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Our Canadian Adventure: the Alberta Badlands and Camping in Dinosaur Provincial Park

We visit the Canadian Alberta Badlands, camp in Dinosaur Provincial Park, and get eaten alive by mosquitoes!

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Driving into the Badlands, I asked Mike:

Why do the Badlands have to be called the Badlands? What if they’ve had a change of heart and want to be the Goodlands? Or, what if they’re only bad sometimes? Can’t they just be the Lands?

Mike answered me in typical fashion:

They’re just bad. They’ve been the Badlands forever, they can’t change.

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Thus started a philosophical debate: can bad things ever become good or good things ever become bad? The Badlands are doing their best to change their reputation. Or maybe they’re doing their best to live up to it: a land incredibly uninhabitable and difficult to navigate. Regardless of their name, the Canadian Badlands are gorgeous.

You can find the Badlands in Alberta, the most Western of the prairie provinces, bordered by the Rockies on one side, sweeping into fields and fields of grasslands on on the East. Smack dab in the Southeast corner of the province, you’ll find pockets of weird dry terrain that has been eroded by years and years of wind and water. We visited Dinosaur Provincial Park for some camping and a closer look at the weird wild wild west landscape.

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

As we drove past field after field, Mike and I started questioning the navigation. Weren’t we headed into the badlands – why was everything so lush and green? For us, we thought we would have to drive through the barren Badlands, kilometers and kilometers of strange rocky coulee landscapes, full of ochre hoodoo rock formations, to get to Dinosaur Provincial Park. But, it turned out that the entirety of that pocket of badland is the park itself.

We happened to plan our trip around a lush period of time when everything was growing. The contrast between the stark sand and grass was profound. We got into camp in the afternoon, set up our tent, had a quick snack, then headed out for a guided evening tour of the restricted parts of the park. There ended up only being 3 of us, plus the tour guide on our tour. We hopped into a little bus that looked suspiciously like it belonged in Jurassic Park, and went past a gate, into the wilds.

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Seriously, it felt like we were in Jurassic Park. The Badlands has a very large concentration of dinosaur fossils because the area used to be inland sea/river. Numerous dinosaur bones, as well as plant and shellfish were preserved in the mud. Walking around, you can find bone fragments/fossils everywhere. We spotted some not so fossilized animals as well: a cottontail bunny, mule deer, and even a rattlesnake. We could hear it long before we got near, and caught his tail slithering into his home. We got some amazing shots before heading back to camp just before sunset.

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

#wedidsleephere

The sunset was one of the most amazing we’ve ever seen. It wasn’t just the colors that took my breath away, it was the haunting scenery. Oh, and the ten thousand mosquitoes that wanted to eat me alive. I swear, while we were on the tour through the restricted parts, I was fine, but while we were walking on a ridge to an overlook area, I looked down and there were 3-5 mosquitoes on one leg, just feasting away. At the end of the night, I was scared to look, but I did and I must have, conservatively, over 50 bites. Okay, update: I asked Mike to count and apparently I have 134 bites!? These guy were VICIOUS. So vicious that they ate Mike too and mosquitos usually ignore him completely. Anyway, don’t be like me, don’t wear black yoga pants because I swear, they attract mosquitoes – there’s something about dark clothing, especially if it’s dark and tight fitting. And, if you’re going somewhere with mosquitoes, do yourself a favor and get some bug spray, preferably with picaridin, which is what the experts use. After the first night, when I got the majority of the bites (I didn’t have any bug spray), I tried the natural route, with oil of lemon eucalyptus, but it just didn’t work that well.

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Dinosaur Provincial Park Camp Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Still, it was worth it, I guess? I gave the Badlands the benefit of the doubt, but they lived up to their name. They were the Bad Lands, one hundred percent. Give them a chance though because there’s beauty in the bad, always. And maybe, just maybe, things can be both bad and good. Who am I kidding? Things are always shades – nothing is every just bad or good. Except mosquito bites. Those are just bad.

xoxo steph

PS – When you are leaving the Badlands, don’t listen to Google Maps navigation, unless you want to head down a very bumpy gravel road for the good part of an hour. The most ideal and smooth way in and out of Dinosaur Provincial Park is Highway 544. You’ll have to do a little backtracking to get back to the Trans-Canada Highway, but it’s worth it – avoid Highway 876!

PPS – We enjoyed the campground. The spots were large and nice, right up against some spectacular scenery, but we did say on weekdays, when the campground was a little quieter. Come Friday, when we were heading out, the site got quite a bit busier. Make sure to book ahead because we saw some people turned away.

Other Canadian Adventure Posts:
Banff
Calgary

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5 Comments

  1. You photos slay me – SLAY ME!! Stunning!

    Rebecca
    xx
    http://www.peppermintdolly.com

  2. Ushmana Rai says:

    These are some mind-blowing pictures. What a beautiful sunset! By the way, can I ask which camera did you use to take those pictures? I was planning to buy Canon 70D (with 50mm prime lens) for my trip to Pokhara, Kathmandu. I would also like to note that I’m a new reader to your blog and I must say I’m already admiring your work. The way you share your story is simply amazing! :)

    1. Stephanie says:

      thank you so much ushmana!
      we use nikons – both the d810 and the d500. i don’t know much about canons, but dslrs are where it’s at :) thanks so much for reading!

  3. frank says:

    beautiful

  4. Erin says:

    Apparently deet with shorts isn’t a good idea either- I’m covered in bites after backpacking in northern Wisconsin. As you move east they only get worse! Will try picaridin, thanks. And the Badlands look amazing!