Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Canada
Reload this Page >

Drumheller-Dinosaur Provincial Park-Fort Macleod- Waterton-Calgary Route, Opinions Appreciated!

Drumheller-Dinosaur Provincial Park-Fort Macleod- Waterton-Calgary Route, Opinions Appreciated!

Feb 6th, 2003, 12:10 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Drumheller-Dinosaur Provincial Park-Fort Macleod- Waterton-Calgary Route, Opinions Appreciated!

Hi Folks,
After much research {much of it on Fodor's forum}, my husband and I have mapped out and reserved accommodations for most of a three-week trip to the Rockies. I believe that we have planned well for the first two weeks, dividing our time between Banff and Jasper, but am having a difficult time deciding on the last few days.

This is our rough idea: Day 1: Overnight in Canmore, after a day's hiking along the Icefield Parkway. Day 2: Drive to Drumheller, visit the museum and overnight there. Day 3: Drive parts of the "Dinosaur Trail" that we haven't had time for, then drive to Dinosaur Park and perhaps do a tour, and overnight in Brooks.

Day 4: See more of Dinosaur Prov. Park, then drive to and overnight in Fort Macleod. Day 5: Visit Head Smashed In, and then drive to Waterton, where we will spend two nights. The last day we are planning on driving to Calgary for our flight home.

Do you see any kinks in our plans? Also, in your opinion, is it worth going to both Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park, or is the terrain and experience very simliar? Our interests are hiking, the outdoors, and the natural sciences.

Thanks in advance for your help.
Molly2 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 05:59 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
Let me jump in here. Last July we went to Calgary, drove to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway, drove south to Field in Yoho Park via the Icefields Parkway, and then to Waterton and Glacier NP USA.
Before coming home, we spent the day at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller.

I think you can profitably spend about 6 hours there, including a lunch break.
However, the prerequisite is this:
a good interest in paleontology. That is the theme of this museum; it has no other.

Whether or not you want to continue to Dinosaur Provincial Park depends on time, interest, and desire. I think that after the Tyrrell Museum, the Provincial Park is secondary. If you want to see field excavation sites, and perhaps sample some of what professional paleontologists do in the summer, then by all means go there.

You can shorten your time by thinking 2 days along the Icefields Parkway by staying overnight at the Crossing, where there is a motel. (Not the greatest one, but a decent motel.)
There are numerous hikes along the parkway, and there is the Icefields Center where you can approach the glacier, and even ride the ice buggy out onto the glacier, for a price.

If you want some inspiration for what you do along the parkway, get a copy of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson. It is the best hiking guide in English, even a little better than the Swiss classics by Kev Reynolds. Patton and Robinson describe several little known destinations along the parkway, e.g. Panther Falls which most people never see.

Then think about Cardston and the carriage museum there. If you are interested in the old West, the museum is really well done without being overwhelming. I have gone through it twice, and enjoyed it both times.

Waterton features of course that beautiful trip down the lake to the other end. And if you want a hike to end all hikes, do the Crypt Lake Hike.
It is a classic, and worth the grit, grime, and sweat to do it.

You can chomp into that last week rather substantially.

Above all, however, approach the Royal Tyrrell Museum with the right attitude.
It is paleontology, pure and simple.
But it is not just dinosaurs. It is life on earth over more than 500 million years of development.
It is indeed the history of the land before us.

One last comment, if you are returning to the USA, the facts of life in this post 9/11 world require you to have your passport. Life will be much simpler. You go through US immigration control and US customs in Calgary if you are flying to a US city.
Otherwise you will go through in another Canadian city, e.g. Toronto, before returning home.

If, while in Waterton, you want to cross the border into Glacier NP, getting past the border station is a heck of a lot easier if you have your passport. I had mine, and still got a minor 3rd degree from Horatio at the Gate.
Not a huge deal getting into Canada, but a passport helps greatly at the Calgary airport. Airport scrutiny is greater than highway scrutiny in Canada. On the other hand, getting back to the US is getting to be a downright pain.
bob_brown is offline  
Feb 7th, 2003, 07:24 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,326
Hi Molly2 - we did a similar trip to Drumheller/Dinosaur Provincial Park a few years ago.

Spent 1 day at the Royal Tyrrell and hiking in the badlands around Drumheller. Drove to Brooks that night.

