to coal mining.
These days, the mine continues its economic significance to the area by offering numerous tours. Tours are the only way to fully explore the area that was once a working coal mine. The underground and tipple portions of the Museum can only be accessed via guided tours for safety reasons.
Tours can be booked up to two weeks in advance and they often sell out. So, get your tickets early to avoid disappointment. The tours are an add-on fee to the regular admission of $12.50 CAD per adult and $9.50 per child.
Not to be missed is the Train Ride tour. This tour takes about 25 minutes. But, if you are looking for a laid-back experience, this might not be for you. The train ride is noisy, and Linda, the 90-year-old electric locomotive, will jolt you about as she takes you around the Atlas Coal Mine site. In addition, an interpreter will share stories and facts about the area and is available to answer questions. This tour costs $6.50 CAD per rider.
My favorite tour though is the Underground Experience, but it is not for everyone due to its length and harder walking difficulty. If you choose this tour, you will get to explore the underground cavities of the Atlas Coal Mine and the surrounding area. You will get your steps in on this tour, but it is well worth it to see the fantastic views of the Drumheller Valley.
The hike is about an hour and a half, and all participants on the tour require sturdy, closed-toe footwear, so dress appropriately. Hardhats and lights are supplied. Children under the age of six are not allowed on the tour for safety reasons. There is an additional $15.50 CAD per person fee for this tour.
Overall, the Atlas Coal mine is a surprisingly cheap place to visit especially for the tours on offer. This is easily one of the best things to do in Drumheller if you ask me!
14. Visit Orkney viewpoint
Orkney Viewpoint is a great way to see the Red Deer River Valley and Horsethief Canyon from a new perspective on the other side of the Red Deer River.
The viewpoint is located around 15 minutes from Drumheller and is only a quick stop. With that said, it’s the perfect place to come and enjoy the magnificent beauty of this region. Better yet, visit at sunset and bring some snacks and drinks.
Washroom facilities have recently been added at the viewpoint and are a welcome addition. This is a great place to stop and picnic with the family while exploring the Badlands and Drumheller.
15. Go on a helicopter tour
There’s no better way to take in the breathtaking views of the Badlands than from the air. Fly over Horseshoe Canyon and into Horsethief Canyon all while enjoying the thrill of a helicopter ride. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Short helicopter tours of Horsethief and Horseshoe Canyon are available through Mountain View Helicopters and depart at either Horseshoe Canyon or the Cactus Coulee Fun Park. All tours are on a first-come-first-served basis, as pre-bookings are not accepted. A short five-minute tour costs $55 CAD per adult, and a more extended fifteen-minute tour is $165.
In my opinion, you need to do a 15-minute tour to enjoy this activity properly. 5 minutes is just too short! Also, the helicopter only holds a maximum of three passengers, so more than one trip may be required for larger groups or families.
A helicopter tour is a great way to see just how vast the Badlands are and to get a unique birds-eye view. But, have your camera ready because these tours are quick!
16. Drink locally brewed beer at Valley Brewing Co.
Traveling, hiking, and dinosaur fossil hunting gets tiring. Stopping at Valley Brewing Company, Drumheller’s first and only microbrewery, is a great way to relax and recharge before you hit your next adventure.
The May Day Kettle Sour Series is my favorite, and I grabbed one of each flavor to take home. They are all are made with quality ingredients and include great flavors like Blackberry and Lemon Smoothie, Cherry Smoothie, and Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie. My partner always enjoys a pilsner, and the Capstone Pilsner did not disappoint.
The tasting room includes a lovely patio and offers non-alcoholic options to include your friend that doesn’t drink. The brewery also serves food from Tacos Del Ray and the menu includes all your Tex Mex favorites such as tacos, nachos, burritos, and quesadillas.
The atmosphere was great, and they even had the option to fill a growler on the way out.
17. Go on a “Wild West Adventure Tour”
It’s no secret that the Canadian Badlands are very hot and dry in the summer. Wild West Badlands Tours has the answer by shuttling tourists around in an air-conditioned bus to all the Drumheller hotspots. This is the best way to see some of the unique things to do in Drumheller without having to plan it all for yourself.
