Discover Alberta’s Hidden Gem: Drumheller’s Stunning Sandstone Hoodoos

The bulk of travelers associate fantastical rusty red rock formations with Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. Most people are unaware that Canada is home to some of the most stunning sandstone canyons in all of North America. The hoodoos of Drumheller, Alberta, are a series of towering rock formations that are so commanding that locals long believed they were petrified giants who came to life after the sun set to throw stones at trespassers.

The sandstone hoodoos of Drumheller were formed by exposure to millions of years of relentless wind, rain, and ice. The tall, slim rock formations that resemble elongated mushrooms and spindly wizards are quite delicate. Visitors can explore the Willow Creek Hoodoos—which are Alberta’s most distinctive rock formations—by following a trail located approximately 15 minutes east of Drumheller near Highway 10. The hoodoos are made of impressionable stone that is eroding at a rapid rate, so it is very important to stay on marked trails and not touch any of the rock formations.

Visitors can also explore nearby Horseshoe Canyon. The U-shaped canyon—which is reminiscent of Arizona’s Grand Canyon—features stunning badlands. You can hike through Horseshoe Canyon or view the dramatic canyon from one of several lookout points.

In addition to stunning scenery, Drumheller is also home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. The museum features a Dinosaur Hall filled with dinosaur bones, a Cretaceous Garden full of lush ferns, and a Cenozoic Gallery dedicated to the rise of mammals. Visitors can learn about the creatures that once roamed what is now arid Drumheller back when Alberta was a humid swamp.

If Zion, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon are some of your favorite travel destinations, but the crowds are too much for you—a trip to explore the hoodoos and sandstone canyons of lesser-known Drumheller is an absolute must.

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