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Tuk 2018 – Day 7 – Dust 2 Dawson

Tuk 2018 – Day 7 – Dust 2 Dawson

Last night a European tour bus came into the camp ground. It holds about 24 people and is a self contained touring unit. The people sleep in little cubbies that take the back half of the bus. They seemed to be enjoying it, but I think I would be a bit claustrophobic if I had to sleep in one, as they seem a bit tomb-like to me.img_1490

We woke to more rain, coming down pretty hard. So, we had a nice hot shower to warm up and, in the bathroom, ran into Melissa, an old friend from Whitehorse that I had done the Chilkoot Trail with about 15 years ago. It was really great to see her and catch up a little.

As it was a kind of crappy morning, we decided to have breakfast out for the first time since we started the trip. We headed off to the Alchemy Café, a funky little restaurant in a log building. Linda had a cappuccino (her fave) and homemade granola with yogurt and a fruit compote, ii have the Black Bean bowl with eggs, beans, rice, goat cheese and pickled cabbage, along with a turmeric latte. We were both very happy with our choices. I would absolutely go back there if we ever get back to Dawson. The whole menu was vegetarian, only cheese and eggs, no meat. And all very healthy, and tasty options.

We had a window table and watched a couple of very wet riders having coffee outside under the roof overhang. Again we were thankful for the car instead of the bikes.

By evening the rain had stopped ad we went to the Dust 2 Dawson bike games. We have been to bike games before, but these were a whole new level of challenging. There was the requisite slow-ride, the winner was able to balance his bike while it was stopped, so there was no hope for the rest. It was quite something to see. There was also the standard, passenger-eat-a-wiener-hanging-from-a-string game. Honesty not my favorite. The next one was pretty wild. A hood is placed over the rider’s helmet, so that they can not see anything. They then ride until the crowd yells stop, trying to ride in a straight line, and land with their front tire on a paper plate. That has to be unnerving. Next was slow riding, while trying to drop tennis balls into progressively smaller tubes, about 1 foot off the ground. Definitely a challenging event, no one got all the tubes, most got one or 2, the winner had 4. We heard that the 2 riders who won all but the wiener event were professional riders, so they were great watch, but it would have sucked to be competing against them.img_1515

After the bike games, it was back to Gerties. This time we got to spend a couple hours at the tables without donating any cash other than what we spent on beverages. It is always a good night at the casino when you walk out with the same amount you went in with.

It was supposed to be an early night but ended up being after midnight. The problem with all this daylight is that you really don’t have any sense what time it is.

Tuk 2018 – Day 6 – Top of the World

Tuk 2018 – Day 6 – Top of the World

Today was a bit of a sleep-in after staying up for sunset. We did a little shopping, trying to find fuel canisters for the stove. Yes, we should have picked a couple up in Whitehorse, but no we didn’t. And, we were going through fuel a lot faster than we had planned. Being Aboriginal Day, the hardware store was closed, but there was a general store on Front Street that sells camping and fishing supplies. They didn’t have the canisters and didn’t think anyone in town sold them. Drat. I guess we will have to try and be a bit frugal with fuel and hope it lasts.

After shopping we went to the NWT visitors centre. Much to my surprise Dawn Kisoun, an old acquaintance of mine from my dog mushing days, was working there. We got a chance to catch-up, it turns out that they have gotten out of dogs as well. They now run a fishwheel tour company. From there we headed to Sourdough Joe’s for fish and chips. It is too early in the season for salmon, so we shared a 2-piece Halibut and chips, the fish was great and there was more than enough for us to share. We were both stuffed and can’t imagine how someone can eat that by themselves.

Day 6 (1 of 1)-5After lunch we took the ferry across the Yukon River to head up the Top World highway. The highway runs from Dawson to the Yukon/Alaska border. What amazing views! You really do feel like you are on the top of the word. I had really wanted Linda to see it and was happy that she found it as stunning as I did. We had lots of time to take some pics, and even found a bit of the old road while bushwhacking. Eventually were chased back into the car because of a thunder storm. On our way back to town we only had a 2 ferry wait to get across the river. When we got to the campground we heard that it had been a 3 hour wait to get across earlier in the afternoon.

