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Thanksgiving Point: A Garden Oasis

Nature lovers flock to Thanksgiving Point.

Melissa Fields
tulip beds bloom in Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah, picture
Photo credit
Photo Courtesy of Thanksgiving Point
Photo caption
Nearly 300,000 tulips bloom annually at Ashton Gardens.

A swath of sage-covered valley floor along Utah's busiest interstate is the last place you'd expect to find a 55-acre botanical garden, a paleontology museum, and a demonstration farm. But Thanksgiving Point, 25 miles south of Salt Lake City off I-15, surprises in many ways.

Alan Ashton, cofounder of the early software maker WordPerfect Corp., bought the once-desolate piece of land near Lehi more than two decades ago as a gift to his wife, Karen. Together, they have transformed it into a wondrous destination for all ages.

What can you do at Thanksgiving Point? Among other things, you can milk a cow in Farm Country; dig for dinosaur bones at the Museum of Ancient Life; traverse an indoor rope course at the Museum of Natural Curiosity; or stroll through tulip beds reminiscent of the Netherlands at Ashton Gardens. The grounds really shine in April, when visitors from across the state arrive for the Tulip Festival, a celebration of the nearly 300,000 orange, yellow, pink, and lavender blooms blanketing the grounds.

And, it turns out, the Ashtons aren't even done developing the property. In the works is a fifth attraction, an enormous interactive butterfly habitat that will house thousands of the colorful insects from around the world. Butterfly Biosphere is slated to open January 2019.

This article was first published in Spring 2018. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.