The Badlands of Alberta are a semi-arid dustbowl, rich with deposits of fossils and eerie pillars of fantastically shaped earth called hoodoos, which can reach 10 meters in height. The Siksika (Blackfoot Indians) believed these were evil giants, petrified as punishment for their malicious deeds, who would come alive at night to throw rocks at intruders.
Recently, access to most popular hoodoos was closed off to the public while protective pathways and fences were put in place by the Royal Tyrell Museum, the unofficial guardian of the Drumheller Valley hoodoos. It’s no longer possible to get up close and personal with these hoodoos as well as the ones located at the Dinosaur Provincial Park, north of Brooks.
Although these sandstone-and-shale formations take millions of years to develop, they can deteriorate rapidly. Environmental elements such a high winds, rain, and frigid temperatures can do their part to destroy the hoodoos — but the biggest danger is humans. Curious onlookers trying to touch, climb or carve their initial into the hoodoos have resulted in widespread damage. Even walking up to the base of a hoodoo weakens the clay slopes protecting the foundation and can lead to its crumbling.
One of the few places left to see hoodoos in their natural settings is along Highway 10, aka “Hoodoo Trail.” The drive from Drumheller to East Coulee takes you along the Red Deer River valley past some of the best hoodoo lands in Alberta that remain unfenced. Access to these hoodoos may change quickly since the Alberta government is working hard to protect and conserve these sites.
Part of a NileGuide Special Report: 25 Destinations to See Before They Change Forever.