Friday, June 30, 2017

Gotta do THIS - July 2017 Edition

It's summer and here's my July edition of Gotta do THIS - focusing on some great adventures you can enjoy with your family over the next couple of months. There is also a great giveaway from Revelstoke Mountain Resort so make sure you check it out below and enter to win at the bottom of this post.

Gotta do THIS - July 2017 Edition (Photo: Revelstoke Mountain Resort / Ian Houghton)


Gotta do THIS - July 2017 Edition


 

1. Spend a Day at Revelstoke Mountain Resort 

 

(And enter to win pipe mountain coaster tickets for a family of four!)


Riding the Pipe Mountain Coaster in Revelstoke was my summer MUST try activity or tour last year, and it did not disappoint. We had so much fun at Revelstoke Mountain Resort while driving across British Columbia on vacation, I actually added our ride on the pipe mountain coaster to my list of "top ten experiences of 2016." And trust me, there was a lot of competition from other amazing places we had visited over the year.

One of the Best Adventures in the Rockies: The Pipe Mountain Coaster at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

We are very excited to ride the  pipe mountain coaster again this year, and to also try hiking at Revelstoke Mountain Resort this time. We plan to visit at the end of July and I'm counting down the days until our visit.

Beautiful views from Revelstoke Mountain Resort and the Pipe Mountain Coaster (Photo Ian Houghton / @ankhou)



Key activities to try when visiting Revelstoke Mountain Resort this summer:


Ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster!!

And don't worry about younger kids because they can ride tandem with an adult. You also get to control your speed.


Ride the Sightseeing Gondola (New for 2017)

"Mile-high sightseeing, alpine views, and walking trails are available when you ride the upper Gondola to Mackenzie Outpost!"

Ride the sightseeing gondola, enjoy a buffet breakfast at Revelation Lodge (located at the Gondola mid-station,) and hike one of four scenic trails located on the mountain. You can even ride to the upper gondola station and then hike down to the mid-station without any height gain!

Families with young children will enjoy the 2.3 km Cupcake Loop  from the upper gondola station (with a ride up and down the gondola)

Guided tours are also available at the resort.


Enjoy a 9 Hole Disc Golf Course (New for 2017)

Located above Revelation Lodge, this is the only gondola-accessed disc golf course that I know of in the Canadian Rockies.

For information on all activities, please visit the Revelstoke Mountain Resort website. 


Sightseeing at Revelstoke Mountain Resort Photo: Ian Houghton)



2. Spend a Day at Sunshine Village Resort in Banff


Sunshine Meadows is easily Banff's most beautiful family hike. I recommend it to every tourist who contacts me for travel suggestions and I've enjoyed the hike with my own son many times. Last year, the hike got even better though!

Fridays through Mondays, you can access Sunshine Meadows by gondola rather than taking the old yellow school bus from the Sunshine Village base area. (You will still take the bus if visiting Tuesdays through Thursdays.)


Rock Isle Lake, Sunshine Meadows, Banff

Rock Isle Lake is an easy 1.5 km hike (one way) from the upper gondola station. Beyond this first lake, families can enjoy a scenic loop around Larynx and Grizzly Lakes for a bigger hike of approximately 8 km (return distance from the gondola.)

To make the Sunshine Meadows hike even easier, ride the Standish chairlift (open for this summer season) and enjoy an easy 1 km downhill walk to Rock Isle Lake.

Alpine Hiking in Paradise! Sunshine Meadows, Banff

And NEW for 2017, the Sunshine Mountain Lodge is open for the first time ever during the summer season. Enjoy accommodations with a fabulous view, fine dining, and a giant outdoor hot tub! Then be the first family on the hiking trails the next day.

For more information on the Sunshine Mountain Lodge, summer gondola, hours, and pricing, please visit the Sunshine Village website.

Sunshine Meadows and Rock Isle Lake, Banff


3. Spend a Day at the Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff


My son has been begging me to take him to Lake Louise to ride the summer gondola. I finally said yes this year so we'll be heading out for a day to do some sightseeing and hiking in July.

