The Butterfly Biosphere at Thanksgiving Point

Living in Las Vegas, we often enjoy take quick trips north to Utah. Utah offers a lot of different attractions including Thanksgiving Point. Thanksgiving Point is a conglomerate of different museums and attractions from a Children’s Museum to picturesque gardens and just about everything in between. Each attraction is a half to full day activity on its own and on our last trip we decided to try out the Butterfly Biosphere.

About the Butterfly Biosphere

The Butterfly Biosphere is a 40,000 square foot venue that touts over 1,000 different kinds of butterflies as well as an assortment of different insects and bugs. Admittedly, I love this type of stuff. I enjoy interacting with nature and exposing my kids to different types of animals no matter where we are.
My husband Brent is less excited about these experiences as he is less
enthusiastic about activities directed solely at children. Our initial hesitation was that we have been through butterfly habitats before, so what could be so different about this one. Also the Butterfly Biosphere comes with a steep price tag. Admission prices as of January 2020 are $20.00 for Adults, $15.00 for kids ages 3-15 while kids under that age of 2 are free. There are senior discounts as well as multi-venue discounts available, but if you are only interested in seeing the butterflies, this trip does not sit well with the thrifty.
The Butterfly Biosphere is located at  3003 N Thanksgiving Way in Lehi, Utah.  It is open Monday – Saturday from 10 am until 8 pm.

First Impression

Despite the price tag we decided to try it out.  Entering the facility you can tell that Thanksgiving Point takes pride in what it does.  The building is well manicured, modern, well laid out and the employees we prompt, professional and polite even though I like to ask a million questions up front.

Costa Rica Climber

After paying I followed my niece into the facility and she, who has been there several times before, took off running and through a door. I thought she had run outside and chased after her only to discover that she was
running to the 7,500 square foot play area. This area is called the Costa Rica climber and it lives up to the name. There is a three story tall enclosed slide that is available for anyone who is willing to climb the stairs, tunnels to run through, bridges to cross over, an enclosed toddler play area with small fixtures more appropriate for the under two crowd and not any older.
There were several places for parent to sit while their kids got out some energy. The kids of our group (ages 1-9) happily played in this area for over 45 minutes until we decided it was time to move on.  The area was impressive but it was not the best play area I have seen. The true surprise was that there was a play area at all. I was not envisioning a butterfly habitat would have play structures.  This is a true testament that the manager of Thanksgiving Point has considered their audience.  They knew that a large portion of their clientele are seeking out family or kids based activities and by adding perks of a play ground it increases their lovability tenfold among families.

Discovery Zone

Once the adults of our group were ready to explore more, we put on shoes and headed into the Discovery Zone. This area is what I would expect of a more traditional insect museum.  There are beetles, snakes, spiders, centipedes and much more on display in different pillars mixed in with various interactive exhibits. Some of these exhibits including examining butterfly wings up close, making butterfly rings, color mixing and more. There were not a ton of exhibits, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.
In the discovery zone there was another play area. This place area had human-sized insects that the kids could climb all over. My kids had a good time going from the exhibits to the play area and it was great for my toddler who just wanted to grab everything in sight. He was close enough that I could keep an eye on him while helping my girls sound out big words or asking questions.
After a while in the Discovery Zone, they announced that there was going to be a chance to hold a centipede. There was a short and interactive lesson about the insects. Each child received a clipboard with paper so they could answer questions, draw picture and participate in the lesson. After the presentation each child got a chance to hold a centipede and take pictures.
The presentation was probably more interesting for me than the kids but all of the kids were thrilled when the centipede crawled all over them.
At this point we were roughly an hour and a half into our experience at the Butterfly Biosphere and I was pretty happy. The kids were entertained, I was entertained and we hadn’t even seen the biosphere yet.

The Butterflies

I have been to my fair share of butterfly habitats, some had been
pretty good and other have been lack luster, but the Butterfly Biosphere has been the best by far. The biosphere was the largest biosphere that I have been too. There were multiple pathways that added beauty and variety to the experience.
We were given a brief orientation about watching where we stepped and so on but then we were left to explore the biosphere on our own.  There were plenty of flowers, plants and water features that made the space beautiful on its own and the addition of the butterflies made you feel that you were in a really special sanctuary.
The pathways were also wide, which allowed us to stop and focus on certain butterflies without feeling like we were preventing other people from enjoying the space. Each one of the kids we were with was desperate to have a butterfly land on them. The butterflies must have known because they each got the chance. Some of the butterflies were friendlier than others. My nephew carried around a butterfly for nearly 15 minutes on his finger and my daughter had a knack for attracting butterflies by just sticking out a finger.
We spent nearly an hour enjoying the biosphere and typically our kids do not linger so it was an enjoyable experience for everyone. As we were leaving the biosphere we passed an employee who was working to capture a very large spider that was in the walk way. She was moving slowly so we bent down to watch. We asked her if that was one of their animals and she said no but she was going to take it to their etymology department so they could classify it and decide the best way to proceed. It was very cool to witness that their employees took seriously their purpose as a place for insects and you can see how that passion bleeds into what they do.

Other Questions

  • When is the best time to see the butterflies?

Butterfly activity peaks around mid-day and starts to die out in the later afternoon as the butterflies roost for the night.  If you want to photograph the butterflies, the evenings might be a better time though as the resting butterflies are easier to capture and, if you want some action, the giant owl butterflies fly at night.

  • Are you allowed food or drink in the Butterfly Biosphere?

No food is allowed in the Butterfly Biosphere; however, you may bring capped drinks and mugs from the Thanksgiving Point Tower Mug program.

  • Can you have birthdays or field trips at the Butterfly Biosphere?

Yes, the Butterfly Biosphere is available for birthday parties and field trips.


Overall, the Butterfly Biosphere was a winner in our book. The major drawback is the cos,t but admission for one time visitors are always a little outrageous at museums. If you live in Utah or frequent the area, there are definitely ways to save money through a membership program. Even visitors can save money by purchasing passes to multiple attractions.
Although the cost was significant, I do not regret spending the money at all for a morning of stress free fun. The major draws were the cleanliness and professionalism of the venue, the number and quality of kids attractions, there was plenty of things gear toward older audiences, and the experience laid out in the biosphere.
Overall this was a wonderful way to spend the morning as a family. We enjoyed our time and there were a lot of things to love. It may not be
our go-to excursion every time we visit but having it as an option is a major plus.
-Brent’s input…it was meh, definitely overpriced.

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