The Paranormal at Home: Hauntings in 50 States – Colorado’s Stanley Hotel

Please click here if you would like to read the first article in the series.

The Stanley Hotel is one of those places that comes up again and again in paranormal discussions. This allegedly haunted building became a piece of pop culture history after Stephen King’s novel The Shining was published. The story’s Overlook Hotel is remarkably similar to the Stanley. That’s not just a curious coincidence. King came up with the basis for the book after he and his wife Tabitha stayed at the Stanley Hotel and had a personal experience with one of the location’s unearthly residents.

Haunted Colorado: The Stanley Hotel

Music Room in the Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel music room
with views of the mountains

The 140 room Stanley Hotel can be found in Estes Park, Colorado. With views of Rocky Mountain National Park, it seems like a quiet, idyllic place to stay. The building and business were founded by Stanley Steamer co-founder Freelan Oscar Stanley. The idea came about after Freelan’s doctor recommended that he stay in the area while recovering from tuberculosis. Freelan and his wife fell in love with the area, which lead to the construction of the Stanley Hotel.

Work started in 1907 using rock and wood that was gathered from the Rockies. The style was luxuriously Georgian, which was very popular at the time. The hotel offered many amenities (or what were considered amenities back then), including electricity, telephones and running water The only thing it wasn’t equipped with was heat because it was intended for use as a summer resort.

Paranormal Activity in the Stanley Hotel

A number of entities are said to still roam the halls and rooms of the Stanley Hotel. One of the oldest may be the business’ founder, Freelan. Guests and employees have reported figures in formal clothing on the main staircase, lobby, administration offices and billiard room that resemble Freelan and his wife, Flora. Piano playing has been heard in the ballroom when no one was around. This is often attributed to Flora.

Lobby in the Stanley Hotel
Lobby in the Stanley Hotel, which is sometimes the scene of encounters with the hotel’s founder

Chief housekeeper Elizabeth Wilson was injured after an explosion while lighting acetylene lanterns for the back-up electricity system during a storm on June 25th, 1911. She was knocked down one story from room 217 to the MacGregor Room. Both of her ankles were broken but she survived the incident. Guests have encountered signs of a ghostly housekeeper in 217, with their belongings mysteriously unpacked and put away. Some believe this is Ms. Wilson, returning to work in the afterlife.

Staff in the kitchen have heard echoes of a party in the ballroom, but when they check the area is completely quiet and empty. A male apparition is sometimes seen standing over guests in bed in one of the rooms. He darts for the closet and disappears when seen. This entity is also believed to occasionally steal guests’ watches, luggage and jewelry.

The popular paranormal TV show Ghost Hunters filmed its May 31st, 2006 episode at the Stanley Hotel.  Check out their “Best of the Stanley Hotel” video here. One of the most significant incidents that occurred while the TAPs team was there included a table that inexplicably jumped a couple feet into the air. The show’s co-founder Jason Hawes also stated that his bed moved, doors unlocked and thick glasses he had placed by the bed somehow cracked open while spending the night in the room with the ghost-thief.

Ghost adventures filmed their October 15th, 2010 episode at the Stanley Hotel. Among the evidence gathered was an EVP recorded by investigator Nick Groff that sounded like a voice saying “you better start talking”. A camera also captured a wispy anomaly that flew up to the recorder when the voice spoke.

February 2011 Stanley Hotel
The snow-covered front of the Stanley Hotel in February of 2011

The Stanley Hotel Today

The Stanley Hotel continues to offer accommodations to guests who want to enjoy a little peace and quiet. The official website includes a short page discussing possible haunting activity, which can be read here.  Guest comments posted to the hotel’s profile also outline the occasional paranormal encounter. One guest posted a review for a visit in 2009 that stated:

…the closet door opened and closed several times,the t.v. turned itself off and on,the covers were pulled off of us in the night and there was audible whispering in the room.

Have you been to the Stanley Hotel (or would you like to go)? Share your personal experiences or investigative approach to this location in the comments.

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