It’s no surprise that many of the best things to do in Drumheller involve dinosaurs. After all, this little Alberta town just happens to be surrounded by one of the world’s richest depositories of dinosaur fossils.
Drumheller attractions like the world famous Royal Tyrrell Museum and Fossil World are obvious dino-draws for kids. But there’s also ample opportunities to explore the extraordinary geography and coal-mining history of the area… and it would be a huge mistake to miss them.
I grew up just a few hours drive from this incredible pocket of the world, and was lucky enough to visit many times in my childhood. This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit with my very own intrepid toddler and it was a true joy to retrace my youthful footsteps with her own.
Jump to what you want.
- 1 THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN DRUMHELLER
- 2 Royal Tyrrell Museum
- 3 Drumheller Hoodoos
- 4 Drumheller Suspension Bridge
- 5 Horseshoe Canyon Trail
- 6 Horsethief Canyon Trail
- 7 World’s Largest Dinosaur
- 8 Rotary Spray Drumheller Water Park
- 9 Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site
- 10 BEST THINGS TO DO IN DRUMHELLER WITH TODDLERS
- 11 Easy Drumheller Hikes for Toddlers
- 12 Badlands Interpretive Trail
- 13 Town of Drumheller Dino Walk
- 14 Fossil World Drumheller
- 15 Bleriot Ferry
- 16 Drumheller’s Little Church
- 17 Playgrounds in Drumheller
- 18 Bernie & the Boys Bistro
- 19 HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND IN THE DRUMHELLER BADLANDS?
- 20 DRUMHELLER MAP
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN DRUMHELLER
In the Alberta Badlands, there’s enough to keep everyone happily engaged for several days. From world class museums, to eerie natural formations set in alien landscapes, to the World’s Largest Dinosaur, you’re sure to find something to please just about anyone.
In this guide, you’ll discover the best things to do in Drumheller with kids of all ages, but you’ll find there’s plenty to keep adults entertained as well. I’ve included a map with all the Drumheller attractions mentioned here at the bottom of the post, so be sure to keep it handy when you visit.
I’ve also included a special section about the “best things to do in Drumheller with toddlers” at the bottom of the post. I’ll share recommendations on which Drumheller attractions are most appropriate for toddlers based on my recent visit there with my little whirlwind 2 year old. (Yes, of course playgrounds were involved)!
Royal Tyrrell Museum
Canada’s only dedicated palaeontology museum has a lot to make both kids AND their parents happy. And if there’s ONE thing to do in Drumheller for the adults, this should be it. Famous the world over, the Royal Tyrrell Museum has the largest displays of dinosaurs on the globe. Permanent exhibits include over 800 fossils, and more than 40 dinosaur specimens, spanning a whopping 3.9 billion years of life on Earth.
Dino lovers will be especially awed in the “Dinosaur Hall,” when they’re confronted by massive life size skeletons of T-rex, Albertosaurus, Triceratops and Stegosaurus. The 21 metre long Triassic Giant on display in the Royal Tyrrell is the world’s largest known marine reptile.
There’s also a “Preparation Lab,” where kids can watch fossils being prepared, though they’d probably have more fun with the Tyrrell Museum’s interactive offerings. These include a hands-on Science Hall, simulated fossil digs, fossil casting, school programs and summer camps for kids ages 3 and older.
One of my oldest childhood memories is of climbing all over the hoodoos around Drumheller (my bad – what can I say, it was the 70s). These eerie looking pillars are made up of soft sandstone, topped with a hard rock cap that slows down the process of disintegration. And they represent thousands of years of erosion and evolution. They’re incredibly fragile and I’m sad to say they don’t look anything like what I remember from my youth. 🙁
However, seeing them should still be at the top of your list of things to do in Drumheller. Because if you visit the Badlands and fail to see the Hoodoos, did you really go to Drumheller at all?
You can drive to the Hoodoos Trail near Drumheller by heading southeast of town on Highway 10. Scan the landscape as you drive, looking out for any Drumheller Hoodoos along the way. Be sure to stop after about 16 kilometres though, because that’s where you’ll find an interpretive area with a walkway and fences surrounding the best examples of these alien formations.
The fences are there to protect the Drumheller hoodoos from further erosion, so be sure to stay on the path! It’s perfectly laid out for kids to wander around on and explore anyway. You’ll find informative signs and spots designated for taking the best pictures. Visit at sunset for some truly glorious photos of the Drumheller hoodoos silhouetted against a fiery sky.
Drumheller Suspension Bridge
The Drumheller Suspension Bridge (also known as the Rosedale suspension bridge, or Star Mine suspension bridge) is located in Rosedale – 9 km away from the town of Drumheller. Constructed in 1931, it was originally used by the coal workers of the Star Mine. Now, it’s one of the most loved free things to do in Drumheller, frequented by locals and tourists alike.
It’s easy to see why. As you make your way across the 117 metre long Drumheller suspension bridge, you’ll have extraordinary views of the Alberta Badlands terrain all around you. Below your feet, you’ll see the Red Deer River through spaces in the metal bridge.
