Drumheller

A Road Trip Guide to the Royal Tyrrell Museum

Introduction

If you have school-aged children, then there is a good chance your children are obsessed with dinosaurs. In fact, when you were young there’s a good chance you went through a dinosaur phase, and if not, you knew someone who did. You may even still be fascinated, especially if you are old enough to remember the original Jurassic Park movie [I know I am …. oh wait 🙁 ] That is why this week’s post will be all about the Royal Tyrrell Museum. There is much to see and do at the museum, and I think that even if you don’t have children, the museum will even pique your interest; I know I very much enjoyed it. Please enjoy this road trip guide to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, I hope it helps you.

A quick reference (click on a heading to jump to it)
Getting there
The Town of Drumheller
The Museum
What to do after
My ratings
Conclusion

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is located in Drumheller, Alberta. As of 2019, the only option to get to Drumheller is by car, either your own or a rental. There are tours that start in Calgary, but they are all “around” $150 per person. You could rent a luxury sedan and get full insurance, and not pay $150 per person. A quick check of Uber shows $180 each way. I guess if you have a family and don’t have a driver’s license, that might make sense. With the demise of greyhound in Alberta, there currently is no bus service to Drumheller, I did a lot of research and found no viable options.

A field of Canola on the side of the road on the way to Drumheller

The drive to Drumheller is quite nice, being only an hour and a half from Calgary, if you drive the speed limit. Be prepared if you are from out of Province: Albertan’s think of the posted speed limit as a “speed minimum”, rather than a maximum 🙂 On a side note: before or after you visit Drumheller you could visit the Gopher Hole Museum too! (the link is of my blog post about it) you can also watch my Youtube Video as well. The drive is nice and quite scenic.

Layers of sediment in the Valley that Drumheller is in. The black seams are coal deposits.

A day trip is certainly possible, but you may want to stay overnight. That way you won’t be rushed, because you have to factor 3 hours of your time will be driving if you come from Calgary.

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(A Road Trip Guide to the Royal Tyrrell Museum)

Drumheller is a town of around 8000 people. Its biggest and most popular attraction is obviously the Tyrell Museum, and the townsfolk know it as there are a lot of “dino pun” business names, attractions and memorabilia scattered throughout town. Rest assured though, as the museum is not the only attraction. Along the theme of dinosaurs there is the “Worlds Largest Dinosaur”, an 86 foot tall fiberglass T-rex. Although you can’t keep fossils you find in Alberta or sell them, there are fossil stores selling fossils collected outside of Canada.

I just love the landscape of Drumheller so dynamic.

The current town of Drumheller dates back to 1911. Its popularity boomed after the railroad connected it in 1912, and it became a city in 1930 (10,000 people or more). The coal mining in the area was the major draw, but with coal declining, Drumheller slowly diminished in population and became a town again in 1998. Today, there isn’t even a freight railway in Drumheller anymore, with the track being pulled up in 2014. I think it’s a real shame because Drumheller has a quirky charm to it, and I very much enjoy the town and have been there 3 times now. It really is worth the visit.

(A Road Trip Guide to the Royal Tyrrell Museum)

I believe I took this on near the Museum itself

At $19 for adults and $10 for kids, with a generous family rate of $48 (for up to eight “family” members!) the prices are quite reasonable IMHO. There is ample parking and parking is free. As in all things in life, there are no guarantees, but we went in July and still had a place to park. I would aim to get their early if you are going in peak summer season to avoid disappointment though. As an aside, the morning time will beat the heat.

They have a garden inside, and this is a Carolina Anole that is living in it. Probably an ancestor to one of the dinos on display.

The history of the museum itself dates back to 1985, when the museum officially opened. It is named after Joseph Burr Tyrell, who was a miner with significant discoveries of coal deposits. The reason the museum is named after him is because while digging for coal in 1884, he discovered the skull of a previously unknown species of dinosaur. Instead of being a money-grubbing jerk, he carefully preserved it for safe transport. The species he discovered was “Laelaps incrassatus”, later renamed Albertosaurus.

Trilobite fossil

The museum has been carefully laid out and follows a logical path, going from one exhibit to another. Many exhibits are interactive and fun for kids and adults alike. I didn’t take very many photos of the exhibits due to large crowds using them, as I don’t want to be a creepy weirdo taking pictures of other peoples kids. Also, they don’t want people clogging up the pathways with tripods (understandably). Some exhibits are purely reading, while others have fun little tasks to do to keep things fresh and interesting.

Fossilized Skull

The approximate time it takes to walk the museum really depends on who you are with. When it was my wife and I, it took under 2 hours. When we went with my brother and his family it took 2.5, and his kids were 8 and 12. Your kids (if any) will dictate how long you stay, but you can budget 2-3 hours inside.

(A Road Trip Guide to the Royal Tyrrell Museum)

There is an outside as well. The Badlands interpretive trail is just across the parking lot and technically part of the museum grounds, but nobody checks admission there. Part of the larger Midland Provincial park, it’s a nice area to hike if you want something to do after you are done inside the museum. Perhaps if your kids are still rambunctious and you want to tire them out further, this might be a good idea. To be honest, since I like the outdoors and nature,this might be something to do on a separate day too. Not only is there hiking in the Provincial Park, there is cycling, bird and wildlife watching, and even a disc golf course (which I haven’t tried yet).

My brother and his family walking the badlands interpretive trail.
a rare moment of tranquility

Besides Drumheller itself, there are things to do near the town as well. Atlas Coal mine is another popular activity and is just under a half hour from the museum, which is also close to the Hoodoos and Hoodoo Trail. There are also hamlets near Drumheller you might want to visit. There’s even a town called Rowley, which is a ghost town. I am planning a later blog post about so stay tuned for more details.

the Hoodoos (obviously I took this at a different time) this was taken in February

(A Road Trip Guide to the Royal Tyrrell Museum)

Atlas Coal Mine

Overall fun theGloveTrevor (me) 8.5/10 TheGlobeWife (Adriane) 7.5/10
I like dinosaurs as an adult still, so this was fun for me.

Things to do outside the museum 7-8/10
Depends if you stay in Drumheller overnight or not.

The drive from Calgary 6/10
Not wildly scenic, but there are some nice things along the way

The town of Drumheller 8/10
as I said before, I like Drumheller.

(A Road Trip Guide to the Royal Tyrrell Museum)

All in all I think R.T. Museum is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon, with or without kids. Drumheller, and the surrounding area is also a fun place to explore. If you have been there, please leave a comment on how your experience was. If not, let me know if this article helped. If you like this article, please hit the like button, leave a comment, subscribe. I also am @theglobetrevor on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Happy road tripping folks 🙂

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4 thoughts on “A Road Trip Guide to the Royal Tyrrell Museum

    1. There aren’t a lot of options for train travel through Cananda. Via rail is the only cross Canada railway. I did ride it many years ago, I practically lived in the observation car.

      Thanks for visiting and your comment 🙂

    1. Its a great place for kids, they will love it. Please comment again if you do come, and let me know of your experience.

      Thanks for visiting and your comments.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.