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Tyrrell Museum is a popular attraction in Canada and for good reason! Guest poster Ben from Horizon Unknown shares his experience and guide to visiting the Tyrrell Museum. 

When someone mentions Canada, stunning snowy mountains, moose, and hockey probably spring into your mind. Being Australian, I know that’s what was in my head before I visited! Something I never expected from Canada, much less the province of Alberta, was just how rich paleontological history was here! Once I started hearing about all the ancient fossils, ahem DINOSAURS, in this area, I knew I had to visit!  The tiny town of Drumheller, in southern Alberta, is home to the world-renown Royal Tyrrell Museum where you can discover some of the world’s richest collections of fossils. My main interest is the “Dinosaur Hall”.

Royal Tyrrell museum
Royal Tyrrell museum

The History of Alberta

Alberta was once the roaming ground for these prehistoric giants. All the well-known names make an appearance throughout the museum’s exhibits. There’s even one dinosaur that hasn’t been found anywhere else on earth outside modern-day Alberta – the ‘ Albertosaurus ‘. Wonder where they came up with that name…

If you’re thinking of jumping back in time to learn more about these mysterious animals. Amongst thousands of fascinating fossils, there is no better place to do so than the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Plus, it’s the only museum dedicated solely to paleontology in all of Canada!

Royal Tyrrell museum

About Tyrrell Museum

The museum is located two hours from the UNESCO World Heritage site, Dinosaur Provincial Park. This area was perfect for the preservation of dinosaur remains, and it’s the world’s most thorough record of the late Cretaceous period. It’s suggested to give at least 2-3 hours to explore the museum’s exhibits, but if you want more time, there’s a 2-day pass available! With rotating exhibits constantly changing, and the impressive permanent halls full of dinosaurs, fossils, and other creatures on display, even two days might not be enough time if you want to take in all the beauty of the surrounding badlands as well!

What can you see inside the Royal Tyrrell Museum?

As I mentioned, the Albertosaurus is one of the most prideful skeletons on display for many Albertans, just ask my girlfriend! Being a close relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, it has a similar body shape but is much smaller maxing out around 9-10 meters long. This Late Cretacious Period animal (70 million years ago) was found in 1884, by Joseph B Tyrrell, who was inspecting the nearby city of Red Deer for coal seams.

There has to be some mention of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, right? On display in the main dinosaur hall of the Royal Tyrrell Museum is the largest Rex found in all of North America. It is so intimidating just looking at the height and length of the bare bones of this giant! This is the main exhibit in the “lord of the land” showcase. There is another unique reason to pay a visit to these behemoths that once ruled the land. A rare, blackened skull of another Rex, nicknamed “Black Betty” adds even more mystery to what isn’t yet discovered when it comes to dinosaurs.

Of course, there are so many other notable characters through the museum halls. A 21-meter-long Ichthyosaur is the largest marine reptile ever found. It took three years to excavate this skeleton from the Sikanni Chief River in northern British Columbia! Three whole years!

Other giant dinosaurs that are a favorite among many include the 9-meter-long Triceratops. It is estimated that this beast would’ve weighed around 12 tonnes!

If you want to step away from dinosaurs, and into slightly more “recent times”, there is also a fantastic Ice Age exhibit.

Woolly mammoths are the main attraction here and you can’t really miss them. Towering at 3 meters high and weighing around 8 tonnes, this mammoth would have been a force to be reckoned with. Originally appearing in Asia and Europe around 250,000 years ago, they migrated to North America via the Bering Land Bridge approximately 100,000 years ago. There are so many amazing little facts just waiting to be discovered at this museum – No matter what your age!

What makes Royal Tyrrell special?

One of my favorite things about this museum is that it is also an active research facility. Fossils are still consistently found in the province of Alberta. To witness the work fossil technicians must put in to excavate, preserve and display these ancient living things, is also possible at Tyrrell! The ‘Preparation Lab’ is where the public can watch the scientists work on fossils and learn about the processes involved in bringing this amazing history to life.

The Badlands Around Tyrrell Museum

Royal Tyrrell museum

Once you’ve explored the inside of the museum, having a walk around the outside gives a great insight into the land where many of these dinosaurs roamed. The area around is affectionately named the “Badlands”, and even though it would have been vastly different millions of years ago, it is very interesting to imagine what it would have been like. Whether you have your hiking boots ready to go, or just have a few minutes to stroll around the museum’s main entrance, the scenery of the southern Alberta badlands is otherworldly to take in.

How To Get to Royal Tyrrell Museum

As you can probably guess, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is a great time for the whole family. Kids can learn and interact with so much educational information – during school field trips I’ve been told kids can even sleep under the T-Rex itself! This ‘camp-in’ event is open in the winter months to group sizes of 40-100. 

The Tyrrell Museum is located in Drumheller, 1.5 hours drive north-east from Calgary, and around a 3-hour drive south from Edmonton. 

Royal Tyrrell museum

Admission Information

For such a wonderful day for the whole family or just big kids at heart, the price of admission is super worthwhile! At the time of writing, one adult ticket will set you back $19, children 7 to 17 years old are reduced to $14, and kids 6 and under get in free!

If you have ever wanted to get up close to these amazing prehistoric animals, to learn about the world they would have lived in, and for a fantastic day for the entire family (or, as I said before, just the big kids like myself). There is also so much amazing scientific information here if you are looking for an educational experience. Visiting the Royal Tyrrell Museum is a great way to immerse yourself in what earth would have been like all those millions of years ago!

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