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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Castro

Vancouver to Drumheller: A 7-Day Road Trip to Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum

Updated: May 9

Road trips are a great opportunity to see new destinations, cities, and landscapes. They can last as long as you like; you determine the pace and itinerary, and they can be an excellent way to connect with those who accompany you on the adventure. There are times when said road trips must be completed in less time than desired due to various factors in life, such as school or employment, but don't worry! It shouldn't be a problem as long as you plan well and choose a destination that can accommodate your time frame. Also, you can save a bit of money by camping on the way rather than paying for a different stay.

From Vancouver, the options are endless. There are so many interesting places to visit and beautiful landscapes to experience; we decided on going on an adventure last June to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum, and we want to share it with you in the hopes that it can be inspiring to you, if not helpful, so you can make up a plan and enjoy a road trip yourself.


Mount Robson, road trip, cloudy day

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Table of Contents


The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

This museum is an exciting place to visit, no matter what age you are. If you love history, dinosaurs, and other ancient creatures, this place is for you. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is the only one in Canada that is exclusively dedicated to studying ancient life, and its dinosaur display is the largest in the world. It also offers educational programs and fun activities that keep you engaged, not only in person but also online. If you have kids and more time to spare, the museum also offers summer camps for kids ages 9–12 and teenagers 13–17 that are held in the Badlands, just a 20-minute hike (about 1 km) from the front entrance of the museum.

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Location

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is located in the town of Drumheller, Alberta, which is known for being the dinosaur capital of the world. Only an hour and a half from the city of Calgary and a little bit over an hour from the city of Edmonton, this place makes you feel like you are in a different world.


How to get there

There are three main routes to get to Drumheller from Vancouver, and each one offers beautiful scenery and plenty of opportunities to explore the beauty of this country.


1. The North route will take you through highways 1, 5, 16, 2, and 9, which will take up to around 15 hours and go through Abbostford, Hope, Merrit, Kamloops, Little Fort, Clearwater, Blue River, Valemount, Jasper National Park, Hinton, Edson, and Reed Deer, to name a few. This route is not direct and by no means the shortest one, but you'll marvel at the views and experience stunning places.


2. The middle route will take you through the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 9 (Alberta), which will take around 12 hours and go through Abbotsford, Hope, Merrit, Kamloops, Revelstoke, Golden, Banff National Park, Canmore, and Calgary, to name a few. This route is the shortest and, in my opinion, the most dazzling. You'll have the opportunity to see mesmerizing landscapes and visit incredible places, one of which is Glacier National Park.


3. The South route will take you through highways 1, 3, 22, 2, and 9, which will take up to 15 hours and go through Abbotsford, Hope, Manning Park, Princeton, Hedley, Keremeos, Osoyoos, Grand Forks, Castlegar, Creston, Cranbrook, Fernie, Okotoks, and Calgary, to name a few.

If you choose this route, make sure to stop for a dip at Osoyoos Lake, which is known for its warm waters and beautiful beaches.


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The North Route

Day One: For this trip, we decided to do the North Route and had a couple camps along the way. Campgrounds are busier in the summer, so reservations are encouraged at this time.

We drove from Vancouver to Wells Gray Provincial Park (about 6:30 hours) and had a night campout. There are three front-country campgrounds, back-country registration opportunities, and one group campsite.

Explore: If you stop in this park, make sure to visit Helmcken Falls, which have an impressive 141 meters in height and are a powerful and beautiful reminder of nature's greatness.

Interesting information: Wells Gray Provincial Park has 41 named waterfalls and counting.

So if you are a waterfall chaser, you will definitely love this stop.



Day Two: After going for a walk along Clearwater Lake and visiting a couple falls, we continued our journey towards Jasper National Park, where our next stop awaited us. (about 4:50 hours)

The Rockies are one of the best spots to camp, explore, and break the trip down. A few hours into the ride, you will be welcomed by the magnificence of Mount Robson, the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies, with its 3,954 meters (12,972 feet). This will be a good opportunity to take a break, snap some photos, and stretch your legs.

Arriving at Jasper National Park, you will have to purchase a park pass for the days of your stay, or if you are interested in visiting other national parks, you can also purchase the yearly pass. Jasper is a place you will never forget; being the world's second-largest dark sky preserve and the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, it will not disappoint. There are plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing even in town; elks and bighorn sheep roam downtown, and just a few steps into the forest, there is a high chance of encountering grizzlies. Restaurants and cafes are bustling with people from around the world who come here to experience its charm.

At camp, you can relax and enjoy the starry sky. Here, there are 12 front-country campgrounds, 15 reservable back-country campgrounds, and one group campground.