This was the fist day we had been truly thankful we were not on the bikes, as we were able to bring our pop-up shelter with us in the car and could to stay dry while the rains came down. Some riders from neighboring sites took refuge under it as well, so we got some stories from the road. One of the rider’s had to have his bike pulled out of the road with a front end loader as the front wheel was stuck in so deep. We also heard that the day before a rider was medevaced off the Tuk highway. The conditions of the road seem to change hourly.

While we were having beverages out of the rain, we heard a helicopter go up, followed shortly thereafter by water bombers. The lightening must have started a fire not to far out of town. The planes stopped after a short while, so hopefully it was a small fire, quickly contained.

After a supper at the campsite, we headed out to catch the can-can show at Gerties. It is quite a good show, with much more than just can-can dancers. And is a must-see if in Dawson City.  While waiting for the show, we made another donation to the Klondike Visitor’s Association by way of roulette and 21. The table minimums are pretty low and the players are quite relaxed. Linda even gave up slots and played 21 instead.img_1478

We called it a night pretty early, still tired from the previous evening. It was still raining when we went to bed, and thankfully the tent was nice and dry inside. We are quite impressed with the tent, even more so considering we paid very little for it.

Tuk 2018 – Days 4 & 5 – Dawson City, Solstice Sunset.

Tuk 2018 – Days 4 & 5 – Dawson City, Solstice Sunset.

Day 4 was a relaxing day in Whitehorse spent mostly visiting with old friends. It was great to be able to catch up with Beej & Norm, JF & Sylvie, and Robert & Carl.

We also needed to pick up some more fresh food for the trip and replace a couple of things that got left behind in Calgary when we did the quick pack-up of the car. We also picked up an electric cooler that was on Sale at Canadian Tire. It will have paid for itself by the end of this trip with us not having to buy ice and not having to throw out spoiled food.

Whitehorse (2 of 3)

Yukon River

We did manage to get in one touristy stop at the SS Klondike, a Parks Canada Historic Site. The SS Klondike is a paddlewheeler that operated in the 30s and 40s, taking passengers and supplies along the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson City. She now sits on the bank of the river and is open to tourists. Parks Canada give guided tours and admission is free.

Day 5 had us heading back out on the road, going north on the Klondike Highway.  Linda had the pleasure of listening to me tell stories about everything along the road until we passed Lake Laberge, as this was my stomping grounds for many years.

We stopped for lunch at 5 fingers rapids. The Yukon River splits into 5 channels here, and not all of them are navigable, only one was deep enough for the paddlewheelers that traveled the river. There is still a cable that the ships used to pull themselves up the 2-foot falls. From the lookout there are stairs to go down the escarpment and a path to walk to the rapids, it takes around an hour round trip.Day 5 (1 of 2)

Next stop was a photo-op an hour outside of Dawson City, the Tintina Trench lookout. This is a large valley formed by the separating of a fault line some 8 million years ago. The 2 plates of the fault line have shifted over 450km from where they were 65 million years ago. It is a great view from here and a great place to contemplate how tiny a blip we are in the history of the planet.Day 5 (3 of 1)

Our stop for the night, and our home for the next 3, was the Goldrush Campground in downtown Dawson City. The sites are really made for trailers, not tents, and have no shade, but the facilities are well kept, we have power for our cooler, and it is in walking distance to most things in Dawson. We brought our pop-up canopy with us, so we have shade, and the double size air mattress keeps us off the rocks at night.img_1464

After we set up camp, we headed over to Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino to make a donation to the Klondike Visitors Association. After we left our money on the table and in the slots, we headed over to the Downtown Hotel so Linda could do the Sourtoe Cocktail. For $5 plus the price of a shot of something 40% you can have a human toe put in your drink, if it touches your lip, your get a certificate and membership card for the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.

While we were waiting for the toe to start, we got to listen to a great piano player. He was the Stompin Tom of piano, complete with a board under his foot. He has a diverse repertoire, and takes requests. He plays from 7-9 nightly and its definitely worth a visit to hear him play.

To end the night we sat by the river, and watched the solstice sunset at 12:50am. We didn’t manage to get up for sunrise at 3:57.img_1460

Tuk 2018 – Day 3 – Whitehorse Ho

Tuk 2018 – Day 3 – Whitehorse Ho

Day 3 we managed to sleep in a wee bit. In the middle of the night the flies went somewhere to sleep, alas they were back in the morning and brought some friends with them. It really did require some effort to make myself believe that they were on the outside of the tent (which they were) when I could see them so plainly through the screened tent peak.

