Fort MacLeod to Drumheller in July

Jan 13th, 2004, 10:23 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 35
Fort MacLeod to Drumheller in July

Hello. I am planning a family trip and I am trying to set up a reasonable timetable. I would like to visit the Head-Smashed-In buffalo jump interpretive center (ya gotta love that name!) and the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller in the same day. How long does it take to get from Fort MacLeod to Drumheller? Best route? Any suggestions and advice would be welcomed.

DuckFaceMcJones is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 11:48 PM
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Hi DuckFaceMcJones,

I really think it would be a stretch to see both museums in a day. My experience is that each museum needs 2 hours (4 hours total). The drive between them is a good 3.5 hours. Then you would need 1 hour or so for lunch.

Okay, let's see if this can be done. Up to May 14th, Head-Smashed-In opens at 10.00 am. Starting May 15th, it opens at 9.00 am. Let's assume you're coming in the summer. Suppose you were staying at Waterton Lakes National Park the previous night. You would need to leave Waterton promptly at 8.00 am. in order to be at Head-Smashed-In for its 9.00 am. opening. Give yourself till 11.00 am. to see the museum and its immediate surroundings.

Do yourself a favour, and do not eat at the museum cafeteria. It's an institutional type cafeteria. Not inspiring. Stop for lunch somewhere en route to Drumheller. Say you reach Drumheller about 3.30 pm

Up to May 21st, the Royal Tyrrell Museum's hours of operation are 10 am - 5 pm. Starting May 22nd, it's open from 9 am - 9 pm. So, even if you were running a litle late and only reached the museum at 4 pm, you could still go through it from, say, 4 pm to 6 pm.

That's not my idea of a relaxing day, but it can be done. If you choose to attempt that schedule, I recommend you overnight in Drumheller. There isn't another town with tourist accommodation nearby. Drumheller is your best bet. For a town of its small size, it has a surprising number of hotels, motels and camp grounds. I've never stayed there. Most of the hotels / motels look clean enough, but they're very ordinary chain type motels.

The one place in Drumheller that is supposed to be really charming is the Inn and Spa at Heartwood

Here's a map of southern Alberta

I've only driven from Calgary along the #2 Highway to Head-Smashed-In and back, and from Calgary along the #1 Hwy and #9 Hwy to Drumheller and back (on separate days). I've never done it the way you'll be doing it, cutting across the countryside and avoiding Calgary. (By the way, I recommend that you DO avoid Calgary in this instance, as you don't want to get bogged down in city traffic.)

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is near Fort Macleod. I would go east on #3 Hwy as if I was heading towards Lethbridge. Then, when I reached the junction with the #23 Hwy, I would head northwards through Mossleigh. When the #23 Hwy hit the #1 Hwy, I would go east past Strathmore, and then turn north on the #21 Hwy to Drumheller.

The Rocky Mountains are along Alberta's western boundary. The part of Alberta that you'll be traversing from Head-Smashed-In to Drumheller is pretty flat prairie, and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to find your way.

If you INSIST on getting to Calgary for the night, after seeing the two museums, I do NOT recommend it, but it COULD be done in theory. Drumheller to Calgary is 1.5 hours.

If you have kids, they might enjoy exploring Drumheller's deep river valley, the walls of which visibly display the geological strata the kids will have learned about in the museum. Most kids love hunting for dinosaur bones in that area.

Good luck.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 02:50 AM
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I completely agree with Judy; it would be a stretch to enjoy both museums in one day.

When my husband and I visited last July, the Royal Tyrrel museum was very crowded with groups and families. Add to this the stress of driving to make it in time, it would not be a fun experience IMO!

They are both excellent museums. The Royal Tyrrell museum is more extensive, and more crowded, so might take more time. I would choose one and not rush through it.
Molly2 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 04:07 PM
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Hello DuckFaceMcJones,

You can do both in one day, but it would be, as Judy and Molly have already mentioned, a very long day.

I would recommend 4 hours (not 2) at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and surroundings. The interpretive trails around the museum are interesting, so you may want to walk some of them after seeing the displays in the museum.
If you can - plan your trip to Drumheller on a weekday rather than a weekend, the museum may be less crowded then.
Borealis is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 05:55 PM
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Thanks to all for your input.

You guys rock.
DuckFaceMcJones is offline  
Jan 15th, 2004, 11:14 AM
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My reaction to the whole scenario is summed up in one word: WHY?
Hits me as being a less than good idea, considerably less.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is worth more than a cursory glance and run through.
If you don't have time to learn something while there, why bother to go?

bob_brown is offline  
Jan 17th, 2004, 03:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I have to agree with the other posters. You really cannot do these two places in one day. The Royal Tyrell Museum could occupy you for an entire day if you went on one of their digs and I spent about two hours at Smashed in Head Buffalo Jump when I went. I do have to say that my son, who was about 12 or 13 at the time, was more interested in the Royal Tyrell Musem than the Buffalo Jump. The Buffalo Jump takes some imagination to "see" what it was like and he just wasn't interested. I found it fascinating but I did have a kvetchy child with me at that point. If I had to choose between the two, I would go to the Royal Tyrell Museum
LaurenSKahn is offline  
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