Multiple tour packages are available such as the Badlands, Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Times which visits many of the places on this list such as the Hoodoos and Horsethief Canyon.
However, I recommend visiting those on your own and instead, joining the Wild West Adventure Tour which offers a wagon ride on a buffalo farm that gets you up close enough to the animals you can smell them. You will also get to see a Soddie, -a house made by early pioneers from chunks of prairie grass.
Disclosure: I myself did not do either of these tours simply because it’s hard to write a blog and provide practical information when a guide does all the work. However, I really see the appeal to letting someone else do the planning and hard work for you. You are on holiday after all.
18. Eat a burger at Bernie and the Boys
Bernie and the Boys Bistro is the place for a quick bite to eat in Drumheller. Milkshakes are a weakness of mine, and Bernie’s offers 75 flavors – the most flavors of anywhere I have ever been!
Some of the more unique choices are Red Pepper, Orchid, and French Croissant. I have to say, not all of them sounded appetizing but are worth a try for the brave. I had the Swiss Chocolate Almond and was happy with my choice.
Bernie and the Boys is known for its giant mammoth burger made with a 24oz Alberta beef patty. But there are many other great options available on the menu if your stomach is not quite that big. Personally, I love the bacon cheeseburger and I usually get a single because the double and triple are too much for me.
The restaurant is within walking distance of the world’s largest dinosaur and is a must-visit for burger and milkshake lovers!
19. Get scared at the Haunted Johnston House
If all the dinosaur-themed activities become too much, try booking a ghost tour of the Haunted Johnston House.
Several spirits reside in the home, including Dr. Bob, the master of the house. When on the tour, you are given the role of paranormal investigator and encouraged to interact with Dr. Bob using the investigative equipment provided.
Tours are $40 CAD per person and not recommended for anyone under 14 – it’s that scary. The Haunted Johnston House Tour is only available in the evening on weekends. To book the tour, check out their Facebook page.
20. Go antique shopping
Going antiquing is a guilty pleasure of mine and Drumheller offers several wonderful antique stores that allow me to indulge that pleasure. Neat Stuff Antiques and Collectables not only sell antiques, but they also sell repurposed items such as vintage wine barrels turned into wine racks that hang on the wall. I picked up a rustic bucket for my garden while I was there.
If you have time, pop into the Homestead Antique Museum to see over 10,000 artifacts of the original homesteaders to the Drumheller area. The Museum includes an Eaton’s Catalogue house. These homes were ordered from the Eaton’s Catalogue and shipped by rail across the country where they were assembled onsite.
21. Cool off at the Drumheller Spray Park
During the summer, Drumheller becomes a very hot dry place. I myself struggled with this because I spent much of my time camping in the area. Luckily, right next to the world’s largest dinosaur is the very busy Rotary Spray Park.
It is the best way to cool off on a hot day. Even better, it is a free attraction in Drumheller.
23. Eat breakfast at WHIFS Flapjack House
The best place for breakfast while staying in Drumheller is at WHIFS Flapjack House located inside the Badlands Motel. WHIFS is an acronym for waffles, hamburgers, ice cream, flapjacks, and salad – so you know exactly what is on the menu before you go in.
Almost every review of this restaurant mentions how friendly the staff are and the restaurant’s outstanding service and food – that’s why I just had to check it out! Our time here did not disappoint especially with those amazing waffles. On top of that, I loved the cheesy crepe and really want to return for the bacon and cheese omelet, it sounds delicious!
22. Swim at Newcastle Beach
Newcastle Beach is located in the town of Drumheller just off the Red Deer River and offers a sandy beach area enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Newcastle Beach has several amenities including a large covered picnic shelter, washrooms, and playground. In addition, there are many trees to provide adequate shade on sweltering days.
It is also a great place to launch a canoe, kayak, or float to pass some time on the Red Deer River. Be sure to head down there if you’re craving some sun, sand, and a swim. Although not the greatest beach on offer in Canada, it’ll have to do in Drumheller!