Reasons why the sightseeing gondola tour is great for families:

  • First, you can choose to either ride in a closed gondola or in an open chair. This is good news for families with small children who would be too scared to ride the chair lift

  •  "The Best Grizzly Bear Viewing and Scenery in the Canadian Rockies!" - with near daily grizzly bear sightings from the gondola or chair lifts

  • Hiking trails for all fitness levels and ages of children along with guided hikes for those nervous about running into a bear on the trail

  • An educational experience for the whole family! "We offer interactive presentations for all ages, short themed Guided Walks and interactive displays to learn about our native wildlife and endangered species native wildlife"

  • Free parking and free shuttle service from the Village of Lake Louise

  • Ride and dine packages (Arrive early and enjoy breakfast with your sightseeing ride)


Please visit the Lake Louise Ski Resort for full information on pricing, hours, and all activities.

The Sightseeing Tour at Lake Louise Resort (Photo: Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka)


4.  Climb a Mountain! This month's featured summit: Mount Fairview, Lake Louise


I'd give this peak another week or so but it should be in condition by the second week of July. (Mid-July at the latest.)  If you want views though, and an easy summit that requires no hands-on moments, this is one of my favourite peaks to climb as a family.

Mount Fairview is accessed via the Saddleback Pass hiking trail where you'll gain your first 600 metres of height gain on an excellent trail that is never very steep. Here you can stop, rest, and contemplate energy levels for the summit, another 400 metres above you. Total distance is 10.6 km round trip so needless to say, you're going to want to save this outing for children who have a fair bit of hiking experience under their belts.

When we did the hike last summer, my 7-year old was having a powerhouse energy day so we climbed both Fairview and Saddle Mountain (on the other side of Saddleback Pass) at the same time.

You can read my full story on our hike here: First Summits - Mount Fairview and Saddle Mountain, Lake Louise

Mount Fairview Summit, Lake Louise (Photo: Alyssa Erickson)



5. Find a New Favourite Bike Trail


I've written many many family biking guides on this website. To find a new favourite trail this summer, check out the stories below while out traveling and exploring this summer.

The Best Family Bike Trails in Banff National Park


Biking the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail  - With Kids

Family biking on the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail, Banff


Tour de Banff - The Ultimate Family Bike Tour


Tour de Banff - The Ultimate Family Mountain Bike Loop

Great Scenery along Vermillion Lakes Drive, Banff


The Best Family Bike Trails in Canmore


The Best Family Bike Trails in Fernie, BC 


Kids on Wheels - Biking the Columbia Valley, BC

Family Biking in Canmore


The Best Family Bike Trails in Jasper


Kids on Wheels - Pump Tracks and Mountain Bike Parks

Family Biking in Jasper

 

Events to Check Out this Coming Month in Alberta Provincial Parks



Learn to SUP! - Try stand up paddleboarding for free in several Alberta Provincial Parks this month including Whitney Lakes PP, Cold Lake PP, Garner Lake PP, Sir Winston Churchill PP, and Franchere Bay PRA.


Attend an Outdoor Evening Theatre Performance! Many provincial park campgrounds in Alberta have evening amphitheater programs and they are free for anybody who wants to come out and attend. The ones in Kananaskis are supposed to be amazing and are close enough for a day trip from Calgary.


Attend a Parks Day Event on July 15th! - Provincial Parks across Alberta will be hosting fun family-friendly free events on the 15th and this includes Fish Creek Provincial Park right here in Calgary.


For a full list of events, Parks Day activities, or lakes where you can try stand up paddleboarding  in Alberta Provincial Parks visit the Alberta Provincial Parks website

Alberta Parks Day 2016 - My son had fun learning about traditional hunting weapons


Giveaway: Enter to Win Tickets for a Family of Four for the Revelstoke Mountain Resort Pipe Mountain Coaster


This giveaway is open to all adults 18+ years of age who will be able to visit Revelstoke Mountain Resort this summer. The tickets are valid through the 2017 summer season until October 1st. The winner will receive two adult tickets and two child tickets, good for one ride per person on the pipe mountain coaster.