Spent next day at Dinosaur Provincial Park - took a tour into the park to see the field excavation sites. Drove the next day to Banff (sort of doing your trip in reverse)

But Bob's right - a good interest in paleontology is important. My husband is a dinosaur nut (and I've learned alot by osmosis!) and he couldn't have been happier - but others might breeze through it pretty quickly.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Feb 7th, 2003, 05:35 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Thanks so much, Bob and Elizabeth. To give you an idea of our interest in the natural sciences, we spent hours last summer examining insects at an excellent small insectarium in Newfoundland {sure didn't expect to see this in Newfoundland!}. So six hours would fly by! Both destinations sound great, but if we end up having to reluctantly give up one, I guess it would be Dinosaur Prov. park. A question I probably should have asked is if it is a prohibitively long drive from Canmore to Drumheller? Literature describes it as a day-trip from Calgary, and Canmore isn't all that far from Calgary, is it? I'm relieved to know that the Drumheller-Brooks leg is doable, Elizabeth. I think that it is awfully easy to get carried away with all the worthwhile places to see, and end up spending a lot of it driving and racing through without being able to really appreciate any of it. Does my route and time allotment seem reasonable?

Bob, I sure appreciate the heads-up on the passport! I am indeed from the US, our passports have expired, and since 911 our travel has been limited to driving over and back from Canada, and flying domestically. I also definitely want to get my hands on that book!
Molly2 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2003, 05:45 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,326
Hi Molly - as I recall Drumheller to Brooks was less than 2 hours (possibly somewhat above the speed limit, however!) and I would estimate Canmore to Drumheller as being about 3 hours, although you might get caught in traffic around Calgary. We found both trips very comfortable, but then we don't mind driving holidays.

Hope you have a wonderful time.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Feb 8th, 2003, 06:56 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Thanks, Elizabeth - just what I was hoping to hear!
Molly2 is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 07:34 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
I have crossed quite a few times from Canada to the USA. But last year I made my first post 9/11 visit to Canada. The Canadian entry procedures were about the same. There were the usual questions about fire arms, liquor, and tobacco. After a few polite answers, I was quickly on my way. (The only time I have seen the Canadians give an entrant a royal going over was when some fellow ahead of me in a psychedelic van smarted off insolently to the border officials in response to the normal queations. He said the magic word, and they decided to show him who was in charge. As I drove off, the insides of his van were rapidly become the outsides, even the spare tire.)

The big difference was when I crossed by highway into the USA. I handed the official my passport, but I was still asked questions that I thought unnecessary. (About all I could do was answer them.)

I have returned home from Europe through airport entry stations in Atlanta and Philadelphia, but I never was asked where I lived! The immigration officials simply looked at my passport, stamped it, and sent me on. At the Canada to US highway crossing the official stood there, my passport in his hand, and asked me all sorts of questions. I guess he was doing his job as ordered by his boss.

If you want to see security in action, the Munich airport was the ultimate in 2001 and 2002. In 2001, we came home shortly after 9/11. Everything and everybody was searched and inspected. After the aircraft pulled away from the gate, a military armored car followed it down the taxi way, with the cannon pointing right at it.
bob_brown is offline  
Feb 10th, 2003, 04:46 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
LOL - I'm not sure that I want to know what the magic word was!
At any rate, in these days and times, it seems that a having a passpor is next to essential, even if one doesn't venture beyond the US or Canada.

In another post, you mentioned a scenic route going through Peter Lougheed Park. We have decided to reverse our route on this advise: route 40 and then onto Waterton, a stop at Head Smashed In, and onto Brooks, then Drumheller and the Calgary airport. It makes sense, since we're driving from Canmore.

I very much appreciate all of your sage advise, Bob. Perhaps we'll pass each other in our travels!
Molly2 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2003, 09:05 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
The paved road that leads to the entrance of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is Alberta 40.

When I drive from Waterton to Banff, I normally take the road to Pincher Creek, then follow Canada 3 over to where it intersects with Alberta 22.
A short distance north of Longview, I turn west on route 541 which becomes route 40. I have read somewhere that Route 40 is the highest motor road in Alberta. I think it reaches its highest elevation south of Peter Lougheed.