Today we shared the duties of striking camp, had a cold brekkie and headed out for Whitehorse. There is a herd of bison that live in the area around the hot springs and we hoped to see some along the way. As we were traveling down the highway, there was a car stopped on the side of the road. By the time we could see what they were stopped for it was too late to hit the breaks for a photo op. There was a bison rolling in a sand/dust pit on the side of the road. It is unusual to see just one bison and as we continued down the road we were hoping that this wasn’t the only one of the herd that had come to the roadside.

bison (2 of 3)We weren’t to be disappointed. 10 minutes down the road traffic was stopped as a large herd made its way across the highway. Although bison can move pretty quickly when they have a reason to, they usually saunter along which is exactly how they were crossing the road. Since they were taking their time, we were able to take quite a lot of pics.

The Alaska Highway does a bit of dipsy-doodling between BC and Yukon. The first foray into Yukon at mile 565 barely has any signage. I suppose that is because you only stay there for a few minutes then your back in BC. The official sign comes a bit later, shortly before you get to Watson Lake. Just before Watson Lake is what used to be Contact Creek Lodge. It is no longer a lodge, but they do have fuel with better prices than Watson Lake. They also have soft serve ice cream, which was the worst ice cream that Linda had ever had.yukon sign (1 of 1)

Watson Lake was our next stop at its famous sign-post forest. The “forest” was started in 1942 by a US soldier who was working on the Alaska highway put up a sign with the name of his home town and the distance to it. Since then it has grown to over 78,000 signs and visitors are welcome to add their own signs to it. We even saw a Manx sign, which made me smile (and snap a pic)

While we were stopped at the forest, Linda spoke to a couple of guys on adventure bikes, one of whom had flown his bike over from Bahrain. They had originally planned to ride to Tuk, but stories of serious accidents involving adventure bikes on the final section of the road had them change their plans and instead they will go to Prudhoe Bay Alaska. So, perhaps the Universe was telling us something when so many obstacles seemed to block us from the original plan of doing this trip on bikes. Since the point of this trip was to get to Tuk, a bucket list item for me, having to turn back because of bad road would have been devastating. Better to do it in a car and actually get there.

We stopped for lunch at a rest area at Rancharia Falls. Really, it is awful that I have likely driven past this 20 times or more and have never stopped. The walking path to the falls is made to be accessible, and at the end there is boardwalk so that you can get a nice view of both sides of these falls. No, they are no Niagra, but they are very pretty none the less.

In Whitehorse we were able to very briefly connect with friends Moosh and Richard as they headed out of town with their family and left us with the use of their house. Tomorrow we will get a couple quick visits with friends. It’s great to be back.

Tuk 2018 – Day 2 – Amazing vistas, hot water.

Tuk 2018 – Day 2 – Amazing vistas, hot water.

Day 2 started early, but we were well rested after  a great sleep in this quiet little campground. Linda struck camp, while I made bacon and eggs. Not a bad way to start the day, nice breakfast while watching the fish jump in the lake. The early morning fishermen were out and the fish were biting. At least one family was having a feast of grilled rainbow trout for breakfast. Next time we come up this highway we will be bringing fishing gear and getting a license.

After a quick stop in Ft Nelson for necessities like gas and beer we made our way to Steamboat. A little blip on the map with a 10% grade to get down to it, and then again back up. We were wondering would have managed more than 50km/hr going back up. At the top we stopped for a quick bite and took time to enjoy the breath taking view.

Our next planned stop, at Linda’s request, was Muncho Lake. 5 years ago when we were riding down on our KLRs Linda asked why no one knows about this place, as the beauty rivals that of Lake Louise. Quite simply it is because it is at least a 1 day drive from any major airport. We feel lucky to be counted in the number of people who have been able to see and enjoy it.

day2 (4 of 5)

Along the way to Muncho Lake we saw 5 bears and a moose. The bears were a bit elusive when we tried to get pics, but the moose was pretty cooperative.day2 (6 of 1)

After Muncho Lake, we were off for Liard Hot Springs, our destination for the night. This place is well worth the drive! It is a mostly natural hot springs, just enough done to it to make it pleasant and accessible to everyone. And everyone does stop there. We arrived just after 4 and the provincial campground was full. We likely only missed the last site by 20-30 minutes as there were only 5 vehicles in the overflow camping. We considered camping in the overflow, but it was $26 to set up our tent in the gravel parking lot. Instead we went to a private campground right next door and had a nice shady and quiet spot.

