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The Royal Tyrrell Museum has a collection of over 125,000 fossils, including Albertosaurus, the first dinosaur discovered in the area. The fossils are stunningly presented as a chronological stretch of exhibits, from the early insects and underwater life forms of the Paleozoic Era to the Ice Age mammals alive at the end of the Cenozoic era. Its displays are a celebration of 3.9 billion years of life on Earth.
Don’t miss the Dinosaur Hall, where 40 articulated skeletons stand. Up close, these skeletons are not only impressive in stature, but also very beautiful. See the plesiosaur, triceratops, ankylosaur and the mosasaur, a 49-foot (15-meter) lizard.
A Tyrannosaurus rex skull welcomes visitors to the Lords of the Land exhibit, where dinosaur fossils still encased in their hard rock casings illustrate dramatic positions of death. Here you’ll also find the original Albertosaurus remains found by geologist J.B Tyrrell while searching for coal seams in 1884. Take another look at Albertosaurus, this time with its flesh on, in the Cretaceous Alberta exhibit.
Engage your senses in the Cretaceous Garden, a diverse collection of living relatives of prehistoric plants which shows Alberta as it once was. Fire-bellied toads, salamanders, lizards and ladybugs live among the plants and provide pest control! See the area as it was even further back in time at the Devonian Reef Exhibit. This exhibit shows what it was like when the Alberta Badlands were part of the sea.
It’s hard to imagine such a colorful underwater world was ever part of the Badlands when you’re out taking the guided hike through the sandstone hoodoo rocks. These hikes run daily during summer and fall, and on weekends during spring. You can also take part in a fossil search, try your hand at dig techniques on a realistic excavation site and make a fossil cast to take home as a memento.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a 90-mile (135-kilometer) drive from Calgary, just off the highway to Drumheller. On-site parking is free. There is an admission fee for the museum, and extra fees apply for audio guides and programs such as the hike and dinosaur digs. Check the museum website for operating hours as they vary with the season.