Drumheller Hoodoos: What are They & Where to Find Them

If you’re traveling to Alberta, Canada, then you must take the scenic drive to the Drumheller Hoodoos. These rare, ancient rock structures known as “hoodoos” are something you can see in only a handful of places in North America.

Alberta is blessed with a small pocket of hoodoos right in the badlands of Drumheller. They are well worth the trip to the sunny and beautiful Red Deer River Valley.

drumheller hoodoo rock structures
Image credit: DebMacFadden

Drumheller is a unique little town with eye-catching architecture that will make you feel like you’re in an old Western movie. It is well worth a weekend visit to see all of the attractions it has to offer. The real gems of this town, though, are the magnificent Drumheller Hoodoos.

Here’s everything you need to know before you head out to see one of the many natural beauties of Alberta: the Drumheller Hoodoos.

What is a Hoodoo?

A hoodoo is a tall rock tower that forms on an arid drainage basin or badland. Sedimentary or volcanic rock form most hoodoos. Softer rock makes up the column of the strange natural structures and a harder, less erodible type of rock sits on the top. This is what gives the majority of hoodoos a mushroom-like shape.

You can find hoodoos only in North America in places such as Utah, Arizona, Mexico, and of course, Drumheller.

What are the Drumheller Hoodoos?

drumheller hoodoos
Image credit: Rakeon

The Drumheller Hoodoos are peculiar mounds of sandstone that stand many meters tall. They have weathered down to their iconic tabletop shape after millions of years of powerful wind exposure and erosion from freezing and thawing every winter and spring. 

The hoodoos stand on the southern outskirts of Drumheller. You can visit and climb around them for a small fee of $2.00. Just follow the rules listed in the signs around the sites. Also, be sure to read the informational plaques along the walkways to learn more about the history of the Drumheller Hoodoos as you walk around these strange natural beauties. Note that nfortunately, there isn’t much for wheelchair access beyond the parking lot.

I  promise these odd rocks are worth the visit. I urge you to visit them soon, though, because the hoodoos are weathering more and more each year. Soon, they will be images of the past. 

Where can you find the Drumheller Hoodoos? 

It’s easy! Take Highway 10 East down from Drumheller. Enjoy the simple and scenic drive along the Red Deer River until you spot the Drumheller Hoodoos. With plenty of signage for ‘Drumheller Hoodoos Trail’ and their unique look, you couldn’t miss them if you tried. 

The only sure way to see hoodoos is by going to the protected Drumheller Hoodoos site. However, if you’re feeling up to the challenge, then search the vast badlands surrounding Drumheller and I  am confident you will find smaller versions of the hoodoos all around. 

Be sure to soak in the beauty of Alberta’s badlands while you drive down the highway. Look up to the top of the valley and think about how where you’re driving used to be where the Red Deer River flowed, all the way to the very top. You can thank the river for the magnificent geography of the Drumheller Badlands and the rest of the valley. 

A guide to the Hoodoos Trail

hoodoo trail
Image credit: GoToVan

The Hoodoos Trail is less of an actual trail and more of a natural jungle gym for children and adults alike. For the best experience, I  suggest you load up your camera, water bottle, and sunscreen in a small backpack, put on your favorite ball cap, and go exploring.

The climbing can be tricky due to the smoothness of the sandstone. This activity is definitely not for those who are afraid of heights. However, if you’re feeling up to it then see how high you can climb up the mounds that surround the Drumheller Hoodoos. The view from the top is one to remember.

You can even find a small cave in the area to explore at your own risk. When you’re tired from all of the climbing, be sure to stop at one of the food trucks in the parking lot for a well-deserved and delicious ice cream cone. My favorite flavor is Moose Tracks. 

Where else in Alberta can you find hoodoos?

banff hoodoos
Image credit: Blaise Alleyne

If you travel a couple of hours west of Drumheller, you will find even more of these odd rock structures in Banff. Banff is already popular for Its quaint architecture, adorable street names, and the grand mountains that surround it. If you are traveling to Banff then I encourage you to check out these lesser-known but absolutely stunning hoodoos. 

There are a couple of ways to visit the Banff Hoodoos. For the best way according to me, be prepared for a bit of a hike. The Hoodoos from Bow Falls Trail is excellent for seeing these natural beauties, plus a waterfall and a gorgeous river. This 10-kilometer hike wraps around Tunnel Mountain, my favorite mountain in all of Banff. 

For a less strenuous experience, check out the Hoodoos Lookout Point. To get there, drive up Tunnel Mountain road from Banff. Stay on the road past two magnificent hotels and past the Tunnel Mountain campground until you find signs for parking. From there, you can take a short walk to the point for a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the hoodoos.

These hoodoos look a little different from the Drumheller Hoodoos. They are shaped from harder sedimentary rocks that erode into cone-like towers over time. Although they look quite different, they are still just as beautiful as the Drumheller Hoodoos. 

Alberta is a wonderful province to travel to and it has so much to offer. The Drumheller Hoodoos are just the tip of the iceberg. That said, if you are going to take a trip to Alberta, then these magnificently strange rocks are a must-see.

I hope this article helped you with any questions you had about the Drumheller Hoodoos. Happy traveling!

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