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Visitors to Alberta may not realize that Drumheller isn’t the only place to learn about the legendary creatures who walked the earth thousands of years ago.

The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is located just 15 minutes from Grande Prairie, in the Town of Wembley, beside the Pipestone Creek bone bed. Due to continued erosion of the riverbed, fossils and dinosaur bones continue to be unearthed to this day, making this a vital location for paleontological research.

“Our scientists can go find the fossils 20 minutes away, study them here, and then put them on display,” explains Dallal Olver, museum programs manager. “So, these are the fossils of the dinosaurs that walked this land millions of years ago. And now our visitors can see that these dinosaurs were actually here… they weren't shipped from somewhere else, they existed here in this landscape.”

Travel Alberta invested in a new visitor experience that brings the region’s dinosaur story to life in a whole new way. The “Secrets of the Wapiti” river rafting tour gets up close and personal with the bone bed so visitors can witness the fossil-rich landscape through the eyes of a paleontologist.

About the river rafting tour

Thanks to Travel Alberta funding, the museum was able to purchase a series of river rafts and equipment to support these tours. The tours take approximately four hours and can accommodate up to 16 people per tour. Families and children of all ages are welcome.

“We start at the museum, and we get everyone geared up. And then we head out on our dino bus, which is always fun for people. We bring them down to Pipestone Creek and they meet our raft guides, and we go bring them on the four-hour trip,” Olver explains.

As a popular stopover on the drive from the U.S. and southern Alberta to Alaska, the museum is already seeing an influx in travellers spending time at the museum along the way. They hope that this new rafting trip will encourage visitors to stay overnight in the area and spend a few days exploring the rich natural history of the region.

Jesse Dion, exhibit developer, has welcomed people from across the world to participate in the tour. “While the museum obviously attracts locals, we also see more of an international crowd. Just actually last week I had a chance to give a tour to people visiting from The Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Jesse Dion, the museum’s exhibit developer, had a strong passion for paleontology and loves working as a guide on the rafting tours.

“When we work at the Bone Bed at Pipestone Creek, it's extremely special to have people looking at what we're working on over there. These bones are being exposed for the first time in 73 million years, and even if you don't know much about what a fossil would look like, it is extremely exciting to see it with your own eyes.”

Preserving the beauty of their surroundings

Beyond the dinosaurs themselves, the trip offers a unique nature-based tourism experience on the secluded Wapiti River. The museum maintains strict leave-no-trace policies to ensure the natural environment remains pristine for many generations to come.

“One of the things that people also get when they go on the rafting tours is the chance to connect with the land. They see lots of wildlife. It's very peaceful and we’re seeing that when they leave, they have more respect for the land. They have more appreciation of the beauty and the natural landscape that's found here.”

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