Have you heard of Drumheller? To be honest, I had not before visiting this spectacular area in Alberta. The Canadian Rockies tend to get all the attention (granted, they are magnificent), but I really like Drumheller as well.
There are many things to do in Drumheller, from interesting museums to hiking around unique landscapes.
If you’ve never seen Badlands before, Drumheller is an incredible place to be as you can find Badlands XXL here. The rock formations are absolutely amazing.
What’s more, Drumheller is famous for all the dinosaur bones that have been found in the area (it’s called the Dinosaur Capital of the World!).
The Royal Tyrrell Museum just outside the town of Drumheller is one of the most important paleontology museums on the planet.
Read along for more excellent Drumheller activities!
The best things to do in Drumheller
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Map of Drumheller attractions
We spent a couple of days in Drumheller and the surrounding area, but if you are short on time you can manage to see #1-15 on this list on a day trip from Calgary (you’ll need to start early though!).
That being said, I highly recommend spending at least 2 days in Drumheller, more if you’ve got the time…
What to do in Drumheller: 25 epic places to visit
- Visit Horseshoe Canyon
- Climb the World’s Largest Dinosaur
- Explore the Royal Tyrrell Museum
- Follow the Badlands Interpretive Trail
- Drive the North & South Dinosaur Trail
- Find peace at the Little Church
- Hike the Horsethief Canyon
- Hop on the Bleriot Ferry
- Stop at Orkney Viewpoint
- Drive the Hoodoos Trail
- Visit the ghost town Wayne
- Walk across the Star Mine Suspension Bridge
- Marvel at the Drumheller Hoodoos
- Visit East Coulee School Museum
- Explore the Atlas Coal Mine (National Historic site)
- Enjoy a delicious breakfast at WHIFS
- Relax at Riverside Park
- Have a coffee at Tim Hortons
- Visit the Homestead Antique Museum
- Grab a burger at the Boys Bistro
- Follow the Drumheller DinoWalk
- Watch the Canadian Badlands Passion Play
- Visit Barney’s Adventure Park
- Explore Dinosaur Provincial Park
- Enjoy a show at the Rosebud Theatre
Best places to stay in Drumheller
Further down the post you can read more details about where to stay in Drumheller, but here is an convenient table with the most important information you need to book the best Drumheller accommodation for your trip.
|Name||Accommodation type||Distance to downtown||Price indication||Book/find|
|Canalta Jurassic||3-star hotel||2km||200 CAD||Click here|
|Ramada by Wyndham||3-star hotel||1.5km||220 CAD||Click here|
|Walmart parking lot||Free place to park||2.7km||free||Check iOverlander|
|Severn Dam Reservoir||Free place to park||47km||free||Check iOverlander|
|Dinosaur Trails RV Resort||Official campground||11km||50-80 CAD||Website|
|Dinosaur RV Park||Official campground||1km||55-65 CAD||Website|
Drumheller tourist attractions part I: Drumheller city center and around
1. Horseshoe Canyon
I already mentioned the Drumheller area is a great place to explore because it’s in the heart of the Canadian Badlands.
An ideal place to see the Badlands is at the Horseshoe Canyon, which was shaped by a glacier.
There is a trail leading into the Canyon, so you can get up close with the beautiful formations. Be sure to stick to the trails and wear a hat during the summer months, it can get pretty hot.
Visiting Horseshoe Canyon is free.
2. World’s Largest Dinosaur
Besides the Badlands, Drumheller is Dinosaur galore, thousands and thousands of bones have been found in the region and dinosaur statues are everywhere.
The biggest of them all is the 25 meters tall T-Rex located in Drumheller Center. You can climb to the top of the dino and look through its teeth for a great view.
The entrance fee for the World’s Largest Dinosaur is $4 CAD per person.
3. The Royal Tyrrell Museum
The Royal Tyrell Museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur bones, dinosaur skeletons and dinosaur fossils (it’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records).
It’s a magnificent museum and one of the best dinosaur museums in the world, if not the best. We spent an entire morning in the museum and I could have stayed much longer, there are so many interesting displays and interactive exhibits…
So embrace your inner Ross and set aside plenty of time to explore this amazing museum!
Don’t forget to pick up a fun souvenir at the gift shop (note: if you’re traveling with kids, it’ll be hard to tear them away from all the dinosaur toys and collectibles).
The entrance fee for the world-class Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology is $21 CAD per adult ($10 CAD for children between 7-17).
4. Badlands Interpretive Trail
Once you’re done visiting the Royal Tyrrell Museum, set some time aside to complete the 1.4 km Badlands Interpretive Trail leading through Midland Provincial Park.
