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Hoodoos of Drumheller Valley in Alberta

This icon of the Alberta badlands is among the most photographed sites in Canada

Best time: late June–early September

Drumheller Valley is located 135 km northeast of Calgary. It is considered to be the best badlands area in Canada, with its famous hiking trails and the peculiar mushroom-shaped hoodoos composed of sand and clay from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation. Being an origin of local legends, the hoodoos attracted many photographers to the area. Native American tales say that these rocks are petrified giants, who can come alive to scare off intruders by throwing stones at them.

While they may look supernatural, the formations have been formed by wind and water over millions of years. Hard rock caps on that top protect the soft sandstone "chimneys" from harsh weather and destruction. Climbing the hoodoos is not permitted since they are rather fragile. The best time to hike in the Drumheller Valley is from late June to early September, as it is very seasonal and some parts of the reserve could be closed for the rest of the year.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Drumheller Valley and explore the hoodoos?

For an enjoyable hike in the Drumheller Valley, visitors should plan to visit between the months of late June to early September. This timeframe is the both the most seasonal and busiest, with some parts of the reserve closed off for the remainder of the year. The pleasant weather conditions of this period allow for stunning views of the hoodoos available on nearby trails. To avoid disappointment, reservations for accommodations should be made well in advance to ensure availability. Show more

Where exactly are the hoodoos located in the Drumheller Valley?

If you're interested in observing the interesting rock structures known as the hoodoos while exploring the Drumheller Valley, you can find them in the Hoodoo Trail area which is approximately 16 km east of Drumheller, a small town located in Alberta province of Canada. Visitors can get to the reserve without any difficulty by driving or organized tours and use facilities such as parking spaces, washrooms, and drinking water to enjoy the region's Badlands Interpretive Trail or any of the other trails to suit their interests and fitness level. Show more

How were the hoodoos formed and what's the significance of their shape?

Millions of years have passed since erosion caused by wind and water in the badlands gave birth to the hoodoos, whose interesting 'mushroom-like' appearance was the result of differential erosion rates between the rock's sandstone and clay layers. The rugged caprock layer which settles atop of the hoodoos provides them with protection against weathering. Sacred burial sites and petrified giants are commonly associated with the hoodoos believed to have cultural significance in multiple Native American tribes. Show more

When did the first settlers come to the Drumheller Valley area?

Prospective miners and agriculture enthusiasts were initially attracted to the Drumheller Valley during the late 1800s as a result of the coal deposits and agricultural land that surrounded the region. The humble town of Drumheller was formed officially in 1913. The town would eventually establish itself as a significant hub for tourism, ranching, and mining. The town offers a variety of attractions such as the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology which boasts of the region's impressive fossil history alongside an array of yearly festivals and events. Show more

Can visitors climb the hoodoos or touch them, and what are the restrictions and protections in place?

As the hoodoos could be eroded, visitors are advised against touching or climbing on them. Following Alberta Parks' guidelines, visitors can help preserve the beauty of the area by adhering to established rules such as staying on the trails, use of protective equipment such as shoes and staying away from advisory signs or fences. When you pack out your trash, you also help keep the area clean and safe from hazardous situations to make the place ideal for visiting for generations to come. Show more

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