Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about two and a half hours drive southeast of Calgary, Alberta, Canada or 48 kilometres (30 mi), about a half hour drive, northeast of Brooks.
Dinosaur Provincial Park-located at the heart of Alberta's badlands-contains some of the most important fossil discoveries ever made from the 'Age of Reptiles', in particular about 35 species of dinosaur, dating back some 75 million years.
Dinosaur Provincial Park is located in the Dry Mixedgrass Subregion of the Grassland Natural Region. This is the warmest and driest subregion in Alberta. Permanent streams are relatively rare, although the ones that do exist are deeply carved into the bedrock in some places. This as exposed Cretaceous shales and sandstones, creating extensive badlands, the largest in Canada.
Great rivers that flowed here 75 million years ago left sand and mud deposits that make up the valley walls, hills and hoodoos of modern-day Dinosaur Provincial Park. About 15,000 years ago this area was flat and covered by an ice sheet some 600 m thick. During this ice age, glacial melt water carved steep-sided channels; ice crystals, wind and flowing water continued to shape the badlands. Today, water from prairie creeks and run-off continues to sculpt the landscape and expose bedrock.
During the late Cretaceous period, 75 million years ago, the landscape was very different. The climate was subtropical, with lush forests covering a coastal plain. Rivers flowed east, across the plain into the Bearpaw warm inland sea. The low swampy country was home to a variety of animals, including dinosaurs. The conditions were also perfect for the preservation of their bones as fossils. Between 1979 and 1991, a total of 23,347 fossil specimens were collected, including 300 dinosaur skeletons.
The park protects a very complex ecosystem including three communities: prairie grasslands, badlands, and riverside cottonwoods. Its ecosystem is surrounded by prairies but is unique unto itself. Choruses of coyotes are common at dusk, as are the calls of nighthawks. Cottontail rabbits, mule deer, and pronghorn can all be seen in the park; the prairie rattlesnake, bull snake and the red-sided garter snake are present as well.