Tourism | DrumhellerMail
Last updateWed, 28 Feb 2024 12pm
  • Banner year for local attractions

    The Royal Tyrrell Museum’s new exhibit featuring the nodosaur has been a prime attraction this year, boosting attendance numbers. submitted

    And what a summer it was for local attractions with some posting what might be the best season ever.

    The Royal Tyrrell Museum has seen a feverish pace this summer with visitors from across the country and around the world coming to check out its world class displays. Its new exhibit has certainly been a draw.

    “Why have we been successful this year? I think there have been a whole bunch of reasons,” said Andrew Neuman

    Executive Director of the Royal Tyrrell Museum. “I think there has been a really good media charge around our new exhibit and especially our nodosaur exhibit, we are getting people from all over the place coming to see it.”

    “Certainly from across the country and even the US, we are seeing people specifically identifying the nodosaur, and the exhibit. The coverage it has had both in the scientific medians and National Geographic, has caught a lot of people’s imagination.”

    To put a number on that, the Tyrrell saw 310,000 people come through the gate in the last quarter alone.

    Other conditions that contributed include the BC wildfires, which had people looking for other places to spend their vacations. Neuman said Canada’s 150th birthday appears to have spurred many to travel across the country, and

    Drumheller is often one of their stops. Another factor is the good hot sunny weather.

    “The weather has been a huge factor, we have had about three days of rain the whole summer. People come to the valley for lots of different reasons, but if the weather is good, we have larger numbers.”

    It was commonplace this season to see visitors to the Royal Tyrrell Museum lined up to enjoy the exhibits. mailphoto by Patrick Kolafa

    It was commonplace this season to see visitors to the Royal Tyrrell Museum lined up to enjoy the exhibits. mailphoto by Patrick Kolafa

    Neuman says since they have been tracking accurate attendance records, their best year was in 2015, with just under 480,000 people. Already they have almost reached 400,000 visitors with three months to go, and their pace is tracking 8 per cent higher than 2015.

    The Atlas Coal Mine is also having a banner year. Executive Director Sarah Newstead said they might also be on track for one of their best seasons ever, although atfirst it didn’t look that way.

    “We were a little slow in July and that seems to be a trend in a lot of other places in Drumheller, but our August was just awesome,” said Newstead. “We probably had our best day ever on our August Long Weekend and surprisingly, our Labour Day Weekend was also very good this year.”

    Newstead believes their success this year has to do with the valley telling its story.

    “I think the work of Travel Drumheller and Travel Alberta promoting the valley has just gotten more people knowing we are here and there are lots of great things in the valley,” she said. “We are seeing more multi-day trips. More than just one day to see the Tyrrell, but staying here for a couple of days and seeing not only us but the other amazing museums we have in town.”

    It was a year of milestones for the Atlas. It was the centennial of the Atlas Coal Mine Company, the 80th birthday of the tipple and 30 years of operations as a museum. On October 7, they are having a retro homecoming day to celebrate three decades as a historic site.

  • Contractor picked for Tyrrell expansion

    Royal Tyrrell Museum Ext 2015

    A contractor has been selected to take on the task of updating and expanding the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

    It has been a long time coming for the Tyrrell as it was recently announced the contract for the expansion has been awarded to LEAR Construction Management Ltd. out of Calgary.

    “Construction will start once the building permit has been released. The building permit is expected to be released shortly,” said Tracy Larsen of Alberta Infrastructure via email.

    The Mail broke the story that the Tyrrell was included in the Alberta Government’s budget in April of 2016. The project has been largely planned since 2013.

    The expansion is roughly 1,100 square metres and it will make more space for the distance learning center and additional classroom and laboratory space. It will feature a large multi purpose room that can be used for programming and conferences, It will also expand on improvements that make visits a more positive experience including accessible washroom facilities, a hands-on discovery room, and a family rest area.

    LEAR Construction Management has been operating for over 40 years and has experience in the valley.

    “Lear Construction Management is extremely proud to have been awarded the addition and renovation project for the Royal Tyrrell Museum and is excited to return to the Town of Drumheller,” said Vice President of Construction Chris Grant. “We were last in the community in 2012 completing the Drumheller High School modernization and we are also working just up the road in Starland County on the new Munson Fire Station.”

    In January of this year, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of Defense Kent Hehr was at the Museum on behalf of Melanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage to announce a commitment to just over $3.95 million from the federal government for the project.

    This was the first time the federal government has invested in the Tyrrell.

    "We find our relationship with the Government of Alberta an example of cooperative federalism. It is a place where we can come together, exchange ideas, look at projects and try to build a better province and a better Canada. It doesn't mean we agree on every single issue, but it means we sit down like adults and discuss things of importance to Alberta and important to the national government and try to come to a consensus,” said Shannon Phillips, Alberta Minister of the Environment, who was in attendance for Minister of Culture and Tourism.

