Have you ever checked into a hotel, only to be asked if you wanted to donate $1 to a local organization to help make needed tourism improvements? This usually happens in or near national parks, and I always end up checking the box that obligates me to cough up an extra buck to help out. But I often wondered how much money really ends up directed to the local organizations, and – more important – did my dollar really make a difference?
And although I can’t account for every dollar I’ve contributed, I’m happy to report that Ruby’s Inn near Bryce Canyon National Park has made a huge difference in the 13 years that they’ve had their “Dollar Check-Off” program – over $700,000 of a difference to be more specific.
The program is pretty simple. Guests at each of Ruby’s Inn’s three hotels are given the option to donate to the program. If a guest decides to participate, the visitor is charged $1 each night of their stay, which goes directly to the Bryce Canyon National History Association – the official non-profit partner of Bryce Canyon National Park. And, 98 percent of the guests choose to participate in the program.
The funds have been used for things like free publications, search and rescue equipment, trail improvements and even a new visitor comfort station. Interestingly enough, I believe I’ve used that comfort station, and for the record it made a huge difference to me. Bottom line — in this day and age of budget shortfalls for our national parks, programs like these really help fill in the funding gaps.
I also have to say that the folks at Ruby’s were fantastic while I was researching Barrier-Free Travel; Utah National Parks for Wheelers and Slow Walkers. All three of their properties have nice accessible rooms, and Lance Syrett, general manager of Ruby’s Inn, was happy to sit down and chat with me about access improvements and upgrades at this family-owned complex. They are definitely proactive about access, and it shows in their attitude, as well as in their properties.
So thumbs-up to Ruby’s Inn for not only making their properties very accessible, but for creating a program that actually makes a difference at Bryce Canyon National Park. Stop by on your next visit to the park.
And if you are thinking about hitting the road to explore Utah’s National Parks, but can’t figure out an itinerary, check out some of my accessible suggestions at http://barrierfreeutah.com/suggested-itineraries/.