A winner will be chosen the morning of July 7th and contacted by email. If I do not hear from the winner by the 10th, I will contact a new winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

 

A big thank you to this month's sponsor, Revelstoke Mountain Resort. My family will be visiting the resort later this summer and I will be writing a follow up story after our experience at the resort.

Thanks as well to other partners including Sunshine Village Resort and the Lake Louise Ski Resort. My family will be enjoying a day at each resort this summer with follow up stories to come.

I am also an Alberta Parks Ambassador and try to promote events, parks, and camping within our provincial park.

As always, all opinions are my own and I wasn't paid to promote any of the businesses featured in this month's edition of "Gotta do THIS."


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Campsite to River! Camping and Floating across Southern Alberta

Summer is here and there's no better way to spend a day at camp than by floating down a calm river in a tube, an inflatable raft, or even on a stand up paddleboard. Add a canoe or kayak, and you can enjoy half-day outings floating down some very relaxed rivers in Southern Alberta.


Floating down the Little Red Deer River, Red Lodge Provincial Park

The three campgrounds I'm featuring in this story all have rivers flowing through them. For Red Lodge and Writing on Stone, you can jump into the river at one end of the campground with your inflatable boat of choice, and easily float to the far end of the campground. For Dinosaur Provincial Park, you'll have to set up a car shuttle and I'd recommend using an actual kayak or canoe (with some introductory paddling experience.)

Paddling down the Red Deer River in Dinosaur Provincial Park


Red Lodge Provincial Park


We just recently camped in Red Lodge Provincial Park and the Little Red Deer River was still a bit high for "lazy floating." Another week or so though, and this will be a prime location for tubes and inflatable rafts.

The Little Red Deer River winds through the campground and families enjoy starting at one end of camp, floating down to the far end, and then repeating - all day long.

At low water levels, there are beach areas and you should expect to find lots of fun mud to play in. (Hopefully your kids like mud more than mine does!)

And for day users, there are plenty of day use picnic areas where you could stage your floating adventures from. 

Floating down the Little Red Deer River, Red Lodge Provincial Park


What to Expect from the Campground:


Honestly,  this is a great campground to visit with friends. We were a little bit lonely camping here by ourselves because everybody else appeared to be in groups.

Unless you're busy hanging out with friends, there is not a whole lot to do at this campground so make sure you bring boats of some sort. Otherwise, there was also a fun little trail along the river that we enjoyed biking, and we saw many kids biking around the campground roads.

There is a great playground in a central field that has a badminton net and plenty of room for a game of soccer. This was definitely the meeting place for families in the campground and was always full of children.

Site selection: Try to book a power site on the river in the C loop near the playground.

Biking along the Little Red Deer River in Red Lodge Provincial Park


Other Water Adventures in the Area: 

We drove to Red Deer while camping at Red Lodge to check out the newly renovated Discovery Canyon. It was a cute park where you can rent tubes (or bring your own) and enjoy a short little float down a small creek. There is also a beautiful white sand beach and plenty of grass for blankets.

Day Trip from Red Lodge Provincial Park: Discovery Canyon in Red Deer

If you have kayaks or canoes, you can also float a longer stretch of the Little Red Deer River from Red Lodge Provincial Park. Check with park staff at the campground for recommended put in or take out spots.

Easy floating through Red Lodge Provincial Park


Writing on Stone Provincial Park


Writing on Stone Provincial Park has a fabulous campground situated in the Alberta badlands with hoodoos everywhere you look. It is a great place to explore and to learn about the history of our First Nation people.

"The spectacular Milk River valley contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the great plains of North America." (Alberta Parks)

While here, I definitely recommend hiking the interpretive trails, signing up for a guided tour to see the rock art, and bringing some boats or inflatable rafts/tubes to enjoy on the Milk River. The river is calm around the provincial park and is great for novice paddlers with some basic river experience.

Stand up paddleboarding down the Milk River outside Writing on Stone Provincial Park

Option one for floating the Milk River: Put in at Weir Bridge above camp and float 9.7 km back to the campground.

