Thanksgiving Point

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Coordinates: 40°25′53″N 111°54′09″W / 40.4313°N 111.9026°W / 40.4313; -111.9026

Thanksgiving Point
Established 1995
Location Lehi, Utah
Director Mike L Washburn

Thanksgiving Point is a 501(c)(3) farm, garden, and museum complex Lehi, Utah, United States. Its venues include the Museum of Ancient Life, Farm Country, the Museum of Natural Curiosity, and Ashton Gardens.

Other attractions include Harvest restaurant, Tower Deli, Emporium gift shop, and Brick Canvas spa.[1]


Thanksgiving Point was founded in 1995 by Alan and Karen 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 sell, 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 in 1997.

Ashton Gardens[edit]

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 theme 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.[1]

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 Life[edit]

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.[4][5] 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 known as the "Mammoth Screen 3D Theater". During museum hours, the theater shows science films relevant to the museum’s collections and exhibition. Outside of museum hours, the screen is shared for movie showings by a nearby movie theater.

Farm Country[edit]

Calf feeding demonstration in Farm Country.

Farm Country is a working farm open to visitors. During the summer, a Junior Master Gardener Club[6] maintains a pizza garden, growing tomatoes, basil, peppers, and onions. Other demonstration gardens include a USDA People’s Garden.[7] There are daily live cow-milking demonstrations, traditional farm animals, and wagon and pony rides.

Museum of Natural Curiosity[edit]

Thanksgiving Point's newest venue is the Museum of Natural Curiosity that opened in May 2014.[8] The museum features five exhibit areas: Rainforest, Waterworks, Kidopolis, Traveling Exhibits, and the five-acre outdoor component, Discovery Garden.


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.

Discovery Garden[edit]

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.[9]


Thanksgiving Point produces and holds events throughout the year. Examples include a spring tulip festival, seasonal corn maze, a re-enacting the American Thanksgiving feast of 1621, and other seasonal events.

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

Thanksgiving Point Golf Course[edit]

Thanksgiving Point Golf Course is operated and managed by Vanguard Golf Management. 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 also[edit]


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