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Thanksgiving Point is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit farm, garden, and museum complex in Lehi, Utah, United States. Its venues include the Museum of Ancient Life, Farm Country, the Museum of Natural Curiosity, and Ashton Gardens. A fifth venue, the Butterfly Biosphere, opened in 2019.

Thanksgiving Point
LocationLehi, Utah
CoordinatesCoordinates: 40°25′53″N 111°54′09″W / 40.4313°N 111.9026°W / 40.4313; -111.9026
DirectorMike L. Washburn

Other attractions include the Thanksgiving Point Golf Course, Harvest Restaurant, Tower Deli, and Brick Canvas Spa.[1]



Thanksgiving Point was founded in 1995 by Karen Jackman Ashton and Alan C. Ashton.

Alan Ashton co-founded software company WordPerfect with Bruce Bastian in Provo, Utah, in 1979. In 1994, WordPerfect was sold to Utah-based Novell for nearly a billion dollars.[2] After the sale, Alan purchased farm land in Lehi, Utah, and gifted it to his wife Karen on February 14, 1995. They planned to build a community garden and farm experience. The name for the project, Thanksgiving Point, was chosen to express gratitude.[3] Thanksgiving Point Institute registered as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1997.

Ashton GardensEdit

The gardens opened to the public in 1997 as Thanksgiving Gardens. The master plan was developed with Salt Lake City landscape architect Leonard Grassli. The gardens cover approximately 55 acres and include 15 different themed gardens, including a replica of the garden described in Frances Hodgson Burnett's book The Secret Garden. Other themed garden rooms include a Monet pond, Rocky Mountain landscapes, and a rose garden growing 60 different varieties.

At the opening of the 2016 season, Thanksgiving Point renamed the gardens "Ashton Gardens" in honor of the contributions and vision of Alan and Karen Ashton and the Ashton Family Foundation.[4]

Community horticulture courses are offered by Utah State University master gardener volunteers. Commonly offered courses include square foot gardening and perennial plant landscape design. Some gardens demonstrate water-wise gardening techniques and the irrigation and water features work as a vast water reclamation system.

Museum of Ancient LifeEdit

Lobby area in the Museum of Ancient Life (dinosaur skeletal mounts seen in the photograph: Othnielosaurus fleeing from Torvosaurus)

The Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point first opened in 2000. A group of Utah paleontologists approached Thanksgiving Point with an idea to build a world-class dinosaur museum. Together, they planned and assembled the exhibits of the Museum of Ancient Life, one of the world's largest collections of mounted fossils.[5][6] The museum's goal was to take collections out of cases and put them into an immersive environment.

The museum also features a large movie screen auditorium named the Mammoth Screen 3D Theater. During museum hours, the theater shows large format science films relevant to the museum's collections and exhibition.

Farm CountryEdit

Calf feeding demonstration in Farm Country

Farm Country is a working farm open to visitors. During the summer, a Junior Master Gardener Club[7] maintains a pizza garden, growing tomatoes, basil, peppers, and onions. Other demonstration gardens include a USDA People's Garden.[8] There are daily live cow-milking demonstrations, traditional farm animals, and wagon and pony rides.

Museum of Natural CuriosityEdit

Thanksgiving Point's Museum of Natural Curiosity opened in May 2014.[9] The museum features five exhibit areas: Rainforest, Waterworks, Kidopolis, Traveling Exhibits, and a five-acre outdoor component, Discovery Garden.

Discovery GardenEdit

Discovery Garden is the outdoor gallery of the Museum of Natural Curiosity. It is an educational area designed to teach youth about the natural environment. The garden includes two hedgerow mazes, an "eco-pond", and a replica of Timpanogos Cave. Discovery Garden also includes the Arbor Day Foundation-certified Nature Explore Classroom, the first certified in Utah and one of only 65 in the continental United States.[10]


Thanksgiving Point also offers a variety of classes for both youth and adults on topics such as cooking, animal husbandry, robotics, gardening, fitness, arts and crafts, and glass-blowing.


Thanksgiving Point produces and holds events throughout the year. Examples include a spring tulip festival, a seasonal corn maze, a holiday lights experience called Luminaria, and other seasonal events.

Tulips at Thanksgiving Point tulip festival

Private social and corporate events such as weddings, parties, and corporate functions are held in conference and meeting rooms throughout Thanksgiving Point.

Thanksgiving Point Golf CourseEdit

Thanksgiving Point Golf Course is operated and managed by the Ashtons and Troon. It is the largest public golf course in Utah at 7,728 yards (7,066 m) long and more than 200 acres (0.81 km2). The course was designed by professional golfer Johnny Miller.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Thanksgiving Point website
  2. ^ Chapman, George (December 9, 2015). "Utah inventions: WordPerfect led the PC word processing market for almost 10 years". Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  3. ^ Allred, Cathy (March 9, 2011). "Valentine legacy: Ashtons celebrate gift of Thanksgiving Point". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  4. ^ "Thanksgiving Point renames gardens in honor of its founders". Deseret News. March 3, 2016.
  5. ^ Diverse Utah - Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, from BootsnAll Travel
  6. ^ Martin, Hugo (October 19, 2008). "Jurassic Lark". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Sagers, Larry A. (April 3, 2011). "Teaching children the joy of gardening". Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  8. ^ "People's Garden | USDA". Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  9. ^ Laypath, Allison (April 28, 2014). "Museum of Natural Curiosity to open at Thanksgiving Point". Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  10. ^ Allred, Cathy (March 9, 2011). "Thanksgiving Point brushing off winter, preparing for spring". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2016-02-29.

External linksEdit