Haunted Stanley Hotel

7 Spooky Places Guests Have Seen Ghosts In The Haunted Stanley Hotel

The Haunted Stanley Hotel.

Is the Stanley Hotel haunted by the spirits of its past or the imaginations of the famous people who have stayed there?

Perhaps it’s fair to say that the ghosts of the Stanley Hotel can be divided into two kinds: the first are the Stanley Hotel’s actual ghosts that you might see yourself in your rooms or if you go on a tour, the second are the horrors conjured from best-selling author, Stephen King’s The Shining.

We will tell you where to go to get the best of both kinds of spirits. So, read on for the real low-down!

What is the story of the Haunted Stanley Hotel?

The Stanley Hotel is tucked away near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, just 70 miles from the busy centre of Denver, Colorado.

This historic, 140-room Colonial Revival hotel in Estes Park is one of the oldest hotels still standing in Colorado. Since it opened on July 4, 1909, it has been offering its guests luxurious amenities, beautiful mountain views, and a lot of scary stories.

The History of The Stanley Hotel

In the early days, the Irish baronet, Lord Dunraven, built the Estes Park Hotel in 1878 on this beautiful spot in Estes Park, Colorado.

Even in the 19th Century, the hotel was a tremendous success, attracting both wealthy business owners from New England and aristocrats from other countries. However, in August, a fire in the main lodge got out of control and burned the hotel down, leaving nothing but ash and rubble.

Enter Freelan Oscar Stanley

Freelan Oscar Stanley

Freelan Oscar Stanley was an American inventor, business owner, hotelier, and architect. He was born on June 1, 1849 in Massachusetts, and died on October 2, 1940, in Maine. Though is money was made in New England, he loved Colorado. 

He made his fortune creating photographic plates but he is best known for starting the Stanley Motor Carriage Company with his brother Francis Edgar Stanley, which made steam-powered cars until 1920.

He also created and ran the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Stanley bought the property in 1909 from Lord Dunraven.

Stanley moved to Colorado, hoping that the dry mountain air would help his tuberculosis. The disease was rife in the growing cities of New England.

Stanley liked the Colorado air, but he wanted a more comfortable bed and room. He also saw a business opportunity and got his employees to work and built a new luxury resort where he and other wealthy Easterners could enjoy the wilds of Colorado in relative comfort.

The new Stanley Hotel was even more beautiful than its predecessor. It cost more than $500,000 to build, and when it opened on the 4th of July weekend in 1909, it quickly became one of the best places to spend the summer west of the Mississippi..

When it first opened, the hotel was touted as being among the few in the world run totally on electricity. But in June 1911, an auxiliary gas lighting system was put in place due to a lack of power. This was nearly its undoing.

What does the Stanley Hotel have to do with Stephen King’s The Shining?

The Stanley Hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado, is one of the most famous spooky spots in the world. It’s where Stephen King wrote the novel The Shining but it isn’t where Jack Nicholson played the role of the possessed hotel manager in the movie adaptation.

Stanley Kubrick’s movie The Shining was actually shot in Glacier National Park in Montana, USA. The outside of the “Overlook Hotel” is Oregon’s Timberline Lodge. Interior shots were filmed at Elstree Film Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England, UK.

King wasn’t happy with Kubrick’s version and he later created a TV miniseries in 1997 that was actually filmed using the Stanley Hotel’s exterior and interior.

But let’s get back to the story. In the early 1970s, Stephen King was a teacher and an unpublished writer. His first break through was in 1973 when a publisher accepted his book ‘Carrie’. But he still wasn’t famous.

One day, he decided he and his wife, Tabitha, were going for a trip and he opened an atlas at random at Boulder Colorado.

On 30th October 1974, King and Tabitha checked into Room 217.

The Stanley’s doors were about to close for the season. The Kings were the only people staying there that night, just before Halloween, in the most haunted room. It sounds like the set up for a horror movie, almost.

Of course, that movie was Stephen King’s The Shining and basically, the character, Jack Torrance in The Shining is Stephen King himself.

