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You need to think through your lodging options at Bryce a year ahead. If you want to stay at the National Park Lodge or one of the cabins, that's how far ahead you need a reservation. Assuming you didn't call that far ahead, then you'll either be camping or staying outside the park. You then have a choice of Ruby's directly adjacent to the park boundary, or the town of Tropic, at the "bottom" of the park. Don't be misled by places in between calling themselves "resorts" or "lodges." They're not. They're old 1950s era motels with numerous problems. Either stay in the park, at Ruby's, or drive the 10 miles around to Tropic, which is a charming village with several fine lodging options.

And do not be misled by the Bryce Canyon City scam. It's neither a city nor even a town. It's the resort property owned by the Syrett clan, all descended from Reuben "Ruby" Syrett. Ruby lobbied the Utah Legislature to change the incorporation law so that he could incorporate his 200 acres and declare himself Mayor. A year later the Legislature realized their mistake and changed the law back, but it was too late. Today, the town has a year round population of 138, all employees of Ruby's. During Summers the population swells to 2500, all motel guests at Ruby's. The "city" is a sprawling maze of motels, an RV campground, a tent campground, cabins, several restaurants and stores, a gas station, two shuttle stops, a horseback riding concession, homes for the family and dorms for the employees. The "tax" you pay on purchases goes to support projects on the property.

The grand prize here is a room at The Lodge At Bryce Canyon. Built in 1924 by the Union Pacific Railroad, the "lodge" includes 40 cabins (top photo), 70 rooms in a motel style extension, and four rooms upstairs in the lodge itself. The rooms are furnished in mission style furniture. The lodge includes a fine restaurant, gift shop and lobby (photo, above). The entrance to the lodge shown here is steps away from the Rim and the cabins are even closer. There is no TV and spotty cell phone reception. There's no AC because at night temperatures have historically cooled down to the 70s or even 60s, with a steady breeze, and it was assumed all the guests would be hiking during the days. Global warming has changed that, and during heat waves night time temperatures in July and August can stay warm. A shuttle stops here every 15 minutes and takes guests to the Visitor Center, Store and outlying trailheads. Lots of wildlife roams around the lodge at dawn and dusk. So it's an idyllic place to stay. The problem is getting a reservation. Assume you need to call a year ahead. Yes, cancellations do occur, and occasionally someone gets lucky and lands a last minute room. But don't count on it. Assume you need to plan your trip a year ahead and make the early reservation.

Your second option is one of the park's campgrounds. Bryce has great campgrounds, as seen in the photo at left. The sites are shaded, with soft pine needle carpeted pads for your tent. There are the standard picnic tables and firepits. You have to be careful of food, with various critters roaming around at night. The shuttles stop by each campground every 15 minutes to take you to the Visitor Center, General Store and trailheads. Expect some limits on fires, with Utah in the midst of a three year drought and fires having occurred here frequently. If you drive to the southern end of the park you'll come through several major burns. North Campground has 99 sites, all first come first served, with no reservations. Sunset Campground requires reservations from mid May through Mid October. They do it on a "rolling six month basis," meaning sites open up six months before the day you want the reservation. The park does allow "dispersed camping" for backpackers. If you're willing to hike back off the road, this is a fine option, but you won't have the picnic table, clean sites or restrooms.
Your third option is Ruby's. The old, historic Ruby's Inn is on the west side of the road, your right as you approach the park. The rooms have been kept up to date and are still fine. But there's a new, state of the art Ruby's on the east side of the road, your left as you approach the park. The new one has a beautiful pool and a great, national parkish, lobby. Ruby's is part of the Best Western association of motels. The free shuttle stops at each Ruby's every 15 minutes to take you into the park, as long as you have your park pass. There's still no tv or reliable internet here. But there are three restaurants, a store, a laundry and a grocery. With your room you receive passes for free breakfast. However, Ruby's also fills up, so you need to make reservations at least two months ahead for June, July or August. Ruby's is directly adjacent to the park boundary. The shuttle is 10 minutes from the Visitor Center. The park bike trail has its northern terminus here. Ruby's has a large campground and a row of wigwams if you'd like to try one for a night or two.

Tropic, Utah is one of the best kept secrets among national park fans. It calls itself "The Base Of Bryce." This is where Ebenezer Bryce's ranch was when he discovered the canyon, and you can visit his original cabin. From anywhere in Tropic, you're looking UP at the amphitheater. You can hike UP from here and join the Queens Garden, Navajo Loop or Wall Street trails. It's a quaint little one street village, but it has some great places to stay, and after they've stayed once at the Lodge, many Bryce fans prefer to stay down here, away from the crowds. There are several very good restaurants down here. Lodging includes a bed and breakfast, cabins, rooms and tree houses. Tropic is 10 miles from the park entrance, about a 15 minute drive. Or you could hike up one of the trails in about two hours. As a matter of fact, you could spend a week here, hiking all the trails up and to the left and right, and many of those trails are truly spectacular, entering slot canyons or passing below bright pink cliffs. Tropic could easily have been the main entrance to the park had Ruby Syrett not popularized the other one for his own profits.
If you can't book a room at the Lodge and don't want the circus atmosphere at Ruby's, Bryce Canyon Inn is your next best option. You're 15 minutes from the park's main entrance, but you can hike or ride horses up into the park right from here. Units are actually cabins. They're new, clean and well maintained, each with a fridge, coffee maker and microwave. You have wifi and TV. Towels here may be the plushest you've ever seen. AC and heat are strong. The office serves Coffee and Banana Bread everyone raves about. Your porch has a table and chairs and you can enjoy magnificent sunrises over Powell Point and sunsets over Bryce Canyon Rim. There's a laundry room and an icemaker. One restaurant is adjacent and two more are nearby. All three are highly rated. Everyone praises their BBQ and Pizza but there's also Steak, Fish, Chicken, etc. The host and staff are very accommodating. But book early. This place is very popular.

Stone Canyon Inn is the closest Tropic lodging to the park boundary. It is an array of rooms, cabins, bungalows and treehouses sitting in the trees where the forest begins. The restaurant here, the Stone Hearth Grill, is a bit pricey but is one of Utah's finest. (Make reservations well ahead.) The facilities are quirky and modern, with odd room layouts and even some Murphy beds in living rooms. But they work fine for a couple. Beds very comfortable. Most facilities have kitchens. Fire pits. Hot tubs. Sauna. Decks with spectacular views. TVs. Hammock chairs outside. Bathrooms have heated floors. Remote controlled fireplaces are a nice amenity for cool nights. If you're into astronomy, bring your telescope. This is out of town, so no lights interfere with breathtaking sky views. Wifi in main lodge. Spotty cell phone service. There's a grocery in Tropic, so you can cook either in the kitchens here or outside on the grills or firepits. One common complaint is staff maintains limited hours, so if you arrive late or have a problem, there's no one around. They leave your keys in an envelope taped to the door. But when they are on premises, they go out of their way to make sure everyone has a great stay.

If you prefer a Bed & Breakfast, Tropic has a fine one. It's the Bullberry Inn, the best b & b within driving distance of Bryce. The breakfasts are generous, delicious and served whenever it's convenient for you. Much of what is served comes from the organic garden out back. The dining room is furnished with a John Wayne theme. There are five spacious rooms, handcrafted and furnished by local woodworkers. They include TVs, Wifi and private baths. The wrap around porch and decks offer great views, including sunrises and sunsets over Powell Point and Sunset Point. Like all lodging in Tropic, the Bullberry Inn fills up, so make reservations well in advance.

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