Mormon pioneer Ebenezer Bryce homesteaded near the townsite of Tropic in 1875, but the work of scratching a living from the rugged land became too hard. He left five years later for more promising areas in Arizona.
The name of Bryce Canyon National Park commemorates his efforts. He is remembered as saying of the area, "Well, it's a hell of a place to lose a cow."
Other pioneers settled six villages near the upper Paria River between 1876 and 1891. The towns of Tropic, Cannonville, and Henrieville still survive.
Travelers think of Tropic primarily for its cache of motels lining Main Street (Hwy. 12), but several pleasant B&Bs also grace the town. A log cabin built by Ebenezer Bryce has been moved to a site beside the Bryce Pioneer Village Motel; ask to see the cabin's small collection of pioneer and Indian artifacts.
A tourist booth in the center of town is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily from early May through late October.
Aside from a couple of nice B&Bs, one of the most pleasant places to stay in Tropic is the Bryce Country Cabins (320 N. Hwy. 12, 888/679-8643 or 435/679-8643, www.brycecountrycabins.com, $95). The cabins overlook a meadow, and each has a private bath.
At the Bryce Canyon Inn (21 N. Main St., 435/679-8502 or 800/592-1468, www.brycecanyoninn.com, open Mar.-Oct., $70 motel rooms, $99 cabins), the tidy new cabins are nicely furnished and one of the more appealing options in the Bryce neighborhood. The economy motel rooms are small, but clean and a good deal.
Up on a bluff on the outskirts of town, the Buffalo Sage B&B (980 N. Hwy. 12, 435/679-8443 or 866/232-5711, www.buffalosage.com, $80 and up) has great views and rooms decorated in an upscale Southwestern style.
At the other end of town, the Bullberry Inn B&B (435/679-8820 or 800/249-8126, www.bullberryinn.com, $105 and up) has wraparound porches, and the guest rooms have private baths and rustic pine furniture.
America's Best Value Bryce Valley Inn (199 N. Hwy. 12, 435/679-8811 or 800/442-1890, www.brycevalleyinn.com, $115) has conventional motel rooms in an attractive wood-fronted, Western-look motel with an adjoining restaurant. Pets are permitted but an extra fee is charged.
The Stone Canyon Inn (435/679-8611 or 866/489-4680, www.stonecanyoninn.com, $125-200 rooms, $330 cottages), just west of Tropic with views of Bryce, is a strikingly handsome, modern structure with comfortable, uncluttered rooms, all with private bathrooms. Stone Canyon also has new two-bedroom guest cabins which can be divided to provide smaller units. The owners are happy to point you toward their favorite trails.
At Bryce Canyon Livery B&B (660 West 50 South, 888/889-8910 or 435/679-8780, www.brycecanyonbandb.com, $115), every room has a private bath; several have balconies with views of Bryce Canyon.
In town, you can find RV camping at Bryce Pioneer Village Motel (80 S. Main St., 435/679-8546 or 800/222-0381, www.brycepioneervillage.com, $65 and up).
Head a few miles east to Cannonville for a KOA (175 N. Red Rock Dr., 435/679-8988 or 888/562-4710, www.koa.com, $26 tent, $36 hookup), or continue south from Cannonville to Kodachrome Basin State Park .
There are a few dining options in town. The best place to start your search for a meal is Clarke's (141 N. Main St., 435/679-8633, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, $7-22), an all-around institution that, in addition to selling groceries, serves Mexican food, pasta, pizza, ice cream, and steaks from a variety of venues within a complex that's essentially the town center.
Getting to Tropic
Tropic lies just 11 miles east of Bryce Canyon National Park on Highway 12 and is visible from many of the park's viewpoints.
© W.C. McRae and Judy Jewell from Moon Utah, 9th Edition