A day pass for the hot springs is only $5, and you can park right next to the boardwalk that goes to the hot springs. At the end of the boardwalk there is a change room and 2 hot pools. The bottom of the natural pools have been graveled, as they were naturally soft mud, and some benches have been installed in the upper pool. We had a lovely soak. What a great way to relax and let go the stresses of the world.

After the soak, we enjoyed dinner by the campfire then off to bed where we had to think that the sound we were hearing was raindrops on the tent and not the mass of flies trapped between the tent and the tent fly.img_1425

Tuk 2018 – Day 1 – Great time in the car

Tuk 2018 – Day 1 – Great time in the car

Despite day 1 of the trip actually being on day 2 and being in a car and not on bikes, we had a great time. We actually found that we stopped more for touristy things and photo ops (like the trestle) than we would have on the bikes. And we very much enjoyed being able to easily talk to each other about things we saw, and to plan out other stops along the way.


I had driven by a sign on the highway in Whitecourt saying “Canada’s Best Bathroom” a few times and figured this was the trip to find out what made this bathroom the best. It was at an Esso rest centre that can been seen from the highway on the south end of town. Besides the bathroom, you can order a pizza, get a Panini/soup combo, or an assortment of not too bad convenience store hot food. The bathroom was truly the nicest gas station bathroom I have ever seen, beats the bathroom at most restaurants I’ve been to. Let us know what you think?

The next bathroom stop, not so much. We stopped in Fox Creek at a gas station, and Linda used the men’s room (not like we think there should be a difference) as the women’s had poo everywhere.

Next up was Dawson Creek, mile zero of the Alaska Highway. We stopped for a photo op at the mile 0 sign, something neither of us had done before, then headed out as we wanted to get past Fort St John. We did make it past and ended up at a gem of a campground. Inga Lake regional park is a primitive, mostly unmaintained park with around 18 sites. There is a short 2km road to get to it from the highway. Unfortunately, the road is also used by heavy oil patch vehicles and was in rough repair, with some of the ruts in the gravel/dirt road being 6-8 inches deep. We were told that repairs had been done this week and that earlier the ruts were about a foot deep.

We got there early enough to get a site with a view of the lake. As an added bonus, there is no fee to camp there. But, there is also no potable water, so we were pretty rationed having only 2l with us. But dinner was fire roasted hot dogs, followed by roasted marshmallows (yum), so no dishes involved. Enough water was saved for coffee and wash up in the am.img_1430

There were some very nice folks there who were kind enough to loan us an ax to split the campground provided poplar logs, since we had only brought the hatchet we would have taken on the bikes. The guy that loaned us the ax also brought us some dried fire-wood he had and some charcoal to get the fire going. Another fellow brought us some spruce logs that were a bit easier to split than the poplar.img_1432

It had been an early start to the day, and neither of us had slept well, so it was an early night for us. We packed it in shortly after 9. It was a good sleep, but we found the air mattress was a bit cold over night so night 2 we will have a blanket on top of it. All in all a good day.

Not a motorbike trip to Tuk

Not a motorbike trip to Tuk

We have been planning an epic adventure, a one-month trip from Calgary, up the Alaska Hiway to Whitehorse, north to Dawson City, then up the Dempster highway to Tuktoyaktuk by motorbike. We have done all the things we should to prepare, including having the Ural serviced before the trip, as it needed a seal. Alas, when the mechanics opened the engine to replace the seal, they found the clutch was foobarred. Ok, they can order in parts, it will be a few days but they would be here this week on Tues, bike would be ready Wednesday. The order comes in, one part is missing. Frig. But they will air express the part, bike will be ready Thursday. Thursday comes, they call, the right box arrived with the wrong part. Double Frig. They were air expressing the part again, and hoped to do the work today. The part didn’t arrive until late afternoon, so trip delayed at least one day.

In the meantime, the floor of the living room is covered with gear waiting for a home. I had meeting out of town this afternoon and had planned to leave from there and meet Linda in Jasper. I was trying to be optimistic, and still believed we would be in Jasper tonight, even though a little voice in the back of my head though keeps saying Jasper is a bust, and we will likely head out tomorrow. We can’t cancel our reservation in Jasper tonight, but it was for a campground, so we won’t be out much. And, it will only put us a half day behind, maybe not even if there is a tail wind to help the Ural along.