    The entire project has a budget of $9.3 million. LEAR’s bid for the construction portion came in at $5,397,600. Larsen said budget wise, it is on target.

    The expansion was designed by representatives from the government, the Museum and Kasian Architecture.

    The project remains on schedule for completion February 2019.

  • Dust up at Dinosaur Downs

    Dinosaur Downs Speedway

    Hosting a wide variety of vehicles from Legends to Model T’s to Monster Trucks, Dinosaur Downs Speedway never disappoints its fans.

    This race track has many events throughout the busy summer season but nothing quite like the Raptor Dirt Nationals being held this weekend, August 26 & 27.

    The speedway boasts a 50/50 draw, prizes for fans, beer gardens, and a concession for when taste buds take over.

    A monster truck will be in attendance this weekend for spectators to ride in.

    For the race, vehicles come from all walks of life including Northern B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, all for the chance to race at the speedway. Even locals have the opportunity to test their racing capabilities.

    30 ‘mods’ are expected to race, over double that raced last weekend.

    “It’s a place for guys to come and race and have some fun,” said Wendy Fitzpatrick, Dinosaur Downs Speedway manager. “It’s going to be a big event.”

    The action begins at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Gates open an hour early.

    Fans are allowed to step onto the track once the racing is finished. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with your favourite modified vehicles and chat with owners.

    “Every race day we have new people here and now we have them coming back again so, that’s pretty good,” said Fitzpatrick.

  • Horseshoe Canyon named one of 20 NCC nature destinations

    Horseshoe Canyon near Drumheller, Alberta. Photo by Robert Berdan

    Located approximately 15 minutes west of Drumheller, Horseshoe Canyon makes new headlines with Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) Nature Destinations.

    NCC has launched Nature Destinations, a program that showcases Alberta and the rest of Canada’s natural areas by encouraging people of all ages to explore them.

    The breathtaking scenery of the Horseshoe canyon was a top choice when deciding which areas would make the cut.

    “For me personally, it is very unique,” said Alia Snively, natural area manager for central Alberta. “It kind of sneaks up on you. You’re just driving across the prairie and then all the sudden you get to the canyon edge and you can just see all the different layers.”

    So far only two conservation sites in Alberta have made the list of 20 places to see across the country. This includes the Hopkins property about an hour from Edmonton, and the Nodwell property, also known as Horseshoe Canyon.

    By 2020, NCC hopes to have 50 new destinations across the country, with 10 new sites being celebrated each year. These are spaces for people to hike, explore and watch wildlife.

    The non-for-profit organization hopes that people will enjoy the health benefits of being active in nature as well as learn to appreciate and respect mother nature in all its entirety.

    “I believe that time spent outside in nature is critically important to fostering and inspiring an appreciation for conservation,” says Erica Thompson, NCC’s senior national director of conservation engagement.

    “That’s why the Nature Conservancy of Canada team has been thinking carefully about how we can play a role in building bonds between people and nature while we continue conserving Canada’s areas of highest biodiversity.”

    The Nature Destinations website,, provides detailed information on the features of each location, including interactive maps and easy-to-follow directions.


    (Photo Submission by Robert Berdan)

  • Packard Club enjoys valley cruise

    IMG 9687

    A few classic car enthusiasts were cruising the valley in style June 22 weekend as the Alberta Packard Club enjoyed the valley’s roads.

       Members of the club began showing with their vintage ridesand they had a full weekend planned of sightseeing, camaraderie, and the open road.

    Member of the Club Brian DeBoeck, says local Packard owner Dan McDermid was instrumental in bringing the cruise to the valley.

    “We‘re here until Sunday, so we will visit some of the attractions. The Atlas Coal Mine, the Wayne Hotel and the Tyrrell Museum,” said DeBoeck.

    The 28 strong club is on the road every season and tries to mix up their destination. They have been through the valley on a number of occasions before. That weekend they had at least a half a dozen cars on the road.

    "1949 is the oldest one we have here, and, up to 1955,” said DeBoeck.

     For DeBoeck, his attraction to the car is simple.

    “The Packard was the second car I ever bought and I thought it was a good car, so I bought another one, and another after that,” he said. “They are a very well built car.”

    Packards are all about luxury. Their first rolled out the door in 1899. And while in 1950, they outsold Cadillac, the company purchased Studebaker in 1953, and the last true Packard was it's 1956,concept the Packard Predictor was built.

     While some cars still carried the Packard Marque, over the next couple of years the Studebaker-Packard Company pulled the nameplate in 1959.

    The car still holds a place in the member’s heart and turns heads when they cruise down the road.

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