The lobby was deserted. King and his wife ate dinner in the historic dining room that was empty while pre-recorded orchestra music played. After dinner he took a wander round the hotel, possibly including the Pet Cemetery outside, and, finally before going to bed, found himself the only guest in the bar, served by Grady.

No wonder he had a nightmare. In this dream, his son was being chased round the Stanley’s halls by a snake-like fire hose.

Stephen King awoke in terror and realised his son was safe in Boulder with his nanny.

He lit up a cigarette on the balcony, and the story for his famous book began to fall together.

The room has a collection of books by King – including The Shining, or course Salem’s Lot and Carrie. Maybe don’t read them there if you are of a nervous disposition.

the stanley hotel haunted

Where Are The Places Where You’re Most Likely to Spot a Ghost at The Stanley Hotel?

Early days of the Stanley Hotel

Under your bed? Some places are more haunted than others, but guests have seen ghostly figures, heard strange spirit laughter, seen lights flicker, and had things move on their own in every room on the hotel property, and even seen things outside their window.  There’s even a n a photo

In the last few decades, the campus has been the site of many paranormal investigations, including those by teams from the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and SyFy’s Ghost Hunters.

Ghost Photo #1

Tourist, Henry Yau posted a photo of a spirit woman on the staircase in 2016

perhaps a ghost photo

Ghost Photo #2

In 2017 on one of the hotel’s official ghost hunters tours, John “Jay” Mausling took a photo where it appears as if there is a spirit girl at the bottom of the staircase.

cigarette window system tours stanley hotel haunted

Employees say the Stanley definitely has history of paranormal activity. Before the Stanley was even built, Estes Park was a spiritual valley for the Native Americans. The managers believe it’s the land that the hotel is built on and not necessarily the buildings themselves that causes the paranormal happenings.

Room 217

Even though The Stanley is home to several ghost stories, none of them compare to Room 217, the hotel’s most infamous (and sought-after) hotspot.

In the hotel’s early years, Room 217 was the scene of a terrible explosion that would be remembered at the Stanley for the rest of its existence.

One late night, as a snowstorm was quickly approaching in Colorado, the head housekeeper, Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson, was going around the hotel igniting the acetylene lanterns in case there was a power loss. Unfortunately, Mrs. Wilson was unaware that the second floor had a leak that was gradually filling the entire wing with explosive gas.

When she entered room 217 and lit a match beneath the lamp, the explosion shook the hotel, shattering the window, the hall, and the floor beneath, and sent her crashing down into the dining room below.

Amazingly, Mrs. Wilson was not killed, though she broke both her ankles. No one else was hurt either .Many people think that Mrs. Wilson, who passed away in her Estes Park home at the ripe old age of 90, is still haunting the room where she nearly died.

Visitors to Room 217 report seeing somebody move furniture around or turn on and off lights. Someone even unpacks their bags! Mrs. Wilson has old-fashioned views and disapproves when unmarried couples visit and jump into the same bed. They say they feel a cold force come between them.

217 was where famous writer King stayed, but also Jim Carrey requested it when he was filming Dumb and Dumber, but left after only three hours, spooked and running out into the lobby half-naked in his boxers (allegedly) and demanding other accommodation!

Room 217 is one of the most active suites and is much in demand, but you can still book it if you get in early enough.

The Fourth Floor

Even though the fourth floor of the Stanley isn’t as well-known as the second, the sheer number of sightings here is staggering. Here, more than anywhere else, strange and unusual things happen all the time, including guests seeing genuine ghosts, even the ghosts of children.

More than a century ago, when the hotel first opened, the fourth floor wasn’t much more than an enormous attic. During the winter, when the hotel was closed for the season, it was used to store things. It wasn’t converted to accommodation until many years later. They used it first for female workers and their children to stay and then as hotel suites.

There are two rooms which are the focus of paranormal activity on the fourth floor.

Room 401

Many people staying in Room 401 say that they hear children laughing and playing late into the night and running through the halls. People say that closet doors open and close on their own and that people’s items, especially clothing, go missing, only to turn up later neatly tidied away in a drawer.

