Take a road trip through the Canadian Badlands

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Travel Alberta

Thinking of booking car hire in Canada? Our interactive map takes you on a road trip through the Canadian Badlands.

Dreaming of setting out on the open road? With the world’s most extensive coastline and some of its most vast and varied landscapes, there’s nothing quite like a road trip in Canada.

But in a country so large, there are many routes you can choose to take—and we wanted to shine a spotlight on one you might not know so well. Browse our options for car hire in Canada, roll down your windows and prepare to be transported on a journey through time.

What are the Canadian Badlands?

A 35,000-square-mile region south-east of Alberta, the Canadian Badlands are made up of several dramatic landforms, including fossil beds and ‘hoodoos’—towering, misshapen rock formations. As well as being a great place to watch the sunset, the Badlands are also home to one of Canada’s most unique attractions, the Dinosaur Provincial Park.

The area, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once home to around 35 species of dinosaurs, including the carnivorous Albertosaurus—discovered by palaeontologist, Joseph Tyrell in 1884. During your visit, there will be plenty of opportunities to watch palaeontologists as they continue to dig for prehistoric creatures’ remains.

Elsewhere in the Badlands, keep your eyes peeled for species like the prairie rattlesnake, the endangered short-horned lizard and the western small-footed bat, which is native to Alberta.

How do I get there?

Car hire in Canada is simple—and since Calgary is the closest city to the Badlands route, we suggest starting your journey from there.

First, head north on Highway 2, then east on Highway 72 towards Drumheller. You’ll come across the Drumheller Visitor Information Centre, home to the World’s Largest Dinosaur statue (standing at an impressive 86 feet tall!) before heading north on the Dinosaur Trail— a 48km loop that runs includes Highways 837 and 838. Drive through Midland Provincial Park and, if you fancy it, follow the signs to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It’s one of the world’s best museums for dinosaur exhibits and features numerous skeletons from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Many choose to go via the scenic Horsethief Canyon lookout, providing picturesque views of the valley below. From there, you can cross the Red Deer River on the free, cable-operated Bleriot Ferry, which has been running since 1913. Keep your eyes peeled for beavers building dams here, as well as moose, lynx and cougars.

Next, head south on the Dinosaur Trail for a breath-taking tour through the Drumheller Valley. Join Highway 10 (the Hoodoo Trail) and journey to the protected hoodoos site. Make your way through coal mining country to visit the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site, where you can climb inside the last wooden tipple in Canada. Then take a detour on Highway 10X from Rosedale to Wayne—a small (and supposedly haunted) town home to just 27 people.

What else can do during my visit?

Many tours take place within Dinosaur Provincial Park, including the Explorer’s Bus Tour, the Centrosaurus Quarry Hike and the Fossil Safari, which reveals the secrets of fossil finding and allows you to learn techniques to discover the remains of dinosaurs and more.

Drumheller’s Little Church is also worth a visit. This tiny building was built in 1968 and is so small it can only fit six worshipers and one minister at a time!

It is also popular choice to use Calgary as a base to access other destinations across Alberta and British Columbia. Those embarking on a Rockies road trip may, for example, decide to book car hire from Banff and drive to Calgary from there.

Interested in booking car hire for your Canadian road trip? Browse car hire options online, or contact our Canada Travel Experts, who can help you find the right dates and routes for you.

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