When you reach the other side, you’ll find picnic areas, and hills to climb. One word of caution though. The area is a depository for Bentonite clay which expands and becomes super slippery when wet. Older kids can have a blast slipping and sliding around, but younger kids definitely require supervision. Bring wet wipes… a lot of them.
I suggest combining a visit to the Drumheller hoodoos with a walk on the Rosedale suspension bridge, since they’re close to each other geographically.
Horseshoe Canyon Trail
Not to be mistaken for its more famous namesake in Utah, Drumheller’s Horseshoe Canyon shares the distinctive glacier-carved “U” shape that gives it its name. The moonscape of Horseshoe Canyon stands in great contrast to the Prairie grasses surrounding it. It wasn’t until my sister and I were almost right on top of the Canyon that we accepted we were actually in the right place!
From the top, you can view the Badlands landscape from behind wooden railings, but if you wish, you can descend about 60 metres down a long set of stairs to the bottom of the Canyon. The rise of these stairs is quite low, and toddlers can manage it with their parents help. Once on the Canyon floor, it’s a mostly flat 2.9 kilometre loop walking where dinosaurs once roamed.
It’s best to do this hike first thing in the morning, as temperatures can soar as high as 40 degrees Celsius in the summer time. It’s also very slippery when wet, so be sure to do this Drumheller hike on a dry day – especially if it’s with kids.
Horsethief Canyon Trail
Horsethief Canyon got it’s name just how you imagine it did. A hundred years ago, outlaws would hide in the canyon rebranding stolen horses!
The descent into Horsethief Canyon is much shorter, steeper and more difficult than Horseshoe Canyon though, so it should probably only be attempted with older kids. It’s much less trafficked, and one of the more potentially more rewarding things to do in Drumheller, as Horsethief Canyon is dramatically eroded and incredible to look at.
World’s Largest Dinosaur
There’s no way you can miss the world’s largest dinosaur. Literally. This gigantic Drumheller attraction extends into the prairie sky at a whopping height of 26.3 metres, and is 4.5 times bigger than a real T-Rex.
It’s probably one of the most touristy things to do in Drumheller, but for $12, you can climb up 106 stairs for an epic view of the Alberta Badlands through the dinosaur’s mouth. Trekking up all those stairs might be a bit tricky for younger kids, but my little one had a blast climbing up onto the T-Rex’s feet at the bottom.
It’s located right outside the Drumheller Tourist Information Centre, which also has a gift shop, where you can buy various dino-related paraphernalia.
Rotary Spray Drumheller Water Park
The Rotary Spray Water Park is the perfect thing to do in Drumheller on a hot, dry, summer day. It offers parents a welcome break, while little explorers cool off in an array of fountains and water cannons.
Open from May long weekend to mid-September, it’s free to use. There are outdoor washrooms, change areas, picnic tables and green space to relax in. My 2 year old was fascinated by the fountains, but a little intimidated to dive right into them.
Probably for the best though, because this Drumheller attraction is probably more suited to older children, due to the slight slope of the area, and wet, potentially slippery ground.
Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site
You can explore the region’s coal-mining history at the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site. It’s considered to be Canada’s most intact coal mine, with opportunities to explore both above and below ground. You can climb high up into the last wooden tipple in the country, and even take a ride on a 90 year-old electric locomotive.
There’s a huge range of interpretive tours and events available for visitors of all ages. Visit their website for more information and to book.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN DRUMHELLER WITH TODDLERS
When I visited the Drumheller Badlands with my 2.5 year old daughter, I was on the look-out for Drumheller attractions that would be particularly fun and appropriate for a kid her age. Fortunately, there was so much to choose from, we couldn’t fit everything into a single day.
Out of all the activities I listed above, the Drumheller suspension bridge was easily my daughter’s favourite thing to do. However, she’s a total thrillseeker (like her daddy), and has zero fear of heights. If your toddler is a little apprehensive of heights, I’d recommend the Drumheller Hoodoos as the next best thing for kids of that age to do.
Following, is a list of things to do in Drumheller that I thought were perfect for my 2.5 year old, that I haven’t discussed before.
Easy Drumheller Hikes for Toddlers
Don’t let small children stop you from wandering around this incredible landscape. There are few like it in the world, and trails that they can definitely manage.
It’s very hot and dry in the Drumheller Badlands, so be sure to take lots of water along for any Drumheller hikes. The sun is also super strong, and there’s not much shade to be found, so prepare with sunscreen and a hat as well. Be sure to bring insect repellent!
Badlands Interpretive Trail
The Hoodoos Trail is short and easily accessible, but if you’re looking for a slightly longer Drumheller hike, check out the Badlands Interpretive Trail.
It’s a self-guided 1.4 kilometre loop near the Royal Tyrrell Museum, that explains the glacial forces that shaped the remarkable landscape around you.
Town of Drumheller Dino Walk
Scattered around the Town of Drumheller, are statues of dinosaurs from all walks of life. From biker dinos to taxi driver dinos to hairdresser dinos, there’s sure to be one to excite your kid.
My daughter had a total blast looking for the dinosaurs and I’d say it was probably the thing we did in Drumheller that she got most excited about (besides going to the playground haha). Best of all, it was totally free, and mama got a whole bunch of super cute pics to commemorate our day in the Drumheller Badlands.
Fossil World Drumheller
The Royal Tyrrell Museum is undoubtedly the one to go to for most kids. But if you’re visiting Drumheller with a younger child, I recommend you save the Tyrrell for when they’re just a little bit older, and visit Fossil World Drumheller instead. There are animatronic dinosaurs (might be a little bit scary at first), areas for colouring, fossil digging and mining, and best of all, a playground.
Our day trip to Drumheller coincided with a crazy thunderstorm, so the indoor playground at Fossil World was a godsend. My little one could burn off all her excess energy from our 90 minute drive to Drumheller from Calgary, look at fossils, pretend to be a dinosaur, and play with other kids.
Adults pay $7 to enter Fossil World Drumheller. Children under 3 enter for free, but there are extra costs associated with the fossil digging and mining activities (for kids ages 3+).
What is it with toddlers and forms of transportation? Boats, buses, trains, cars, trucks, you name it, my little one gets unnaturally excited by all of them.
If your toddler’s anything like mine, a ride on the FREE cable propelled Bleriot Ferry is just the thing to do in Drumheller. This short 105 metre journey across the Red Deer River from Kneehill County in the west, to Starland Country in the east can be found on the North Dinosaur Trail (Alberta Highway 838).
Keep in mind that the Bleriot Ferry only runs from May until September.
Drumheller’s Little Church
It’s true that my daughter adores boats and cars, but she also gets pretty excited by things that are small like her. And The Little Church is the perfect toddler sized Drumheller attraction. It’s – you guessed it – a little church… like tiny. It seats just 6 people at a time!
The Little Church was originally built in 1968 by local contractor Trygve Seland as a place for worship and meditation. It’s simply built with white lines, a tiny steeple and brass bell. When you enter the church, you’ll find a small pulpit and a few stained glass windows and a peaceful vibe. The design came from Robert Gibson, who also designed many of the Town of Drumheller dino walk statues.
The inmates of the Drumheller Institute have actually been involved in reconstructing the Little Church TWICE. First in 1991, and again in 2014, when a fire set inside the church burned a hole through the floor. The Little Church was actually removed from its site and transported to the carpentry shop of the Drumheller Institution for repairs. Good thing it’s so small. 😉
If you’re looking for an extra special thing to do in Drumheller, you can actually get married inside the Little Church, absolutely free of charge. It hosts an average of 2 -3 weddings every year!
You can find it near the Royal Tyrrell Museum, on the North side of the North Dinosaur Trail.
Playgrounds in Drumheller
If you’re the travel-weary parent of a toddler, you already know how essential playground time is. For both you AND your child. Fortunately, there are fantastic, free playgrounds scattered all over the town of Drumheller.
There’s a multi-level playground outside the Royal Tyrrell Museum with a shaded dino dig area. You already know about the one INSIDE Fossil World Drumheller, but there’s also a dinosaur themed playground OUTSIDE that’s completely free to access. It’s in the shadow of a huge brontosaurus statue that your kids will love.
Bernie & the Boys Bistro
For a bite to eat, head to Bernie & the Boys Bistro, for homemade burgers, shakes, and an affordable children’s menu. If you’re really hungry, you can attempt to finish their 24 oz Mammoth Burger!
Bonus points for the Little Explorers Playground, which is suitable for toddlers, that’s directly kitty-corner from the restaurant. Our little one played happily there while dinner was being prepared and it was the perfect thing to do in Drumheller to end our day of dinosaur exploration before the long drive home.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND IN THE DRUMHELLER BADLANDS?
As any parent who’s traveled with kids knows, jam packing an itinerary with a billion things to do, is no good for anyone. So while it’s totally possible to visit several Drumheller attractions on a day trip from Calgary, a longer stay would be better for a family trip.
There’s enough great things to do in Drumheller that a 2 to 3 night stay would be ideal. You’d have time to explore the town, visit the world class Royal Tyrrell Museum, go on a few easy hikes in the Badlands, and really soak up the whole prehistoric vibe of the region.
For a great family-friendly place to stay, check out the Ramada. You’ll love it’s convenient location near the Royal Tyrrell Museum and World’s Largest Dinosaur, and your kids will love the indoor pool and waterslide.
For a more budget friendly option that ALSO has a pool and waterslide, book at the Super 8.
The driving distance from Calgary to Drumheller is just over 136 kilometres. It should take you around 90 minutes to get there, depending on where you’re staying in the city.
Once there, you’ll find that most Drumheller attractions are not too far apart, there’s little traffic (even in high season), and it’s easy to navigate around.
Are you into dinosaurs? Is Drumheller on your list of places to visit now?
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