Time has gone and past and you slowly start to think of where to go to next. When you get the surge from unfamiliar territories, you get a feeling of excitement that no wildly advertised product could ever produce. That’s where my heads at. Just weeks from spending time in the Rocky Mountains, I’m already itching to find my next location. Being on a tight schedule the destination can’t be far away from home. Where to go? I know, let’s go to Drumheller.
Drumheller is situated on the East Central parts of Alberta, Canada. It’s a change from the prairie landscape that Alberta is known for. You drive along the flat terrain, and out of nowhere you dip into this valley that becomes the badlands. Multi colour rock formations, scared vegetation, dry ground surfaces, it’s a quick change of scenery indeed. I pass by the town’s greeting sign and there’s a dinosaur right alongside it. This is one of Drumheller’s main tourist attractions. The Royal Tyrrell Museum houses over 125,000 fossils of dinosaurs, invertebrates, plants, all sorts of awesome prehistoric artifacts. Beyond that you have the world’s biggest dinosaur ( a fake one of course) which has a stairway inside of it that leads up to a lookout point out of its mouth, a great view of the Red Deer River.
After placing down the tourist brochure to describe you those attractions, I headed South-East where I start seeing the landscape change shape. The speed limit slows down and you’ll have a sign that’ll point South-West towards Wayne. Wayne is a hamlet located 6.4 km (4 miles) away from the main road. The fun part about getting to Wayne is the ten bridges that you cross to get there. The bridges are one lane and their numbered if you lose count. When you get to Wayne, a rustic yellow building will catch your eye instantly with “Rosedeer-Hotel” written on it. You’ve arrived at the Last Chance Saloon. Originally opening it’s door in 1913, the facility is a hotel, a pub, and a venue for live music. I can only imagine what it would be like to come out here and experience good entertainment in a warm, authentic environment like this.
After I reminisced about being a cowboy riding out into the sunset, I headed back to the main road. You turn onto the main drag just so you can see a sign that says“Suspension bridge” so naturally you head towards that course. The Star Mine Suspension Bridge is a 383 feet pedestrian bridge that crosses the Red Deer River. Originally built for the coal miners back in 1931, the bridge was rebuilt by the Alberta Provincial Government to commemorate the mining history in the Drumheller Valley. There’s a set of trails that lead up to a gorgeous lookout point overviewing the bridge and the river and two old abandoned mining shafts that are closed off but the wooden structure for the entrance way still remains.
After I descended a steep grade with expensive camera gear strapped to my back, I headed towards the main road and kept driving south. The landscape starts to open up and you get to see the valley which widens your perspective of this location. On your travels you’ll see a sign that says “Hoodoos” and wonder what the heck that is. Take the next left turn and you’ll start seeing these mushroom shaped structures coming out of the ground. Upon closer inspection you’ll see stairways that’ll bring you to walkways around these structures. These pillars are made of a mixture of brown marine shale bodies with sandstone caprocks overlaying on top. The characteristics of the hoodoos showcase ancient inland sea and coastal swamps existing in this part of the province. There formed by the effects of erosion caused by water, wind, and frost. The erosion takes one centimetre off the pillars each year. This place alone brings an amazing amount of tourist to look in awe.
My time is slowly running out for looking at all this eye candy, so I decided to take one last little detour to one of my favourite attractions out here. Just outside of East Coulee, there’s a massive wooden structure that’ll capture your eyes on the south-side of the highway. The Atlas Coal Mine Museum is one truly spectacular exhibit since it was originally built in 1936 and closed in 1984. After being designated an Alberta Provincial Historic Resource in 1989 and a National Historic Site of Canada in 2002, this is the country’s last standing wooden coal tipple. It is also the last standing mine out of 139 that used to be within the valley. The coal that it dug was used for home heating, electrical generation, and even powering the steam locomotives of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways. The tourist attraction allows you to walk up the seven storey tall structure, ride along the electric power locomotive, and walk around the facility. It’s absolutely tremendous the amount of history that’s laying in one small area.
I step into my car for the last time and try to absorb what I’ve come across throughout the day and I’ve come to the conclusion of feeling astonished and creatively satisfied. The badlands are a drastic change from the farmland that I’m accustomed to seeing on a daily basis. If you venture enough in this vast province, it’s amazing the hidden gems that you can uncover. Now its time to get back home so I can start planing on my next trip.