Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Hoodoos

The Hoodoos are sandstone pillars topped by protective capstones. It takes millions of years for these pillars to form and every year wind, rain and snow slowly erode them away. These unique structures are scattered throughout the Alberta Badlands but just 16km east of Drumheller there is a Hoodoo site easily accessible to the public. 

When I visited this site twenty years ago there was only a sign and a gravel parking lot. Now, in an effort to preserve these unique pillars, the area is completely cordoned off with wires and surrounded by a dedicated metal walking path. There are also a shelter and toilets in the parking lot for tourists. If you are driving to Drumheller to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum take a short drive east to see the Hoodoos too. It is well worth it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Royal Tyrrell Museum

About twenty years ago my family spent some time exploring various attractions around Drumheller, AB. It was such a memorable experience that I wanted to bring my own children here one day. Now that we are here I am happy to report that the experience does not disappoint. 

Our first stop was the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology which is located 6km north-west of Drumheller, AB. We arrived just after lunch and pulled into the RV parking lot below the museum. The upper parking lots were packed with vehicles but the RV parking lot was practically empty. As we entered the museum I was staggered by the crowds of tourists. It reminded me of the time we visited the Bangkok Sea Life Ocean World earlier this year; it was that busy.

The museum itself is amazing. It is two levels and divided into fourteen distinct sections. The first part of the museum has some interactive stations that explains where fossils are found, how they are unearthed and prepared for display. There is a large preparation lab in the museum that visitor can view through large windows. What follows is the Lords of the Land exhibit. In this room precious fossils are displayed with royal flair, it is quite beautifully done. The rest of the museum is a journey through 3.9 years of evolution starting with the Burgess Shale exhibit and moving through the Devonion Reef, Permian, Cretaceous Garden, Dinosaur Hall, Bearpaw Sea, Mammal Hall and Ice Age exhibits. There was so much to see and learn!

After spending a couple hours exploring the  Royal Tyrrell Museum, which was perfect for our young children, we hiked the Badlands Interpretive Trail which starts just past the water feature in front of the museum. The hike took us about an hour to complete at a very leisurely pace. The interpretive trail is easy but not stroller friendly, because of the stairs. For a family with young children, half a day is plenty of time for exploring the museum and doing the Badlands Interpretive Trail hike. In a couple years, when all my children are school aged, I would like to return to the museum and take advantage of their various programs and camps. They have a family science camp that looks like a lot of fun!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bow Valley Campground

Bow Valley Campground is a popular camping spot for folks living in Calgary because it is a relatively shorts drive away. I have done a fair bit of camping between Jasper and Canmore but this was a new stop for me. As we drove from Lake Louise, through Banff and Canmore I started feeling a little disappointed that the campground was so far from these places. Then somehow we got lost and found ourselves in Seebe, AB. 

We did eventually find the campground and not surprisingly it was full. Thanks to my husband’s planning we had a spot reserved. Bow Valley Campground is situated in the Bow Valley Provincial Park. It is a nice campground filled with trees and right close to the Bow River. Considering the campground was full we were impressed but how quiet it was. Our camp spot was located in Loop D which is close to the children’s playset and Bow River and was serviced with water and power. There are some great things to see and do while visiting this campground.

The first adventure we had was biking the 4.4km Bow Valley paved bike trail which starts right beside the Bow Valley Campground store and ends at a Visitors Centre (open Tuesday to Friday, 1 – 4:30pm). The trail is actually an out-and-back trail, meaning that the total biking distance is closer to 9km. It is a beautiful bike and relatively easy. My eldest (age 7) biked the whole trail while my husband pulled our two younger children (5 and 3) in the Chariot. We also hiked along the Bow River trail and dipped our toes in the chilly glacial waters. There are several other trails to explore in the area and I think we could easily spend several days exploring and playing hard at this campground.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lake Louise

Why we were going to look at a lake was beyond my children. We live by a lake and we only look at it if we aren’t close enough to be in it. It took a bit of convincing and explaining for them to understand that we were going to see a special lake. When we arrived at the lovely paved trail along Lake Louise here is was happened: 
My Eldest: “Maman, those mountains look so 3D!”
My Husband: “That’s because they are 3D!”
My Eldest: “Really?”
My Husband: “Yes, those are real mountains.”
My Eldest: “Woah…those are really nice!”

My daughter and youngest took no notice of the surroundings except for the rocks and the water. Despite the glacial water they were up to their knees in it as they clambered over rocks and boulders.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk

As you drive east from Mount Revelstoke National Park to the Glacier National Park there are three easy-to-access self-guided boardwalk trails: Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk Trail, Giant Cedar Boardwalk Trail and Hemlock Grove Boardwalk. Each trail is well marked along the Trans Canada Highway. All of these boardwalks are meant to offer people of all ages and levels of mobility unique opportunities to experience various ecosystems in the area. We stopped at the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk and marveled at the humongous skunk cabbage along the 1.2km trail and boardwalk. It was a great way to stretch our legs before continuing our journey eastward.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest was birthed out of a love for art and a desire to create a magical space for people of all ages. Truly, it is a place where fairy tales and nursery rhymes come to life. I have fond memories of visiting the Enchanted Forest as a child and then again on my honeymoon. It has been ten year since my last visit and it felt like so much has changed yet remained the same. I was happy to see that the Enchanted Forest is well maintained and busier than ever.

As we walked through the forest trail my children in awe of all the fairy tale people and creatures displayed under the forest canopy. It was challenging to keep up with them as they raced along, eager to climb the large tree fort that they immediately spotted in the distance. Even though the park was busy it did not feel crowded. We spent about an hour exploring the forest and chose to skip the nature walk in favour of having lunch. Everyone had a wonderful time and we would return again when the next opportunity arises. The Enchanted Forest is well worth the stop if you happen to be driving in British Columbia between Sicamous and Revelstoke on the Trans Canada Highway.

And if you are needing a camp spot to park an RV overnight, the nearby Noah's Ark Resort is a quaint family friendly spot.