Alberta Dinosaurs and Hoodoos: Small Group Vacation Package

The Badlands of southern Alberta are home to a trove of dinosaur bones and colorful spires of rock: get up close and personal with them in the Royal Tyrrell Museum and at Dinosaur Provincial Park

Highlights

  • Seeing the Royal Tyrrell Museum’s amazing collection of fossils in the company of a palaeontologist, including the bizarre animals of the Burgess Shale and a diverse collection of dinosaurs.
  • Walking in the footsteps of Hadrosaurs, Gorgosaurus and other dinosaurs in the bone-riddled Badlands of Dinosaur Provincial Park.
  • Visiting the colorful pillars of rock known as hoodoos and learning why they are there.
  • The tour begins and ends in Calgary, Alberta.

 Review from a Recent Run

“BEST BIT: DINOSAUR PROVINCIAL PARK. VISITING WITH SUCH A KNOWLEDGEABLE AND EXPERIENCED PALAEONTOLOGIST AS A GUIDE WAS A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE.” AC

Overview

This tour will visit one of the world’s premier dinosaur museums, circumnavigate a World Heritage Site with outstanding dinosaur fossils and explore the multi-hued canyons and wind-sculpted hoodoos of the Alberta Badlands. The leader, working palaeontologist Jon Noad, will develop the stories told by the rocks, tales that include past oceans, swamps rivers and deserts, the rise and fall of the dinosaurs and, more recently, ice sheets that covered Alberta and carved out spectacular landscapes. 

Participants will meet in Calgary and head east for an introduction to the other-worldly Badlands, named by early French explorers as “bad lands to cross”. These Badlands include amazing finds from the age of the dinosaurs, first noted by Joseph Tyrell in 1884. Subsequent finds have established Alberta as one of the most renowned locations for their study in the world. The group will tour one of the world’s best and most-celebrated dinosaur museums, the Royal Tyrrell Museum at Drumheller, and have a talk from a fossil preparation expert.  Our final day will be spent walking the bonebeds of Dinosaur Provincial Park, visiting areas normally off-limits to the general public. We will have a picnic lunch amongst the remnants of prehistoric residents before returning to Calgary in the late afternoon.

Activity Level: Moderate, with outdoor walks of up to 1km ( ½  mile) on days 1 and 2, and a longer walk of 6km (4 miles) in Dinosaur Provincial Park. Day 2 will include time roaming the exhibits at the museum (view our activity level definitions).

Transport: We will use a comfortable coach suited to the number of attendees.

Accommodation: We will be in very comfortable hotels in Drumheller (well situated for the Museum and for strolling around this dinosaur-infested town) and Brooks (convenient to the Park). See details in the Need to Know tab. 

Weather: Generally good in the summer with warm to hot days and mild evenings. Rain is always possible.

Tour Map

Day 1 - Calgary to Drumheller: The Badlands

Tour participants will meet in central Calgary to board our coach for the trip east to the Badlands. Enroute the tour expert will introduce the geology of southern Alberta. Our principal stop will be Horseshoe Canyon, whose stunning scenery has been used as a backdrop for a variety of films and TV shows. The U-shaped canyon provides an ideal site to survey the beauty and mystery of the Badlands. The maroon-striped canyon walls reveal the layers of time down to the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs roamed a lush sub-tropical habitat. The exposed deposits lie just beneath the K/T (Cretaceous-Tertiary) boundary, which marks the end of the reign of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. 

We will also visit a fossil forest and world-class sedimentary structures formed by the sideways migration of ancient river channels, before moving on to Drumheller. It was once Western Canada’s largest coal mining town but is now better known as the dinosaur capitol of Canada. It grew with the arrival of the railway network in the early 1900s and is still the largest town by land area in Alberta, despite having a population of fewer than 10,000 people.

After settling into the hotel, we will head south for dinner in the old coal-mining town of Wayne. Our restaurant, dating from 1913, looks straight out of the Wild West. It used to be the watering hole for miners and comes and with that history has quite a few tall tales and legends.

A short final bus ride returns us to Drumheller.

Overnight in Drumheller. Group dinner.

Day 2 – Drumheller: dinosaurs, extinction and hoodoos

The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology

The focus of the day will be the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, home to one of the world's premier collections of dinosaur fossils. Among the highlights the are the Dinosaur Hall (30 mounted dinosaur skeletons, including the T. rex Black Beauty), the Burgess Shale exhibit, Triassic Giants (including the world’s largest marine reptile) and the Fossil Preparation Lab. We will enjoy lunch at the museum café and then hear a talk on fossil preparation.

Later in the afternoon, we will make several outdoor stops: at Hoodoos, to see impressive spires of rock, world-class sedimentary structures formed by the sideways migration of ancient river channels, and at Willow Creek and East Coulee to see evidence of ancient shorelines, some awesome giant fossil tree stumps and preserved burrows formed by bivalves in the wood (Teredolites traces, best known for boring into and weakening wooden sailing ships). 

A 1.5 hour journey takes us to a group dinner at the famous steak pits (vegetarian options available) in Patricia, where everyone can cook their own meal. The tour then continues with a short bus ride to Brooks for our overnight stay.

Overnight in Brooks. Group dinner.

