It’s the year of the staycation– this is nothing new to us at twowildtides. We love being tourists in our own province, and now that I am living in a new province, I have lots more to explore.
Drumheller is a fascinating place. It’s a town in the Canadian badlands, located in east-central Alberta, only about an hour outside Calgary. As you drive across what seems like neverending prairies along Highway 56 South, the land suddenly gives way and you find yourself with high cliffs on either side of you. The change in terrain happens so quickly, it’s almost disorienting. It’s like you’re on Mars.
We decided to camp out for the weekend and visited two different campsites with our small, 2-person tent. The first night, we stayed at Hoodoos RV Park and Campground. While the grounds were tidy and the stay went smoothly, it offers zero privacy and not much to look at. It’d be a great campsite for many tourists as it is affordable and close to many landmarks, but it just wasn’t our style. On the second night, we stayed at River Grove Campground, right in the middle of town. This site was much nicer, offered more privacy, had excellent washrooms, and had a prime location, but you’ll pay a slightly higher price. I recommend River Grove over Hoodoos.
We arrived late Friday night, so we were up bright and early Saturday morning anticipating a jam-packed day. We started off with coffee and a satisfyingly greasy breakfast at WHIFS Flapjack House. Then we headed to Horseshoe Canyon just outside of town.
Horseshoe Canyon was so fun to hike as there are no barricades and visitors are free to roam off the trails. We were fascinated by the desert landscape and spent almost two hours in the blistering sun climbing over boulders and hills, admiring the wildflowers, and spotting rock stacks created by past hikers.
The coolest part about Horseshoe Canyon? Cacti! It’s a pretty stark difference from the evergreen forests we’re used to in Canada.
After we left Horseshoe Canyon, we stopped by our campsite to rehydrate and eat a packed lunch, then we headed about 15-minutes outside of town to Hoodoos Provincial Park. What’s a hoodoo, you ask? It’s a natural rock formation, but I’ll let the pictures explain the rest.
Saturday night, we strolled from our campground to Valley Brewing and enjoyed some flights of beers then grabbed a pizza at a small joint in Drumheller’s cute downtown area. I definitely suggest you pop in some of the little shops and boutiques downtown, there are lots of sweet finds! It’s also worth your time to do the most mega-touristy experience the town has to offer– climb into the mouth of the World’s Tallest Dinosaur. (You can catch me doing this in our Alberta Video Diary from four years ago! I also visited the Royal Tyrell Museum in this video, an experience we couldn’t enjoy during our recent trip due to the Covid-19 pandemic).
Although these days the main industry is likely tourism, Drumheller was a coal-mining boomtown. So before we hit the highway on Sunday, we visited the Atlas Coal Mine– the last mine of it’s kind in the world.
The coal mine was a fascinating experience especially for a history buff. For true crime/disaster story fanatics (what’s up Murderinos?) there are really interesting story boards to read. In normal times (i.e. pre-Covid) you can even climb the tipple and venture inside the mine.
Have you been to Drumheller? What did you do there? Comment below!