DRUMHELLER, AB - The Drumheller Valley is home to dinosaurs, a prolific coal mining history, art galleries, festivals and the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. All great reasons to stop in for a weekend getaway.
And The Heartwood Inn and Spa is the perfect hub for your adventures. Located in the middle of Drumheller, the Heartwood is an old estate home surrounded by lovely English-inspired gardens. Inside the big blue house are eight distinctive guest rooms where pillows have slipped under the heads of movie stars (Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson), artists, golfers, musicians and many couples on a romantic getaway. These guests have also awoken to the smell of Zeke’s famous Berry Stuffed French Toast and then plan for a day in the Badlands.
Enjoy the scenery and a play
One must-attend event is the Canadian Badlands Passion Play which is set in a stunning outdoor performance setting - a natural amphitheatre on the outskirts of Drumheller where audiences are mesmerized by the acoustics, the beauty of the landscape and by the show. It’s been 19 years since the first performance but year after year the annual nine-day event builds into yet another blockbuster series of plays. It’s the same story every year based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but each year brings fresh ideas told in a fresh new way.
Hundreds of performers from Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and even Ontario come to participate in the three-hour-long shows. Considering they are in the searing summer heat of the Badlands, their costumes cleverly conceal water bottles.
Spectators are encouraged to prepare for all types of weather as the show goes rain or shine. Hats, blankets, warm jackets, sunscreen lotion, water and raincoats are all suggested, along with bringing a cushion to sit on.
The annual event runs every July for nine days.
The Rosebud Theatre in nearby Rosebud makes for another good reason to head to the Badlands. Take in a dinner theatre performance and instead of heading back to the city, stay at the Heartwood to explore the valley the next day.
Put The Royal Tyrrell Museum on your “to-do” list
Bring the prehistoric past back to life with an expedition to the Royal Tyrrell Museum near Drumheller. Find out what creatures lived here millions of years ago in a landscape immensely different than the one you’ll see today. Huge land dinosaurs, massive sea creatures, thick tropical forests and tiny, yet significant, insects dominated the area. Now they lay under thick layers of sediment to be slowly discovered. The Tyrrell Museum is home to some of the most significant fossils on the planet — everything from a stunning Tyrannosaurus Rex to a flying turtle to proof that some dinosaurs had feathers. Inside the museum, thousands of fossils are displayed in such realistic settings you tend to peek over your shoulder in fear.
Badlands are for exploring
The topography is what brings so many people to the valley and there are some wonderful places to hike to see it all. Take in the trails in Midland Provincial Park, Horseshoe Canyon or walk the quick boardwalk around the Hoodoos southeast of town near East Coulee. At the Tyrrell Museum take a walk with a paleontologist. The first fossil found here – the Albertosaurus Sarcophagus - was found by a geologist looking for coal.
Downtown Drumheller is an art lover’s retreat
Beyond the Badlands and away from the museums is the quiet almost forgotten downtown district. Lately galleries have been dusting off the shuttered stores to display fantastic artwork. Paintings, sculptures and photography mostly based on the rugged topography are gracing the windows, inviting you in to see more. Many of the artists are from the region. The works are beautiful and don’t come with the big city price tag.
The Heartwood Spa
Exploring the arid Badlands can be taxing on your body and skin, but the Heartwood Spa has remedies for this. Rejuvenate with a massage or a facial after a dry and hot day exploring the arid, otherworldly landscape.
Charming Inns of Alberta
The Heartwood Inn and Spa is a member of The Charming Inns of Alberta. Those inns are exactly what they say – charming. The dozen inns are located all over Alberta and offer different experiences. At the core, they are quaint, offering a home away from home experience.