Jurassic Park had never felt so close to home, until we found ourselves in Drumheller.
It's a little town with a big reputation - the Dinosuar Capital of the World. The extremely high concentration of fossils found in the area make for fascinating history, and a theme which the town has decided to adopt in style, even down to the world's largest dinosaur, a fiberglass statue that towers over the town below.
We had some friends visiting from the UK, and so we bundled into our tiny car (which was an interesting challenge) and took a road trip out of Calgary early in the summer and found ourselves driving down country roads with miles and miles of grassy plains until we dropped down into Drumheller which sits in the valley of the Red Deer River. We headed straight for the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology, which houses the largest collection of dinosaur bones and fossils in Canada, and they're proud of it - the Natural History Museum has nothing on this place.
It was definitely a day of learning, as we took in as much natural history as our brains would allow, before leaving to explore more of the rugged landscape that surrounded us. We were in the Canadian Badlands, a belt of hoodoo formations, coulees and ravines that stretch for miles along the border of Alberta and beyond. We climbed up one of the coulees to take a look at the land from a higher perspective until it started to rain and we raced back to the car.
We didn't get much of a chance to explore the town, if there was much at all to explore in the first place. Despite the quiet streets and old fashioned stores, there was an abundance of strange dinosaur sculptures in front gardens, playgrounds and on street corners.
After grabbing some lunch we hit the road again to explore the little community of Wayne. Once the site of several coal mines, Wayne is now well known for the road into town. The 11 Bridges to Wayne consist of (you guessed it) 11 bridges along the six kilometer stretch from Rosedale, crossing the Rosebud River at various points. These bridges even hold their own Guinness World Record for the most amount of bridges within the shortest distance. The town and bridges are great for budding photographers trying to get a unique perspective, but there's a serious lack of anything else to do; as soon as we pulled into the Rosedeer Hotel parking lot we swiftly left and crossed back over the bridges on our way out of the canyon.
We decided to make one more stop on our tour of the Badlands of southern Alberta - the Drumheller Hoodoos. For anyone that doesn't know (and we certainly didn't before this trip), hoodoos are tall, thin spires of rock that protrude from the earth. Generally formed within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations, hoodoos can be found all over the world. These naturally eroded rock formations sit at the side of Highway 10 and are open to the public for climbing and exploring.
After some clambering, scaling and sliding over the hoodoos, we made our way back to the car for the long drive home. Drumheller and the Badlands of southern Alberta are surreal to say the least. We moved to Calgary for the Rocky Mountains and the great outdoors, but I don't think we ever anticipated spending a summers day out in the desert in the middle of Dinosaur Valley.