Updated: Oct 2, 2020
We got off to a 6:45 am start from Cochrane, with a 7:30 meetup near Cross Iron mills for those members travelling from Calgary. Our group was 8 cars with 10 members. It was a cool cloudy and windy morning but promises of sunshine and warmth at Dinosaur Provincial Park kept us going. Although Dinosaur Prov Park is only 3 hours east of Cochrane, we planned for a 6 hour drive in order to take in some back roads and sights along the way. Our routing took us due east out of Balzac (Cross Iron Mills) as far as we could go along the Keoma road. As expected, it started out paved and once we were well east, it turned into gravel. We passed many ripening grain fields but were a bit early for harvesting activities. We had constant sunshine on the eastern horizon but for the first couple hours, it seemed like the overhead clouds were blowing east as fast as we were. There were a number of ponds along the roadside with plenty of waterfowl. There were also a few old barns presenting the occasional photo opportunity. Passing south of Rockyford, the road turned south to MD road 564 (paved), which we continued on east until it turned north and headed towards Dorothy. By now we were in sunshine and had a good view of dark clouds back to the west. We cut across a windy gravel road and had an elevated viewpoint of Dorothy for a few photos and then proceeded into Dorothy which has a few old vehicles and old two restored churches that are open to visitors. For those others who might consider making the trek on their own – there are also public washrooms in Dorothy.
From Dorothy, we continued east, then turned south to reach Finnegan Ferry, a cable driven ferry that crosses the Red Deer River. The ferry service started here in 1913, with the current ferry having been built in 2001. From the ferry, we headed to the village of Duchess, then on to Dinosaur Provincial Park. Dinosaur Provincial Park is located in the Alberta badlands along the Red Deer River. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and comprises 73 square km. There have been 58 dinosaur species found in the park, and over 500 specimens have been shipped to museums around the world. The topography is primarily badlands with many hiking trails throughout the park.
We arrived in time for a late picnic lunch. The weather was sunny and warm, but very windy. After lunch, we headed off in various directions for hikes (several easy hikes available) and photography. The participants headed home on their own whenever they were ready to go.
There was a lot of driving and prairie vistas, culminating with the exceptional badlands photo opportunities. It was a very pleasant day, with the chance to catch up on what some of the other camera club members have been doing during the COVID-19 period. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Pat Johnston for organizing and hosting this Outing.