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Seven Reasons Drumheller is The Most Underrated Winter Destination in the Province

COOL WINTER GUIDE: Stories and information for all things winter in Alberta. Looking for the ideal winter destination in Alberta? Look no further than the beautiful town of Drumheller.

Here are 7 reasons why Drumheller is the most underrated winter destination in the province.

When you think of winter in Alberta, you might picture the Rocky Mountains, ski slopes, frozen waterfalls, and other iconic places and activities that draw folks from all over the world. While you can’t go wrong with a ski trip or winter hike in the Rockies, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we failed to open your eyes to the rest of the winter wonder that our province has to offer. There are tons of underrated towns and areas in Alberta that deserve a visit in the winter. Among those towns is Drumheller.

A small town of around 8,000 people, located northeast of Calgary, we’re going to assume that you’ve heard of it. For such a small town, Drumheller has some serious claims to fame that have earned it notoriety across the country and even the globe. Known as the dinosaur capital of Canada, this place has a whole lot to offer beyond those dinos–though you don’t want to miss out on the dinos. We’ve rounded up a list of reasons you need to visit Drumheller this winter, and we hope you’ll go for it! Here’s what you need to know.

One of the Best Dinosaur Museums in the World

Let’s start with the obvious. The Royal Tyrell Museum is known as one of the best dinosaur museums in the world. It’s the only Canadian museum dedicated exclusively to the study of ancient life. It’s got the world’s largest display of dinosaurs, a wide variety of programming, and so much more. There are tons of larger-than-life exhibits featuring very real dinosaur bones, interpretive walks in the Badlands, activities for people of all ages, and special events. During the winter, you can sleep over at the Museum through their Camp-In Program. You’ll participate in hands-on workshops and then sleep alongside the fossils in the Dinosaur Hall. It’s the perfect experience for families, youth groups, or organizations.

If you’re looking for something to do during the winter, museums are the perfect indoor activity, especially when they’re world-renowned and as cool as it gets. If you’ve already been to the Royal Tyrrell or you’re not much of a dino person, try checking out the Badlands Gallery or East Coulee School Museum instead.

Tyrrell Museum

The Hoodoos Become Magical Snow-Topped Pillars

One of this area’s other main attractions is the Hoodoos and Hoodoo Trail. If you’re not familiar, Hoodoos are tall, thin spires of rock formed by erosion over millions of years, typically standing 5 to 7 meters tall. The sandstone pillars look like they belong on another planet and make for a really unique experience when you encounter them while hiking, sightseeing, or whatever you’re doing. You can visit the hoodoos in Drumheller with a super short hike that is only about 0.2km long. The trail is open year-round and located on approximately 11 hectares of land between Drumheller and East Coulee. The hoodoos look just as beautiful in the winter. In fact, with snow sitting on top and dusted all around, the place is even more otherworldly, looking like something from a Dr. Seuss book.

The Canyons Offer the Perfect Winter Hike Destination

You might recognize photos of the badlands because they look like nothing else you’ll find in the country. A trip to the badlands is like a trip to the desert unless you visit in the winter. The Drumheller Badlands area is home to Horsethief Canyon, which is located on the Dinosaur Trail. The canyon is a must-see, whether you’re standing at the top and gazing down or hiking down the steep trail to explore inside the canyon. It is massive, captivating, and accessible year-round. Just be sure to bring proper footwear, ice cleats, layers, and everything you might need for a fun and safe winter hike.

Horseshoe Canyon is another amazing destination. The huge, u-shaped canyon has two arms that stretch about 5km each. There are many awesome opportunities for hiking, and you can choose from a variety of difficulties and lengths to suit your desires. These places are bucket-list-worthy and truly breathtaking, you don’t want to miss your opportunity to see them in person, no matter which season you decide to visit.

Walk Your Worries Away

Something you might not know about Drumheller is that it has over 18 km of trails in town and on the banks of the Red Deer River. If you want to grab a hot beverage and take a stroll, you’ll have the opportunity to walk by town hall, the World’s Largest Dinosaur, and the Homestead Antique Museum. It can be really tough to get out and about in the winter, but extensive trail systems with great views and stops along the way sure do make it easier. If you’re stopping in the area or passing through, why not take a little stroll?

Visit the Cutest Little Church

Drumheller's Little Church might be small, but it’s gained massive recognition. Visitors love to check out the tiny church that seats only 6 people at a time. It’s totally free to visit, and you might be surprised that people have actually gotten married in this little place. It was first erected in 1958, and designed as a place of worship and meditation, not just a popular tourist attraction. It can be found on the north side of North Dinosaur Trail, and it’s absolutely worth a visit.

Look Up at the Sky

While you might be inclined to look down for dinosaur bones and fossils while in Drumheller, we’ve got some reasons for you to tilt those eyes to the sky. The area is known for the incredible viewing of dancing northern lights. If you want to watch the sky get painted with neon colours, this is a good place to be. In addition, the vast landscape and small community make for amazing stargazing. The Drumheller night sky is positively filled with stars, especially in the winter, so be sure to look up. Last but not least, it’s also a great place for birding. If you’re a bird buff, you should keep those peepers open.

Travel Drumheller | Facebook

Enjoy Outdoor Fun

It doesn’t end there. There are so many things to do in Drumheller in the winter, including amazing food and beverage, arts and culture, and more. But, to highlight what you can do in the winter, we’re sticking with the outdoor theme. When in Drumheller, we encourage you to go ice skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing, hiking, picnicking, or a combination! There is lots to do, see, and enjoy, and we hope you do as much as your schedule allows!

Britanny Burr is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the 2023/24 Cool Winter Guide advertising feature. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.

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