How Pachyrhinosaurs put Wembley on the #DinoTrail map


above: hiking the Pipestone Creek in search of fossils

While it’s a small town of about 1500 people now, Wembley, Alberta might once have been the bustling capital of the Cretaceous Period—if the fossil record is anything to go by. Some dinosaurs in the Wembley area (County of Grande Prairie) mysteriously perished in droves, and the aftermath is one of the richest deposits of dinosaur bones in the world. 

In the 1970s, a high school teacher discovered the first of many fossils in the Pipestone Creek Bonebed and started a dino rush in the Grande Prairie region. This eventually led to the creation of the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in Wembley, a world-leading attraction for dinosaur education and research. 

Today, a visit to Wembley is among the top destinations for dino-lovers. And it’s one of four #DinoTrail destinations for a cross-province road trip that will captivate your imagination. 

Check out the #DinoTrail expedition page to learn more!

Grande Prairie’s Dino Boom 

Wembley owes it all to the Pachyrhinosauras lakustai, a species of dinosaur that has yet to be found anywhere else! Thousands of fossils from this horned dinosaur (think a small version of a Triceratops) have been found in the Grande Prairie region, and there could be hundreds or thousands more. 

Other dinosaur fossils and remains from the era have also been unearthed, and field work is ongoing.

Dino science at Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum 

Over 40 impressive dinosaur skeletons are held at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, a number of which are on display in the Dinosaur Hall. You’ll find hands-on activities and demonstrations, and learn more about the science guiding the research. 

But among the most exciting things to do is sign on as a palaeontoloist for a day! Imagine exploring the same land that nurtured these great creatures as you search for evidence of their existence, guided by actual scientists. 

Read more about the Philip J. Currie Museum here.

More things to do around Wembley, AB 

Situated in the County of Grande Prairie, just 20 kilometres north of the city itself, Wembley is a region built on agriculture and natural resources. 

Rolling grasslands, creeks, foothills and the Wapiti River spill into the region, and there’s abundant space under Alberta’s northern skies. Farming continues to be a primary activity in the area. 

Go picking haskap berries for a fun afternoon in Grande Prairie region.

On a warm summer day you can pick saskatoon or haskap berries, or sip haskap wine at Broken Tine Orchard, or cool off with an ice cream from the Currie after a day of dino adventures. 

Several nature parks lie in close range:

Saskatoon Island Provincial Park 9 km, 10-min drive 
Saskatoon Island sits between two lakes, which plays home to a bird sanctuary. A perfect place to cool off, or bird watch!

Pipestone Creek Park 14 km, 15-min drive 
Here, you can lie back in the grass, listen to the rushing Wapiti River and imagine you’re back in ancient times.

The Dunvegan Bridge over Peace River.

Historic Dunvegan Provincial Park 112 km, 1-hour drive 
Drive across the impressive Dunvegan Bridge and make your way to the historic park. Enter and explore an early settlement with four fully preserved buildings from the region’s settler area, and learn more about the human history in the region. 

Tip: want to really get out and see the land? Take a tour on horseback, with Horse Trekking Adventures. You can read about the experience here

You’ll also find the artistic community of Beaverlodge nearby (23km, 16-minute drive). The community hall with its stained glass artwork is a must-stop along the way.

A wall of stained glass art on display at the Beaverlodge Arts & Culture Centre.

For more urban fare, including dining, craft beer and spirits, arts and events, the city of Grande Prairie is just a short, 23-kilometre drive away. 

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