Iconic. That’s the word for Best Western Ruby’s Inn, which has provided weary travelers to Bryce Canyon National Park comfy accommodations for almost a century now in what remains a family business.
When I decided I wanted to take my three little monsters see Bryce Canyon for the first time, I knew I would need their grandparents along to help me wrangle them. Since my parents have visited Bryce Canyon National Park approximately ten thousand times, I asked them for hotel recommendations, and my mom said, “Well, you know, the place to stay is Ruby’s Inn.”
I bet you can guess where I started looking for accommodations. I couldn’t have predicted just how perfectly set up Ruby’s Inn would be for families with kids. We stayed in adjoining rooms in the main lodge, and it was a well-designed set-up for our multigenerational group.
Indoor pool, included breakfast buffet, mini-fridge and microwave in the room, a small grocery inside the hotel, park shuttle outside the front door…we couldn’t have asked for much else.
There was even a tiny bar in the lobby, and let’s not kid ourselves — when you’re traveling with a bunch of adults and kids in a state with a paucity of liquor stores, somebody needs that.
History of Ruby’s Inn
The history of Ruby’s Inn dates back over a century ago to 1916, when Reuben C. (Ruby) Syrett first moved his family to Southern Utah and bought a ranch, quickly becoming hosts to visitors of the nearby canyon called Bryce. By 1919, Ruby and his family had obtained permission from the state to build a “Tourist Rest” near the edge of Bryce Canyon. They moved it to its current site and named it Ruby’s Inn in 1923, when Bryce Canyon became a national monument.
Ruby’s Inn is actually a sprawling complex that encompasses an RV park and campground and multiple different buildings, or “lodges,” in addition to the Main Lodge.
I can’t speak to to the other accommodations, but the rooms in the Main Lodge were everything I could have hoped for a family. My parents and I had adjacent rooms with two queen beds each. The rooms were tastefully decorated, evoking the past with their black and white vintage photographs on the walls, and the beds were comfortable and cozy.
Our room featured a microwave and empty mini-fridge below the television, which was a fantastic perk for families in general and must-have if you have babies or toddlers. If you need to store breast milk or warm up formula, this is the room for you! We were exhausted and late to bed, otherwise it would totally have been microwave popcorn/movie night as a reward for all that hiking the kids did Bryce Canyon.
I was similarly pleased with the bathroom design: a nice bathtub in a bathroom large enough for maneuvering around is important when bathing a gaggle of small children. Double sinks and a decent closet rounded out the family-friendly accommodations.
Amenities and Things to Do at Ruby’s Inn
It was most convenient to stay in the Main Lodge, as that’s the location of the pool and the main restaurant, but guests elsewhere on the property have access to all the same amenities. In addition to lots of fun things to do on-site, they also have free wireless Internet, a laundromat, a post office, an auto repair shop across the street, foreign currency exchange at the front desk, and the all-important small liquor store/desk in the lobby, where you can buy booze if you like. Seriously, everything you need.
I absolutely loved their indoor pool design for kids (but maybe not so much for putting myself on display): the pool is encased in windows and visible from the doorways of most of the guest rooms in the Main Lodge. Just outside the pool area is a lobby area with chairs and tables, so if your kids are old enough to swim by themselves, you have a lovely waiting area.
There’s also a jetted hot tub in the pool area, and a little workout room behind the pool. It’s not large but sufficient for anyone who didn’t get enough exercise hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park that day. During the summer, they open an outdoor pool in the campground area, too.
Inside the Main Lodge, you’ll find the General Store, which my kids loved for souvenir shopping (Pro tip: they carry many of the same items as the gift shop inside the park, in a much less crowded environment.) The General Store also sells some grocery items and camping supplies — you could easily feed your family at least a meal or two from here if you didn’t want to go to a restaurant.
There is a fancier gift shop (the type where I didn’t dare venture inside with my monsters) and an adorable old-timey picture studio where you can pose in Western gear and purchase a sepia-toned family photograph, if you are looking for souvenirs.
Across the street from the Main Lodge, you’ll find a row of Old Western-looking storefronts. These shops are only open during the busy season from May to October, but even with them closed my kids had a blast running around and posing for pictures (the jail was their favorite!)
The shops are buttressed on either end by the (real) horse corral and the ATVs. Ruby’s Inn encompasses a large swath of land, and if you sign up for horse rides or ATV tours, you’ll stay on their land, adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park. Unfortunately for my kids (and fortunately for my wallet) the horse rides are only available for kids ages seven and up.
However, they’ll take anyone “old enough to wear the helmet” (actual quote from the employee) on the ATVs. We didn’t have time for this, but I’m willing to bet my kids would have loved that.
You can also sign up for helicopter and airplane rides over the canyon, rent mountain bikes, discover fossils on the rock hound trail, buy a fishing license, or cross-country ski on groomed Nordic trails in the winter. If you get tired of hoodoos, there’s still plenty to keep your whole family happy here.
Where to Eat at Ruby’s Inn
We visited in April, right at the end of the off-season. Although Bryce Canyon National Park was quite busy, many businesses were still closed, including Ebenezer’s Bar and Grill, one of the three restaurants on the property.
Cowboy’s Buffet and Steak Room is the main restaurant in the hotel. It’s the location of the free breakfast buffet, which is a must with my family. It was busy, but they moved people through quite quickly (try and get there early if you can). We elected to have dinner here as well. I don’t love buffets for myself, but for a family this dinner buffet is a good deal: kids three and under eat free, and there’s very reasonable pricing for small children versus older children. It was easy to find something for everyone and the kids loved choosing dessert, of course. Also, the house wine was cheap and not bad, and they do have a liquor license, which is not true of every restaurant in Southern Utah.
If you’re looking for fast food or pizza, the Canyon Diner is just across the parking lot and serves burgers, sandwiches, and pizza and is open for breakfast as well.
Across the street is Ebenezer’s Barn and Grill, which didn’t open until a few days after our visit. They feature a country music dinner show every night at 7 p.m, so if you’re looking for the whole Western experience, this one’s for you.
Getting to Bryce Canyon National Park from Ruby’s Inn
Ruby’s Inn is the very closest you can stay to the park without springing for the in-park lodge. In fact, while still eating dinner, we panicked that we were missing sunset over Bryce Canyon — do not miss seeing the sun set over the hoodoo-filled canyon — and my mom and I jumped up, ran to the car, and made it back to the canyon’s edge in about eight minutes, leaving my dad with the check. (Thanks, Dad!)
There’s plenty of easy parking at the property, and a gas station on the corner. From May to September, you can actually buy your passes to Bryce Canyon National Park at Ruby’s Inn. During this peak season the Bryce Canyon National Park Shuttle runs in to the park from a stop right in front of the inn.
Ruby’s Inn could not be a more convenient or family-friendly place to stay while visiting Bryce Canyon National Park. We’ll be back, for sure.
Disclaimer: Ruby’s Inn provided a complimentary room to me in the Main Lodge for the purposes of this review; however, as always, the opinions are my own.