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The Hoodoos in Dinosaur Provincial Park
The Hoodoos in Dinosaur Provincial Park

Camping with the Dinosaurs

Nestled among the sagebrush approximately 50 km NE of Brooks, Alberta lies a striking example of Mother Nature’s power as well as one of her best kept secrets (until the last century that is) in the form of one of the world’s richest deposits of dinosaur fossils.

Located in the Red Deer River valley, Dinosaur Provincial Park campground offers campers the unique experience of going back in time and camp where the dinosaurs lived in great numbers some 75 million years ago.

Dinosaur Provincial Park is now home to a wide variety of animals (Coyotes, Porcupines, Pheasants, Pronghorn Antelope, Deer, Snakes, Hawks, and Owls) and during your stay you are almost guaranteed to encounter a great many of them.

Dinsosaur Provincial Park

World Heritage Site

The park was established in 1966 in order to protect its rich deposits of dinosaur fossils and diverse ecosystems of prairie grasslands, “badlands” and riverside cottonwood trees. In 1979 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

So rich is this land in dinosaur fossils, they are to this day being unearthed by the rain which simply washes them out of the “hoodoos”, the rock formations carved from the land by the wind and rain.

There is a wide variety of interpretive programs, including guided and self guided hikes and there are two outdoor fossil exhibits available. No trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park would be complete without a visit to the interpretative centre which has been revamped recently and is spectacular! The kids will love it.

The Southern Loop at Dinosaur Provincial Park Campground

The Southern Loop at Dinosaur Provincial Park Campground

The campground itself is located on either side of the Little Sandhill Creek that empties into the Red Deer River. Most of the 124 campsites are scattered among the Cottonwood trees native to the area, but a few at the base of the area known as the Badlands Slopes or hoodoos can become excruciatingly hot during the Summer months. Ninety of the campsites have power. Also available is a 10 unit group campsite facility complete with its own cookhouse.

Each campsite has a fire pit (firewood is available for sale). There are pit toilets located throughout the campground as well as water and trash receptacles. A small playground, shower facilities, a small store and a boat launch are located near the entrance to the campground.

Comfort Camping

New to the park is the addition of “comfort camping” units, placed in “exclusive locations” throughout the campground. These units are wall tents beautifully appointed much as a hotel room would be. These units are available May through October and can be reserved online or by calling 1-877-537-2757.

Because of the low lying location of this campground, in July of 2009 during a torrential downpour the valley was flooded and campers were forced to evacuate. The campground has since been rebuilt but the storms effects are still noticeable. After surveying the remaining flood damage one can get a true sense of how powerful the forces that formed this area’s rock formations were.

The campground is open year round. Campsites are reserved through either Alberta Park’s online reservation system or through their toll free line at 1-877-577-2757 mid May through early September or on a first come first serve basis the remainder of the year. Campground services are limited during the off season.

Winter Camping

My wife and I love to camp here during the winter. With Southern Alberta’s famous chinook winds, the winter weather can be almost summer like at times.

Winter Camping Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta Canada

Winter Camping Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta Canada

One winter we stayed a week during our Christmas break. We left Calgary on a warm sunny day and arrived at the campground in a blizzard. After a couple of days of cross country skiing the area with not a soul in sight, the chinook winds kicked in and we basked in the sun for the remainder of our trip

No matter the time of year you visit, camping at Dinosaur Provincial Park with its spectacular scenery as well as its wonderful amenities makes this one of Southern Alberta’s best campgrounds. Be sure to add it to your list of must see campgrounds!