Drumheller, Alberta, is a small town that’s home to a big museum. Located in an area of southern Alberta known as the badlands, Drumheller is famous for its dinosaurs. Drumheller is a scenic 90-minute drive from Calgary and offers museums, hiking, camping, and more. It’s a fun place to visit for kids of all ages—and a great homeschool field trip!
The Royal Tyrell Museum is Drumheller’s biggest tourist attraction. It’s easy to find (there are plenty of signs) and very busy during the summer months. As homeschoolers, take advantage of going during the off-season or when school is in to have a better, quieter experience.
There are dinosaurs all around the Royal Tyrell. My kids loved petting and posing with all the statues. Inside the museum, you’ll find more dinosaur models. Give yourself plenty of time to explore and follow the kids’ interests in the museum.
The museum is quite text-heavy. There are lots of skeletons and pictures, but many of the displays require that kids read the descriptions. Younger children will need more help to engage with the material.
There may be live demos. One of the highlights of our visit was coming around the corner to find a paleontologist working on getting a dinosaur skeleton out of a cast. With a tiny tool, she chipped away at the cast while chatting with her eager crowd of questioners. We watched for probably twenty minutes. My children would have watched for much longer, but I finally told them to come away and let other kids watch, too.
There are a playground and picnic area near the museum where kids can run around and get some sunshine if the weather is nice. The playground features a huge sand pit with a dinosaur and eggs for kids to dig up (or bury again).
Pack a few good books about dinosaurs for kids to read while you’re driving there and back. We really enjoyed Dinosaurs! Battle of the Bones from DK Books, which gives some fun facts and information about the area.
While you’re in Drumheller, take time to visit the Hoodoos. These geographic formations are unique and interesting. A boardwalk now guides visitors around the Hoodoos to eliminate erosion and damage to the area. It’s an easy hike and provides plenty of opportunity to discuss the geography of the area (and how that’s related to the dinosaur skeletons found at the Royal Tyrell).
Other places of interest include the Suspension Bridge (another short hike), the Bleriot Ferry (a tiny old-fashioned ferry crossing the river), Horsethief Canyon (great viewpoint, picnic area, and local legends), and the giant T-Rex at the Visitor Centre in town (pay a small fee to climb the stairs to the dinosaur’s mouth!).
There are plenty of accommodations around Drumheller, whether you prefer to stay in hotels, campgrounds, or RV parks. You can also look at nearby small towns for better deals on cabins or B&Bs (especially during peak season). It’s quite possible to daytrip to Drumheller from Calgary or Edmonton, but with so much to do in the area, why not make it a weekend or longer!