Jurassic Forest is a 40-acre (16-hectare) prehistoric nature preserve. Giant life-sized animatronic dinosaur replicas fill the old-growth forest, illustrating what the earth’s Jurassic period would have looked like about 250 million years ago. Jurassic Forest is open during the warmer months and is worth the trip from Edmonton if you are fascinated by prehistoric creatures and nature. The preserve is a perfect outdoor trip for families with children.
When you arrive at Jurassic Forest, start at the interactive learning center with educational exhibits. Children can dig for paleontology finds, climb rocks and ride on the back of a triceratops. Shaded picnic benches surround the playground, and there is a cafeteria: Just remember that it is forbidden to feed the dinosaurs!
Find the dinosaurs along the 1.3 miles (2 kilometers) of boardwalks, beginning with the massive vegetarians stegosaurus and triceratops. Albertosaurus and tyrannosaurus rex can be seen hunting their prey and battling for their territory. With a bit of imagination, the mock-ups look real enough as they roar and move about in the prehistoric habitat.
Information panels are spread across the tracks to teach visitors about the prehistoric species and current vegetation, animals, birds and insects. Download one of the scavenger hunt maps from the website to walk shorter loops with the children.
Jurassic Forest is in Gibbons, a 40-minute drive northeast of downtown Edmonton. The last half a mile (1 kilometer) is on a dirt road. There is no public transport available to the forest, but you can take the bus from Edmonton to Gibbons and walk the last couple of miles (3 kilometers) or take a taxi.
The park is open daily until early evening, with adjusted opening hours in autumn to reflect changes in daylight hours. The park closes from mid October to late April.
The boardwalks are accessible to strollers, wheelchairs and even motorized scooters. Bring a water bottle, insect repellant and sun protection on a hot day and wear walking shoes.