By late afternoon we decided that we don’t want to wait and see if the Ural is ready to go tomorrow. We are going to change our plans and make it a car trip instead. So the Beemer is unloaded and the car is loaded up. Not the trip we had planned, and a bit disappointing particularly since we bought the Ural specifically for this trip. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to heading out tomorrow morning, with no agenda except to be in Dawson City for Dust to Dawson on June 21, head up to Tuk, then back down to Whitehorse with time to visit. It is still going to be an adventure, a chance to drive to Tuk, and an opportunity to visit friends we haven’t seen in 5 years.

Toad Rock- It’s As Awesome As It Sounds

Toad Rock- It’s As Awesome As It Sounds

We are always on the look out for interesting, fun, or unusual places to visit. Toad Rock Motorcycle Campground covers all of those, so it was a must do on our short trip to BC.

After our morning enjoying the activities at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, we headed south to ride some of the best motorcycle roads in Canada. Our route covered a third of the 850km Hot Springs Circle Route. There are 3 commercial hot springs along this portion of the route, but if you ask locals, they can usually point you to natural springs in the area, though you may need to hike a bit to get to them.

We followed Highway 23 south for about 50km to Shelter Bay, where we had just missed the Upper Arrow Lakes Ferry. Luckily it runs every hour on the hour heading east so we didn’t have too long to wait, just long enough to sit in the shade beside the snack truck and swap stories with other bikers.

Upper Arrow Lake Ferry

Upper Arrow Lake Ferry

Once the open deck ferry arrived, loading was quick and the 20-minute trip gives you time to enjoy the amazing view of Upper Arrow lake and the Monashee mountains on one side, and the Selkirk Mountains on the other. This year though there are forest fires all over BC, with smoke hanging in the valleys and fires can be seen from the road.  The ferry is free, provided by BC Highways.

forest fires seen from the upper arrow lake ferry

Forest Fires Seen From The Ferry

From the ferry we continue south for 50km to the end of Hwy23 and the Town of Nakusp. This is a lovely and quick ride with mostly gentle curves along the shore of Upper Arrow Lake. There are a lot of restaurants and shops here so it’s worth stopping for a stroll through the eclectic shops on the main street, to have lunch overlooking the lake. Or take the time to stop in for a relaxing dip at the Nakusp Hot Springs.

From Nakusp we picked up Hwy 6 East, to head towards New Denver. The road from Nakusp through to Balfour shows up on most lists of where to ride in BC. Highway 31A from New Denver to Kaslo, and Hwy 31 from Kaslo to Balfour is a destination route, riders come from afar to ride this beautiful highway whose tight twists and turns follow rivers and lakes, often right beside the road.

A popular spot for many rider, and our destination for the night was Toad Rock Campground. This is a funky, friendly motorcycle campground. You might think that with over 100 sites, it would be your basic commercial campground, but you would be wrong. Mary makes sure that you feel welcome from the moment you ride up. The sites are nicely treed and there is enough elbow room so as not to feel like you are in your neighbours site. Because it is a motorcycle campground there are cooking facilities, complete with pots, dishes, and even a few spices. There is a fridge to keep your food in, and coolers to borrow to keep your beverages cold at your site. Ice is available for a small fee at the wash-house. Speaking of which, the showers and washrooms are kept impeccably clean.  Didn’t bring a tent, no problem, they have an assortment of cabins, vans, buses, and tents that you can rent.

Campsite at Toad Rock

Campsite at Toad Rock

Surprisingly, the campground runs on the honour system. You get a hit when you check in. You keep track of how long you stay, any ice, pop etc that you use, and drop it and your cash in a box when you leave. They also do not have rules, but only guidelines. Basically, if you aren’t being an idiot, it’s all good.

If you want to meet other riders, there is a social area, strategically placed away from the campsites, where you can bring your beverages, swap tails, and sometimes even be entertained by someone playing one of the guitars (or drum set) that are there. No need even to bring that cooler you borrowed as there is a fridge in the shelter that you can keep your cans in.


