We spent a couple of nights in 3 Hills, Alberta so we could drive to Dinosaur Provincial Park. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the valley of the Red Deer River. The whole area is known for its beautiful badlands topography. The park is also well known for being one of the richest dinosaur fossil locations in the world.
Fifty-eight dinosaur species have been discovered at the park and more than 500 specimens have been removed and exhibited in museums around the world.
We were fortunate in that it was a beautiful day perfect for doing some of the hikes in the park.
There was a visitor center which had lots of exhibits about dinosaurs, fossils and the geology and natural history of the park.
The park was established on June 27, 1955 as part of Alberta's Jubilee Year with the goal of protecting the fossil beds. Until 1985, discoveries made in the park had to be shipped to museums throughout the world for scientific analysis and display including the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. This changed with the opening of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology located near Drumheller, Alberta.
This photo was taken on one of our hikes.
The park protects a very complex ecosystem including prairie grasslands, badlands and riverside cottonwoods.
Hoodoos are commonly found in the badlands. The sediments comprising these hoodoos formed between 70 and 75 million years ago during the cetaceous Period as clay and sand sediments were deposited. These hoodoos are able to maintain a unique mushroom-like appearance as the underlying base erodes at a faster rate compared to the capstones.
Hoodoos typically form in areas where a thick layer of a relatively soft rock, such as mudstone, poorly cemented sandstone or tuff (consolidated volcanic ash) is covered by a thin layer of hard rock, such as well-cemented sandstone, limestone or basalt.
It was an amazing park which I highly recommend taking the time to check out.
The ecosystem is surrounded by prairies but is so unique.