The Dinosaur Trail

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As recent transplants to Calgary, we are spending our summer experiencing some of what the city has to offer. We have hiked, floated, Stampeded, taken in festivals and workshops, but honestly, there are more things to do than there is time to do them.

When it comes to riding, the choices are just as abundant. If you want the thrill of the tight twisties, you’ve got it. If you want a long leisurely ride under the big sky, yup it has that too. Exploring the mountains on gravel and trail? You bet. All within a short ride from the City

prairiescapeSmlThis weekend we picked big sky and headed out to Drumheller to ride the Dinosaur Loop, a 50km loop through the badlands, and we were certainly not disappointed. We headed north of Calgary on Hwy 2 to Balzac then turned east onto 566 and then hooked up with hwy 9 which took us all the way into Drumheller, around 1.5 hours. It is an awesome prairie ride, with rolling hills and sweeping vistas. It was a great way to start the morning.

Drumheller is nestled in what is know as the Badlands in the Red Deer River Valley. It is pretty amazing to be looking at flowing prairies then have the valley appear out of nowhere. The valley was carved out around 10-15,000 years ago, exposing a piece of history over 70 million years old. It is a palaeontological wonderland,  over 25 species of dinosaurs have been found here. It is also home to the Royal Tyrell Museum with  40 mounted skeletons and numerous activities for the family.

largestDinosaurSmlOnce in Drumheller, it is all about dinosaurs, all of the time. There are dinosaurs painted on the sides of buildings, there are more dinosaur statues than I could count, including one in front of Marks Work Warehouse properly attired in safety vests. You think it might just be businesses that do this. But, you would be wrong! We even saw dinosaur statues in people’s front yards. The City of course has join in with the dinosaur theme. There are dinosaurs and cavemen on the light standards on the main roads.  And not to be missed, is the Worlds Largest Dinosaur. It is an 86ft tall T-rex which for a small admission fee you can climb the stairs inside of him and look out of his mouth. Great fun.

After we visited with Rex, we headed off for the Dinosaur Trail North. The Trail follows along the Red Deer River, and is an amazing ride through history. The walls of the canyon are striped with different layers of rock, giving a glimpse into time. For me it was a very thought provoking ride, trying to place my life in the millions of years history I was passing, and trying to visualize how life may have been when the river valley was just a flood plain.

littleChurchSml

My family had taken a vacation to Drumheller when I was a small child. I don’t really remember much of that, but I did remember that we had visited a tiny church, and have often seen pictures of my brother and I outside of it. As we were riding along Linda says, I think there is a little church just around this corner. Sure enough it was the one from my childhood. The sign on it says, “Seating 10,000 people, 6 at a time.”

FerrySmlAs we followed the trail to it’s end, we came to a cable ferry which took us to the other side of the river to pick up the Dinosaur Trail South. A little way along this road, is a turn off for a viewpoint. It was well worth the stop, the views were amazing. We also shed our coats here, as it was just too hot. We continued on the Dinosaur Trail to Drumheller, then kept going straight through to a little village called Rosedale to have a bite and a beverage at the Top Rocker Gear Shop and Café.

What a great little gem. I am not sure if I have ever felt so welcome walking into restaurant. We sat on the patio, had lunch and a beer, and swapped stories with other bikers. The menu is limited, but the service completely makes up for that. We will definitely go back, perhaps for one of their Thursday Bike Nights.

HoodoosSml

We had hoped to take an alternate route back to Calgary, so head south a bit farther. The “highway” turned out to be a gravel road so we turned around, but we did get to see hoodoos along the way, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.  In the end we went home the way we came, which wasn’t really disappointing as it was a lovely ride. At the end of the day we arrived home safe and happy with another little adventure to share.

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