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14 Fun Things to Do in Drumheller

14 Fun Things to Do in Drumheller

In the heart of beautiful badlands filled with dinosaur fossils and hoodoos, sits the town of Drumheller. There’s a lot to like about this little community and the attractions that surround it. There is a world class museum, a national historic site, hiking trails, hoodoos and much more all within an easy drive. Here are our suggestions for best things to do in Drumheller in both summer and winter.

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An image of the fossil display known as black beauty at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta - things to do in Drumheller.
Visiting the Royal Tyrrell Museum is one of the top things to do in Drumheller. This is a picture of the famous fossil known as black beauty. Photo by Greg Olsen.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum

The Royal Tyrrell Museum tops the list of things to do in Drumheller. It is one of the best dinosaur museums in the world and the official repository for all of the fossils discovered in Alberta. The world’s top paleontologists do important research at the facility. Every year, new discoveries are made that advance mankind’s knowledge of the age of dinosaurs. In 2020, the museum announced the discovery of a new species of Tyrannosaur.

An image of a person working in the preparation lab at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta.
Important research takes place at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and you can watch the scientific team at work through observation windows. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Drumheller Hoodoos

Seeing hoodoos is one of the best things to do in Drumheller in any season. It takes millions of years of erosion to form a five-metre-tall hoodoo and that makes the collection of hoodoos outside Drumheller even more incredible. A hoodoo is a giant sandstone pillar that rests on a thick base of shale that is capped by a large stone. The hoodoo site contains a large group of five to seven-metre tall hoodoos, but you can see smaller hoodoos throughout the badlands surrounding Drumheller.

Related: Check out our post about Things to do in Red Deer in Winter.

An image of the hoodoos near Drumheller, Alberta at night.
Seeing the hoodoos at sunset with stars in the sky is a magical experience. Photo by Greg Olsen.

Drumheller Hiking – Badlands Interpretive Trail

Not far from the Royal Tyrrell Museum is the  Badlands Interpretive Trail. The trail and the museum are in Midland Provincial Park and you can park your car in the museum’s parking lot and walk to the trailhead. Interpretive signs along the 1.4-kilometre loop trail explain the geology, flora and history of the region. The scenery is beautiful, and it’s easy to spend an hour exploring and photographing along the trail. Note: Ice cleats and hiking poles are useful if you’re hiking in winter. Bentonite clay, common in this region, gets greasy and slippery when it’s wet.

An image of a woman hiking in the badlands near Drumheller in the winter - things to do in Drumheller.
Hiking in the badlands is an amazing experience – in winter or summer. Photo by Greg Olsen.

Related: You’ll want a set of ice cleats if you tackle the trails near Drumheller in winter. Check out our product review of Canadian Tire Ice Cleats.

Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site of Canada

This registered national historic site lets you step back in time and see what life was like for coal miners in this region of Alberta. You can ride the mine train, put on a hardhat and go deep inside the tunnels and explore the wooden tipple with a retired miner. Atlas Coal Mine is closed in winter, but you can still stop by for an exterior photograph. This is one of the most historic things to do in Drumheller.

An image of the Atlas Coal mine train ride in Drumheller, Alberta - things to do in Drumheller.
Atlas Coal Mine is a registered national historic site that is really fun to explore. Photo by Debbie Olsen.
An image of the wooden tipple at Atlas Coal Mine.
Atlas Coal Mine is home to Canada’s last wooden tipple and you can go on a tour of it during a visit. Photo by Debbie Olsen.
An image of a couple wearing hardhats for a tour of Atlas Coal Mine.
Donning a hardhat and doing a mine tour is a fun way to explore Atlas Coal Mine. These are two people I met when I did the tour. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Visit the Ghost Town of Wayne

You’ll cross eleven bridges in just six kilometres getting to the ghost town of Wayne — the most bridges in the shortest distance, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Your reward for making the journey to Wayne is the chance to enjoy a pint at The Last Chance Saloon, a wild west saloon with real bullet holes in the walls. It’s worth the drive.

Related: Read our post Why You Should Visit Wayne, Alberta.

An image of the Last Chance Saloon in Wayne, Alberta.
The Last Chance Saloon is a popular stop with motorcyclists in the summer. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Orkney Viewpoint

West of Drumheller, Orkney Viewpoint is a beautiful natural viewpoint high on the cliffs above the Red Deer River. There’s a bench to sit on to take in the view. During the summer, bathrooms are open at the site. In winter, the bathroom and the road leading to the viewpoint are both closed. In winter, you can park near the closed sign and walk up the road to the viewpoint. Wear ice cleats if you do this short hike in winter.

