This Is the Place Heritage Park
The Right Place for Year-round Fun
Make a place on your summer bucket list for a visit to This Is the Place Heritage Park. Or many visits if you buy a season pass.
This family favorite state park attracts thousands of visitors each year, and for good reason. It offers guests of all ages a glimpse of the West as it was during Utah’s early settlement days. It’s filled with engaging, interactive experiences that can easily fill a day — and warrant a return visit.
Roam in and around more than 50 historic homes and structures at the park, including authentic Navajo hogans; the largest teepee west of the Mississippi; a one-sixth replica of the Ship Brooklyn; and the Brigham Young Forest Farmhouse, just to mention a few.
Interpreters in pioneer dress and character bring history to life as they assist guests in panning for gold in a creek and engaging in old-fashioned pioneer games and chores. There are pony rides and a petting zoo, four trains to ride and a splash pad to cool off on those scorching summer days. Not at all historic, but a lot of fun, is the newly built playground with a zipline, climbing features and other interactive elements. There are shaded tables nearby and the park’s newest retail site, Roberts Frontier Cabin, housing a live beehive observatory.
This Is the Place isn’t a hands-off, museum-voice place. Kids are free to run, explore, climb and pet.
Pioneer Children’s Memorial
Mid-summer, there will be another compelling reason to visit — the park plans to unveil a Pioneer Children’s Memorial, created in conjunction with the Days of ’47 organization, says park Executive Director Ellis Ivory.
“The whole idea is honoring the children,” Ivory says. “The sacrifices of these families and immigrant companies was incredible, especially those who lost children on the trek.”
Larger-than-life bronze sculptures tell the stories of the epic journey, while giant stones more than 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide contain the engraved names of more than 600 pioneer children who died coming across the plains from 1847-1869.
A 500-footlong water feature and wooden path meanders through scrub oak, starting just east of the historic Deseret Hospital and Quilt Museum and stretching north to Mary Fielding Smith’s home.
“Along the path, five bronze sculptures tell the story about these historic events that took place along the trek,” Ivory says. “We believe it’s going to be something not only to bring this history to life but greatly increase our attendance as well.”
Children are encouraged to play in the water, climb in the bronze wagons and otherwise engage with the memorial.
Season and Special Events
Consider the park’s daily events when planning your visit. Open year-round, attendance at the park is busiest in the spring and summer months. In the Fall, the park’s Little Haunts event is a family favorite. Come wintertime, Christkindlmarkt German market is a huge draw, with more than 80,000 guests visiting the park in just a few days’ time, followed by Candlelight Christmas, which runs select evenings in December.
The park is open the rest of the winter — minus Christmas and New Year’s days — but reduced ticket prices reflect the shuttered attractions. The train still operates, and if you’re in the mood to wander, it’s a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
Baby Animal Season March 30-April 30 is filled with fluffy and furry baby creatures. In May, This Is the Place hosts Train Day, this year celebrating the 150th anniversary of driving in the final golden spike for the transcontinental railroad. Reenactments of that historic day, model train demonstrations and reduced admission make Train Day popular with families.
Another big draw is Dog Day in August, where patrons can bring their otherwise-prohibited canine friends into the park for a day. “It’s become a much-loved event at the park,” says Tresha Kramer, director of public relations and retail sales operations.
Dog Day is followed by the Intermountain All-Women Hoop Dance Competition, said to be the only event of its kind in the world. Dancers from Utah and elsewhere come together for a competition that celebrates agility, poise, skill and storytelling.
“There is something for everyone at This Is the Place Heritage Park,” Kramer says.