Mushroom Rocks, Giant Dinosaurs.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
HooDoo RV Resort & Campground Drumheller
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Saturday, October 1, 2011

Baaaaaad Lands!

There truly is a region in Alberta, Canada called Badlands. They are even quite proud of it. Tourist Information offices promote the Badlands as a great region to visit .

We just had to see for ourselves.

We were heading in the general direction anyway to go to Dinosaur Provincial Park which is  UNESCO World Heritage listed. Looking at maps and our Lonely Planet we found the town of Drumhellar, in the Badlands region, is famous for having the biggest model dinosaur in the world and the Guinness Book Of Records agrees this is so. We set a course for the town, much further North than we were planning, but whims are fun and we had a whim to see this dinosaur.

First though, we visited Calgary and enjoyed it thoroughly because we found the Winter Olympic Village from 1988, famous for Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican Bob Sled Team. The place was pretty quiet and on asking for directions and discussing the 1988 Olympics with an information person, we were directed to a disused area where we found the bob sled used in the making of the movie "Cool Runnings" (about the Jamaican bob sled team and filmed here on location). We also learnt that Calgary manufactures its snow and did so for the 1988 Oylmpics! 

A lovely Australian girl working in the office selling pre-season tickets for winter sports directed us to drive through a "road closed" barrier so we could see the ski jumps and start of the bob sled run and suggested we visit the "Ice House".

The Ice House turned out to be the biggest surprise. It is a state of the art winter sports complex and to our delight there were two ice hockey games in progress. We sat and watched this amazing fast paced game from almost empty stands and bought some lunch so we could watch longer.

So Calgary, done and dusted, we headed off into the badlands. The country levelled out quite quickly to farm lands with oil wells working away in the middle of the crops. This looked quite incongruous. Creek beds and canyons dotted the landscape as well neat small  farm houses and big red barns.

We arrived at Drumhellar just on 4.00pm to find the tourist office had shut already but we gave the huge dinosaur the time of day for awhile then had to decide whether to stay in town or move on. Looking at a map outside the tourist office we saw some sights of interest and they were actually in the direction we were planning to head so we decided to get on the road and head to the very strangely named Hoodoos and see if we could get a camp site at the Hoodoo RV Park.

It was dark as we pulled in but the lights were on in reception and we got an amazing reception - more than we had bargained for!  The manager and a staff member were having some final beers from a keg that had been put on as a farewell for all the summer regulars. Everyone else had gone. They loved the fact we were Australians and dragged us in to help with the keg. Well after a few no's we finally agreed and it was not until some 3 hours and many beers later we finally made it to our campsite! Meanwhile we learnt a lot about Hoodoo's, the Badlands, Indians and Canada in general. Our new found friends, Jay and Ken loved our Wicked camper, having not had one before in this rather upmarket RV Resort. Ken is a full blood Cree Indian so we had lots of questions about the Canadian Indians which he enjoyed answering and he in turn was interested in Australia's aboriginals. 

It turned out to be one of those great spontaneous nights of travel. 

Next day, a little slow getting going, due to the night before beer, we did our laundry then headed off to see the famous hoodoos (geological formations that look a bit like oversized mushrooms), a suspension bridge at nearby Rosedale, and then to the little town of Wayne for a recommended lunch (by Jay and Ken), at the Last Chance Saloon. We had also read in the Lonely Planet this was a quirky place to do a side trip to, with over 11 bridges in 4 miles to get there and a population of a mere 27.  

The Last Chance Saloon lived up to its reputation, with a very friendly owner, Fred, and a menu item of "cook your own steak" which was just fantastic. The juicy rump steak was Australian size and perfectly BBQ'd by Avan. Just the hangover cure we needed! Fred was interested in our Wicked Van and came out to have a look at the layout. 

Now finally we were on the road to Dinosaur Park in the heart of Badlands, for which we had actually planned to be the day before. Flat desert landscape gave way to massive canyons as we arrived to the park entrance right on 4.00pm only to find the visitors centre had just closed - again!. Dinosaur Park is so named because it is one of the best representation of Cretaceous fossils in the world and the final resting place of thousands of dinosaurs. We drove around the Interpretive loop, seeing some of the fossils insitu. Another UNESCO World Heritage Ticked off.  

Footnote: Dinosaur Provincial Park is UNESCO World Heritage listed.
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