It’s an easy and flat loop and you can read the signs along the way to learn more about the Badlands and the Hoodoos. This is also a great activity for families visiting Drumheller with kids.
Drumheller things to do part II: the North & South Dinosaur trail
5. The North & South Dinosaur trail
The Little Church (#6), Horsethief Canyon (#7), Bleriot Ferry (#8), and Orkney Viewpoint (#9) are located along the North & South Dinosaur Trail (Hwy 838 and Hwy 575).
6. The Little Church
This little Church (okay, tiny church) is seating 10,000 people (6 at a time). It’s a very cute building, however, it’s not just a tourist attraction.
Drumheller’s Little Church was designed as a place of worship and mediation and is also used as such.
Visiting the Little Church is free.
7. Horsethief Canyon
There are several juicy tales about the Horsethief Canyon. One story is that back in the days of the big ranches, horses wandered into the canyon with a certain branding symbol but walked out with another and therefore ‘suddenly’ had a different owner.
Another story is that horses being smuggled between the U.S.A. and Canada were hidden in this canyon. Nobody knows for sure which myth is true…
In any case, it’s a beautiful canyon and we made a short hike down to the river, through the grasslands next to the imposing Badlands.
Visiting Horsethief Canyon is free.
8. Bleriot Ferry
The Bleriot Ferry is a small ferry (13 cars max) across the Red Deer River.
This 105-meter and 8-minute ride may be short, but keep in mind this ferry has been in service since 1913 and is one of the last cable-operated ferries in Canada!
The Bleriot Ferry is free. For more information check the Transportation Alberta website.
9. Orkney Viewpoint
I know you’ve already seen some pretty spectacular scenery at the Badlands at Horseshoe Canyon and Horsethief Canyon.
However, at Orkney viewpoint, you can see the Badlands AND the Red Deer River valley. Definitely worth a quick visit!
Also, washroom facilities have recently been installed at the viewpoint so it’s also a perfect place for those needing a sanitary stop.
Orkney Viewpoint is free.
Drumheller highlights – part III: The Hoodoo trail
10. Drive the Hoodoo trail
Wayne village (#11), the Star Mine Suspension Bridge (#12), the Hoodoos (#13), the East Coulee School Museum (#14) and the Atlas Coal Mine (#15) are located along the Hoodoo trail (Hwy 56 and Hwy 10).
11. Ghost town Wayne
A nice detour on the Hoodoo trail is Wayne. On the 6km scenic drive to the ghost town, you’ll cross 11 one-lane bridges over the Rosebud River.
Wayne is a typical old (and pretty much deserted) coal-mining town, back in the mining days its population was over 2000.
The current population is 28 people, the small town has a legendary pub (called the Last Chance Saloon), a campground and not much else.
Fun fact: the hotel at The Last Chance Saloon has been published in many articles and books for being haunted!
Visiting Wayne is free.
12. Star Mine Suspension Bridge
I’ll admit that after the description in Lonely Planet (not a bridge not for the faint of heart!) my expectations for this pedestrian bridge may have been a little too high.
Nevertheless, it’s a fun stop to add to your Drumheller trip itinerary. Plus the view over the Drumheller valley from the hilltop across the river is beautiful!
Visiting the Star Mine Suspension Bridge is free.
Note: the Rosedale Suspension Bridge is currently closed due to concerns about it’s safety. Repairs will take place as soon as possible, I’ll keep you updated here.
In the Alberta Badlands, you’ll find plenty of hoodoos. What is a Hoodoo you may wonder?
Hoodoos are peculiar-looking pillars of sand with a stone cap. This hard cap protects the soft sandy column below. However, if the cap falls off, the Hoodoo is quickly eroded away by wind and rain…
Visiting the Hoodoos is free.
14. East Coulee School Museum
East Coulee is another ‘ghost’ town, though there are still living around 160 people today. However, back in the 1940s its population numbered 3800 and the school in East Coulee was very important to the region.
The children of the miners working in the Atlas and Empire coal mines went to school here, but when the mines closed down, so did the school.
However, in 1985 the school reopened as a museum, in the museum you can find interesting displays about the lives of the people who lived in this little miners town. You can find more information about the museum on the official website.
The entrance fee for the East Coulee School Museum is $7 CAD per person.
15. Atlas Coal Mine
The Atlas Coal Mine was built in 1936 and was in use until 1984. Nowadays the mine is a National Historical Site.
You can explore the original mine buildings, which is a great way to learn more about the life of the coal miners.
