"In Alberta, there's a location called Dinosaur Provincial Park, about two and a half hours east of Calgary, it's one of the richest places in the world," says Palaeontologist, Francois Therrien, of the Royal Tyrrell Museum. "When you go on guided hikes, in places, it's impossible to take a step without crushing dinosaur bones under your feet."
Therrien says the bones are actually in bedrock, and you walk around them in a guided area, so the bones are protected. Dr. Therrien and a group from Travel Alberta visited Santa Monica, Calif. on April 25 to highlight the Canadian Badlands in eastern Alberta along with the Alberta's outdoor adventures ranging from the Calgary Stampede to hiking in Banff.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum has three T. Rex on display along with Albertosaurus, a 27-foot nose-to-tail replica of which was planted on the beach at the Santa Monica Pier in April to whet the appetite of locals for dino bones. Dr. Therrien says that visitors to Drumheller, Alberta, where the museum is located, get to see a treasure trove of dinosaur bones. Kids (including big ones over 18) can pay $15 to have a dinosaur dig experience during the summer.
I told Therrien I loved seeing Sue the Dinosaur on display at the Field Museum in Chicago. He said that Sue is the largest, most complete T. Rex ever discovered. But he pointed out that Alberta's Badlands are chock full of dino bones. The closest thing to a dinosaur I might find on Chicago's Lakeshore Drive would be an overweight, trudging pedestrian.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum is Canada's only museum dedicated to paleontology. With more than 130,000 specimens, the museum's galleries and exhibitions cover 3.9 billion years of life on earth from the dinosaurs to the Ice Age and the Age of Mammals. The cost for one-day admission at the Royal Tyrrell is $11 for adults (18+); $8 for seniors and $6 for kids (7-17) or $30 for a family (limit of 8). Two-day admission costs $16.50 for adults with discounts for seniors and kids.
Dr. Therrien studies and excavates real dinosaur fossils in Alberta and says that "Alberta is home to some of the world's richest fossil beds and draws tourists from around the world to experience authentic dinosaur adventures."
TravelAlberta.com has put together several summer experience packages that include horseback riding (from $175 per night in Jasper National Park), a Calgary Stampede Thrill Package (from $150 per night during the Centennial Stampede from ) and several dinosaur experiences including Dinotour 2012 (June 29-July 2), a four day tour of the Canadian Badlands to dinosaur excavation sites and museums, guided by leading Canadian palaeontologists, and Rockies, Edmonton and the Badlands that includes admission to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, a Seven Wonders of the Badlands walk in Drumheller and overnight accommodations in Banff, Jasper, Edmonton and Calgary.
More info at Travel Alberta.
All photos by Terry Gardner