At the incredible Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, about 90 minutes’ north of Calgary in Alberta’s badlands, families can ogle the world’s largest collection of Triceratops, Allosaurus and other dinosaur fossils. If you or your little ones love dinosaurs, here’s the perfect, hands-on dinosaur collection and kid-friendly dinosaur dig site in Alberta, Canada.
Prized for its Cretaceous-era fossils, the museum opened in 1884 with Albertosaurus bones excavated nearby by Joseph Burr Tyrrell, a geologist looking for coal deposits. His discovery brought waves of paleontologists to the site, including the American Museum of Natural History’s colorful Barnum Brown, star of the 3-D IMAX film, “T. Rex, Back to the Cretaceous.”
Museum-Based Dinosaur Learning in Age-Appropriate Programs
If this film, the Discovery Channel’s “Walking with Dinosaurs” and Disney’s feature “Dinosaurs” have everyone excited about the very ancient past, book a Day Dig at the Tyrrell’s Field Station in Drumheller after your visit.
Between May and September, children from age 3 up join a storytime and make crafts related to their passion. Once they’ve turned 4, they can study in the museum then enjoy a 90-minute hike geared to their ability. Kids 7-12 can go out for an afternoon of fieldwork in a realistic quarry, participate in a Badlands adventure and make their own fossil replicas after studying the real thing.
The more “mature” kids (and who can be mature around dinosaurs?) over age 10 and their adults are taught how to use actual excavation tools at a nearby training site.
Throughout the summer, visitors with more time can enroll in a daycamp where the entire family can dig and play together (weekends only), or sign up kids above 9 years for a week-long program.
Join Field Crew and Dig for Dinosaurs
For an incredible adventure, kids ages 14 and up can join an actual crew excavating in Dinosaur Provincial Park, a designated United Nations World Heritage Site. Book your campsite for one or two nights and sign up for the “Bonebed 30 Guided Excavations,” in which small groups can work on an actual dig with an experienced palaeontological technician as guide. After an orientation to the Park and the research project, families will work in a real quarry, and hiking and prospecting for new fossil finds that contribute to research going on at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
Daily summer programs range in price from free to about CDN$100/day and can be booked online.
Families not intending to camp may get in touch with the Drumheller Regional Chamber of Development & Tourism as they can offer lodging suggestions for your stay in this prehistoric paradise.
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