With over 120,00 fossils and 35 complete dinosaur skeletons ranging from over 500 million years ago to the more modern mammals; the Royal Tyrrell Museum offers fun and excitement for the whole family.
It all started in 1884 when Joseph Burr Tyrrell unearthed a 70 million year old skull of an Albertosaurus. Soon after, the Badlands were known to be one of the richest sources for these amazing fossils. With the doors opening in 1985, the Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology saw over 500,000 people in the first year alone. Five years later in 1990 while admission was still free, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the 'Royal' status upon the museum.
These days the crowds are hardly as big as they were in the opening year, but with the expansion in 2007 and the growing 'staycation' advertising you can still easily find large groups gaggling around all the exhibits. In 2010 they have extended all there hours and are running 7 days a week. We go nearly every year and usually show up before or after the busy portion of the day (12-5) and the museum is pretty empty. This allows you to enjoy all the exhibits without the ruckus of the large crowds.
The museum also offers many programs for all ages. Everything from sleeping over at the museum, to camping, digging, distance learning and even credited courses. There are lots of short informative videos playing throughout staring Bill Nye which most of us can remember from 'Bill Nye the Science Guy'. There are also short films that play in there theater at specific times. While these are mostly geared to the younger audience it does offer a nice change of pace to sit in and watch, even if you are a bit older.
After you have seen everything the museum has to offer on the inside. There are a few short hikes that you can do in the Badlands starting right at the front door of the museum. The trails are interpretive trails which means there are signs every now and then explaining to you what you are looking at. You can also sign up for some of the guided tours that the Royal Tyrrell Museum offers where you can learn lots more about the history of the Canadian Badlands and the dinosaurs that used to inhabit these lands.
An adult day pass for the museum is ten dollars which we believe, is priced pretty fairly for what they offer. There is also a cafeteria and a gift shop near the entrance for when you get hungry or would like a souvenir. The food isn't brilliant and a tad overpriced for what you get, but I suppose it offsets the favorable admisison price. Over the past couple years that we have noticed, Travel Alberta has been offering 2 for 1 coupons for the museum that you can print off from their website. This gets you in to see the great sites for only five bucks. You really will be hard pressed to find yourself such a huge source of history and excitement for five loonies, or one American dollar if you are from the States.
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