Option two:  Float from camp down to Deer Creek Bridge in an easy 7.1 km float.

For both of these options, I recommend using kayaks, canoes, or a stand up paddleboard so that you can paddle rather than just floating down the river.

Option three: Float from one end of the campground down to the camp beach. Repeat as many times as you want. 

Easy floating and paddling down the Milk River


Follow this link to read my full story on Camping in Writing on Stone Provincial Park

And note that you should check the Milk River water levels before planning to paddle. By mid to late summer the river is often too low to paddle. You would still be able to float through camp, but a real trip with kayak or canoe would be impossible at low river levels.

Enjoying the beach in the Writing on Stone Provincial Park campground


Dinosaur Provincial Park


Paddling the Red Deer River is a fun way to spend half a day while camping in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

The river is relaxed and often feels like a very slow moving lake as long as you don't go during spring run off. It is a great float trip for novice paddlers with some basic river experience.

The Red Deer River is great for stand up paddleboarding near Dinosaur Provincial Park

For this one, you won't be able to simply float through camp. You'll have to set up a shuttle and head up river to the Steveville Campground. From the Steveville bridge it is a 14 km paddle so you'll definitely want kayaks, canoes, or even a stand up paddleboard.

If you want a longer trip, you can start at the Emerson Bridge Campground, spend a night at the Steveville Campground, and then end at Dinosaur Provincial Park. Your first day will be 28 km though and personally, I found it to be quite long on a stand up paddleboard.

The family kayak, loaded with kids and gear for an overnight trip down the Red Deer River

For full information on camping, hiking, and paddling in Dinosaur Provincial Park, please read the following stories:


Camping in Dinosaur Provincial Park

Camping in the Alberta Badlands

Wild about Dinosaur Provincial Park

Hiking in Dinosaur Provincial Park 


Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park


Sunset in Dinosaur Provincial Park

And, if you're interested in paddling other sections of the Red Deer River, check out this story: Paddling the Alberta Badlands.

Canoeing down the Red Deer River in Central Alberta

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

First Summits - Heart Mountain Family Scramble

Heart Mountain is a classic summit that many hikers tackle as one of their first climbs in the Canadian Rockies. Located close to Calgary, it is largely just a steep walk up to the top of the mountain and there is no approach. Park on the side of the highway and start walking. Up.

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Heart Mountain Summit, Kananaskis


Introduction to Heart Mountain 

 

The Trailhead for Heart Mountain is the same as for the popular Heart Creek trail (but many people park right beside the highway to cut off a bit of distance at the beginning and end - as we did.)

Heart Mountain is located in the Heart Creek Provincial Recreation Area and is easily found right beside the TransCanada highway 8 km east of the Hamlet of Dead Man's Flats. (opposite Lac Des Arcs)

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Heart Mountain as seen from the far ridge on the Horseshoe Circuit


While many (or most) people hike straight up and back down again, we decided to do the full Heart Horseshoe circuit, ascending and descending different ridges. This put us roughly a kilometre away from where we'd parked our car at the end but it made for an easier descent on a trail that is not quite as steep. (It's still plenty steep, but not "as" steep.)

As a bonus to hiking the full horseshoe circuit, we got to summit two peaks instead of just one on our long ridge walk, hiking up and over Grant MacEwan Peak, actually higher than the Heart Mountain summit.

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
You'll get beautiful views down over the Bow Valley from the summit of Heart Mountain

Stats for our Summit of Heart Mountain (with the Horseshoe Circuit)



Height Gain: 911 metres total height gain with Heart Mountain and Grant MacEwan Peak


Distance: 9.6 km circuit (if you start beside the highway.) 11.1 km circuit from the official Heart Creek Day Use Area.


Time that it took us: 7 hours to complete the full circuit. And if you want a good idea of  how long the circuit really is, it only took us 2.5 hours to get UP. The remaining 4.5 hours were spent on the circuit and the descent.


Age of kids we hiked with: 2 eight-year old boys


Best Guide Book: If you're just climbing up and down Heart Mountain, you'll find the information you need in Alan Kane's "Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies" guide book.

