Travel: Alberta’s ancient history 

Albertosaurus predates the Rocky Mountains, but both hold kids’ attention

"I found one, look, look," said nine-year-old Matthew.

Looking down it was hard not to wonder if someone had just planted the large bone in the gray, gravelly earth at Matthew's feet.

"Do you think it is an Albertosaurus?" he asks, having already found about a dozen other small bone fragments during our guided hike at Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park last month.

But these bone fragments and pieces of petrified wood more than 64 million years old are exactly what they claim to be - pieces of a history from a time when Alberta was partially covered by lush jungle bordering the Bearpaw Sea and the Rocky Mountains were just beginning to strain out of the earth's surface on their journey to become one of the most majestic ranges in the world.

We had long wanted to head out on a camping holiday in search of dinosaurs and this turned out to be our year.

Setting off from Whistler we stopped along the way at Lillooet's Cayoosh Creek campground - always clean and welcoming - then onto Canyon Hot Springs Resort in Revelstoke. While the camping spots are close together in Revelstoke the lack of privacy was outweighed by the delicious feeling that only a hot spring pool can offer muscles sick of sitting in a car for seven hours.

From there it was onto Drumheller, home of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta (www.tyrrellmuseum.com).

The drive to Drumheller is awe-inspiring as you pass through Glacier National Park, then Yoho National Park and finally Banff National Park.

As the peaks tower above it is hard not to think about the millennia it took to form them - well I thought so anyway.

Asked to look up from their Nintendo game systems and enjoy the scenery, 11-year-old Kayley's response was: "Moooom, it looks just like Whistler. We see this everyday!"

As you come out of the mountains and begin the prairie-drive experience the sky seems to go on forever. The cloudscapes are captivating, especially to travellers who are used to only seeing as far as the next mountain peak.

Camping at Drumheller was also of the crowded variety as millions flock to the museum every year. But as most of your time is spent at attractions, it is a discomfort you just have to put up with.

If you are thinking of doing a trip it is important to realize that the museum is not located beside Dinosaur Provincial Park (www.tpr.alberta.ca/parks/dinosaur). They are about a three-hour drive apart - and both are worth spending time exploring.

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