Province/Territory: Alberta

Hike protected badlands prospecting dinosaur fossils

  • 40 species of dinosaurs discoved to date
  • 80 square kilometres to explore
  • 160 bird species call the park home

Sit around your campfire and discuss just how the dinosaurs found on your hike met their demise. Listen to the coyotes in the distance call. Tip your head back to lose count of all the stars. It’s all in a day at Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park. This is your chance to stroll over 75 million-year old fossils that are still in the bedrock.

Guided hikes take visitors into protected areas on foot or by bus to spend time exploring the amazing array of fossils. Get down on your hands and knees to see if what you have found is the last resting place of a massive dinosaur or finger-sized fish. Tours last from an hour's easy hike to epic three day adventures where you actually help on real geological palaeontological excavations. Ah, but don’t forget to look up and see what surrounds you. Great rivers from melting glaciers once flowed, leaving a land eroded into steep canyons, odd shaped hoodoos and vast flood plains. Shade-casting cottonwood trees trace the path of the meandering Red Deer River offering a unique habitat for species from toads to elk to flying falcons. Camping is at its finest here. Pull in your own rig or book a comfort-camp where the tent and necessities are ready when you are. Because Dinosaur Provincial Park contains some of the most important fossil specimens discovered from the “Age of Dinosaurs” period of the earth’s history and is a perfect example of badlands and virtually undisturbed riparian habitat along the Red Deer River, it is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Why you should visit
  • Join in on hikes to former digs to see bones left in place for you to discover on your own and to come up with your own theory to explain the massive amount of bones.
  • Take the camera along to scenic sites on the Sunset Tour. The guides provide secrets on how to capture the perfect photograph of the badlands.
  • Look for prickly pear cactus, the most northern species of cactus in bloom.
  • Visit John Ware’s Cabin to learn about Alberta’s first African-American cowboy.
  • See some of the most outstanding examples of fossils from the Age of the Reptiles from over 75 million years ago.
  • Drive through the badlands to see how spectacular vistas, wild animals, beautiful plants, odd landscapes and palaeontological finds create the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Take part in 1 to 3 day guided excavation tours where you work elbow to elbow with real palaeontologist uncovering fossils for the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

Weather

  • Southern Alberta is known for its long hot summer days and cold but cloudless winter days.
  • Spring (April – May) brings some moisture to entice the prickly pear cactus to bloom but only sees 20 to 30 mm of rain on average each month. Day time highs average 14°C to 19°C with the night time dropping off to 0°C in April and 4°C in May.
  • Summer days (June to August) are long with daytime temperatures reaching 38°C but averaging 28°C and cooling off in the evening to 11°C. So always bring sun protection and a sweater. It is a very dry climate with an average rain fall of 60 mm during the wettest month of June.
  • Fall (September through October) is a wonderful time to avoid the crowds and the heat. Day time average temperature is 27°C in September and 14°C in October with night time lows of 4°C.
  • Winters (December to March) are blanketed in a light layer of snow but still sunny with a daily average temperature of -4°C. The campground is open but no facilities are available.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
  • Visitor information and bookings.
  • Activities and information centre closed during the off season but guests are still invited to walk designated trails.
  • If you want a camping experience, book a comfort tent.
  • On-site restaurant, groceries, gift shop and camping supplies available seasonally.
  • Self contained camping is available all year.
  • Dinosaur Provincial Park is the Field Study area for the Tyrrell Museum, but the museum is 2 hours north.
When to go
  • July and August bring the warmest weather and the biggest crowds.
  • Much of Dinosaur Provincial Park is a natural preserve with access restricted to visitors on the guided tour programs from mid-May through to the end of September.
  • Camping is available year-round.
  • Visit in June to see the prickly pear flowers in bloom.
Need to know
  • You need your own transportation to get to the park or take a day trip from Calgary or Medicine Hat.
  • Many tours are wheelchair friendly while others take some level of fitness.
  • Make reservations for interpretive programs.
  • Reserve a campsite in advance.
  • The Royal Tyrrell Museum associated with the Dinosaur Provincial Park is 2 hours away, but worth the drive.
  • There are rattlesnakes, cactus, and big spiders to be aware of.
Getting Here
  • You need your own transportation to get to the park.
  • Dinosaur Provincial Park is in a remote part of Southeastern Alberta and accessed by highway. The closest town is Brooks.
  • Approximately 2.5 hours east from Calgary (225 km) using the TransCanada Highway.
  • On-site parking for cars and RV’s.
  • Consider renting a motorhome or camping van to extend your stay.