If you want to do the full horseshoe circuit, you'll want to read Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Volume 3


Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Rest break on the ascent of Heart Mountain


Hiking up the Ascent Route to the Summit of Heart Mountain


I'm not a guide book writer, so I encourage you to do a couple of things before you set out to climb Heart Mountain with kids.

  1. Get one of the guide books mentioned above or head out with a friend who's already done this hike. While there is a very well beaten down path to the summit, one can still take a wrong turn here or there. And wrong turns on Heart can be very dangerous. It is important that you find the correct way up the cliff bands on the front side and that you don't stray too far off course.

  2. Hike Heart Mountain with your partner or a friend first (without the kids.) If you find your way up, have no problems, enjoy the hike, and think your children would enjoy it, then by all means - take the kids. But don't head up this trail thinking it will be a nice pleasant little day hike. It is a scramble on an rough unofficial trail, with hands on moments, one moderate step at a cliff band, and much loose rock. The trail is relentlessly steep and route finding skills are required. 

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
The moderate step that you'll have to scramble up to reach the summit


What to expect from the ascent up Heart Mountain:

  • Very loose rock (worse on descent.) The last time I descended the main route, I swore I'd never go down this ridge again - and we've done the horseshoe circuit ever since.

  • A relentlessly steep hike where you'll gain roughly 800 metres of height in 2.7 km.

  • Plenty of excitement for kids who get bored hiking. Seriously, my son LOVED this hike because there was no boring plodding through the trees for hours on end. There is virtually no approach for this hike. Get on the trail right from the highway and start climbing immediately. You stop climbing when you hit the summit.

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Fun scrambling on the way up Heart Mountain

  • No switchbacks. This is a "climbers" summit - short, quick, and dirty. The trail does not waste time with cute little switchbacks so that your trip is easier or more pleasant. If you want switchbacks, you should hike up Ha Ling Peak instead.

  • One moderate step at a 3-metre high cliff band where you'll have to use your hands, find hand/foot holds, and pull yourself up. A fall here could result in an injury.

  •  Lack of shade. This slope is very warm and dry on a hot summer day so start early. You don't want to be climbing up in the mid-day heat.

  • Rocky slabs near the top that kids will find fun. Parents might not find them as fun because a fall could result in serious injury and kids will be using their hands to scramble up the rock.

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
More scrambling before the summit

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Lots of fun moments en route to the summit of Heart Mountain

If I haven't lost you yet, you've reached your first summit, Heart Mountain. You'll stop here for lunch and a well deserved rest break before continuing on to Grant MacEwan Peak.

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Summit number 1: Heart Mountain
Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
The Summit Star


Going Further to Grant MacEwan Peak


If you've made it to the summit of Heart Mountain, the rest of the trip is a "walk in the park" more or less. You'll enjoy open ridge walking (never alarmingly narrow,) constant views, a breeze (refreshing after the hot ascent up the front side of the mountain,) and plenty of small bumps that beg for candy and snack breaks.

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
There are constant views as you walk the ridge on the Heart Horseshoe
Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Ridge walking around the Horseshoe

The only crux in continuing on to Grant MacEwan Peak is that the kids will be tired by this point, feet might be getting sore, and you'll have to go up and down over multiple small bumps on the ridge. (Each one feeling like another summit!)

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Easy Ridge walking on the Heart Horseshoe Circuit
Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Easy ridge walking and constant views

From the Heart Mountain summit it is another 1.5 km of walking until you reach the summit of Grant MacEwan Peak. Beyond this, it is another 1 km (over another bump) before you begin your looooong descent route. (Trust me, each of those "o"s is warranted!)

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
We're going up there to Grant MacEwan Peak and beyond
Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Grassy meadow section of the ridge walk en route to the final bump
Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
I think I wanted to cry at this point - more UP on the never ending ridge walk


The Descent to the Quaite Valley Trail


There is nothing technical about the descent and it is much easier than the ascent route. There are no cliff bands and the rock is much more stable under foot. However, this doesn't mean it is easy or that it's not still very steep.

