Drumheller, Alberta – Looking for the superlative of barren

Calling the highway hotline this morning makes clear: Trans Canada Highway to Alberta is still closed due to flooding. What irony: The area is Canada’s aridest one with in the average 270 days without precipitation per year. We come to know that the damages at TCH have to be repaired before being passable again. Who knows how long that’ll take? Furthermore the bridge on the service road to Cypress Hills Park is damaged, so there is no access. We have to take a detour on worse roads. What does not detract the prairies from getting more barren. The nearly elevation-free plane extends till the horizon. There are not many ploughed fields, mostly simple grass grows. We discover few yellow canola patches, wind-protection rows and ponds. The road seems to be made with a ruler and leads to infinity.

What is the superlative of barren? Barreny, barrenst or most barren? I guess eastern Alberta is the right place to find out. In any case it is “most prairie” here. On the only marginally hilly plane farming is missing completely. Meadows stretch as far as you can see. Here aren’t even groves or bushes. Simply nothing. You can fix your steering wheel in straight on position.

Unexpectedly we drive down a steep gradient. A glacial valley opens that casts a spell on us. The river washed out the limestone in terraces. The horizontal planes are grown over with a short carpet of grass, on the vertical steps vegetation can’t stay and the yellow-brown stone is visible. The river meanders through the scenery. The Badlands called area is well-known for its dinosaur bones’ finds, but you can’t visit the places where they were found. Instead, there are a couple of very touristy plastic and concrete dinosaurs. We prefer to visit the Hoodoos, washed out limestone pillars with a bigger hat that protects them from further erosion. They look a bit like mushrooms. The columns stand on darker stone that remains from an ocean 74 million years ago.

We stay even behind the city of Drumheller for a couple of kilometres in the valley and find a beautiful place to overnight where we can marvel the sunset while having a beer.

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