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stillhouse May 6th, 2004 07:03 PM

drumheller/dinosaur provincial park
I've been trying to figure out when to make tour reservations at Dinosaur Provincial Park and would appreciate suggestions. We'll be driving from Jasper to Drumheller on July 3. (Will have already gone through the icefields from Lake Louise to Jasper) We'll stay in Drumheller that night and plan to visit the Tyrell museum which is open until 9 . The next day I'd like to go to Dinosaur Provincial Park and possibly participate in a morning hike and an afternoon bus tour. I'm not sure where to stay that night. We need to be at Calgary airport the next day around 11am. Suggestions?

brookwood May 6th, 2004 07:20 PM

I would look up the museum's web site and see if has any recent info.
Barring that, call the information desk.
I use a dial around and pay 5 cents a minute.

As for a place to stay, I think the motel cluster just south of the airport along the Barlow Trail is a good place to find a motel. I stayed at the Greenwood after I visited the museum and covered the distance from the hotel to the rental car return in very quick order. Going north, there is very little traffic and there is freeway the whole distance.

There are several major motels in the area like Hampton Inn and Sheraton.
The airport as you undoubtedly know is on the Drumheller side of Calgary.
The driving distance is about 80 miles and I made it in just about 90 minutes.

That way I had time to pack up everything, sleep well, and I was in prime position to return the car the next morning.

Judy_in_Calgary May 6th, 2004 08:06 PM

Stillhouse, I've never been to Dinosaur Provincial Park. Your research probably has told you it's near Brooks, some 3.5 hours' drive from Drumheller, according to Mapquest.

According to the "Trip Tips" page of Dinosaur Provincial Park's website, it requires 2 full days to see DPP.

If you're devoting only one day to DPP, and if you will have spent 3.5 hours of that day getting there from Drumheller, I think it would be best to spend that night nearby, in Brooks.

According to Mapquest, the drive from Brooks to Calgary takes 2 hours. I believe you would have ample time to drive from Brooks to Calgary on the day of your departure if you only need to be at Calgary Airport at 11 am.

If it were not for the above mentioned circumstances, I would second Brookwood's recommendation of the Greenwood Inn or one of the other hotels in the north-east quadrant of Calgary.

Hope this helps.

Borealis May 6th, 2004 10:05 PM

stillhouse - I'm not quite sure about your plan. Do you mean that you are going to drive all the way from Jasper to Drumheller, and then visit the Royal Tyrrell, all in one day? That's quite ambitious.

The drive will take you at least 6 hours whether you drive Jasper-Edmonton-Drumheller or Jasper-Banff-Calgary-Drumheller. Realistically, with stops for meals, gas, etc., it'll take longer than that. And once you arrive in Drumheller, you won't have much time to do anything but race through the museum in the evening. . . . . unless. . . .you leave Jasper really early in the morning (by 8 a.m. at the latest :-<).

Brooks has a Best Western, a Super 8 and a Holiday Inn, (and others) but I would suggest driving all the way to Calgary after visiting Dinosaur Provincial Park - it'll make the morning of your departure easier.

Is there any way you can change your plans so that you end your tour of the Rockies in Banff rather than in Jasper? That way your last two days wouldn't involve quite so much driving.

stillhouse May 7th, 2004 06:10 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. Getting up early isn't a problem to do the seven hour drive from Jasper to Drumheller, although I'll have to drag my teenage son out of bed. I had thought we'd leave Jasper by 8 and be at the Royal Tyrell museum by 3. It's open until 9 so that still gives us a lot of time. Still, you've made me wonder if I should try to rearrange the trip to spend the last night in Banff. I'm a bit reluctant to do that because I made all of my other arrangements far in advance.

Your thoughts on the itinerary and it's impact on my ending up at Drumheller and Brooks would be appreciated. We want to do plenty of short hikes and see the local sights so I think I've alloted plenty of time. I realize that Banff, Lake Louise and Emerald Lake aren't far apart, but I don't mind changing hotels and we want to do a lot of hiking, canoeing, rafting in these areas. I alloted three nights in Jasper, but it will really only be two days since we'll take our time going up the Icefields parkway. What do you think?

Arrive Calgary airport 5pm
2 nights in Banff
2 nights Lake Louise
1 night Emerald Lake (after day of rafting and exploring Yoho)
3 nights Jasper
1 night Drumheller
1 night Calgary or Brooks

Thanks for your suggestions.

brookwood May 7th, 2004 07:06 AM

Driving from Jasper to Drumheller is not bad. Neither route suggested above is the one to take for time shortness.

If you go via Edmonton, the trip is needlessly long. Edmonton traffic can slow you up some as well.

If you go by Calgary, city traffic slows you down.

The shortet way timewise from Jasper to Drumheller, one that I have done myself, is to leave the Icefields Parkway at The Crossing. From the Crossing, drive east on the David Thompson Highway to Rocky Mountain House.

From there, pick a route that avoids Red Deer and leads to Drumheller.
If you have the official provincial map of Alberta, it is quite easy to plot a route.

Those backroads are usually flat, straight and lightly traveled. I know that the David Thompson Highway seemed almost deserted. Settlements are few and traffic is usually light.

