Great Escapes for the Curious Traveller: From Research Trips to Science Centres to Ecology Camps, We Dug Up 5o Great Places to Bend Your Mind

By Gutzman, Chelsea; Slofstra, Emily | Alternatives Journal, July-August 2012 | Go to article overview
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Great Escapes for the Curious Traveller: From Research Trips to Science Centres to Ecology Camps, We Dug Up 5o Great Places to Bend Your Mind


Gutzman, Chelsea, Slofstra, Emily, Alternatives Journal


STANDING AMONG the supernatural coulees and hoodoos in Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park, it's not easy to imagine the lush coastal plain beside a huge inland sea that was here 75 million years ago. With a paleontology technician's supervision, we're helping to gather proof. We carefully chip and brush away the brittle sandstone to reveal treasure: an arched fragment that turns out to be a prehistoric rhinoceros' eye socket. This is Bonebed 30 (dinosaurpark.ca), a guided excavation program that taps participants into another time, place and profession.

Not all vacation fantasies are created equal. Some of us prefer to look for biological specimens instead of a great place to soak up some rays. If you would rather learn than burn on your vacation, we dug up 50 great escapes for you.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Icefield Ranges Expeditions, St. Elias Mountains, YT

A remote camp overlooking Mt. Logan serves as home base for glacier exploration, and offers programming about ice's importance to global hydrology, geography and climate. icefields.org

Cetacea Lab at Whale Point, Gil Island, BC

This research station welcomes volunteers to help track local whale populations. Applicants must be avid outdoor enthusiasts, dedicated to research tasks and passionate about whales. forwhales.org

Northern Lights Centre, Watson Lake, YT

Using interactive displays, panoramic video and surround sound systems, this facility features immersive programming about astronomy and the science and folklore of the Aurora borealis. northernlightscentre.ca

Coastal Revelations Nature and Heritage Tours, Vancouver Island, BC

This outfitter employs professional biologists to guide vacationers on rainforest hikes, wildlife viewing missions, snowshoeing treks, Nordic skiing and bird watching tours. coastalrevelations.com

Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, Tumbler Ridge, BC

Regional paleontology is explored through exhibits, children's programming (including fossil excavation and replication activities) and hiking tours, which also follow the area's wolverine tracks. trmf.ca

Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre, Osoyoos, BC

This award-winning facility (featuring a green roof and salvaged wood) boasts cultural exhibits, aboriginal crafts and easy access to guided desert walks and mountain-face rappelling. nkmipdesert.com

B. Dene Adventures, Yellowknife, NT

Owned and operated by Dene people, this culture camp educates visitors about local ecology, and also explores the language and history of the Dene. bdene.com

Telus Spark, Calgary, AB

Travelling exhibits are supported by five permanent galleries, two theatres and an outdoor park. A monthly adults-only night also features music, special programs and bar service. sparkscience.ca

Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, AB

In addition to indoor dinosaur exhibits and guided landscape tours, wannabe paleontologists can participate in specimen prospecting and excavation, plus learn to cast a fossil. tyrrellmuseum.com

Canoe Arctic Inc., Fort Smith, NT

Wildlife biologist Alex Hall leads river expeditions through the tundra, introducing paddlers to wilderness camping, unparalleled fishing and northern wildlife, like white wolves and caribou. canoeardic.com

Elu Inlet Lodge, Elu Inlet, NU

First nation locals lead hiking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, wildlife viewing and archeological observation activities, and the lodge features an outdoor hot tub and private cabins. elulodge.com

Quill Lakes International Bird Area, Wadena, Wynyard and Foam Lake, SK

More than one million birds touch down in the area annually, and two fully developed viewing areas are supported by lakeside nature and interpretive centres. quill-lakes-bird-area.com

Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, Stonewall MB

Set in a 36-sq-km wildlife management area, the centre offers tours and other educational programs that explore an expansive trail network and great birding opportunities.

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