From rooms filled with terror to séances gone wrong and best seller horror books, discover what really goes on inside The Stanley Hotel and why some say its ghosts still haunt the grounds today.
The Stanley Hotel is known for its vibrant history, picturesque mountain views, and haunted past. The 140 room hotel in the Rocky Mountains has become an infamous stage for paranormal activity, from séances gone wrong to guests staying in rooms filled with terror.
Uncover what really goes on inside the hotel rooms and why some believe its ghosts still haunt the grounds today.
Learn the Fascinating History of The Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel has been a Colorado landmark since 1909 when it was first built by businessman Freelan Oscar Stanley with the help of his wife Flora. It was built for the upper-class Easterners and worked as a health retreat for sufferers of tuberculosis. It is still operating as a hotel to this day where they have expanded on the original hotel as well as tried to preserve it.
The place of Estes Park is a pretty remote place in Colorado, so why did a luxury hotel suddenly spring up here?
In 1903, Stanley was given less than 6 months to live because of tuberculosis and he was recommended to take some fresh air. He and his wife went to the Rocky Mountains like so many other people with the means to heal in the brisk fresh mountain air.
Thinking it would be the last place he would see, he instead recovered in the couple of months he spent there and he fell in love with the place, and he lived to be 91 years old. He then started constructing Estes Park into a summer resort town and building the Stanley Hotel.
The Stanley Hotel as a Haunted Hotel
Feel an air of mystery and intrigue that seems to linger within its rooms, each full of strange stories and some potentially haunted by those who passed through them over the years.
Find out more stories about Haunted Hotels: Here
The Stanley Hotel’s eerie atmosphere—fully illuminated in Estes Park’s pristine night sky—has been featured in films, TV shows and artwork for decades. Its most famous appearance is in Stephen King’s classic horror novel The Shining— a tale involving ghostly apparitions, psychological torment and murder. King was inspired to set his book to the hotel after he spent a night there in room number 217 just when it was about to shut down for the winter season.
Despite a rather peaceful history in the early years and not many traumatic happenings connected to the hotel, it has a very strong haunted reputation, especially since King’s visit.
Others say they’ve found themselves locked in an elevator with a ghostly figure inside and staff members whisper tales of unexplained children’s laughter echoing through the hotel’s hallways. Ghost shows, paranormal researchers as well as guided ghost tours are all trying to get to the bottom of the supposed haunted hotel.
From disembodied voices heard in the hallways to unearthly shadows passing through rooms, The Stanley Hotel has plenty of spine-chilling stories. People who have visited over the years claim to have seen strange mists moving from guest room to guest room and feel a chill as they pass by Room 217.
So what is it about this room that has made it a hot spot for the alleged paranormal activity? During a Colorado snowstorm there was a housekeeper named Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson who walked around and lit up the acetylene lanterns in the hotel to prepare the hotel for the snowstorm that could cut off the power to the hotel.
Unbeknownst to her, there was a gas leak on the second floor that filled the entire wing with flammable gas, and when she lit a match inside of room 217 there was an explosion that destroyed the entire floor and she fell down into the MacGregor dining room below.
No one died and Mrs. Wilson only broke both her ankles. But the legend started to take hold in the hotel and many believe it is Mrs. Wilson is haunting the room after she died at age 90, many years after the explosion.
Guests who have been staying in room 217 are reporting of the lights turning on and off as well as claiming that their personal items are being moved around in the room. But perhaps there wouldn’t have been as many claims if it hadn’t been that Stephen King himself stayed there when he was inspired by his book.
The Stairway Vortex
Take a walk through the haunted halls of The Stanley Hotel and see why it’s still regarded as one of the most iconic spots in Estes Park. Walk up the stairs to the grand lobby, with its grand-scale decorations, crystal chandeliers and ornate walls lined with artifacts from around the world.
Another place that has gained attention for the strange things happening around it is the stairway connecting the hotel lobby to the second floor. Many think of it as a kind of tunnel of spiritual energy that attracts all the spirits and ghosts around the hotel and makes them stay.
This is what the mediums are saying, but are normal people just as affected as those claiming to be able to sense energy like that? According to guests and staff members, many feel dizzy walking down the stairs and there have been many ghost sightings in this staircase and some even claim to have it documented.
One of the more famous documentaries is a picture of what they think could be the ghost of a young girl as they claimed there was no one walking down the stairs at the time. This made headlines in the news and many look at this as convincing evidence for hauntings at the The Stanley Hotel.
So what do we think? Convincing evidence or obvious fraud?
The Concert Hall
One of the gifts the original builder made to his wife, Flora, was the concert hall. In it there was also a piano she would play as often as she could. After her death there is said to be classical piano music coming from the concert hall when there is no one inside late at night that fills the hotel.
Another ghost that allegedly haunts the place is Paul. He used to be the one enforcing the hotel curfew in the early years of the The Stanley Hotel that started at 11 sharp. Guests as well as staff have said they have heard Paul tell them to get out when it is too late.
The 4th Floor
In the early days of the The Stanley Hotel, the 4th floor was only used as an attic to store stuff during the closed winter months. It would later be rebuilt, first as lodging for females as well as their children. Then even later the 4th floor would be remade into hotel suits.
Today, many guests complain about the noise of children running through the halls, laughing as they play throughout the night. When they open the doors for a closer inspection though, there are no children in sight.
Inside of the rooms, especially in room 428, there are reports about people’s stuff being moved around. Especially the clothes they just casually threw away would be tidied away and folded in the drawers.
In addition to children playing in the late hours, there is also a rumor of it being haunted by a local cowboy.
His name was James Nugent, otherwise known as the Rocky Mountain Jim, a local man that was pretty well known in the town. He was known as quite a ladies man, and people tell that they are surprised when they wake up and see the ghost of him standing by their bed. Female guests are particularly bothered and straight up harassed by him, and he is said to try to give them kisses in the middle of the night when they try to sleep.
The Underground Caves
Under the The Stanley Hotel there is a very intricate underground cave system underneath it where the employees used to discreetly get around the hotel to not be seen by the guests.
Those still working in the The Stanley Hotel say that there are some activities still going on in those caves. The smell of freshly baked goods has been thought to be from one of the pastry chefs that worked at the hotel when it first opened.
Before refrigerators and freezers became an indoor thing with the help of electricity, people used to store food outside in cold ice houses. There they also stored large blocks of ice to use in the bar for fancy drinks.
Today the ice house is reworked into a museum to hold old cars at the hotel, and there are said to be two ghosts inside. One of them is a kid named Billy that tends to show up rather blurry in photographs. Who he was in regards to the The Stanley Hotel is unknown though.
Stay at the Haunted Hotel
So those are some of the most famous ghost stories and places around the The Stanley Hotel where there are reported a lot of paranormal activity.
These stories, combined with King’s famous novel and other supernatural legends attached to the grounds, have made The Stanley Hotel an alluring attraction for those interested in eerie secrets. And the hotel itself has decided to really lean into the haunted rumors with their own ghost tours.
So, would you like to have checked in and stayed a night for yourself?
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Feature Image: Carol M. Highsmith : http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.33392