24. Go kayaking on the Red Deer River
On a cool day, nothing beats cruising down the Red Dear River on a kayak or canoe. You can take in amazing views and enjoy a relaxing and peaceful day on the water. Pull up on a secluded beach and relax with a picnic or get to work and burn some calories.
Red Deer River Adventures offers kayak and canoe rentals that you can take out on the Red Deer River for a day. If you are new to the activity, guided tours are offered of varying lengths.
The Islands Tour is 2-3 hours and promises excellent views of the Badlands, deserted mining towns, and wildlife sightings. The tour is $50 CAD per person or $90 for a canoe. Life jackets can be rented. All participants must be at least 14 years of age.
A 4 to 6-hour half-day tour of Horsethief Canyon is also available at the cost of $75 per person.
25. Take a picture with the “Drumheller” 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. It’s the best way to let everyone on your social media know you visited the Alberta Badlands!
I myself just had to get a photo and believe that you should too. It’s that classic tourist attraction that lets everyone know you’re excited to explore this unique region in Southern Alberta.
I mean, did you even visit Drumheller if you didn’t get a picture with the sign?!
26. Go camping!
Camping is a very popular way to enjoy the great outdoors and unique scenery of Drumheller and the Canadian Badlands. During my most recent visit, we stayed at Dinosaur RV Park, located right in the town of Drumheller.
The campsite includes a small mini-golf course and a fun fenced-in playground for kids. There are coin-operated shower and laundry services onsite as well as free wifi. Firewood is sold at just $11 per bag and includes a free fire pit rental delivered to your site. The registration office contains a small shop where you can purchase local baked goods, snacks, and any necessities you may have forgotten. The pies were delicious!
On top of that, if you’re planning on visiting Dinosaur Provincial Park (next on this list) then you should stay at the campground there. It’s another beautiful spot!
27. Drive to Dinosaur Provincial Park
Out of everything I did in the Badlands and Drumheller, my favorite was our trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park. Although not technically in Drumheller, I just had to include it because well, it’s without a doubt one of the best things to do in Canada!
Dinosaur Provincial Park is located around a 1.5 hours drive from Drumheller and can be visited for the day or by staying in the campground. I myself spent 3 nights in the campground and loved exploring the area as well as the museum at the visitor center.
For those who don’t know, Dinosaur Provincial Park is where excavators found lots of dinosaur remains that were transported all over the world. In fact, it was home to some of the most important discoveries in history. Visitors can walk the many trails around the park and view real fossils as well as find their own.
On top of that, the visitor center is home to a large museum with real bones, interactive displays, and tons of cool facts and information. Although in one day you could explore some o the trails and see the museum, staying a night is recommended. The stars out here are gorgeous and there’s is plenty to see and do!
Where to Stay in Drumheller, Alberta
Drumheller is a small town in Alberta so there are not a lot of options for places to stay. With that said, there is still something for every budget.
I myself love to camp or stay in a budget hotel simply because I love spending my money on activities instead. For budget travelers, the Travelodge is a great option. Although some reviews aren’t that good, I think it’s a nice hotel for the price. I love the location along the river that’s also within walking distance to town. They also have large family rooms at amazing prices.
If you would like a little more luxury the Ramada would be my top pick. The hotel is in the moderate budget category but offers really nice facilities such as a swimming pool with hot tub and an included breakfast. They also have rooms with jacuzzis!
As far as luxury choices there really aren’t any, however, there are Airbnb-style homes such as The River Blossom Suite, The Watermark Suite, and the Hidden Hollow Suite. All are highly reviewed 1-bedroom apartments that can sleep up to 5 people.
Thanks for reading!
Drumheller is one of the top tourist destinations in the world for fossil hunters and those interested in the earth’s past. I love visiting this region and find all the information fascinating. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the many amazing things to see and do in Drumheller I’ve listed here!
Thanks so much for reading this blog! I really hope you found it useful in planning your upcoming trip. If you did, then be sure to read more of our blogs such as: