Today you’re on your way to Drumheller, known as the dinosaur capital of the world. Just an hour and a half from Calgary, you’ll have lots of time to explore the badlands of Alberta.
Depending on the time of year, see if you can take in a musical at the acclaimed Rosebud Theatre in the tiny town of Rosebud, near Drumheller. Or explore and enjoy the many walking and hiking trails in the area.
Just seven kilometres west of Drumheller, on Highway 838, is the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, arguably the finest dinosaur museum in the world. The Tyrrell is devoted to dinosaurs and was named after Joseph Tyrrell, who in 1884 discovered an Albertosaurus, the first of hundreds of complete dinosaur skeletons, since removed from Alberta's Badlands.
Today the museum has more than 80,000 specimens and 35 complete skeletons, more than any other museum in the world. All are strikingly and imaginatively presented with the crowd-pleasers being the original Albertosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as more unusual creatures such as the Xiphactinus. The museum alone is worth several hours, but you can spend a full day here by tacking on a short hike, guided May thru September, or on your own anytime.
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Heading out on the Dinosaur Trail, drive west from Drumheller, along the Red Deer River Valley. The road then climbs steeply out of the valley onto the prairie benchland. Then, head to Horsethief Canyon Lookout where there are spectacular views of the Badlands and the multicoloured walls of the canyons. The road continues along the top of the valley to Orkney Hill Lookout for more panoramic views across the Badlands and the lush valley floor below.
Getting back on Highway 1, continue heading east. Visit the city of Medicine Hat, where visitors flock to the world's tallest teepee, bask under Medicine Hat's endless skies or tour the Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic Site and the Medalta Potteries National Historic Site.
The most convenient campground for your overnight stay in this city is the Gas City Campground, operated by the City of Medicine Hat.
Continue your southwesterly journey, turning onto Highway 887 at Seven Persons and take a side trip into Red Rock Coulee - a beautiful chunk of priairie landscape covered with spheroid rock formations. These are the best examples of these formations in Alberta, some measuring up to 2.5 metres across.
Canadian and Albertan history is evident in the Lethbridge buildings that still stand from the boom in the early 1900s, including the town's first public library. Lethbridge's population passed the 100,000 mark in 2019, nudging Red Deer out of its place as the 3rd largest city in Alberta. Among the top attractions here are the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, symboling friendship between Canada and Japan. Here visitors can take part in tea ceremonies or just walk the paths and experience au authentic Japanese-Albertan experience.
Take your time as you head back to Calgary today, perhaps taking Highway 2 and stopping in Nanton. Nanton is a quaint little town known for being the place to look for antiques and old memorabilia. Alternatively, from Lethbridge continue west on Highway 3 to the junction with Highway 22 and follow the Cowboy Trail back to Calgary.
If you're continuing on to the Rockies after completing this tour, head west when you reach the Trans Canada Highway. If you're travelling back to Calgary, our recommended campground in Calgary is Calgary West Campground close to Canada Olympic Park. Download our CanaDream app to take advantage of our partner discounts.