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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.