Why Travel Calgary to Drumheller?
This scenic detour takes you through both classic prairie farmland and a section of well-eroded badlands with a stop at arguable the world’s leading museum of both planetary evolution and dinosaurs, many found very close-by.
From Calgary, head north of the Queen Elizabeth II highway (most people just call it Highway 2), you pass Calgary’s airport on the right, and the Cross Iron Mills a major destination mall (if you want to shop on your last day, before flying home, reverse this tour and end your afternoon at Cross Iron!). You pass Airdrie’s Gasoline Alley (a good place to gas-up if you are only half a tank).
Just to the north, you exit on Highway 9 to Beiseker and Drumheller. This is a straight road, passing through the rural town of Beiseker There’s a viewpoint where the road does a 90 bend at Horseshoe Canyon before the highway start its descent into the badlands around Drumheller. In town you hit a traffic light where you turn left on Highway 9 to the Tyrell Museum. Drive about a mile and watch for a set of lights to Highway 56 northbound, and you’ll pas a park with several life-sized Tyrannosaurus statues on your right before crossing the Red Deer River.
You’ll shortly see well-marked left-turn onto #838 (also called North Dinosaur Trail), with the museum only 6 more kilometres drive. Its an interesting drive because the dry cliffs of the badlands are to the north, and the lush Red Deer River valley is to the west. The museum is on a turn to your right.
Parking is plentiful, and after the museum, you can hike around the badlands and hoodoos that surround the parking lot.
When you return, you can go the way you came, but we recommend continuing driving a few kilometres west and take the Bleriot Ferry across the Red Deer River, and you return into Drumheller on #575 (also called South Dinosaur Trail). After a series of gleaming white grain silos on your left, you hit Drumheller, and continue on Highway 56.
Watch for signs to Highway 9 south, which is your road back to Calgary. Head up the coulees, past Horseshoe Canyon, and after the “S” bend in the highway, watch for a left turn on to Highway 840, heading south.
This open farmland is home to wide open fields of wheat (a green or yellow grain, depending on the time of year) and/or canola (recognizable by its bright yellow flowers). There is wide-open spacing between farmhouses, which indicates the SCALE of the agriculture and the amount of automation in modern farming.
You pass through the community of Rosebud, know for its quaint shops and its theatre, you’ll pass the Severn Reservoir on the southeast of a sharp bend in the road, and will keep heading south until to hit the Trans-Canada #1, just east of Strathmore.
Strathmore is a major area market town and has vibrant commercial strip on or just off the Trans-Canada (and a good place to get a bite before returning home). Almost all the way back to Calgary is the lakeside town of Chestermere. Half of the community is on the east side, and half is on the west side, and now has transit bus service into Calgary. There are beaches on the north side of the lake, and the lake is also popular with sailors, water-skiers, and jet ski riders.
Calgary to Drumheller Tour Route Map