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
The descent ridge (steep at the top)
The descent always seems to take forever and you'll be taking many breaks if hiking with kids. (Remember, it only took us 2.5 hours to get up Heart Mountain but it took us 4.5 hours to do the horseshoe and descent!)

My best advice for the descent is to bring bike gloves for the kids (and even adults.) The rock is loose at times and there is the occasional short step where you'll have to put a hand (or bum) down. Gloves save the skin if somebody slips. I've even been known to bring pants for the descent (if hiking in shorts on a hot day) because the more skin covered, the better!

Once you get down to the bottom of the ridge, you'll turn left and follow the powerline back to where you started from. We had intended to leave kids and moms at the highway here, sending dads back for the cars, but in the end, we all just hiked back to the parking lot.



Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Rest break on the way down the circuit

Suggested Family Summits before Attempting Heart Mountain 


I'm not going to suggest a recommended age for this hike because the reality is that I know some 5-year olds who could tackle this hike, and I know plenty of 8-year olds who couldn't. Many adults could not do this hike!

Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
Rugged hiking along the Heart Mountain Horseshoe


Recommended summits to try first:

- Ha Ling Peak, Canmore

- Lady Macdonald to the platform, Canmore

- Nihahi Ridge to the ridge (or beyond to the South Summit), Kananaskis

- Mount Fairview, Lake Louise

- Mount St. Piran, Lake Louise


Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
My boys on the Heart Mountain Horseshoe Circuit


Other Family First Summits


Family-friendly Summits in Jasper National Park

More First Summits - Prairie Mountain, Kananaskis

Ha Ling! My Baby Climbed his First Real Summit

First Summits - The Mighty Yamnuska with a 6 Year Old

First Summits - Barrier Lake Lookout, Kananaskis

The Four Summit Day - Ha Ling Peak to Miner's Peak (and beyond)

First Summits - Forget Me Not Ride, Kananaskis

Copper Mountain from Shadow Lake Lodge, Banff

First Summits - Polar Peak, Fernie Alpine Resort

Family Hiking at the Next Level - Scrambles and Summits (Nihahi Ridge to the South Summit)

5 Summit Day in Canmore (Kid-Friendly) - Ha Ling Peak and Miner's Peak 


First Summits - Table Mountain, Beaver Mines Lake

First Summits - East End of Mount Rundle Summit

First Summits - Tent Ridge Horseshoe, Kananaskis

First Summits - Mount Fairview and Saddle Mountain, Lake Louise

First Summits - Mount Saint Piran, Lake Louise

First Summits - Mount Lady Macdonald Hike, Canmore


Heart Mountain Family Scramble, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
I hiked up there and around the entire Horseshoe circuit to get here!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park

We've camped at Dinosaur Provincial Park many times, already hiking every interpretive trail in the park, biking the public loop road, and paddling down the Red Deer River. This year when we made our annual trek south to camp here, we wanted to try something new.

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park

On our quest to do something new and adventurous this year in Dinosaur Provincial Park, we still hiked the public trails, biked around, and floated down the river, but we also signed up for a guided tour with a parks interpreter. We wanted to access the private reserve and we wanted to do some "off the beaten path" exploring through the badlands.

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
The private reserve that you'll only see with a guided tour


Our Centrosaurus Quarry Hike in Dinosaur Provincial Park



There are many tours that you can sign up for in Dinosaur Provincial Park, but we wanted to choose one that was adventurous. We wanted to go for a decent hike and to really do some exploring. We chose the Centrosaurus Quarry Hike because it was aimed at families with kids 7+ and because it sounded like a rugged hike (which is right up our alley!)

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Exploring the private reserve in Dinosaur Provincial Park on the Centrosaurus Quarry Hike


The Alberta Parks website describes the tour as follows:

"Hike through rugged (dry) streambeds and over sandstone and mudstone ridges to reach a bone bed that contains the remains of hundreds of horned dinosaurs! The Centrosaurus Quarry Hike is your best opportunity to see the unequalled concentration of dinosaur fossils that makes Dinosaur Provincial Park world famous. This former dig site is one of many horned dinosaur bone beds found in this UNESCO World Heritage Site."

