Have you heard of Drumheller, the Dinosaur capital of the world? Drumheller is a great destination for families, but you may be wondering what to do in Drumheller other than climbing up the World’s Largest T-Rex.
Drumheller is loaded with Dinosaur statues around town, but there are so many more things to see in Drumheller, from dinosaur-themed playgrounds to unique (even almost surreal) landscapes. So, today, we’re going to share what to do in Drumheller.
But first, let’s talk a bit about this region’s history.
Where (& What) Is Drumheller?
Drumheller is a small town located 110 kilometers northeast of Calgary. It’s a part of a larger region called “Red Deer,” though Drumheller is often called the “Dinosaur Valley.”
That’s because this area is world-renown for the dinosaur fossils that have been found there over the years.
The official town was started by Samuel Drumheller, whom the town was named after. He purchased the land back in 1911 and started a railway station in 1912. The area later became a village and, a bit later, Drumheller was an official town.
Over the last few hundred years, the city has expanded a bit and absorbed other surrounding communities in the Red Deer badlands area.
And while all that is well and good, we know what you’re really wondering: what to do in Drumheller?
What to Do in Drumheller
We highly recommend checking out Drumheller for at least a day, but a multi-day getaway is ideal. With a few days, you’ll really experience the area and have time for all the fun things to see in Drumheller.
You can scroll down to the end for more information on how to plan your trip to Drumheller.
All the attractions we’re covering in this post are activities that your whole family will love (and it’s a great way to fill up a day if you’re looking for things to do around Calgary). It’s a great stop to do on an Alberta road trip.
Our family has had the pleasure of going a few times in Drumheller, the kids loved it each time.
Let’s dive into what to do in Drumheller And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to download our 3-day itinerary in Drumheller and the Canadian Badlands. Here can also read our detailed Drumheller itinerary post.
1. Visit the Hoodoos
When Emilie first told me about the “hoodoos” in Drumheller, I was certain we were dealing with a language issue–which DOES still happen. (Our current debate is whether “same-same but different” is an actually expression in English).
That said, she was right on this specific topic, and the Drumheller hoodoos are an awesome place to let the kids do a bit of exploring.
So if you don’t know what “hoodoos” are, don’t worry. I didn’t either.
Evidently, these are spires of rock that come up from the ground. The column portion has usually been eroded, but the top part (or the “cap”) is harder and more sturdy.
As a result, you’re left with a “mushroom” type rock that can be really tall:
Due to their odd shape, hoodoos are often used in folklore. They’re sometimes called “fairy chimneys.”
Why We Loved The Drumheller Hoodoos: There is a small parking lot with some food trucks where you can stop for a snack or for lunch (there are picnic tables there).
Then you can go explore the hoodoos, but that means you really get to explore.
There are some trails, but the kids get to safely climb up rocks and feel like real adventurers. That said, everything is safe in the main areas.
I DID hike to the top of the mountain with our oldest, Noah, who was 3 y/o at the time. It’s pretty steep toward the top, but you get an awesome view of the region.
The problem was getting back down. It was very windy, and I won’t lie: I was nervous of slipping at times.
If you do have small children, make sure to wear tough hiking boots if you want to explore higher up the trails.
But, again, the area toward the parking lot was spacious and had lots of room for the kids to do some natural exploring.
Price: depending on the time of year and day, there might be an small entrance fee
How to Get There: If you’re coming from Calgary or Banff, you’ll likely drive to Drumheller using AB-9 east following the Hoodoo Trail. As you drive through the downtown area in Drumheller, everything is clearly marked, so you shouldn’t get lost.
You’re looking for S Railway Avenue/AB-10/AB-56 south.
It’s roughly 15 kilometers from the downtown area.
2. Visit the World’s Largest T-Rex Dinosaur
In Drumheller, you can see the largest dinosaur statue in the world. Tyra, the T-Rex, is 26.3 meters (86 feet) tall and 46 meters (151 feet) long.
Plus, you can walk up into the T-Rex and look down at the world from inside the dinosaur’s mouth. There are 106 stairs to climb to go to the top.
There is a gift shop with public bathrooms but be warned: once your kids go through that gift shop, it’ll be hard to get them out without some kind of dinosaur toy (or tantrum).
To kids’ credit, the gift shop does have some pretty cool stuff in there.
