The Hoodoos of Drumheller are a must-see on a road trip through Alberta. We were pretty excited to see the hoodoos of Drumheller. The name alone made us want to take a trip out to the Badlands of Alberta to see what they were all about. I mean, what is a Hoodoo anyway?
What is a Hoodoo?
A hoodoo is a tall thin rock spire made of sandstone with a hard and dense rock sitting on top, like a hat. Or as the sign at the park describes them: “Eroded pillars of soft sandstone rock topped with a resilient cap.“
The hoodoos are formed over hundreds of years through erosion from freezing, frost, melt and wind. Over time, the sandstone erodes into long chimney-like formations that remain standing because the hard rock “hat” keeps it from completely eroding away.
The hard rock on the top of the hoodoos protects the soft layer of sandstone underneath from the elements creating the odd shape. But once they reach the stage of being the cute fairytale chimneys, they don’t last long! It is said that every 100 years, they lose 2-4 feet.
The Hoodoos of Drumheller
Before visiting the hoodoos of Drumheller, we only know of them from Sam and Dean of the TV series Supernatural. (It’s a series dealing with magic, demons, and the afterworld), and they are always talking about “Bad Hoodoo”
We always thought “Bad Hoodoo” meant some sort of dark Voodoo. As it turns out, we were right!
Definition of a Hoodoo
According to the sign at the Hoodoos, The word Hoodoo comes from the Hausa Language originating in West Africa. The term hoodoo means ‘to arouse resentment and to practice retribution.‘
Hoodoo was a distinct magic practice introduced to North America in the 18th Century. ‘Aboriginal People used Hoodoo to refer to evil, supernatural forces.”
We found out that Hoodoo was also very popular in New Orleans when we visited. Hoodoo is not the same as voodoo. Read more: Things to do in New Orleans
There you have it! The boys at Supernatural know what they are talking about.
How Are Hoodoos Formed?
I took this photo of the hoodoo rock above to show what a Hoodoo looks like in the early stages. You can see the layers of rock here and how the harder rock on top will eventually become the cap of the Hoodoo in the very far future.
Over centuries the soft rock erodes away and the hard cap remains. You can see in the photo above that it is softer rock underneath a hard layer. As the sandstone erodes, it gets narrower and longer and the cap remains creating these fascinating formations.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when viewing the hoodoos.I had visions of valleys filled with thousands of formations, and that we’d be hiking through for miles to have a look. But when we stepped out of our car at a location on the side of the road, I said, “Is this it?” At first glance, it doesn’t seem like much.
There are about seven or eight hoodoos clustered together near a parking lot with a protected barrier around them. There is a walkway around them so that you can see every angle, but you can’t go near them.
I didn’t realize that the Hoodoos were just in one spot and were a tourist attraction. For some reason I thought all Hoodoos look like this and that these formations would be scattered all over the landscape of a barren desert. But I was wrong, the Drumheller Hoodoos are definitely special and while there are hoodoos everywhere, none are so defined and striking as the cluster at Drumheller.
When we got out of the car, I thought we’d stay for about 10 minutes or so. But once we started exploring, we stuck around for more than an hour!
I began to realize just how fascinating and unique these hoodoos were. The Drumheller Hoodoos are la creme de la creme of the hoodoos. They are in amazing shape and I realized that if there weren’t a protective barrier around them, they’d be destroyed.
The Drumheller Hoodoos are truly a spectacular display of nature. It’s hard to imagine that wind and rain can turn rock into such beautiful works of art and I found that I could gaze upon these for hours.
The Hoodoo Trail Lookout
We also took a hike to the top of the mountain for a better view. It’s a fun climb that is a bit steep and slippery but it was nice to be able to get out and stretch our legs after the long drive.
Plus it gave us the chance to look down and see the hoodoos from a different view. It wasn’t an amazing view, I’m not going to claim that it will take your breath away; I mean the hoodoos are located right next to the highway.
Top of the Hoodoos Trail Drumheller
You won’t find anything but a field up there and the view isn’t superb, but I do recommend it, it’s a lot of fun, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you make it to the top. The climb down is even more enjoyable as you try to find a path that won’t cause you to topple over.
We hiked in our flipflops which wasn’t a good idea and if I had known better, I would have thrown on my hiking boots. Oh well, anything to add to the adventure!
Are the Hoodoos of Alberta Worth The Stop on the Drive to Drumheller?
So were the hoodoos of Drumheller worth stopping for? Yes indeed. Even though they are clustered together and just off the side of the road, they are still amazing. In fact, we have them on our most Beautiful Places to Visit in Alberta list.
These aren’t man-made formations, they are created by nature and this is where they stand naturally. It’s one cool stop of many on your way from Dinosaur National Park to Drumheller.
So when you see the signs on the side of the road, make sure you stop at the Hoodoos and go for a climb to the top. You’ll be happy you did. Watch the video on Instagram
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17 thoughts on “The Hoodoos of Drumheller”
i love the hoodoos they are soo fun
I grew up in the Drumheller area, and I never got sick of visiting the Hoodoos. I'm always surprised when I talk about them on Twitter or other social media outlets and people don't know what they are. That prompted me to write my own post on the Hoodoos (http://bit.ly/16q7Yal). Make sure, though, when you talk about them you mention that they are very fragile and prone to fast erosion, so don't wander off the paths, try to climb them, or carve your name into them (lots of insensitive tourists do these things, which causes huge damage). Nature made them slowly, but they can be destroyed so fast!
Great advice Marti. I do hope that people don’t jump the fence to climb on them. It’s great that they have been cornered off for us to see, but there’s always a few who break the rules. If Alberta didn’t have the foresight to put up the barrier, I bet the hoodoos wouldn’t be around today. Luckily they are and yet, they do erode fast. I wonder how many years they have left? It will be a shame when they are gone.
Canada is an amazing country! Thanks for sharing!
My wife and I have been to Drumheller several times and have found each journey to be unique and with new adventures and discoveries. The Dinosaur Museum is a perfect compliment to walking among these prehistoric formations. Did you visit the Oyster Beds? Incidentally, I’ve also ventured up (once) in flip flops and ended up hiking barefoot to keep from becoming part of the buried bones in the area!
You are so right, the Dinosaur museum is the perfect compliment. You get to see it all outside in the landscape and then learn about it at the museum, we loved it. We didn’t go to the Oyster Beds, but that gives us another reason to go back to Alberta!
Amazing Canada! Supernatural as well eh? 🙂 Beautiful place!
wow. those pillars look amazing. Earth is so full of awesome natural beauty.
Looks beautiful! Reminds me a little bit of Cappadocia in Turkey. Surreal landscapes.
Very cool! I never even knew these existed. We have a lovely country, here in Canada!
Thanks for sharing 🙂
I would love to see these hoodoos. Just to take a photo next to them.
This is something very interesting. Never heard about it.
Using my supernatural powers I can tell that hoodoos is the closest thing to vodoos.
Cool hoodoos! Seeing hoodoos covered with snow in Bryce Canyon, in the high plateaus of southern Utah was an unforgettable experience for us. We’d love to see more. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Canada is so awesome!
The hoodoos remind me of Cappadocia in Turkey
Wow! Hoodoo. What a unique name for a unique rock structure. Thanks for the educational post!