By Lynn Arave
LOOK closely at the official Utah State Highway map and you'll spot Ruby's Inn -- a commercial establishment -- listed prominently, like any city or town. That's a rarity on such a map, but there's a reason for that -- this Inn has been around since 1916 and even predates nearby Bryce Canyon National Park by seven years.
By the time Bryce Canyon was a National Monument in 1923 (or National Park in 1928), Ruby's Inn was already well established and serving as a focal point for the area.
Given its legacy, the first newspaper mention of Ruby's was NOT for anything relating to Bryce Canyon, but for an area Halloween party on Oct. 31, 1924. The Garfield County News on Nov. 7, 1924 stated that the event was a big success.
The Garfield County News of Jan. 16, 1925 described Ruby's as a "homelike headquarters for the weary traveler" and a "wonderful resort."
In that era, Ruby's not only had plenty of water for visitors, but also cabins, food and even a dancing hall. It was also in 1925 when the resort received its first electric lighting system.
By the spring of 1925, Ruby's had a U.S. Post Office, a monster porch for relaxation, supplies, campground and even access to horses and guides to explore the area.
In July of 1925, the Panquitch Orchestra even played at Ruby's Inn and attracted a large crowd.
It was Ruby Syrett and his wife who started Ruby's. and their descendants still operate the business.
Ruby's Inn was the most popular destination in the area, though as the decades went by, the place became more and more synonymous with Bryce Canyon National Park.
Indeed, you HAD to travel past Ruby's Inn to enter Bryce Canyon and that's how it remains today.
Yes, Bryce Canyon does have its own inside-the-park accommodations available, but Ruby's was there first and is literally just a few hundred yards north of the Bryce Canyon entrance.
Today Ruby's has expanded to have an RV Park, a seasonal rodeo, ATV rentals and more. In the summer, its work staff expands top some 600 employees, the largest in the county.
A tragic fire in 1984 destroyed the lodge and erased some of the Ruby's Inn history, but it was rebuilt and even expanded after that.
-As a kid growing up in the 1960s, my Bryce Canyon visit memories include images of Ruby's Inn, as the two seemed linked. Decades later, when I took my own children to Bryce, was complete without a stop at Ruby's.
-Then, a few years ago, my wife had inherited this huge old roll-top desk from her late father. It took up so much space and was unused, that I reluctantly convinced her to sell it through an on-line ad. As the desk was hauled way, my wife shed a few tears. Yet, surprisingly a member of the Syrett family purchased it to use in his office at Ruby's Inn, almost 300 miles distant from my Northern Utah home. So, even my family now has a link of sorts to this historic place.