As you drive along 22, bear in mind that your route is running parallel to the front range of the Rockies, and you are actually traversing prarie. Some of that drive is devoid of habitation, so leave the Longview area with a full tank of gas when headed south, or Pincher Creek headed north.

We will be there in Calgary and the Lake Louise area, hopefully in the third week of July.
bob_brown is offline  
Feb 10th, 2003, 02:54 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Bob, thanks for the warning about driving with a full tank. Your description of the route has definitely intrigued me!
We will also be in the LL area the third week in July! Perhaps we'll meet on the trails!
Molly2 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2003, 05:01 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
I will be in Field for 3 nights, then Lake O'Hara for two nights. Then we pull one of the stunts we are famous for: off to Yellowstone!

I am debating now if I want to drop south on the route past Peter Lougheed and go that way or not. The problem becomes where to cross the border.
bob_brown is offline  
Feb 11th, 2003, 09:42 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Hi Bob.

We are using the LL hostel as a base for exploring/hiking in the LL and Yoho areas {friends stayed there and said that it was quite nice, with private rooms and folks of all ages}.
Then we'll head to a cabin in Jasper and finally on the route I described. From all that you and others say, 3 weeks in the Rockies will be heavenly!

You have quite the journey planned! I hope that you also have an extended length of time in which to enjoy it. Never been to Yellowstone, but hear wonderful things. I imagine that it is a highly scenic drive, if you know which route to take. I do wonder about heavy traffic though!

Best of luck on your journey!
Molly2 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2003, 11:31 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
Heavy traffic? Where? Yellowstone?
Yes, if there is a bear!! Or an elk.
Calgary has heavy traffic of course.
But we take the western bypass.
From Calgary to West Yellowstone there is not much to slow you up until you head south from Bozeman.
From the Montana line until the turn off, it is 75 - 80 mph all the way.
You must realize that Montana is the 4th largest state in area with the population of Fulton County in Georgia.
bob_brown is offline  
Feb 12th, 2003, 08:49 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Thanks for setting me straight! Montana and Wyoming, hmmm ... not too early to start thinking about where to travel summer after next .....!

Have a wonderful trip!

Molly2 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2003, 03:21 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Bob - or others - may I impose a few more questions on you?

How long does it take to drive the Canmore-Waterton route through Peter Lougheed Park, stopping somewhere perhaps for a short picnic along the way? I am considering booking a trip on the boat to Goat Haunt for that day - will we have time?

Also, how much ahead do we need to reserve spots for the boat shuttle to the Crypt Lake hike and the Goat Haunt trip? Or can we buy tickets at the dock?

Thanks - again, Molly
Molly2 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2003, 04:03 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
The drive is not a short one, something over 370K, or about 230 miles. I think you are looking at about 5 hours to make the whole trip. If you turn off of the road into Peter Lougheed park, you will add about 60 K to the trip. Given the scenic quality of some of the road between Canmore and Waterton, it seems a shame to rush over it. You are trading one scenic area for another, really. So to rushing through one to see another tends to neutralize the benefits. If both get rushed, then you in effect run a lot and see darned little.

The trip on the boat to Crypt Lake is a morning crossing with departures at 9 am and 10 am. Returns are at 4 PM and also at 5:30 PM.

I do not recall if advance reservations are necessary are not. Give them a call: 403-859-2362 Right now I doubt if anyone is at home.

For the Goat Haunt trip, I have always boarded without a reservation. Last summer we drove to the dock, parked, and got on the boat after buying our tickets. But, I have never taken the 7 PM cruise, which tends to be the most popular.


bob_brown is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2003, 07:20 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Thanks, Bob. I agree - rushing defeats the purpose of the trip, to relish the beauty of the Rockies.
So - we'll allow plenty of time, and, if neccesary, omit an activity. I'll give the boat folks a call before we leave.

Your advise on this forum has greatly helped us plan our trip, and is very much appreciated!




Molly2 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Sue
Canada
21
Feb 14th, 2003 08:46 AM
Bob
Canada
4
Jan 28th, 2003 10:04 AM
Anne
Canada
4
Mar 9th, 2002 10:44 AM
terri
Canada
6
Jun 29th, 2001 08:15 AM
Bob
Canada
5
Sep 14th, 1998 06:10 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:19 PM.