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Fossils and Fun in Canada: The Jurassic Forest

By February 20, 2015November 23rd, 20185 Comments

Jurassic forest canada with kids

“Look a Parasaurolophus!” exclaimed my three-year-old son with perfect pronunciation. “Maybe,” I answered. I quickly checked the placard and was somewhat surprised that my son was absolutely correct. Beaming in front of the other parents I added “You’re right. Good job!”

traveling with kids CanadaThe aforementioned Parasaurolophus can be found in the Jurassic Forest near Gibbons, Alberta—about a half an hour north of Edmonton, Canada which is a perfect place to visit when you are traveling with kids. The Jurassic Forest is a 40-acre enclosed outdoor facility that is educational and entertaining for both children and adults. As my son had become enthralled by dinosaurs we thought that this would be a perfect place to visit.

When we arrived at Jurassic Forest we saw the tall green trees of an old growth forest—a forest that is old and has experienced little disturbance—towering over a wooden enclosure, giving the impression that dinosaurs are behind the fence. Soon the faint sound of roaring dinosaurs could be heard in the distance, causing excitement in my son. As parents we are immediately impressed by the exterior of the facility and the care taken in its construction. Admittedly, we are also excited to see what lies behind that wooden enclosure. After all who wouldn’t be enthusiastic to see life-sized dinosaurs?

Dinosaur Forest in Canada

Play and discover

After purchasing tickets at the entrance where there are a few dinosaur skeletons, children are immediately faced with a rather large dinosaur-themed playground. Here children can climb a dinosaur shaped apparatus, slide down dino-slides and uncover replica dinosaur bones by digging in the sand with supplied brushes and shovels. Around the playground are picnic tables—a great place under large, shady pines to enjoy your lunch—a few mechanical dinosaur rides, a gift shop and a concession stand. The exit was also the entrance, so there was no escaping the playground at some point in this visit.

The “real” deal

As my son was anxious to see the dinosaurs, we entered one of the two possible trails situated behind another large fence separating the playground from the great beasts. Behind the fence is a forest thick with trees, vines, small shrubs, pools of water and consequently insects, all meant to mimic the environment from the Jurassic period. On either side of the trail are placards placed at intervals providing information on the ecology, vegetation and insects residing in the forest. Although these are informative and interesting, the highlight of the forest is most definitely the dinosaurs. There are approximately 23 different species of dinosaurs throughout the forest—all built to proper scale. What makes the dinosaurs at Jurassic Forest especially interesting for children traveling with kids to see dinosaursis that they are animated. Each exhibit includes the dinosaur information—including pronunciation—and motion sensors, which triggers movement and sounds from the dinosaurs when you arrive. Whether coming upon a Stegosaurus lazily eating some plants or an Apatosaurus being attacked by some small carnivorous dinosaurs, my son was always impressed and excited.

When the sensors don’t immediately pick up your arrival, children can be seen jumping up and down, waving their arms and usually yelling in order to activate the dinosaurs. Staff members are easily found on the trail offering to answer any questions you might have and providing interesting insights about the ecology of the forest. This included showing my son some moose poop, which he naturally found interesting. Besides the dinosaurs, birds and insects, apparently the forest had picked up a young moose as a permanent resident. Occasionally this moose could be found resting in the bushes watching the people watching him.

traveling with kids in Canada

Even more in the area

Although the city of Edmonton provides many activities for children, such as Fort Edmonton Park, Galaxyland, the World Waterpark in West Edmonton Mall, the Edmonton Valley Zoo or the TELUS World of Science, Jurassic Forest what makes it worth the visit. Our trip to Jurassic Forest was an adventure that was interesting and educational; providing facts about the dinosaurs and the ecological system of the enclosure. Of course, most importantly, Jurassic Forest provided our children—and us—with the thrill of seeing dinosaurs in a realistic environment. Our family trip to the Jurassic Forest turned out to be a perfect afternoon; one that we will repeat.

For more information visit:
The Jurassic Forest 
Fort Edmonton Park
Edmonton Valley Zoo
TELUS World of Science
West Edmonton Mall

Craig Taylor is an adjunct professor of Greek and Roman history at the University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He and his wife are embedding their love of travel into their two young sons as they explore the globe. You can connect with Craig on Twitter @CraigPTaylor1

Pure Wander Contributor

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Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Andrea Amy says:

    Sounds really interesting. I’ve been to Drumheller tons of times (so much in fact its kind of boring for me). This looks like it would be a fun outing with the kids!

  • Jody Robbins says:

    I’ve never been to this Jurassic Forest, but I’m amazed at all the dino offerings in Alberta. We try to make it to the Royal Tyrrell Museum at least once a year and once went on a fossil safari at Dinosaur Provincial Park. Such a treat for kids (of all ages). Next time I’m near Edmonton I want to check this forest out.

  • Matthew Jones says:

    Its a GREAT place to take the family! The kids love it, and they added on another small trail recently.

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