An image of the Orkney Viewpoint in winter -things to do in Drumheller, Alberta.
In winter, you have to hike down a road to get to the Orkney Viewpoint, but we thought it was worth the effort. In summer you can drive to the day use area. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Horseshoe Canyon Overlook

For one of the best views of the badlands, visit Horseshoe Canyon Overlook. It’s a short drive from the town of Drumheller and it’s a great thing to do at sunset or sunrise. There is a day use area with viewing platforms and bathrooms. Hiking trails through the canyon give you closer views of the amazing geology of the badlands. The overlook is closed in winter, but you can park outside the day use area and walk to the overlooks. The canyon itself can be slippery in winter making hiking treacherous.

An image of the view from Horseshoe Canyon Overlook during the winter at sunset - Alberta
Horsehoe Canyon is pretty in every season. This picture was taken at sunset during the winter. Photo by Greg Olsen.

Pizza in a Ghost Town

Rowley is a ghost town that simply won’t die. The hamlet, located 38 kilometres north of Drumheller, hosts a pizza party fundraiser the last Saturday of every month. It’s run by locals who live in the area and for one Saturday each month, Rowley becomes the busiest ghost town on the prairies. On warm summer evenings, hundreds of people show up for the pizza party and wander through the historic buildings.

An image of the caboose and grain elevator in Rowley, Alberta.
Pizza night in Rowley draws hundreds of people during the warm summer months. Photo by Kelsey Olsen.

Visit the World’s Largest Dinosaur

Drumheller is home to the world’s largest dinosaur and seeing it is just one of those things you have to do when you visit. It cost over a million dollars to build the attraction which stands 25 metres (86 feet) tall. It’s a female Tyrannosaurus Rex and it’s 4.5 times bigger than a real T-Rex would have been. It weighs 65 tonnes (145,000 lbs) and for a small fee you can climb the 106 steps in the belly of the beast to take in the view from inside its jaws. Taking a picture from the outside is free.

An image of the world's largest dinosaur in Drumheller, Alberta during the winter.
You have to take a picture of the world’s largest dinosaur when you visit Drumheller. It’s a rule. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Star Mine Suspension Bridge

This 117-metre-long pedestrian suspension bridge across the Red Deer River was constructed in 1931 for coal workers at the Star Mine. Today it makes a great photo-op. In summer, you might see locals fishing from the bridge. It’s also sometimes called the Roseddale Suspension Bridge.

An image of a woman standing on the Star Mine Suspension Bridge near Drumheller, Alberta in the winter.
The Star Mine Suspension Bridge makes a good photo op and it’s free.

Drumheller’s Little Church

The running joke about Drumheller’s Little Church is that it seats 10,000 people – 6 at a time. The tiny church is located on the north side of North Dinosaur Trail between the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the golf course. It was first built in 1968 by a local contractor who was working with the ministerial association. It was reconstructed by prison inmates at the Drumheller Institution in 1991.

Canadian Badlands Passion Play

Every July, hundreds of actors and musicians gather to re-enact the life of Jesus Christ at the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. The production features live music, an original score, incredible costuming and is played in a unique outdoor amphitheatre. The play attracts hundreds of spectators every year.

An image of the Rosebud Opera House in Rosebud, Alberta.
The Rosebud Dinner Theatre is a fun family-friendly evening that includes a delicious dinner and a lively theatre production.

Rosebud Theatre

The tiny town of Rosebud lies just 35 kilometres southwest of Drumheller. Rosebud School of the Arts is a faith-based school that trains actors and others to work in theatre. The Rosebud Dinner Theatre employ the students and other members of the tiny community. The buffet food is delicious and the family-friendly shows are always entertaining and well-done. It’s fun to wander around the community and see the historic buildings.

An image of the Andrew Farms grain elevator near Drumheller, Alberta.
The badlands region is filled with wonderful scenery and photo-ops. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Take a Tour With Red Deer River Adventures

Local tour operator and outfitter Red Deer River Adventures offers guided kayak and canoe tours in summer and guided snowshoeing and hiking adventures in winter. During a recent winter visit, my husband and I joined co-owner Andy Neuman for a two-hour guided snowshoe trek near McMullen Island Day Use Area in Midland Provincial Park. We loved snowshoeing through the incredible scenery of the Badlands. Along the way, we learned about the geology and history of the region.

An image of two people hiking through the badlands - Red Deer River Adventures - Drumheller, Alberta
Summer is the busy season for Red Deer River Adventures, but they also offer guided snowshoe and hiking adventures during the winter. Photo by Greg Olsen.

Where to Eat

There are quite a few dining options in Drumheller. Here are a few of my favorites.

An image of a burger and fries from Bernie and the Boys Bistro in Drumheller, Alberta.
Bernie and the Boys Bistro makes the best milkshakes and burgers in town. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of good accommodation options in Drumheller. We stayed at the Canalta Jurassic Hotel, which has a nice hot tub and steam room as well as a free breakfast.

Related: Looking for more Alberta adventures? Read Canmore Cave Tours and a Claustrophobic Caver.

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