Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 10

Horse Thief Canyon in the Alberta Badlands

Horse Thief Canyon in the Alberta Badlands

Although visiting family yesterday was nice, I missed riding. It’s nice being back on my motorcycle again. Something about moving seems very soothing.

It’s the start of day 10 on my motorcycle road trip, and I’m beginning to feel like I’m off route than on route. But, that’s okay. My little side trips have been some of the best riding. It’s a nice sunny day again, although there is lots of weird weather around. Really hot weather, and massive thunderstorms, to the east where I’m heading.

The first part of my motorcycle ride is on Highway 21, a small farm road through rural communities with beautiful rolling hills. A quick left on Highway 13 to Highway 56 puts me on route to Drumheller. When I grew up on the prairies, wheat and hay seemed to be the major crop. Now the fields are bright yellow with canola crops. Although canola is commonly used for cooking oil, according to my nephew, this canola is primarily used to produce bio-fuels. Seems like such as waste of good farm land.

Late morning the rolling hills became more rugged as I approached the badlands. The “Welcome to Drumheller” sign, with it’s accompanying T-Rex, reminded me that this was dinosaur country. I decided to go into the Drumheller Information Center to plan out some activities, and find out how to get to the Dinosaur Museum. The Information Center wasn’t hard to find. Just had to look for the 86-foot T-Rex in the center of town. My BMW R1200RT motorcycle was dwarfed next to this enormous creature.

The people in the information center were very helpful, and I soon had a motorcycle route that would take me to the Dinosaur Museum, then along the North Dinosaur Trail to Horse Thief Canyon, and then doubling back to the HooDoos, before continuing on to Medicine Hat for the evening. It would have been nice to ride the complete Dinosaur Trial loop, including the Ferry river crossing, but that would have made for a very long day.


Within a few minutes of riding the Dinosaur Trial, I reached the Dinosaur Museum. To save time, lunch was a granola bar and a power bar while walking around exploring. The woman at the ticket counter said it would take at least two hours to see the whole museum. I didn’t have that much time if I was going to ride the Dinosaur Trail, and see the HooDoos. I managed to walk through the museum in less than an hour. But, it would have been nice to have more time to actually explore things, and read about what I was seeing.

Back on my motorcycle, I headed west on Route 838, the North Dinosaur Trail. I’ve never been into geology, but I’m sure this area must be a geologists dream. The multi-layered, multi-colored, rock-scapes with cliffs and canyons were unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before. Although the Rocky Mountains were very majestic, I actually found the badlands more interesting. Horse Thief Canyon made me think how much fun it would be to head off-road and explore the area on a horse, or even better, my KTM 450 off-road motorcycle.

Passing back through Drumheller, I took another side route, Highway 10, The HooDoo Trail. About 10 miles up the road I reached the HooDoos. According to marketing propaganda, a HooDoo is a sandstone pillar resting on a thick base of shale that is capped by a large stone. That sounds rather bizarre. How mother nature created them is a mystery to me. The hoodoos are about 15 to 20 feet tall, and took millions of years to create. Supposedly, the name “Hoodoo” comes from the word “voodoo.”  The early Blackfoot and Cree believed the Hoodoos were petrified giants who come alive at night to hurl rocks at intruders. Fortunately, I didn’t stick around for nightfall to find out.

After the HooDoos, I once again doubled back. Riding again on Highway 56, I continued south towards the Trans Canada Highway 1. This whole area reminds me of days long gone. Riding along 56, I passed Dead Horse Lake. Was that named because the person who found the lake also found a dead horse, or because his horse died at the lake? One only wonders.

As I approached Highway 1, the rolling hills started to flatten out as I entered the prairies. It also heated up. One of the things I remember most about living in the prairies was the hot, dry summers. Oh, and I guess the endless view of the horizon. Anyway, I’m in Medicine Hat, Alberta for the night. Tomorrow will be a typical ride through the prairies … long, flat and straight roads.

I took some amazing pictures of today’s motorcycle ride. Some very significant changes in terrain. From the nice rolling hills and farmer’s fields near Edmonton, to the badlands near Drumheller, ending with the flat, endless skyline of the prairies at Medicine Hat. This was probably the best day of riding, so far. Check out out the pictures.


Road Trip Previous and Next Day Posts

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 8 and 9

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 11

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 1

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