Borealis May 7th, 2004 09:18 AM

Brookwood has a good point - you don't necessarily have to travel the main highways. I'm not sure what the time difference would be - by travelling the secondary highways you will be giving up the advantage of divided four lane highways with higher speed limits; plus a better selection of places to stop for lunch in the cities (Calgary or Edmonton).

But it would be a pretty dirve: Jasper to The Crossing, then the David Thompson highway (#11) to Rocky Mountain House, south on #22 to Sundre, then east to Olds and on to Drumheller.

Your overall plan is fine stillhouse - I see that you have left most of your driving for the last two days, but as long as you are prepared for that (and sometimes the journey is as fascinating as the destination!!), I think you will enjoy your holiday.

Happy trails!!!

brookwood May 7th, 2004 10:20 AM

The deserted nature of the backroads means that you can average the same rate of speed. Last year we drove to Calgary from Lethbridge using the so-called "back roads" until we were as far north as High River. The route is 23 and then we turned west to Route 2.

The key point on the route to Drumheller is that there NO 4 lane road that goes there.
And by picking the route correctly, you miss traffic.
Red Deer for example can be bypassed.
And there is nothing much between you Drumheller but wheat.
And the badlands.

Judy_in_Calgary May 7th, 2004 11:11 AM

A point of clarificatiton about Red Deer. Hwy #2 has been constructed in such a way that it by-passes Red Deer. Driving past Red Deer does not slow you down.

In that respect Red Deer is much better than Calgary, where Hwy #1 goes right through the city and has traffic lights on it. Driving through Calgary on Hwy #1 does indeed slow a motorist down.

It's also true that Hwy #22 from Rocky Mountain House to Sundre is a pleasant route from a scenic point of view, and it's a perfectly legitimate route to take to get from Jasper to Drumheller.

But I just want to clear up any misconception that one has to go out of one's way to escape Red Deer's clutches. In the case of Red Deer, you deliberately have to take one of the exits from Hwy #2 if you want to reach the town. Although it's a considerably bigger town, in that respect Red Deer is more like Canmore and Banff townsite.

Borealis May 7th, 2004 11:25 AM

For your information stillhouse, the posted speed limits on the secondary highways are 10 km/h slower than those posted on the 4-lane divided highways.
Albertans are notorious for not paying any attention to these. I would never councel you to break the law however, you may end up paying a fine.

By the way, you may see some interesting wildlife on the David Thompson (#11) - when we drove it last June, we came across a small group of mountain goats - an incredible sight in their shaggy white coats, with black horns and hoofs - there were some young ones and some adults, and they were all clinging to the side of a rocky cliff and were feasting on the vegetation there. Although we have seen many many mountain sheep and elk, deer and bears, woves and coyotes, plus assorted smaller mammals, that was the first time that we had come across mountain goats (in +25 years!!!)

Molly2 May 7th, 2004 01:16 PM

Borealis, your comment about seeing mountain goats for the first time is very interesting. My husband and I saw several - mostly their rear ends - as they ran along the cliffs last summer. This was our first trip to the Rockies, and we felt rather unlucky not to have spotted more! Now I feel fortunate; they were indeed beautiful.

stillhouse, I don't know how you feel about b&bs, but Taste the Past bandb is quite lovely, and very well located in downtown Drumheller. We stayed in a very comfortable large room with beautiful artwork and a private bath. The breakfast was wonderful, and the reasonable rate included wine upon arrival. Very gracious hosts.

Borealis May 7th, 2004 07:03 PM

Molly - where in Drumheller is the Taste the Past B&B located? (Is it by the river??). Are the breakfasts huge and filling, or smaller?
I'm considering a short trip to south-west Saskatchewan in mid-August, and was thinking of driving (from Edmonton) via Drumheller, and would like a more interesting place than a motel for accommodation. B&B's in Alberta are so hit and miss that I've been reluctant to stay in one.

Molly2 May 8th, 2004 06:58 AM

Borealis, Taste the Past is an historic, beautifully renovated home within a short stroll of the small downtown, restaurants, etc. One of the owners is an artist. They have three rooms, I think, on the second floor, all with private baths, though only one of them {the one we stayed in} is ensuite, I believe, but not positive on this.

The room we stayed in was large, and had interesting decor and artwork, even in the toilet area, which is seperate from the shower and sink. Hard to describe, but we liked the setup. Comfortable quee-sized bed.

The breakfast was one of the best, if not the best, that we had on our trip, fruit, breads, gourmet egg dish, etc. We were also offered a welcome drink of wine or beer upon arrival, which we enjoyed out on their patio.

I know what you mean about some bandbs being iffy. We've been quite lucky over the years; like you, we do some research before reserving. No real horror stories. Taste the Past doesn't have that "invading someone's home" feel. We really liked it.

Good luck with your trip plans!

Molly2 May 8th, 2004 07:03 AM

P.S. The breakfast was huge and filling. My husband, who has a legendary appetite, couldn't eat it all!

bob_brown May 8th, 2004 02:33 PM

the north south route that by passes Red Deer does not help much when going west to east. You cross the 4 lane at right angles; you don't need to drive on it. I did the skirt around the last two times I was in that area, and found that with the Alberta provincial map, picking a good route is quite easy.
Traffic around Red Deer can be a little thick, but it is not a major obstacle.
You could hit a few red lights, however.
If you skirt it, you might hit one or two at the most.

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