Located in the heart of the Canadian Badlands, Drumheller is a unique town to discover all year-round. It’s not only the ideal destination for dinosaur lovers, but for any outdoor enthusiast looking for a unique experience. That said, Drumheller in the winter offers a particularly new perspective and charm to the desert landscape.
The winter in the Drumheller Valley really kicks off at the end of November with the Festival of Lights. All bundled up, families brave the cold temperatures to experience this winter wonderland, often leaving with a shared sentiment: totally worth it.
Here is a weekend itinerary to help you explore the wonder of Drumheller in winter.
A Weekend Itinerary to Discover Drumheller in the Winter
Below is a family-friendly weekend itinerary for discovering the beautiful town of Drumheller and the Canadian Badlands. It’s a busy itinerary filled with fun activities for the entire family to enjoy.
Day 1: Dinosaur Trail, Museum & Downtown
Start your stay in Drumheller by visiting the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. Getting there is easy!
When you arrive in Drumheller by highway AB-9, take a few minutes to stop by the “Welcome to Drumheller” sign. It’s a great spot to take a few pictures, and it’s easier to do on the way in than it is on the way out.
Then, drive past the Visitor Center and follow the sign to the museum and the North Dinosaur Trail. The museum is a short 10 minute drive from the Visitor Center.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology is the only museum in Canada fully dedicated to the study of ancient life, from dinosaurs to prehistoric plants and animals. Plan at least 2 hours to fully explore the museum.
The exhibits will take you in a 3.9-billion-year adventure through time. For families visiting with young children, there is a fun interactive gallery where kids can create their own dinosaur species. There are also other fun activities to keep your children engaged (which might just buy you a few minutes of quiet).
Note that the Dinosite or Dig Experience are not offered in the wintertime.
Once you’ve fully explored the museum, hop back in your car and continue driving along the North Dinosaur Trail. If you didn’t pack a lunch, you can grab lunch at the museum cafeteria.
The first stop after the Royal Tyrrell Museum is the Little Church. This charming church was built in 1958. It can receive “10,000 people, but only 6 at a time.” You can walk around the church and also open the door to see the inside..
The second stop is the Horsethief Canyon. This canyon, along with Horseshoe Canyon, has distinctive features of the badlands of Alberta. Both canyons are worth visiting, but Horsethief Canyon is much bigger. Plus, Horseshoe Canyon is closed for the winter season.
Back in the olden days, Horsethief Canyon was supposedly used to hide stolen horses (hence the name). You can learn more about its history by reading the sign located near the parking lot.
Then, drive to the Bleriot Ferry to look at this unique cable ferry or head back to town. The Bleriot Ferry was commissioned back in 1913 and its first operator was Andre Bleriot, the brother of the famous aviator Louis Blériot. Note that the ferry does not operate in the winter, so you’ll have to drive back into town if you want to visit the other side of the Red Deer River.
As you return toward the town, make a stop at Wanderlust Boutique for a hot beverage and snacks. If you’re travelling with children and the weather is nice, they will also enjoy a stop at the Dinosaur Trail playground.
At around 4PM, check into the Tyrannosaurus Rest Bed & Breakfast. Shawn the owner will greet you in a warm and cosy ancestral house. The B&B is walking distance from the city centre, making it an ideal place to stay during your winter getaway in Drumheller.
When you’re ready, bundle up for an evening stroll into town for some local shopping. Then, you can have a casual dinner at Pizza 249 before heading back to your Bed & Breakfast.
Day 2: Dino Walk, Hoodoos & Historic School
Start your morning with a delicious homemade breakfast served at the Tyrannosaurus Rest Bed & Breakfast.
When you’re ready to check out, drive to the World’s Largest Dinosaur where you can climb up the 106 stairs to the top of the T-Rex mouth. On your way up, you can admire the art on the staircase walls.
Then, walk outside past the arena and follow the Dino Walk. If they aren’t covered in snow, you’ll see dinosaur footprints on the street. Kids will love this unofficial dino scavenger hunt across the downtown area.
You can find the map of the dinosaurs’ location here on DinoArts website.
When all the dinos have been found, head back in the car and drive to the Hoodoos by following AB-10 toward East Coulee.
Hoodoos are sandstone pillars up to 7 metres high created by erosion. They are naturally shaped by the wind and water. In folklore, Hoodoos are also known as “fairy chimneys.”
When visiting the Hoodoos Provincial Historic Resource, it’s important to stay on the pathways and never climb on the hoodoos as they’re fragile – not to mention they take millions of years to form.
You can walk in the valley, but make sure to respect the environment and the signs while you are there. Also, the soil can be really slippery and muddy in the wintertime, so pack a different pair of shoes (or something to wipe your boots off with). .
After your little hike at the hoodoos, it’s time for a warm lunch. Head over to the Willow Tea Room Cafe located in the East Coulee School Museum for a homemade soup and pie.
When visiting the East Coulee School Museum, you’ll learn about the coal mining era and what school was like at that time. The Drumheller Valley was once thriving during the coal rush and the town of East Coulee was booming in the 1930s. During that time, there were more than 3,000 residents in East Coulee with ten different coal mines within close distance of the town.
The museum is located in the historic 12-room schoolhouse. During your visit, you’ll see a 1930’s classroom, a coal miner’s shack, and even a fossil room showing a privately owned fossil collection. There are lots of hands-on exhibits making it the perfect afternoon stop for families.
If the weather is nice, kids will love playing in the original school playground from the 1930s.
BONUS: Enjoy an outdoor concert at the Badland Amphitheater
If you are visiting Drumheller early in the winter season, you may have the chance to enjoy an outdoor concert at the Badland Amphitheater. In November and December, the Amphitheater hosts the LightFest during the weekends. This outdoor amphitheatre is the largest outdoor stage in Canada.
A Weekend Itinerary in Drumheller in the Winter
Drumheller and the Drumheller Valley is a year-round destination, and winter is no exception. From snow-capped hoodoos to a dinosaur scavenger hunt and warm homemade soup, families will have a memorable time in Drumheller during the winter season.
Make sure to come prepared with your winter gear to enjoy the badlands landscapes under its beautiful snow coat.
Will you visit Drumheller this winter?