Many people give glamping (camping with comfort) a hard time. They think that if you are not camping properly, with a tent, you are not camping at all. We disagree. When you are traveling, you can’t always carry all of your camping gear with you, but sometimes you want to stay out in the middle of nature.
Glamping Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park in the Badlands of Southern Alberta is a long way from anywhere and if you don’t have a tent or camper, you need to drive a fair distance to find a place to stay. That is why it’s great to take advantage of the comfort camping tents the park has set up for your enjoyment.
We had one day and one night at Dinosaur Provincial Park and during that time, we took two hikes.
Day Tours at Dinosaur Provincial Park
The Centrosaurus Quarry Hike is the best way to see a huge concentration of dinosaur fossils. This was an excavation site, but scientists got all they needed from here and left the rest for us to see. It's an interactive tour and the guide tests your knowledge as you try to remember everything you learned in school about dinosaurs. Or if you are like me, what you can remember from the movie, Jurassic Park
Much of the park is off limits to visitors without a guide, so taking a tour is the best way to explore. Plus you learn a lot about the history, the geology and about dinosaurs. Excavations are ongoing here and discoveries happen regularly as this is one of the most fossil rich destinations on the planet! It's amazing to see these fossils up close and personal and I can't imagine how many would disappear if they let everyone walk through freely.
Even during our tour, we had a woman try to steal a fossil in broad daylight; right after our guide told us ‘please do not pick up anything.' I called her out and she put it down. Nice, she had a kid too, what a great role model she is.
If everyone took a rock or bone during each tour, there would be nothing left for the future. Some people just don't think.
We saw many dinosaur bones during our walk and learned how to tell a rock from a fossil. By the time we walked back to our bus, we could easily spot bones and fossils at every turn. Once you know what you're looking for and if you just so happen to be walking through an area filled with fossils, they're easy to see.
We also took a sunset tour. The Centrosaurus walk was great, but it happened in midday when the sun was the hottest and the highest. We wanted to get some photographs of this extraordinary canyon but that hike wasn’t about the photos it was about the dinos. We needed to get some shots of this gorgeous landscape. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we first drove up to Dinosaur Provincial Park. It’s absolutely stunning!
The Sunset tour takes you to all the best spots to view the rocks as the sun lights them. The tour changes each day and is lead by a veteran guide who takes you to his favourite spots in the park. You'll see some awesome views and get the chance to take amazing shots.
But be warned, you are on a tour with many people, so shoot fast. Know your camera and be ready. Majority rules and if everyone wants to go back to the camp before the sun actually sets (yes that happened to us) there is nothing you can do about it. So take your shots while you can.
The canyons are filled with hoodoos and coulees and incredible rock formations for as far as the eye can see and sunset or no sunset, the scene is beautiful.
Note: A coulee is a deep ravine and hoodoos are tall, thin rock spires that are made of soft rock but have a hard rock balancing on top, like a hat.
Unfortunately, we realized that if we both went on the sunset tour, we wouldn’t be able to eat dinner, so Dave set out to take his photographs, while I popped over to the town of Brooks to grab our dinner.
Glamour Camping: Aka Glamping
The campsites come equipped with gas barbeques, so we decided that tonight would be a perfect night for a couple of steaks. Beef is amazing and affordable in Alberta so I bought the most expensive cuts I could find at $7 a piece. Not bad!
Dave came back with gorgeous shots of the park (see above sunset photo) and I had dinner waiting for him. The potatoes had been baking for about 30 minutes, and when the bus dropped him off at the campsite, I opened a bottle of wine and popped the corn and steak on the grill.
Everything that we needed was supplied in a giant rubbermaid container. Cooking utensils, oil, plates and cutlery…we didn't need to bring a thing. We could even put our leftovers in the fridge overnight.
It was glamping at its finest. We sat outside on the picnic table, enjoyed our meal and then cleaned up quickly and easily at the washing facilities a couple of doors down. Everyone was outside eating and it was a relaxing atmosphere.
I just love camping in Canada. As you walk by campsites everyone says hi with a smile, but the campsites are also spread out enough for privacy. We went back to our tent and finished off our bottle as we watched the stars and listened to the silence.
We fell asleep to the sound of crickets and awoke refreshed and ready to drive on to Drumheller where more hoodoos await. Drumheller is just an hours drive from Dinosaur Provincial Park and a perfect next stop. it's home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the World's largest dinosaur. If you love Dinosaurs, this is a road trip you must take!
For more information on camping at Dinosaur Provincial Park visit their Website for reservations.