Dinosaur Provincial Park was originally recommended to me by a client. She and her family have been camping in the park for years and she was ranting and raving so much about it that I felt like it was something I had to check out. When people in Alberta hear anything about Dinosaurs, they generally assume that they’ll be heading to Drumheller, where the Royal Tyrrell Museum is located. Dinosaur Provincial Park is actually about a 175km (2.5 hour) drive away from Drumheller, so it is important to note that the two are not one in the same. Dinosaur Provincial Park is located just outside of Brooks, AB, along the Red Deer River. If you’re driving in from Calgary, you won’t believe your eyes as what seems like endless prairie farmland suddenly descends into a valley of vast Badlands. It felt pretty surreal for me as we were driving in because I had never seen Badlands before.
The Campground itself is quite large, with 29 unserviced sites, 95 powered sites, and 7 “comfort camping” sites (read more about comfort camping here). There is a main building with a few necessities available for purchase as well as fast food, flush toilets and coin-operated showers. Each campsite comes complete with a large picnic table and fire pit, and there are lots of large trees, although not a ton of privacy. We were lucky to be staying in the park on a Sunday night, which meant that there were not very many people in the campground. It was nice and quiet aside from the wide variety of sounds from the creatures including more birds than I could possibly count, squirrels and coyotes. It is important to note that Dinosaur Provincial Park is also home to Rattlesnakes and Scorpions, although we didn’t see any while we were there.
Dinosaur was probably the cleanest and most immaculately maintained campground I have ever stayed at. The garbage bins were emptied frequently, the outhouses were borderline fancy (for outhouses) and clean, and the grounds themselves were well cared for. We were all very impressed and completely content with our stay in the park. The facilities are endless – including an amphitheatre, several cook shelters, laundry, a playground, interpretive hikes (apparently guided hikes are available too) and a gift shop.
We arrived early in the day so we could spend the afternoon exploring the surrounding badlands and hiking trails. There are a variety of trails that range anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and all are quite easy. The interpretive trail that leads to the fossil digs can also be accessed by car if necessary.
Less than a 3 hour drive from Calgary and less than an hour from Brooks, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a perfect weekend camping destination for singles, couples, families and seniors alike. It may be a bit much for a day trip from Calgary with 6 hours of return drive time, but only because you’ll want to spend at least 2 or 3 solid hours in the park itself. A day trip is not impossible, though. We had such a wonderful time in the park…it is definitely somewhere that we will return to soon!