Experience Southern Alberta
Devil’s Coulee, Writing on Stone Provincial Park and the Milk River
Visitors planning a multi-day badlands tour should travel a couple of hours south to The Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur and Heritage Museum, located in the small Village of Warner. Here, visitors get the rare opportunity to see dinosaur eggs with their own eyes and to learn about the nesting site of some duckbill dinosaurs.
Dinosaur eggs were found along the banks of the Milk River containing small embryonic skeletons inside them. By visiting the museum, you can actually see a Hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) nest and embryo. The museum also contains ancient fossils, dinosaur models, and a mural which shows dinosaurs caring for their young. This is a great way to learn about the family life of dinosaurs and to learn about how the ‘momma dino’ took care of her nests and eggs.
The museum runs two hour tours during the summer season into the heart of Devil’s Coulee where visitors can “learn to identify fossils in their original setting. You can discover the geological forces that shaped the coulee.” (Source: Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur and Heritage Museum.) Museum and all tour information can be found at devilscoulee.com
While in the Milk River area, visitors should take the time to stop for a hike and do some exploring in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Áísínai’pi National Historic Site, it is another fascinating region in Alberta’s Badlands. The park is located in the grasslands of Southern Alberta and gives us a glimpse into the cultural history of First Nations Peoples. The park contains “the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the great plains of North America.” (Source: Alberta Parks, Writing-on- Stone Provincial Park)
Hiking, camping, and paddling on the Milk River are popular activities in this park. Guided tours can be arranged to explore the park trails with an expert guide. For more information visit albertaparks.ca/writing-on-stone.aspx.
Ammolite and the Southern Alberta Mines
Ammolite is an opal-like organic gemstone formed by natural forces from the fossilized shells of ammonites, extinct mollusks or ancient squid-like animals. Ammonites can be found all over the world with Canada’s largest amount found along river banks in Southern Alberta.
There are several places in the area where Ammonite shells and Ammolite gems can be seen including the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller and Calgary’s Glenbow Museum, which displays several items containing Ammolite.
One open-pit commercial mine operates in southern Alberta and supplies 90 percent of the world’s supply of the precious Ammolite gem. It should be noted that a permit is required to collect Ammonites so you can’t just go exploring on your next canoeing trip in hopes of bringing some of the shells home. Ammonites, and all fossils, are protected by the Historical Resources Act and require proper permits in order to protect the fossils for future generations.
By: Tanya Koob