Location: Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta
Park Here: Badlands Trail parking lot
Hike Distance: 1.4 km roundtrip
Hike Duration: 45 minutes
Elevation Gain: 31 m
Trail Website: Click here
Dinosaur Provincial Park is located northeast of Brooks, Alberta and is a very cool destination for those wanting a change of scenery from the mountains out west. Dinosaur Provincial Park is home to many different dinosaur and vertebrate fossils and is the largest area of badlands in Canada. For those interested in birding, Dinosaur Provincial Park offers a unique habitat for many different bird species, so it is a great place to bring your binoculars.
In the park, there have been over 49 different species of dinosaurs found from over 75 million years ago. You can view some fossils that have been preserved along the scenic driving loop. The access to the Badlands Trail is at the beginning of the driving loop accessed through the campground, which is also a great place to stay for the night if you want to make a weekend trip out of it.
The Badlands Trail is a family-friendly walk through some extremely neat terrain. When you begin driving down the hill to the park, you get an amazing view of the badlands and hoodoos stretched out before you. It’s crazy to think that dinosaurs have been here before us! All the different layers you can see in the rocks makes you feel like you are on another planet.
Finding the Trailhead
To access the start of the Badlands Trail, you must drive through the campground to the beginning of the scenic three-kilometre driving loop, where you’ll see signs for the Badlands Trail. The parking lot will be on your left.
The Hike Itself
The trail begins with a very gradual incline as towering hoodoos surround you. Once you come through the entrance, you are greeted with the vast stretch of badlands in front of you.
Continue to follow the trail for about half a kilometre before you come to a fork to begin the loop. You can go down the stairs to your left and complete the loop clockwise (this is the route we chose), or you can continue straight and complete the loop counterclockwise. We don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to go—the views are stunning in either direction—but don’t forget your bug spray because the mosquitoes can be vicious.
The easy walk around the loop offers fun informational signs about the dinosaurs, terrain, rock formations and the evolution of the badlands from when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. We enjoyed reading them, because learning fun facts while outside adventuring is always a blast. You can admire the rocks and the vegetation, but there are lots of cacti around so watch where you sit or step throughout the loop. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife, too.
This easy, family-friendly walk is a must-do for anyone looking to check off a different kind of adventure, with some unique terrain and an opportunity to learn a little bit about Alberta's dinosaurs.
Before You Go:
- Please stay on the trail
- Dogs are allowed in the provincial park but must be on leash
- Watch out for snakes, scorpions and spiders, which can be in the area and are venomous