Marty and Ethel Rich | Independent Through-and-Through

The rural roads leading to Bryce Canyon are arguably some of the prettiest in Southern Utah. The vistas are breath taking: occasional outcroppings of red rock, valleys of sagebrush and juniper trees, picturesque towns with old-fashioned shops, and alpine slopes. Along Highway 12 – not far from the Canyon – a white hotel and restaurant sit in the midst of meadows and clusters of pine trees.

Bryce Canyon Pines hotel and restaurant are far removed from the bustle of urban life. Consequently, owners Marty and Ethel Rich understand the classic principles of hard work and self-sufficiency.

Marty learned these traits from his parents and grandparents. In the 1940s, Marty’s grandfather built a gas station and honkytonk at the side of the highway. Although crippled from a logging accident, he laid the building’s wooden dance floor by hand.

The old building is now used as the restaurant, with the same wooden floor still in use.

Marty’s grandfather and father hand-dug numerous wells on the property. After his parents decided to build a hotel in the 1970s, Marty watched his father and mother hard at work to make the Bryce Canyon Pines was a welcoming place for guests.

Marty grew up on the premises and recalls working hard as a boy. If something broke, he was trained to fix it. If livestock needed to be cared for, he was required to do so.

For example, one day, after dismounting his horse in the yard, Marty entered the house for a few moments. When he returned outside, the horse had vanished. Marty frantically searched the property, but to no avail. A short time later, he realized that his horse had fallen into the septic tank. Miraculously, the horse survived the fall with no broken bones. However, it was Marty’s duty to thoroughly wash the animal – a task he still wrinkles his nose at in memory.

Growing up on a dairy farm, Ethel was no stranger to long, hard hours and being self-reliant either. She began working at the restaurant as a teenager. After meeting Marty, the two eventually fell in love and married.

Currently, Ethel makes 30 to 40 pies for the restaurant each day – a task leading her to national acclaim. Her blueberry pie was nominated among the top 20 pies in the nation by Best of America’s Foods. The pies vary from fruit to cream pies with the most unique being a sour cream raisin – her great grandmother’s own creation.

Marty and Ethel continue in their ancestors’ tradition to make the Bryce Canyon Pines a welcoming location for guests and local residents.

“It’s rewarding because you get to meet a lot of people,” Ethel said.

In addition to their business, the Richs continue to build strong relationships with their family and the community. When their son began taking a serious interest in roping, they built a large barn with an accompanying arena to be used by their children and friends in the winter. Marty said he had to haul in 27 loads of red dirt to fill the entire arena.

Although running the Bryce Canyon Pines requires an incredible amount of dedication and even longer work hours, Marty and Ethel cannot imagine where else they would go.

“If you ever are raised in the mountains, they get calling you,” Marty said with a smile.