Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

The Destination:
UNESCO Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta Canada – May 2014

Alberta has a diverse landscape including the vast Rocky Mountains, wide open plains and Canada’s Bad Lands which include Dinosaur Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a well known location for having one of the richest dinosaur fossil locales world-wide. I’ve travelled the Bad Lands through Drumheller area and spending some time actually over in Dinosaur Park was on the list.

Map:
It’s easily found on Google and most GPS units. About 2.5hours drive East of Calgary and 5.5hours South-East of Edmonton. It is near Brooks, Alberta. Also see AlbertaParks.ca for map of the camp site.

Day 1:
A detour of a few hours was needed as I was off to Cochrane Alberta to pickup my Tepui roof top tent and I didn’t take any photos along the way, nor did I venture into any routes off the main highways, but as you get close to the area you’ll notice a few creative works of art.

I had pre-booked the weekend at the Alberta Park registration web site, and check-in was a breeze – in only a couple of minutes I was done and off to get setup at my camping location.

Once I pulled into the camp site, I was eager to pull the tent out of the box and get it installed and setup on the VagabondExpedition Jeep Wrangler.. had I been thinking, I would have removed that box from the photo!

The camp site is great, there are relatively clean pit toilets, water, electricity, showers and a small cafe/convenience store all on site. Other campers all seemed quite respectful of the rules for quiet times and were quite friendly РI had a lot of visitors asking about the roof top tent and my set-up here.

 

Day 2:
Wow, what a great sleep in the tent! It does have a 2″ foam mattress and my Hot Core sleeping bag is quite cozy.

I’m going to have to invest in a good camera: on a far off hill top, a Canadian Goose was perched, squawking out mating calls – unknowingly waking up the campers in the area. My simple point & shoot Sony just wouldn’t zoom enough to get a shot of the Goose.

After a quick breakfast, it was time to head off and do some hiking. Small cacti are present in the Bad Lands of Alberta, and you’ll see lots of them. Keep a watchful eye for where you are stepping, this is rattle snake territory too. The folks at the camp registration advised that the snakes are still quite dormant in the spring so it’s not too much of an issue, but still it’s best to be aware and not have an encounter!

There are a lot of interesting formations of rocks and sand – sometimes you need a different perspective and I enjoy moving the camera to different views other than just at the typical ‘eye level’.

Hoodoo’s dot the landscape and consist of a harder stone on the top that is less easily weathered than the supporting stone around it. The shapes and patterns formed depend on the material of the hoodoo and weather conditions that create the erosion.

No photos, but first weekend with the Tepui roof top tent, and a bit of a wind storm had me wondering how the tent would hold up. I closed the windows and tied down the outside storm flap using bungee cords to still allow it to move a bit with the wind and hopefully to prevent tearing. I stayed inside and watched a movie while the wind roared outside – tearing down RV awnings and tossing things around. Once the storm was over, I exited the tent and saw there was absolutely no issues – nothing torn or damaged anywhere on my new tent.

Day 3:
Weather was changing today with a bit of a cold front and some rain moving in.

The park has a closed off area from the general public and you must take a guided tour to access this area. There are easier hikes and longer more difficult hikes, and with the high probability of a rain storm hitting soon, I took in one of the shorter tours to come across the odd carefully staged actual dinosaur fossils.

There is a public road that takes you in and around a fair sized section of the park, and they have a few interpretive displays for you to enjoy. I’d recommend you get out of your car and hike the loop (it’s good exercise), but if the weather isn’t so great, a drive around and stop at each display will also work.

Summary:
I’d definitely do this trip again. I came to Dinosaur Park with the expectation of using it as a springboard to make several other smaller day trips out of the park, but it was so interesting, and had enough to do to keep me occupied the entire weekend camped in this one location. If you’re coming to Canada to explore, or anywhere within a few hours drive of Dinosaur Park, I’d definitely recommend you add this to the list of places to explore. On a return trip to Dinosaur Park, I’d want to take some of the more involved hikes into the restricted areas of the park (these are guided tours). Some planning should be done to try and avoid the rain – a bit of rain makes the terrain very slippery and therefore quite treacherous as the hills contain many crevasses and steep drop offs.

Image Gallery:
110 photos on Flickr – https://flic.kr/s/aHsjYgwyu5

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