Explore: Pay a visit to the Athabasca Falls, which are a very powerful 23-meter waterfall that has cut into the rock below it, carving amazing pothole formations. There is a small walk (about 1km) along the canyon where you can enjoy these formations.

Another great hike that you can do on the same day is the Valley of Five Lakes. This hike is a 4.5-kilometre circuit and takes up to two hours. The blue and green colours of the lakes will mesmerize you. Make sure to bring your camera to snap every moment of this trip!


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Day Three: After a bit of exploration, we continued our journey for about 45 minutes to the outskirts of Jasper and stayed in a Heritage Log cabin at Jasper Gates Resort and RV. A cozy cabin that offered all we needed to have a good night's rest and continue our adventure the next morning. From the cabins, there are a plethora of activities to do.

Explore: Brule Sandunes are just on the other side of Highway 16 and have multiuser trails. Another place to visit is Jarvis Lake, which is only 20 minutes from Jasper Gates Resort, a family-friendly beach that offers a playground, fishing, and picnic area. You'll love it!


Day Four: We drove for over three hours to get to Edmonton, where we stayed for one more night before heading to Drumheller. This stop goes further east from the original route, so you can choose to stay here or in Red Deer, which is about 4:30 from the edge of Jasper.

Explore: In this city, there is something to do for everyone. You can visit the Royal Alberta Museum and dive into history, rent a Vespa scooter and ride through Edmonton's streets, or walk the iconic 124th Street, where you can find shops, galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, and more.

  

Day Five: It was the day to finally get to Drumheller and visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum; it took us about 3 hours to get there, and it was all worth it. Getting closer, you will be welcomed by the world's largest dinosaur, a 26.2-meter (86-foot)-high fibreglass Tyrannosaurus Rex. The exhibits are fascinating, and you learn a lot about ancient creatures and the different eras in which they inhabited the world, as well as the preparation necessary to preserve the fossils found. I can't say I have a favourite exhibit, but my daughter for sure chose "Black Beauty," which is a well-preserved fossil of a Tyrannosaurus Rex that got the nickname from the shiny dark colour of the bones. Pretty cool to see!


Funny moment: The first thing my daughter (4 year old) said when she saw the Black Beauty was: What the fffffossil!

We were surprised, as we don't swear, but it was still funny.


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Exhibits at the Royal Tyrrell Museum:

-Cretaceous Alberta

-Fossils in Focus

-Foundations

-Preparation Lab

-Grounds For Discovery

-Burgess Shale

-Palaeozoic Era

-Learning Lounge

-Terrestrial Palaeozoic

-Triassic Giant

-Cretaceous Garden

-Dinosaur Hall

-Cenozoic Gallery


Prices as of September 2023:

Public Adult: $21.00

Public Senior: $14.00

Public Youth: $10.00

Public Child: $0.00


Exploring the Badlands

The Badlands are an interesting place to explore. You can do so on foot or by vehicle. Its arid landscapes make it hard to believe that it was once a subtropical paradise where dinosaurs lived. This piece of land is now home to the largest deposits of dinosaur bones in the world. If you decide to explore the area, don't forget to visit the wind-sculpted hoodoos, which are a unique sight.


Day 6: After our Drumheller adventure, we went back to Edmonton to spend the night and pack everything for our drive back to BC. We decided to go back with minimal, if any, stops.

The next day we set off to drive for a bit more than eight hours to get to Wells Gray Provincial Park, spend the night, rest, and continue the haul the next morning.


Day 7: We drove another six hours to get to Vancover and sleep at home. We would have loved to have had more time to explore more places on the way back, but this was it for now.



Please note: The animal pictures shown in this post have been taken using the camera zoom and are by no means in any way intended to put them or us in danger. Exercise caution when encountering animals in the wild; do not approach them.

 

Tips for travelling with kids

If you are travelling with a kid, here are some screen-free ideas to pack for entertainment on the road.

A clipboard with lots of paper and crayons to let the imagination fly

Favourite small toys, like stuffies

Books

Small cookie sheet and play doh or plaster cine, small tools too to create anything possible (a favourite)

Colouring book

Sticker activity book (a favourite as well)

Snacks


Tips for you:

Make a good playlist with your favourite music and that of those who travel with you on the road; bring snacks and comfy clothes. Make sure you have hydration for the whole trip. If you choose to have a road trip in the summer, summers in the Badlands tend to be dry and hot, with an average temperature of 27 C for July and August. In early fall, the average temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius, so plan accordingly.


To conclude

I will say that the road trip from Vancouver to Drumheller is an amazing route to experience diverse landscapes and rewarding moments. From the coast to basins, volcanic plateaus, the rockies, and eroded terrain, this adventure will keep you wanting to come back.


What Canadian routes would you recommend we visit next?

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