For us the most notable part of the campground is the warning to keep your food and beer secured. For bears you may think, but it’s actually because of the 4 dogs and 1 pig that call Toad Rock home. They keep the bears away, but are more than happy to eat any wayward food. The pig particularly likes beer and will grab unopened cans, use her built-in can opener teeth, and take in the rewards.

If you do a trip to the Kootenays you really do need to check this place out. Heck, if you aren’t planning a trip that way, then you really need to start.

You only said we couldn’t go upside down.


(edited 30 to add video)

Have you heard about mountain coasters? They consist of a very long length of pipe, winding down the side of a mountain and anchored into place. Then you take a small plastic sled with some running gear on the bottom and attach it to the pipe, add a handle for breaking and you have yourself a mountain coaster.

Mountain Coaster Sled

Mountain Coaster Sled (cc) Wiki Commons

Since I first heard of these I knew I needed to go on one, and was very pleasantly surprised when I saw a ticket package for “The Pipe” in Revelstoke. The catch though, is that Linda hates roller coasters. She says it’s because she doesn’t like to go upside down. So armed with that caveat, I suggested we should pick one up, it was for two trips on the mountain coaster (which doesn’t go upside down), and a gift card for the restaurant. I’m not sure if I just got her at a moment of weakness where the idea of hurtling down a mountain on a little plastic sled some how sounded appealing, or if was just because we had only recently moved back within spitting distance of the mountains and was up for an adventure. Either way, I didn’t ask twice and tossed the card into the shopping cart.

Once we got home and read the fine print, we discovered it was only good for one person. Gee, I guess we have to go get another and have 2 trips each. But, if the first ride was too much, then instead of a second coaster ride we could instead take the upper gondola to the top of the mountain. And, there was that $25 credit for the restaurant for each of us so that made the deal great.

When we were looking at when we should make the 4 hour trip, we were looking for events that we might be able to couple it with and were thrilled to find that we had not missed the Horizon’s Unlimited Travelers Meeting in Nakusp. It is a gathering of folk who either already do, or want to, travel to far away places on motorbikes. Perfect, we can add an extra day at the beginning of the trip and kill 2 birds with one stone.


Williamson Lake Camp Ground

As it was only a 4 hour trip to Revelstoke, we decided to leave right after work to avoid using an extra day of vacation leave. That would have worked great except for few of things. First, rush hour traffic was insane, so it took us an hour just to get out of Calgary. Second, it is Canada’s 150 anniversary and all of the national parks are free to enter so the tourists are here in droves, and lastly it have been a horrendous summer for forest fires in BC. All of these things managed to add an extra couple of hours to our trip, so we arrived at out campground in the dark after the office had closed.

Some incredibly helpful campers helped us navigate to our site, and setting up by the light of a head-lamp isn’t actually all that bad. Particularly since we did a dry run the night before in our backyard. The campsite was great. Were were right on Williamson Lake, and there was enough ambient light that we could see the stillness of the water, with the trees being reflected, see the milky way, and listen to a waterfall across the lake while eating our craft dinner. It was quite delightful.

We wanted to get an early start in the morning, but not enough to set an alarm. Nature took care of that for us though, both with the sun and “nature calling”. We were quickly packed up and on our way to Revelstoke Mountain Resort. We were a bit worried about leaving our helmets on the bikes, and the luggage that was only strapped onto the bikes, but we needn’t have been. Everything was still there when we got back.

A friendly staff person at the hill pointed us in the right direction and we were quickly on the gondola heading up the hill. The view of the Columbia river and the mountains was amazing. Unfortunately, this is the moment where Linda says, “Did I tell you I’m afraid of heights”! She still managed to enjoy some of the view, but I was worried about the whole sitting on a plastic sled and going down the mountain thing was going to work for her.

I worried for nothing because fear or not she was bound and determined to go down. We both enjoyed the ride, but used the break more than we had hoped. We headed back up the gondola to use our $25 vouchers for brunch, which was exactly $25 LOL. It was a very nice buffet though, and the view from the deck was worth the price.

We headed off for our second run down, both of us determined to have a faster run than before. I shaved some time off, but Linda did amazing, arriving at the bottom hot on my heels. We thoroughly enjoyed the morning, and would definitely suggest putting it on your list of things-to-do if you are doing a trip through the Canadian Rockies and BC Interior.




The Dinosaur Trail


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.


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.


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.