Or take a tour of the last wooden coal tipple in the country. There is also a guided tour into the mine tunnel, but as I’m a bit claustrophobic I passed…
Visit the Atlas Coal Mine website for more information.
If you’ve got more time to spend in Drumheller
16. Enjoy a delicious breakfast at WHIFS
Reader Carrie sent me a piece of excellent insider info that I’m happy to share with you. If you’re looking for the one of the best places to have breakfast in Drumheller, definitely stop at WHIFS.
With their extensive breakfast menu, friendly service and food made from scratch it’s no surprise this place ranks #3 on Tripadvisor for best restaurants in Drumheller.
Whifs Flapjack House is situated just outside of town along the North Dinosaur Trail.
17. Relax at Riverside Park
Spend some time at the Riverside Park, a lovely green spot next to the Michichi Creek. There is a small playground, a short dirt trail and a picnic area with picnic tables.
Drumheller can get quite hot during the summer months, but there is plenty of shade at Riverside Park making it a nice spot for a quick break.
18. Have a coffee at Tim Hortons
We got addicted to Tim Hortons during our Canada road trip. The coffee is great, there is free Wi-Fi and the sandwiches/wraps are tasty too.
19. Visit the Homestead Antique Museum
If you like antiques and learning about the life of the original homesteaders that came to Drumheller, pay a visit to the Homestead Antique Museum.
Check out the Eaton’s Catalogue house, an original Bleriot ferry, old tractors and thousands of other artifacts from times long gone.
The museum is found just outside of Drumheller, along the N Dinosaur Trail.
20. Grab a burger at the Boys Bistro
Love burgers? Like, really, really, really love burgers? Try the Mammoth burger at the Boys Bistro, one of the most popular local restaurants in Drumheller.
But be warned, the burger is HUGE… How big of a burger we’re talking? Check out pictures of their infamous burger on Tripadvisor…
They also sells ice cream and around 75 different Milkshake flavors.
21. Follow the Drumheller DinoWalk
A fun way to explore Drumheller on foot, especially with kids, is by following the Drumheller Dino Walk.
There are 20 dinosaurs statues ‘hidden’ around town, the remains of these species have all been found in the area around Drumheller.
Check this map for the location of the statues, most are only a short walk from the huge T-Rex (#2). If you’re traveling with younger kids, you may want to use a car for the statues a bit further out of town.
22. Watch the Canadian Badlands Passion Play
Every year in July, the Badlands Passion Play is performed daily (for approximately 2 weeks) place in Drumheller. This religious play tells the story of Jesus Christ in an entertaining and accessible way.
It’s a very popular play, so if you’re visit happens to coincide with this unique Drumheller activity, be sure to order tickets online as they sell out fast.
The play is performed in the Badlands Amphitheatre, a natural amphitheater situated a mere 5 minute drive from downtown Drumheller.
23. Visit Barney’s Adventure Park
This one is (mostly) for those on a Drumheller family vacation. Skip the Cactus Coulee Fun Park (it’s been getting low ratings on Tripadvisor for years) and head to Barney’s Adventure Park instead!
Kids will has a blast here and because the day pass gives you access for an entire day, you can come and go as you please.
There is a Dinosaur Walk, fun obstacle course, a petting zoo, Go Karts and so much more. Read more about the park here and be sure to include Barney’s Adventure Park in your Drumheller itinerary with kids.
Day trips from Drumheller
24. Explore Dinosaur Provincial Park
If you’ve got 3 days in Drumheller and don’t mind a bit of driving, definitely visit Dinosaur Provincial Park.
Dinosaur Provincial Park is located 165 km southeast of Drumheller and it takes around 1 hour 40 min) by car to get there. It’s more than worth the effort though, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the top places to visit in Canada.
The dinosaurs that lived in North America during the Cretaceous period are the ones who always feature in all the dinosaur movies, from Jurassic Park to Ice Age (think T-Rex, Triceratops and those creepy velociraptors who hunt in packs).
It’s in Dinosaur Provincial Park where some of the most important dinosaur discoveries in history were made. Excavators found lots of dinosaur remains that are now on display in museums all around the world.
Hike one of the trails in the Park or join one of the interpretive tours led by knowledgeable park rangers.
Important: please note that while you may find actual dinosaur fossils or bone fragments, it’s strictly forbidden to take these with you.
25. Enjoy a show at the Rosebud Theatre
While the Rosebud Theatre isn’t located in Drumheller (as you may have guessed, it’s actually in Rosebud;-). However, it’s only a short distance from Drumheller (36 km) which you can cover in less than 30 minutes.
