Experience The Jurassic Forest
Embarking on the Discovery Trail of the Jurassic Forest, you might believe that you’re just taking a serene stroll along the boardwalk meandering through this 40 acre natural preserve near Gibbons, Alberta. That is, until the roars, chirps, and howls of dinosaurs start reverberating through the trees. As you round the bend, you glimpse a pair of Edmontosaurus duckbilled dinosaurs reaching for the tree-tops. They lived alongside T. rex and named in 1917 for the Edmonton Formation (today called the Horseshoe Canyon Formation).
Just around the corner, an Albertosaurus, a true home-grown “Alberta lizard”, bares its chisel-like teeth alongside a large Styracosaurus looking for other members of its herd. Located on Hwy 28 approx. 40km north of Edmonton, this seasonal tourist attraction set in a boreal forest is a hidden treasure waiting to be unearthed.
As you set out on the two-1km loops, you will encounter more than forty animatronic dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. There are walking, running, and flying dinosaurs plus plant-eaters and carnivores. There are creatures that look deceptively like dinosaurs, but are not. There is even a Triceratops laying eggs. The wooden boardwalk trails are wide and easy to navigate with strollers or wheelchairs / motorised scooters. Two side trail extensions feature animals other than dinosaurs: In the north extension, “Taking Flight” traces the anatomical and physiological adaptations necessary for flight. In the south “From Scales to Fur” describes the development of mammals.
Placards along the route give a lot of information about the dinosaurs, including their habitats, their diets and their habits. The information is not limited to the fossil record – the flora and fauna of northern Alberta are also featured. Depending on the amount of time you linger at each factoid post or stop at each exhibit to take pictures, it will take you one to two hours to navigate both loops. Guided safaris led by expert Jurassic Forest staff are available.
Folks of any age will enjoy a full day at Jurassic Forest. Launched in 2010, this edutainment venue set in a “living forest” features an interpretive centre, a basic concession, and a gift shop. A playground and mini-golf course round out the opportunities for fun. There is plenty of scope here for unique school outings, birthday parties and corporate events. Frequent special events, guest speakers and charity partner events further expand the centre’s offerings.
Story and Photos by Dr. Shannon L. Tracey
Admission is purchased at the gate; child (2-12), youth (13-17), adult, senior (60+), and family (2 adults + 2 or 3 children) are available.
Check jurassicforest.com for hours and rates.
Seasonal memberships available.
If you are exploring in and around Edmonton, admission to the Jurassic Forest can also be purchased as part of the Edmonton Attractions Pass, which gives admission to 15 of the most visited attractions in the city and region exploreedmonton.com
Please note, pets are not allowed.