Wembley aka Dinosaur Town is a Palaeontology Playground for All Ages
Take a roadtrip on the #dinotrail to discover dinosaurs like never before, connecting northern Alberta and BC, and the communities of Grande Cache, Wembley, Tumbler Ridge and Prince George. #dinotrail
Wembley, AB — In mild-mannered Wembley you wouldn’t expect a dinosaur to come stomping around the corner. In this mostly one-story northern town of under 2000 people, just twenty minutes from the City of Grande Prairie, Alberta, there aren’t many corners for a dinosaur to hide behind. Nonetheless, here you’ll find a dinosaur hotbed from fossil bones to animatronic dinos, to the iconic Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum.
If you haven’t yet heard of Wembley, you’d be forgiven. It’s taken some time for the town to build up its palaeontological cred, next to better known southern Alberta dinosaur attractions like the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, or Dinosaur Provincial Park.
But make no mistake, this town is making its mark among the world’s dinosaur science attractions, and well deserves its place on your #dinotrail road trip.
WATCH: Wembley, a Dinosaur Playground for all ages
For Cory and Dustin Wickberg and their two kids, Kyle (11) and Chelsey (9), Wembley was #dinotrail stop 1. Hailing from nearby Sexsmith, they knew about the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, the town’s rich natural history and Pipestone Creek Bonebed (where one of the world’s richest fossil deposits lies).
But it wasn’t until recently that they stopped putting off a family visit. And they were quickly glad they did.
So why visit this little-known northern prairie town? The number one reason is obvious: the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum.
Think of the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum as the Royal Tyrrell’s much younger sibling. Built in 2015, the 3800-square metre facility houses a unique collection based on dinosaurs found in the region.
But it’s far more than that. The museum has geared itself towards hands-on, up close experiences. Beyond exploring the collections, you can go inside the lab itself, to watch and learn as the scientists work (they're happy to chat with you, so don't be afraid to ask questions!). And you can meet live animal descendants of the dinosaur age.
But the signature tours should top any dino lover’s list. On the Palaeontologist for a Day adventure, you can bone up—pun intended—on your amateur palaeo skills in the field at a bonebed.
Or, on The Secrets of the Wapiti raft tour, you can float down the Wapiti River on a guided fossil hunt, as scientists connect you to the region’s natural history.
(You can follow along on the latter, in this story on stop #2 on the Wickbergs’ #dinotrail adventure.)
The establishment of the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum has definitely woken up the sleeping beasts of yore, but all of this grew out of the discovery of the fossils in the Pipestone Creek, just a 15-minute drive from town.
That story begins with high school teacher Al Lakusta meandering up the Pipestone Creek bed in the 1970s, and happening on a large dinosaur fossil. Over the subsequent years, as they sifted through layer on layer of fossil bones, palaeontologists eventually determined the area to be one of the world’s richest bonebeds.
As museum curator and lead scientist Dr. Emily Bamforth puts it, “It was a really bad day for dinosaurs, but a great day for palaeontology.”
It’s taken some time to go from bones in a creek to a full-fledged international level dinosaur museum site, but the town is—pun intended—embracing its evolution (which, if you’re a dinosaur lover, is only fitting, right?).
In 2023, Wembley decided to build itself out as Dinosaur Town, and therein lies the appeal for an extended visit beyond the museum. Coming soon, animatronic dinosaurs will inhabit the town’s biggest park, Sunset Park, which backs onto a small lake and wetlands.
There’s a natural boardwalk, spray park and playground, as well as groves of willow and tall, mature cottonwoods that dance in the light prairie breezes. It’s the perfect place to let loose after some adventures in learning at the museum.
Not far from the park, the Corner Grocery Store has joined in on the dino game with dino models throughout the store, dining on ice cream and attacking displays. The kids soon had their cones and were licking happily in the gazebo park across from the store, a satisfying afternoon treat.
And of course, no trip to Wembley would be complete without a visit to the site that started it all, at Pipestone Creek Park. Ending the day here with a picnic, the Wickbergs meander down to the Wapiti River as the sun lingers in the northern sky, to pick rocks and perhaps ponder the remarkable passage of time.
WHEN YOU GO
Wembley is a small town just 20 minutes west of Grande Prairie, AB.
from Grande Prairie: drive 20 min west on AB-43W
Where to stay, eat and play
You can camp right at Pipestone Creek Park, in the heart of dinosaur territory. Or, for hotels and other accommodations, check out the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association.
Sunset Park is found at 10128 99 Ave, in the Town of Wembley.
For Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum information visit the museum website.
Aug 12 - 13 Wembley Mud Bogs
Go from dinosaurs to monster trucks, check out the wild action at this muddy four-wheeled show
More #dinotrail adventures
Follow along with the Wickbergs as they continue their journey of discovery on the #dinotrail, connecting Wembley and the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum to Grande Cache, AB, and Tumbler Ridge and Prince George in BC.