When planning our trip west for two weeks at the end of August, we had to incorporate Drumheller, come hell or high water, as we had kids in tow, and one in particular is a 9 year old boy that has been dreaming of this place forever.
It’s a short drive out from Calgary to Drumheller, through the flat, flat prairies, which I can't help but love. The colours and the lines.
You don't just drive into Drumheller, you sort of 'drop' into it. From flat prairies the road sinks down into a town that seems to be at the bottom of a crater pit, surrounded by all the curious striped hills every which way you look.
We set up camp along the Red Deer River, which my boy tells me is in EVERY dinosaur book. We had met up with my brother in-law, his wife and beautiful red-haired daughter. The kids spent hours mud puddling on the rivers edge. Probably secretly wishing they'd find dinosaur bones - no such luck, but there was coal!
In the morning we made an early start and headed out to the hoodoos. Driving through Drumheller country gives the feeling you are in some make believe land, but walking through the hoodoos, the natural toadstool scultptures, makes it even more humorous.
The black lines in the cliffs are coal, and that seemed to be the goal to climb up to.
I had to shake myself away from the bizarre scenery and tell myself to focus on what looked like scraggly plant life trying to etch out a survival on the parched land. There was very little in bloom, but that seemed to be due to the time of year (late August). Very little I could name just by leaf and seed head - but I'll take a stab it with some internet help.
A funky flat grass: Bouteloua gracilis
Broadleaf Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa. Like its name says, it had a sticky green seed head.
Not sure what this beauty is.
Astragalus & Artemisia
When in Drumheller, you must go to the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum, whether you are a 9 year old boy or not. Hands down, one of the best museums I've been to, and I’m not crazy about this stuff.
Thomas was incredibly happy to see this apparently famous fossil of a Xiphactinus that swallowed a six-foot Gillicus. I had no idea what he was babblling on about until he pointed out the second fossil inside....ooooh!
Cycadeoid fossil below, extinct relative of the modern cycads. Apparently an important food source for the Jurassic period dinosaurs.
Outside the museum, a unique water feature, and it's not a dolphin, it is an ichthyosaurus (I'm being prompted by Thomas sitting beside me just in case I'm sounding like I'm up on my dinosaurs).
Dry river bed outside the museum. If my daughter wasn't sick, we would have walked further up the trail.
At the campsite, I stayed back with Clara, whose head was pounding. The sunset on the river made that just fine with me.
The boys went off to walk the rope bridge. OK, I didn't exactly want to go because I'm not great with heights over water.... and apparently my son inherited the same fear. But he conquered his fear and made it back.
Next morning we were in the car, heading further west to the Rockies, which would be another first for all of us.