I don't know about you, but I thought it was super cool that we were going to hike to an actual bone bed and that we'd get to see fossils out in the wild (rather than seeing them in a museum.)

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Following our Parks Interpreter to the Centrosaurus Bone Bed

Details on our guided hike:



Our hike was 2.5 hours long and we reserved in advance. You can either make a reservation on the Dinosaur Provincial Park website or you can book your tour in person at the Visitor Centre when you arrive (though they sell out early so I recommend booking in advance.)

We took a shuttle bus to get into the reserve and then started our hike. The hike itself was only a couple of kilometres but we took many stops for interpretive lessons on the landscape around us and the history behind the area. Our guide involved the kids in all of the lessons, getting them to act out situations, and making it always interesting for them.

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Interpretive guided hike through the badlands

The hiking was generally quite easy but we were fortunate to be doing a morning tour when it wasn't too hot yet. In the summer I imagine the tour would be much more challenging with the heat. And I wouldn't want to do an afternoon tour in the summer!

More information can be found here on the Alberta Parks website including pricing, times, and availability for tours.

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
The Centrosaurus Bone Bed on the Quarry Hike

Our Experience at the Centrosaurus Bone Bed


When we arrived to the Centrosaurus bone bed, we quickly discovered a giant covered box area. Once the lid was removed, we could see an excavation site and the remains of the Centrosaurus horned dinosaurs. We were given a short introduction to the area, discussed theories behind why so many bones would all be found in one spot, and were given some instruction on how to go find fossils and bones on our own next.

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Centrosaurus bone bed

After looking at the bones in the excavation bed, we got to walk around the area, set up on a bench, where there were seriously hundreds of bones everywhere! We'd find them embedded in the rocks around us and we'd step over them as they sat there, right under our feet, lying all over the place on the ground.

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Centrosaurus bones we found in the bone bed area on our quarry hike

The bone bed area was also a lovely place to just explore, take photos, and gaze at the badlands scenery all around us. Even without a bone bed, it was worth the hike to this beautiful bench.

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Surveying the Badlands from the Centrosaurus Bone bed location

Other Guided Tours in Dinosaur Provincial Park


There are other tours for families with younger children including the Explorers Bus Tour.

"Experience the stunning views of the beautiful badlands from the comfort of a park tour bus and during short excursions off the bus (4 stops). You will visit an in-situ Hadrosaur dinosaur display plus you will experience the unquie geology while you learn about the explorers who have travelled to this special place over the past 100+ years."

This tour would be enjoyable in the summer months when it gets crazy hot in the badlands.

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Guided tours are a great way to get off the beaten path in the badlands

The Fossil Safari is another "all-ages" tour I recommend for families.

"Get a feel for what makes Dinosaur Provincial Park so special. Join us on a safari through the badlands for a chance to observe plants, animals, and dinosaurs! Visit an "in-situ" fossil site where you can discover fossil material on the surface; no digging in this protected area! Take a close look at micro (small) fossils and learn about the diversity of animals that lived here 75 million years ago in the late Cretaceous. All ages are welcome and will enjoy this safari."

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Find the best places to explore on a guided tour of Dinosaur Provincial Park

Please visit the Alberta Parks website for information on all tours.


And you can visit this following link for more information on Dinosaur Provincial Park.


For More on Dinosaur Provincial Park, check out the following stories I've written: 

- See more at: http://www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com/p/camping-super-guide.html#sthash.LOGRzHeA.dpuf

Camping in Dinosaur Provincial Park


Camping in the Alberta Badlands 



Wild about Dinosaur Provincial Park



Hiking in Dinosaur Provincial Park  



- See more at: http://www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com/p/camping-super-guide.html#sthash.LOGRzHeA.dpuf
- See more at: http://www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com/p/camping-super-guide.html#sthash.LOGRzHeA.dpuf

Fossil Hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park (Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)
Alberta Parks Ambassadors get to explore the coolest places!


Disclaimer: I am an Alberta Parks Ambassador and was given a complimentary tour for myself and my family. All opinions and words are my own.



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