The Drumheller Badlands are
one of the few areas in the world
where sedimentary layers from
earlier geological periods have
been scraped off by natural processes,
exposing a rich deposit of animal
and plant fossils and even complete
dinosaur skeletons. No wonder
the area the Drumheller Badlands
canyons proved to be vast terrains
of fossil discovery.
The torn and twisted
landscape of the Drumheller Badlands
stretches like a giant scar through
the rolling farmlands of southern
Alberta.It is a conglomeration of
gulches, buttes, gulleys and canyons,
all eroded from multi-colored layers
of sandstone, mudstone, coal and shale
that date back 70 million years. The
impact of visiting this place can
be overwhelming, as if one has been
transported back in time to another
era, or even another planet.
The Badlands are an
area located in Central Alberta, Canada.
In fact, the so-called badlands extend
along the Red Deer River Valley, east-southwards
from the city of Red Deer, AB, through
the small city of Drumheller, AB,
to the Saskatchewan border.
Badland's heartland, however, is the
Drumheller Valley in and around the
city of Drumheller, approximately
130 km northeast of Calgary, AB. The
Drumheller Valley, close to flat farmlands,
is well known for its beautiful, diverse
and moonscape-like topography. The
rugged valley is made up of erosion
formations, such as buttes and deep,
twisted and winding canyons, coulees,
and gullies. The almost bare walls
thereof are made of multi-coloured
– the hues changing with sunlight
conditions – eroded sediment
layers of sandstone or mudstone and
coal, interlaced with shale layers.
The steep slopes are strewn with roofed
pillars and hoodoos. The hoodoos are
natural yet transient vertical structures
of soft sandstone, differing in height
and shape detail, capped with darker
and harder sandstone "hats".
Formed by erosion, the hoodoos and
pillars slowly appear and disappear
in time. The concerted water and wind
actions continuously "carve"
them, change their shapes, and eventually
destroy them one by one.
The exposed sedimentary
rock layers along the Red Deer River
Valley around Drumheller are referred
to as the Horseshoe Canyon Formation.
Black layers are coal seams. Dark
gray layers are mudstone. Lighter
gray layers are sandstone. As these
layers continue to erode, fragments
of dinosaur bone, petrified wood and
are other fossils are exposed. Some
25 species of dinosaurs have been
discovered in these badlands since
1884 when Joseph Burr Tyrrell, the
Museum's namesake, discovered the
first Albertosaurus skull 
Hoodoos take millions
of years to form and stand 5 to 7
metres tall. Each hoodoo is a sandstone
pillar resting on a thick base of
shale that is capped by a large stone.
Hoodoos are very fragile and can erode
completely if their capstone is dislodged
(in other words, no climbing allowed).
A hoodoo (also tent rock, fairy chimney,
earth pyramid) is a tall thin spire
of rock that protrudes from the bottom
of an arid drainage basin or badland.
Hoodoos are composed of soft sedimentary
rock and are topped by a piece of
harder, less easily-eroded stone that
protects the column from the elements.
They are mainly located
in the desert in dry, hot areas. In
common usage, the difference between
hoodoos and pinnacles or spires is
that hoodoos have a variable thickness
often described as having a "totem
pole-shaped body." A spire, on
the other hand, has a smoother profile
or uniform thickness that tapers from
the ground upward.
Hoodoos range in size
from that of an average human to heights
exceeding a 10-story building. Hoodoo
shapes are affected by the erosional
patterns of alternating hard and softer
rock layers. Minerals deposited within
different rock types cause hoodoos
to have different colors throughout
Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
The Royal Tyrrell Museum)
is a popular Canadian tourist attraction
and a leading centre of palaeontological
research noted for its collection
of more than 120,000 dinosaur fossils.
Located 6 kilometres
(4 mi) from Drumheller, Alberta and
135 kilometres (84 mi) from Calgary,
the museum is situated in the middle
of the fossil-bearing strata of the
Late Cretaceous Horseshoe Canyon Formation
and also has recovered numerous specimens
from Dinosaur Provincial Park and
the Devil's Coulee Dinosaur Egg Historic
The museum is one of
Canada's only institutions entirely
dedicated to palaeontology, and is
operated by Alberta's Ministry of
Culture and Community Spirit. The
museum's mission is to: "collect,
conserve, research and interpret palaeontological
history with special reference to
Alberta’s fossil heritage".
A short trip through
the Bandlands region and Drumheller,
Alberta, Canada - the dinosaur capital
of North America.