No RV adventure within Alberta can be complete without a visit to one of the most interesting and unique parks in all of Canada. Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located around two-and-a-half hours drive east of Calgary. The park is very popular and is renowned for its unique landscapes, fantastic recreational opportunities and most notably, dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs! Around 75 million years ago the area in and around the park was a subtropical paradise that was home to dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. In fact, Dinosaur Provincial Park is one of the richest dinosaur fossil locations in the world. There have been fifty-eight dinosaur species discovered in the park, including 150 full dinosaur skeletons. The Dinosaur Provincial Park Visitor Center exhibits the fossils and is worth the trip to the park alone.
Apart from learning about all things to do with dinosaurs, the Red River is the main recreational activity hotspot at Dinosaur Provincial Park. If you fancy seeing a show you can check out the amphitheater during June and July. There are also five self-guided hiking trails and various public tours that are held around the year.
For RV lovers wanting to stay the night there is one campground available for you to call home. Dinosaur Campground has over 120 RV-friendly sites that include primitive, powered and pull-through sites. The campground is known for being very busy so make sure you lock in a site well before your visit. Peak season at Dinosaur Provincial Park is from May through to October.
Dinosaur Provincial Park is located in the County of Newell in south Alberta. There are a few small towns in close vicinity to the park, including Patricia (around 12km or seven and a half miles away), Duchess (around 35km or 21 miles away) and Brooks (around 43km or 26 miles away).
Getting to and from the park is quite straightforward as there is only one main entrance road. The most popular route taken is via Highway 876 and the park can be found around 14km (eight and a half miles) from the turn off. The roads approaching the park are very flat, easy to navigate and there should be no issues with you RV not being able to navigate the terrain. During the winter however it will be a different story as the roads will ice over making it very difficult for RVs to reach the park. If you do plan on visiting during the winter make sure that you call ahead to the park office to make sure that the roads will be accessible.
There is plenty of parking available for visitors to Dinosaur Provincial Park.
Unfortunately there are no public transport options that will take you to Dinosaur Provincial Park.
Dinosaur Campground is the only RV friendly campground at Dinosaur Provincial Park and is located near the Red Deer River. The campground is separated into four loops and one main campground road will allow you to travel to each of them. Visitors to Dinosaur Campground note that the campground is maintained in an excellent condition with large sites and a quiet atmosphere being enjoyed by all.
The campground features some great amenities, including picnic table and grill at each individual site, both 30 amp electric hookup and non-powered sites, bathhouse with flush toilets and showers, laundry facilities and a dump station. There is also a big playground and hand boat launch site within the campground.
During your stay, expect to have little to no cell phone signal regardless of what network you are on. Firewood and small concessions are available from the park store but we recommend bringing your own supplies as supplies can be limited. Reservations are available from May until October. After this time the campground will still be open but there are no firewood sales, no water, no showers and no flush toilets available in winter.
The Visitor Center at Dinosaur Provincial Park is a must-see during your stay at the park. Here in the visitor center you will find some very informative exhibits about dinosaurs and fossils, along with the geology and natural history of the park. Within the visitor center you will also find a video theater, fossil prep lab area, and a gift shop. The visitor center is open all year-round; however, opening times vary due to the season. If you would like more information on specific opening hours you can contact the park office.
If you are looking to learn more about the history of Alberta and the badlands you really should check out John Ware's Cabin. The cabin is restored from the early 20th century and was used by John Ware, who was an African-American cowboy and very important in Alberta's ranching history. He is known as the first person to bring cattle to Southern Alberta in 1882. The cabin is located near the visitor center and is open on select days in the summer for you to check out.
A unique way to experience Dinosaur Provincial Park is by floating down or paddling past the park in a canoe or kayak. The Red Deer River runs through the park and it is possible to go the whole way through the park if you start far enough upstream. We recommend launching your watercraft at the Steveville campground, which is located just off Highway 876 on the west edge of the park. There are no canoe or kayak rentals available within the park so make sure that you bring your own watercraft if you want to go for a paddle.
Hiking fans visiting the park will be very impressed with the self-guided trails available for you to explore. In total there are five trails that range from 0.3km (less than half a mile) to one and a half km (around one mile). Although these trails aren't very long they will give you the opportunity to see all of the park's three ecosystems ( prairie grasslands, badlands, and riverside cottonwoods). If you are walking the trails during the summer, make sure that you have a water bottle handy as the trails can get very hot.
Along with being a great place for a paddle, Red Deer River is also an awesome fishing location all year round. All of the river is available for you to fish in and the most popular way to fish is either via the bank or in a canoe/kayak. Common species caught in the river include brown trout, goldeye, northern pike, mountain whitefish, sauger and walleye. All these species besides brown trout are native to the river. If you do decide to go fishing take note that Alberta Sportfishing Regulations do apply.
One of the reasons that makes Dinosaur Provincial Park one of the best parks in Alberta is the high quality interpretive programs that are held throughout the year. The park has a variety of programs suitable for people of all ages that can be a short as an hour or go for multiple days. Programs range from fossil safaris, creating fossil casts, guided excavation and group hiking experiences plus many more. For more information about the interpretive programs at the park be sure to check the park website to see what event is happening during your planned stay.