Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY DEB CUM­MINGS

The best way to ex­pe­ri­ence the Cana­dian Bad­lands is by look­ing up at the earth, not down, on a hike through the very lands where di­nosaurs once roamed.

In a land­scape that could have been pinched to­gether by the hands of fairies lies a place so fan­tas­ti­cal that it is easy to imag­ine that the colos­sal likes of Tyran­nosaurus rex and Al­ber­tosaurus once thun­dered through this land.

Lo­cated some 135 km (84 mi.) east of Cal­gary or 280 km (174 mi.) south­east of Ed­mon­ton, the scenery of rip­pling grass­lands dra­mat­i­cally cracks open in what is known as the Cana­dian Bad­lands. Here you’ll find wind-scraped hoodoos, spires and coulees that tumble through canyons, lead­ing you to the town of Drumheller. Most vis­i­tors make a bee­line for the world-fa­mous Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum of Palaeon­tol­ogy, six km north­west of town, but don’t—the sur­round­ing area is also worth ex­plor­ing. Take a tour of the At­las Coal Mine, count the num­ber of wacky di­nosaur stat­ues that spackle the town­site, climb the world’s largest di­nosaur to stick your head out its mouth for a jaw-drop­ping selfie and then have lunch in the Last Chance Sa­loon on the skirts of “Drum” (www.cana­di­an­bad­

Af­ter you’ve en­joyed those sites, spend an af­ter­noon tour­ing some of the Tyrrell Mu­seum’s 13 gal­leries, and if that doesn’t slake your wan­der­lust for all things an­cient, do what 20 per­cent of the mu­seum’s vis­i­tors do and join a pro­gram (www.tyrrell­mu­seum. com/pro­grams). From fos­sil cast­ing and ge­o­log­i­cal hikes to sto­ry­time for wee ones and sci­ence breaks—all pro­grams are fam­ily-friendly. Even some of the five-day sum­mer camps keep kin­folk front and cen­tre, where par­ents and chil­dren par­tic­i­pate to­gether on guided digs, and sleep in teepees un­der the stars.

Con­sid­ered one of the top di­nosaur mu­se­ums in the world, what makes the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum so spec­tac­u­lar is its unique set­ting. It was right here, in these parched canyons and coulees where sci­en­tific re­search con­tin­ues to­day, that ge­ol­o­gist Joseph Tyrrell dis­cov­ered what turned out to be Canada’s first car­niv­o­rous di­nosaur skull in 1884. Later dubbed Al­ber­tosaurus, it was this 72-mil­lion-yearold find that sparked the Great Cana­dian Di­nosaur Rush where sci­en­tists, re­searchers and op­por­tunists from around the planet plun­dered the land.

How­ever, the em­bar­rass­ment of riches seem­ingly knows no end. Fast for­ward 133 years later and you’ll dis­cover that only three per­cent of the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum's vast col­lec­tion of 160,000 spec­i­mens ever gets ex­hib­ited—pre­cisely why sev­eral of the mu­seum’s new­est ex­pan­sions in­clude gal­leries that now ro­tate their of­fer­ings more than be­fore. Open­ing in May is Grounds for Dis­cov­ery, the last ex­hibit of a three-year ren­o­va­tion project. This new ex­hibit will tell the un­told sto­ries of re­mark­able dis­cov­er­ies made by in­dus­tries such as min­ing, high­way con­struc­tion, as well as oil and gas. Here is where you’ll find their old­est di­nosaur—a 112 to 110-mil­lionyear-old no­dosaur, un­earthed in 2011 at a Sun­cor mine in Fort McMur­ray.

The lead­ing crowd-pleaser, how­ever, is likely to re­main Di­nosaur Hall where 40 ar­tic­u­lated skele­tons are imag­i­na­tively pre­sented, the cen­tre­piece of the story of the evo­lu­tion­ary rise and fall of the di­nosaur. The sec­ond most pop­u­lar stop is the on-site prepa­ra­tion lab win­dow where vis­i­tors can watch sci­en­tists and tech­ni­cians toil over fos­sils.

But don’t as­sume that the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum is only fo­cused on old bones. This spec­tac­u­lar mu­seum plots a chrono­log­i­cal course through evo­lu­tion­ary his­tory, mak­ing its points with the help of com­puter sta­tions, hands-on dis­plays and im­mer­sive gal­leries. Place an ex­tra­or­di­nary mu­seum like this in a set­ting that swirls in weird and won­der­ful ways, and the names of its for­mer in­hab­i­tants such as Tricer­atops and Xiphact­i­nus seem fit­ting—in a lost-world sort of way.

ROYAL TYRRELL MU­SEUM OF PALAEON­TOL­OGY Mu­seum Hours May 15-Aug. 31 (daily, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) Sept. 1-30 (daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) Oct. 1-May 14 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Mon­days) Con­tact: In Al­berta, toll-free: 310-0000 then dial...

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