What we really loved, though, was all the little dinosaur attractions at the same stop. Yes, you can see the world’s largest dinosaur. However, there are other dinosaur statues to walk around with and take pictures of.
Plus there’s a big grassy field with picnic tables for lunch, a convenience store across the stress for ice cream, and an aqua-center with a waterslide.
In the summer months, the outdoor area has a public water splash park that can be a lot of fun for the kids, too. It’s a great place to cool off for a few hours.
Price: The general stop is free. To go into the dinosaur, kids under 5 y/o are free. Otherwise, it’s $5/person or $15/family.
Again, call ahead before going to make sure you can go up (but honestly, don’t let that be the deciding factor… you should totally go anyways).
How to Get There: If you’re coming from Calgary or Banff, you’ll likely drive to Drumheller using AB-9 east. Then follow the signs for the “World’s Largest Dinosaur” or the sign for the visitor center.
You almost literally can’t miss it!
3. The Dinosaur Trail
This is definitely a drive that you should take for naptime. Emilie and I grabbed a coffee and tried to get the kids to nap in the car (I don’t think it worked).
This is a fun 48-kilometer loop with incredible views of the Canadian Badlands. We planned about 2 hours for this to really enjoy it, but if you plan to do the Horsethief Canyon hike, you may want to plan for at least half a day.
To be honest, there isn’t much for toddlers to appreciate on the South part of the Dinosaur Trail (at least ours don’t love site-seeing as much as they love the park), but it can be a great drive for you and your partner to relax, catch up a bit, and take in the beautiful landscape.
Older kids will enjoy learning about the history and imaging real dinosaurs roaming around over 75 million years ago.
Here’s one thing to keep in mind: after a spot called “Horsethief Canyon,” you’ll cross the river on the oldest cable ferry in North America, the Bleriot Ferry. It was originally built by Andre Bleriot, the brother of Louis Blériot, the first one to fly across the English Channel (cool, right?).
While the idea of stepping back in time to a cable ferry sounds like lots of fun, it’s a SLOW process. It took us 20 – 30 minutes to get across, and we only had to wait for one load of cars before us.
On busier days, you’ll want to make sure there isn’t a huge line. Otherwise, you’ll sit in traffic for a few hours which, to us, wouldn’t have been worth it.
If you do the entire loop, however, there are loads of places to step out and take pictures. On your self-guided tour of the Dinosaur Trail loop, don’t miss:
- Homestead Antique Museum*
- Fossil World Dinosaur Museum and the Lion’s kids’ playground*
- Midland Coal Mine in Midland Provincial Park
- McMullen Island*
- Drumheller’s Little Church
- Horse Thief Canyon*
- Bleriot Ferry
- Orkney Viewpoint
- Andrew Farm Old Grain Elevator
*Places that are more fun for kids
Price: Free (which made us wonder how they maintain the cable ferry…)
Location: Follow the sign for Dinosaur Trail.
4. Barney’s Adventure Park
Barney’s Adventure Park is one of those places where your kids (and even you) will want to spend the entire day. It’s a huge outdoor playground on a 15 acres land in the middle of the Canadian Badlands.
When visiting Barney’s Adventure Park you’ll want to plan for at least half a day, if not an entire day since there are so many fun things to do for the entire family.
The day pass gives you access to all the fun activities, such as:
- Petting zoo
- Cart racing
- Buffalo jumping pillows
- Ball games
- Rope course
- Giant checkers
- Gems panning (extra cost for the gems kit)
- And so much more
There is also a beautiful path into the forest where you can see wild Alberta roses and … dinosaurs.
During your Dinosaurs Walk, you’ll encounter more than 15 giant articulated dinosaurs. It may be scary for little kids as the dinosaurs are moving and making noises.
Price: $23/person for all-day access, free for 3 y/o and under
Location: Follow the sign on Dinosaur Trail North
5. Bikes & Bites Experience
Drumheller is a great place for a bike ride, either along the Red Deer River or into the Canadian Badlands. In fact, there is a nice 14-km bike trail that goes into Drumheller downtown and into the Badlands.
Bikes & Bites offers eBike rentals and picnics baskets. It’s a unique and fun way to explore Drumheller and the valley. Plus, you don’t have to worry about packing a lunch. The lovely owners of Bikes & Bites will take care of it.