Check what’s on at the Rosebud Theatre website, put on a dress or suit up (if you like, casual attire is fine too) and enjoy a wonderful night out.
Practical places in Drumheller
Besides all the highlights mentioned above, I included a couple of practical places on the map as well.
- Drumheller Visitor Information Centre: a great spot to start your Drumheller trip and get some information (and a paper map) about the area from the experts. Plus, the visitor center is next to the giant Dinosaur so you’ll probably go there anyway. Another great resource to prepare for your trip to Drumheller is the official Visit Drumheller website.
- Badlands Community Facility: we spent some time in the library (free WiFi!) and paid 2CAD per person (including towels!) to take a shower in the recreation center. Very convenient if you’re traveling in a campervan without a bathroom.
- Extra Foods: there are several grocery stores in Drumheller and because the Walmart didn’t sell any vegetables, we went to Extra Foods instead. Cheap supermarket that sells pretty much everything you need!
Where to stay in Drumheller
Best hotels in Drumheller
Mind you, I haven’t stayed here myself (we were camping, read more below) but these properties are rated 8+ on Booking.com. I’ve carefully checked the reviews and pictures to make sure it’s a hotel I’d be happy to book myself.
The rooms at the Canalta Jurassic are spacious and clean, people who have stayed here especially love the friendliness of the staff.
For families with kids the Ramada by Wyndham is a wonderful option because of the large indoor pool with waterslide.
Free campgrounds near Drumheller
It’s very easy to find free campsites in Canada, just make sure not to stay anywhere that has a ‘No overnight parking or camping’ sign.
We found most of our free camp spots on the (free) iOverlander app. We spent a couple of nights in and near Drumheller and stayed at 2 spots.
Walmart parking lot
The Walmart parking lot is always a nice back-up option if there is no better (free) place to stay around. The upside about staying at a Walmart is you can use the bathroom during store hours.
Convenient to brush your teeth, refill your water bottles with potable water, and empty your bladder. Plus, you can do some shopping while you’re there.
The downside is Walmart parking lots aren’t the most scenic places to stay. Though the one in Drumheller is actually rather nice, there are Badlands adjacent to the parking lot and we saw a beautiful sunset during our stay.
Severn Dam Reservoir
On our way up to Drumheller (from Calgary), we took a little detour and ended up staying at this nice little spot.
There is a pit toilet and a dumpster, but nothing else. It is very quiet though and the views over the reservoir are lovely.
Both of these sites are free, perfect if you are traveling Canada on a budget!
Drumheller RV parks
If you prefer staying on an official camping near Drumheller, there are several good options to choose from.
Dinosaur Trails RV Resort & Cabins
Dinosaur Trails RV Resort has over 200 sites for campervans, RVs and tents as well as a couple of cabins. You’ll also find the only heated outdoor swimming pool at this Drumheller RV camping, as well as a playground, laundromat and a recreation hall.
Dinosaur RV Park
Dinosaur RV Park has an excellent location and is within walking distance of the World’s Largest Dinosaur.
There are clean washrooms and shower facilities, free Wi-Fi, a laundromat, mini-golf and a small convenience store.
Check the Travel Drumheller site for more information and more Drumheller campgrounds.
How to get to Drumheller?
Though you can get to Drumheller by Greyhound bus, I highly recommend getting your own transportation. By car Drumheller is only a 90-minute drive from Calgary.
Most of the things to see in Drumheller mentioned in this post are outside of the town itself and having your own wheels makes getting around much easier.
Plan your trip like a pro with these tools:
✈️ Find the best flights deals with Kiwi.com.
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Drumheller itinerary: in conclusion
I hope you enjoyed this Drumheller travel itinerary and it will help you plan your Drumheller vacation, no matter if you’re visiting for a day, long weekend or even a week!
We really enjoyed the scenic area, especially because we had never seen badlands before. Drumheller has a laid-back vibe, which makes it one of those places where you end up staying a lot longer than planned…
Do you want to read more about Canada? Also read these posts:
- Charming small towns to visit in Canada
- Things to do in Banff and Hiking in Banff
- Things to do in Jasper
- 6 week cross-Canada road trip itinerary
Visiting British Columbia as well? Also check out these articles to help you plan your BC road trip:
- Day trips from Vancouver
- Things to do in Nanaimo
- Things to do in Nelson
- Things to do along the Sea To Sky Highway
- Things to do on Vancouver Island
- Things to do in Vancouver
- Things to do in Victoria
This post was updated in June 2022.