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Canada Diary Part 14 – The Badlands and Another Unhappy Camper

Canada Diary Part 14 – The Badlands and Another Unhappy Camper

Our final day outing during our week in Lethbridge, was to the Canadian Badlands to explore Dinosaur Provincial Park. And what an outing it was!

 

After driving through mile upon mile of flat farmlands where you can see forever in every direction and the sky is an infinite artwork of puffy clouds, blue skies and magnificently angry grey storms moving across the horizon, the land all of a sudden dropped away into a massive gorge with rock formations in shades of brown and red around a snaking river.

 

We stood at the viewpoint at the end of the earth and marvelled at this bizarre natural phenomenon in complete silence and awe – the scale of this Mars-like landscape was just astounding. The eerie silence was only pierced by the whistling of the wind across the plains behind us and it felt like time stood still as we absorbed the incredible view.

Badlands view Enjoying the view

Once down in the Badlands valley, we popped into the visitor’s centre where we found out about the different trails and fossils and booked into “A Cast from the Past” – where we got to see a real life palaeontology lab, to touch and feel ancient dinosaur fossils and to make our own casts of real dinosaur parts that had been found in this valley.

Visitors Centre

Looks like Jurassic Park!

Cast from the Past 1

Busy making dinosaur casts

Cast from the Past 2

My cast of a Hadrosaur toe

This park is a Unesco World Heritage site and we learned that many of the dinosaur fossils in all the museums around the world were collected right here in the dinosaur rush from 1910-1917. Because of the soil type and close proximity to an ancient volcano, when dinosaurs in the Cretaceous period died, their remains were quickly covered in mud and ash, preserving them perfectly for future generations. When erosion carved the magnificent Badlands, the layers containing the fossils were exposed, revealing a massive collection of fossilized Cretaceous creatures, and attracting fossil hunters and gold diggers from around the world in a mad bone digging frenzy.

Dinosaur bus stop

You can walk around most of the park and we spent hours looking for our own fossils, and marvelling at the entire intact fossilized Hadrosaur skeleton enclosed in glass right where it was discovered for all to see – Flipping amazing!

 

Have you ever heard of a hoodoo? Or a Coulee? We found loads of both in Dinosaur Provincial Park. A hoodoo is a rock formation with iron ore at the top and softer rock below, which gets eroded to form a giant mushroom-like rock formation. And a coulee is a local term for the hills formed by erosion around rivers.

Hanging with some hoodoos

Hanging with some hoodoos

Once again we were sad to leave this destination and wished we had more time to explore this fabulous place better. But we left thoroughly happy and enriched by this unique experience.

Alberta dinosaur

In a farm along the way

After a week of luxurious living, it was back to basics in our tented accommodation. Having driven through plenty of Canadian towns by now, we have noticed that most private campgrounds are located on the highway, presumably to allow easy access to the plethora of gigantic RV campers, trailers and even buses. But, as we learned on our first night camping its no fun to tent next to a highway. So I was pretty determined to source us a good, far-from-the-highway campground with showers for our overnight stay on the way back to Vancouver from Lethbridge. This proved to be a surprisingly difficult task but eventually I found Banbury Green in Penticton, which seemed to tick all the boxes and also cost way more than all the other campsites which must mean it was better, right?

Banbury Green 2 Banbury Green

Hmmm, well not completely. Showers, check. Far-from-the-highway, check. Privacy, zero.  The teeny tiny campsite had just enough space for us to squeeze our large tent practically on top of Skaha Lake, tightly fitting between two other sets of campers. This actually turned out to be a blessing as the boys spent the entire evening and morning fishing, hooking fish after fish after fish.

banbury green fishing

jacob fish Luke fish cian fish

It was a pain setting up camp for just one night, and we made the call to ditch Ralph and my little green love nest (the small tent) and rather squash into the big yellow one with the kids to save a bit of extra PT setting up and derigging. Well I never – it was infinitely better sleeping in the big tent. We could stand up, there was space to move, it was fabulous!  Unfortunately our pillows and mattresses that were packed in our car roof-top bag were soaked through as clearly the bag was not waterproof which seems a bit pointless. As we packed up our tent in the rain again, Luke made an astounding confession. He has decided that he no longer likes camping and much prefers the luxuries of a timeshare condo. I felt weirdly pleased to have another family member join my unhappy camper team.

 

Yours in travel

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Did you miss any of our previous diary entries? Click below to catch up:

Canada Diary Part 13 – The Canadian Prairies

Canada Diary Part 12 – En Route to Lethbridge

 

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