Room 428

Of all the rooms, room 428 seems to be the most active. There have been reports of heavy footsteps moving across the room and furniture being moved while the people are sleeping.

Even scarier, the ghost of a cowboy has shown up more than once, surprising sleeping guests by showing up at the edge of their bed. Strangely, there is no record of a cowboy dying in that room, but many people in Estes Park think he is the ghost of “Rocky Mountain Jim,” a local mountain man and explorer who helped build a lot of the town. His ghost, who is a bit of a ladies’ man, is said to be drawn to female guests and sometimes kisses them in the middle of the night.

The Concert Hall

Oscar Freelan Stanley built the concert hall as a gift for his wife Flora. Late-night concerts have been held in the Concert Hall since then.

Flora Stanley seemed to love the Steinway grand piano that her husband gave her on the first day the hotel opened. She would play in the hall as often as she could, even though Stanley and his friends had a bowling alley built under the stage.

Flora’s love of music seems to have lingered at the Stanley, because you can still hear classical piano playing in the hall late at night, long after the musicians have left and the guests have gone to their rooms.

Since the hall was renovated in 2000, there have been more reports of these ghostly concerts. This makes it one of the most active places in the last few years. Some people think it’s the ghost of Flora, who is still making sure her guests are having fun and trying to keep the Stanley Hotel’s old-fashioned charm alive.

The Grand Staircase Called “The Vortex”

ghost hunters

The hotel’s main staircase, an impressive piece of classical architecture that has been lovingly called “the Vortex” for many years, is a hot spot for psychic mediums all over the world. They believe this stairway, which connects the lobby to the second-floor suites, is thought to be a grand paranormal portal, a tunnel of spiritual energy that is often seen as the reason so many ghosts and lost spirits keep coming back.

Many guests and employees of the hotel have seen this spooky highway for themselves, and there have been many documented sightings in this area over the years. A guest recently took a photo of a little girl on the stairs, even though there was no little girl there at the time. It was so clear and convincing that it was shown on the national news. Many people think it’s the best proof of the Vortex, so look it up and see for yourself.

The Underground Caves

If you go on the Stanley’s 75-minute night spirit tour (you don’t have to be a hotel guest, but you should book in advance), the tour ends with a visit to the underground cave system, which will give you a creepy feeling. In the beginning, workers used the caves to get around the hotel, so it makes sense that this is a popular spot. People who don’t believe in ghosts will say that the hauntings are just breezes from the old pipes and ventilation systems. But there is a higher-than-average amount of limestone and quartz under the hotel. Some ghost hunters think that this helps the hotel capture energy.

The Pet Cemetary

There was a real Pet Cemetery in front of the Stanley Hotel long before King wrote his book Pet Sematary. Two much-loved pets are buried here, and they like to show up around the hotel. The golden retriever Cassie and the fluffy white cat Camanche have both been seen and heard all over the property.

The Hedge Maze

The open space in front of the Stanley Hotel used to be a long driveway for Stanley Steamers and a promenade where guests from town could walk around and look at the scenery.

In 2015, a hedge maze took its place. They held a contest, and 300 people from all over the world sent in designs. This was done to link the hotel to Stanley Kubrick’s movie version of The Shining, in which the hedge maze first appeared. In King’s book, the lawn of the Overlook Hotel was full of animals made out of topiary. Even though no ghosts have been seen inside, people get scared and have trouble breathing as they try to find their way through the maze.

Ghost Hunters Tours

The Spirited Night Tour of the Stanley Hotel is a 60-minute walk through the dark parts of the hotel. It is a unique way to hear the hotel’s ghost stories told by a skilled storyteller as the sun goes down over the Rocky Mountains. Each tour gives you a chance to look around, ask questions, and maybe even end up with a few of your own stories.

The Stanley Hotel is Haunted by Its Past


333 E Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States

Stanley Hotel Website

+1 970-586-3371

7 Of The Most Haunted Hotels in America

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