Day 3 – Dinosaur Provincial Park, Return to Calgary and tour’s end

A partially-exposed dinosaur bone in Dinosaur Provincial Park

Today we will drive and walk through the Dinosaur Provincial Park, a World Heritage Site. We will see the sites of some of the best and most famous dinosaur fossils finds in the world. Our visit will follow a 6km (4 mile) walking trail that is not usually open to the public, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the setting. A full packed lunch will be provided. The itinerary will include the Hadrosaur House, home of a sub-complete dinosaur skeleton featuring skin impressions, as well as ancient river channel deposits, whose fossils tell a tragic tale of flash flooding and its impact on Cretaceous fauna. One of Alberta’s most extensive groves of cottonwoods, flanking the Red Deer River, provides a fitting backdrop. 

A three-hour journey will return participants to Calgary early evening, where participants are free to return home or to continue exploring Alberta. 

Note: this provisional itinerary is subject to change.

 

Single Supplement

Single room supplement is £170 / $213

Activity Level and Transport

The activity level is rated as MODERATE, requiring a fair level of fitness (view activity level definitions). The tour will involve short walks on day 1 (<2km / 1.5 miles) with modest elevation gains (< 30m / 100 ft), walking through a museum on day 2 and a 6km (4 mile) walk with a maximum elevation gain of 50m (150 ft) at Dinosaur Provincial Park on day 3. All walks will be on prepared paths or trails but some paths will be uneven and loose underfoot so sturdy footwear is required.

The weather is generally good in summer with mild temperatures expected during the day (12–23°C/55–76°F) and cooler ones at night (6–10°C/40–50°F), although it can be warmer or cooler. Rain is always possible. Elevations are between 600–1200m (2000–4000 ft); participants unused to such elevations may find activities a little more strenuous than usual.

Transport will be in a comfortable vehicle suited to the number of attendees.

The Tour Includes / Excludes

The Tour Includes:

  • The services of your tour expert(s), who will be with the group throughout the tour, providing pre-visit briefings, walking seminars and available to answer questions.
  • A tour leader, who will attend to logistical matters, oversee the group’s health and safety and assist participants with their queries.
  • All transportation costs from the start to the end of the tour.
  • All accommodation costs for the nights stated, assuming double occupancy rooms. Single occupancy rooms are generally available for a surcharge. See single supplement header. 
  • Two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinner.
  • Entry fees, local guide fees and activity fees, where arranged as part of the tour.
  • Most gratuities and all service charges

The Tour Excludes:

  • Travel insurance. Guests should carry their own health and travel insurance.
  • Alcoholic drinks with meals are not included.
  • Extra or optional activities not described in the itinerary.
  • Personal expenditures such as bar bills and laundry bills.
  • Transportation to the start venue or from the end venue of the tour (air fares are not included).
  • Passport and visa fees.

Suggested Reading

Dinosaur Provincial Park: A Spectacular Ancient Ecosystem Revealed (2005), edited by Philip Currie and Eva Koppelhus. Published by Indiana University Press.

Badlands of Drumheller – Eastern Area (2017), David Eberth. Published by Bedrock Press.

Dinosaur Country: Unearthing the Badlands’ Prehistoric Past (1998), Renie Gross. Published by Badlands Books. 

Accommodation

In central Drumheller and near the Royal Tyrell Museum, the hotel is ideally situated to explore the Badlands of Alberta. Amenities include a pool and fitness center, and the hotel is within walking distance of Drumheller restaurants.

 

Night 2: Canalta Brooks in Brooks

The Canalta has all you need to make the most of your stay: spacious rooms and enjoyable amenities such as a pool and hot tub.

Note: If required for reasons beyond our control, GeoCultura reserves the right to substitute alternate accommodations of equal or higher quality.

Deposit and Payment Terms

Deposit: A deposit of 10% of the tour price is due upon booking a tour.

Final payment:  Full payment is due 60 days before a tour begins, or upon booking if within the 60-day window.

Cancellation by participant: A participant may cancel a booking after securing a confirmed place on a tour for any reason. The following refund terms will apply:

  • Greater than 60 days before tour begins: Any monies paid plus half of the deposit will be refunded
  • 30 to 59 days before tour begins: 35% of tour price will be refunded
  • 15 to 29 days before tour begins: 25% of tour price will be refunded
  • Within 14 days of tour or during the tour: No monies will be refunded

Cancellation by GeoCultura: GeoCultura reserves the right to cancel any tour due to low enrolment, inability to run the tour or concerns about the safety, health or welfare of participants. If a tour is cancelled before it begins, all monies paid will be refunded (including any deposit).

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions page for additional details.

Jon Noad

Jon Noad resides in Calgary, Alberta, where he is in demand for running “Geology for Non-geologists” courses. Jon is a consulting geologist and palaeontologist, an Adjunct Professor at Mount Royal University, Calgary, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide. Jon specializes in sedimentology and trace fossils and is currently researching Cretaceous river systems and fossil localities in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta.

Jon has led groups in the field for many years, and is an enthusiastic teacher and presenter. He has taught university courses in Alberta and internationally. He has recently developed a popular portfolio of geology-focused videos across western Canada.

In addition to fieldwork, Jon loves hiking, wildlife photography and travel. He has run more than 30 marathons and skies in the winter. He also enjoys cooking and eating hot curries.

Upcoming tours
23 - 25 Jul 2024
Prices from GBP £1,599.00
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