ANOTHER ROADSIDE ATTRACTION: Dinos roam Jurassic Forest
OK, we’re willing to keep the wagging finger of shame at bay as long as you agree to keep your trips within an hour’s drive of town – which brings us to a semi-somewhat regular Gigcity summer feature we like to call ANOTHER ROADSIDE ATTRACTION. The Tragically Hip isn’t using it anymore.
Today, let’s go back in time to the Jurassic Forest, located about 30 km Northeast of Edmonton near Gibbons, Alberta – and about 175 million years into the past. Younger kids can easily be convinced into thinking that scientists actually did manage to grow real dinosaurs from fossilised DNA – and everyone else can simply imagine it, easy to do when you catch a surprise glimpse of a hungry Planocephalosaurus hidden behind tree trunks, surrounded by a type of living swamp grass – the common horsetail – that hasn’t changed in 300 million years. That’s evolution for you. The horsetail found a survival technique that worked and just stuck with it.
Lurking on two boardwalk trails that wind deep through the boggy forest are animatronic examples of almost every dinosaur that stomped, walked, crawled or flew in Alberta during the Jurassic period. There is the fierce Albertosaurus, the not quite-so-fierce but still very dangerous looking Edmontosaurus, no sign of the Capilanosaurus or Millwoodsotron. Eerie sounds and shadowy movements can be spotted from the trail at regular intervals, causing satisfying screams from the little ones. You are invited to take pictures of the various prehistoric tableaus. In one scene, a hapless Ataposaurus is set upon by a pack of ravenous Ornitholestes. In another, a hungry Tyrannosaurus devours a Coelophysis. Stegosaurs and Dimetrodons roam the land.
Most of the “exhibits” are static, though on certain occasions, depending on the weather, a couple of walking dinosaurs are brought out. Plans may be in the works for a Pteranodon to fly over your heads on a wire, which would be really cool.
The great thing about the Jurassic Forest – aside from the rich Albertasauron content – is that this is such a straight-forward theme park. It’s $40 for the family, you go straight into the dinosaur hikes, back to the dino dig in the sandbox, stomp on some giant bugs in an interactive video exhibit, grab some ice cream and you’re outta there. Two hours – done.
Be sure to stop at the amazing Sikh temple on your way down Hwy. 15. Maybe that’s ANOTHER ROADSIDE ATTRACTION for another day.