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Digging for Dinosaurs

Growing up, we heard so much about these mysterious giants that roamed the earth millions of years before we were born. Were the dinosaurs a myth? Cartoons, movies, books inundated us with the immensity, the danger, the other-worldliness, and maybe the impossibility of these creatures, which meant that of course I wanted my own little pterodactyl or triceratops so that I could sequester him in my room and take him out occasionally to  impress my friends. Therefore, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to drive a little out of my way (about 3 hrs.) to dig up a few dinosaur bones.

Dinosaurs – every kids dream pet!

Dinosaur replica at the Dinosaur Provincial Park in Canada.

I’m sure the dinosaurs lived in a climate that rained sometimes, but in my mind it is always desert-like and hot, with the sun beating down on you. Maybe it was their leathery skin, but when we woke up to a dreary, rainy Alberta day, we were a little worried. The information on the program we booked said that if it rained the valleys would get too muddy and dangerous and the program might be cancelled. Sure enough!  We arrive at the interpretive center to be told that someone was checking the road and the valleys. The twenty or so people including our four, but mostly families with children, held our collective breath waiting for the verdict. Thankfully, it was a go!

Exterior view of the museum at Dinosaur Provincial Park in Canada.

Relieved, we still had some time before our program began, so we wandered around the interpretive center.  Wow! This is the perfect museum or discovery center for kids. The first thing we saw was the newest addition, a baby dinosaur, that had been recently excavated from right there in the park. Amazingly, full skeletons have been dug up right in the area, while some have been shipped off to museums, some are there in the center, and others are still in the ground covered with a wooden shed to keep them safe.

Baby dinosaur fossil on display.

Not very large, the interpretive museum has hands-on activities, computer stations, games, films, walk-in scenes, and lots of bones, skulls, and full skeletons of all kinds of dinosaurs. When they called us to get on the bus, we had to be dragged away.

Some of the exhibits on display in the Dinosaur Provincial Park interactive museum.

We all squished out and loaded up onto our bus. When we were signing up, we had no idea which program to choose. I was torn between a photography tour and a dig, but my inner archaeologist won out and the dig it was.

Interesting erosion geography in the dinosaur fossil grounds at Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Everyone was provided with what we used to call “sit-upons” in the Girl Scouts, meant to keep you dry while you are sitting or kneeling. The bus took us only a ten minute drive from the center and then we got out to walk. The landscape was at once gray, barren, and other-wordly which I felt was exactly as it should be. As our guide showed us what to look for and how to do it, along with a pretty good list of rules, I was secretly plotting how to get away from the masses and have my own special dig…and of course, find!

Erika and Michael in the dinosaur fossil grounds.

At first, everything seems the same color and it was slightly difficult looking for bits and pieces of dinosaur which were supposed to be everywhere. It took some getting used to, the way you had to “look”, but eventually people started finding all kinds of things. There were large bones, small bones, claws, vertebrae, and the list goes on and on.

Young girl at Dinosaur Provincial Park on a successful dinosaur fossil hunt.

Our program was designed for all ages and even the kids had a great time finding bones. Some of them were really good at it! This little girl was proud of the collection she found.

Jim is out in the badlands digging for dinosaurs.
Here Jim is trying to lose me so he can find things all on his own, but I found him.

If you are driving through Alberta, don’t think three hours is too much to detour to find some dinosaurs. It is really worth the trip!

For More Information go to the website of Dinosaur Provincial Park where you can find out about the camping opportunities as well as all the programs they offer. We went on the Fossil Safari and loved it!

Dinosaur skeletons on display at Dinosaur Provincial Park museum.


Alberta was a great road trip and I still have more to tell you about, but meanwhile take a look at the Alberta Wildlife and the Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump posts if you’re planning a trip!

Don’t you just love a dinosaur? Wouldn’t you like to dig some up?

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Ana O

Wednesday 4th of May 2016

Aawwww I'd love to do this! I've been to the Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas, where you can see fossilized footprints. It's really exciting, but not as exciting as this.

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 4th of May 2016

Ana, You should go if you love dinosaurs. It was really fun!

rhonda albom

Saturday 1st of November 2014

This is totally cool, definitely going on the bucket list. I think everyone loves dinosaurs. I am not sure which tour I would've chosen, but I know my kids would have chosen and probably hubby to.

Corinne Vail

Sunday 2nd of November 2014

Rhonda, It was hard to choose, but we were very happy discovering bones and teeth and claws!


Wednesday 29th of October 2014

Awesome! My kids would love this. I'm glad you decided to go with the dig instead of the photography tour. It's nice to get hands dirty sometimes.

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 29th of October 2014

Ann, Well said! And really, this way we did both, right? Your kids would absolutely love it!