They offer eBikes to rent, but riders must be 12 years old and over to be allowed to rent those eBikes. But, if you are traveling with kids, there are a few other options for you. Bikes & Bites also have a child carrier, standard youth bikes and ride-along kids extensions which makes it perfect for a family bike ride adventure.
Price: $40 per eBike for a 2h rental ($95 for the full day), $16,50 for a picnic combo including a sandwich, side and drink
Location: the rental and coffee shop is located inside the Badlands Community (80 Veterans Way)
6. Atlas Coal Mine Historic Park
The Atlas Coal Mine Historic Park used to be an active coal mine from 1936 to 1979. At its peak, the Atlas Coak mine was employing more than 200 miners and was operating all year-round.
Atlas Coal Mine is the last of the 139 mines that were operating in the Drumheller Valley.
A visit to the Atlas Coal Mine is a step back in time where the family can learn about the mining industry and how dangerous it was to be a miner.
For the full experience, half a day would be needed to explore the mine. We sadly got caught in rain right after our guided train ride that we didn’t see all there was to see, but it still was a great experience.
Kids will definitely want to board the old electric train and learn how the train was transporting the miners through the mines. There are also a few other guided tours that are offered, but some are not ideal with little kids (lots of stairs or in the dark).
Price: $12.50/Adult, free 6 y/o and under, additional cost for guided tours
Location: the mine is located in East Coulee, about 20 minutes east of Drumheller, a little pass the hoodoos
7. Drumheller Playground
After the small nap, we wanted to get our kids to run around. Fortunately, there’s a neat little shop not far from the Royal Tyrell Museum (which we’ll talk about a bit later).
While the museum was closed on our visit, we did find a fun little store with dinosaur scultures and a public park.
There were 2 things we really liked about this park.
First, it was great for the kids. They’re still young (aged 2 and 4), and it was perfect for them. Kids older than 7 or 8 y/o might find it a little boring, though there’s a grassy area if you have a soccer ball on hand.
Second, this is where local residents come to play. On both occassions we went, we met people from Red Deer or Drumheller who had brought their kids to the park.
It was a great way to meet people and get recommendations about the area.
Plus, there’s a HUGE brontosaurus statue which was fun for the kids to see.
Location: As you’re heading north on 56, turn left at Grove avenue, and left at Poplar st. It’s next to The Fossil Shop and it’s hard to miss (that brontosaurus statue is no joke).
8. East Coulee School Museum
The East Coulee School Museum is a restored schoolhouse from the 1930s. It proposes different exhibits and hands-on activities showing the region’s coal mining past. The museum shows this historic 12-classroom school where each room shows a different exhibit: a 1930s classroom, a coal miner’s shack, a fossil room and so much more.
If you are traveling with young kids, there will love playing outside in the original playground structures.
Inside the museum is also a tearoom, the Willow Tea Room Cafe, where you can enjoy a homemade soup and pie in addition to coffee, tea and hot chocholate
Price: free, additional cost for the cafe.
Location: the mine is located in East Coulee, about 20 minutes east of Drumheller, a little pass the hoodoos.
Other Things to Do in Drumheller
So far in this post, we covered how we spent a really great day in Drumheller with the kids. That said, this isn’t an exhaustive list of things to do.
You might also want to check out some of these other attractions:
- Royal Tyrell Museum
- Midland Provincial Park
- The Badlands Amphitheater
- Drumheller Little Church
- Star Mine (Rosedale) Suspension Bridge
- Horseshoe Canyon
- Ghost Town of Wayne
The 7 activities listed above are great options for spending a day or a weekend in Drumheller with the kids.
✈️ Planning a Trip to Drumheller: Tips & Tricks ✈️
How to Get to Drumheller
The closest airport to Drumheller is the Calgary International Airport (YYZ). You can find flights using Google Flights or Skyscanner.
Book Your Accommodation in Drumheller
Booking.com is a great search engine for hotels and guesthouses in Drumheller. For hotels, we loved our stay at the Tyrannosaurus Rest B&B. For campgrounds, we loved the Horseshoe Canyon Campground near the Horseshoe Canyon.
Rent Your Car or Campervan in Calgary
Having your own transportation is better to really enjoy Drumheller. DiscoverCars.Com are good search engines for car rentals. Outdoorsy and Escape Campervans are great for RV and campervan rental in Calgary.
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Final Thoughts: What To Do in Drumheller
And that’s it for now! We hope this post inspired you to check out the dinosaur capital of the world because it really is a treat for the kids.