We have stayed at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, several times with varied experiences. The hotel was built in 1909 by the inventor of the Stanley Steamer, Freelan Stanley, and has had many famous guests throughout its history. The hotel is located just five miles from the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, making it a great location to stay when wanting to spend a few days hiking in park. With its bright white exterior and red roof, the hotel stands out against the mountains that sit behind it.
One of the Stanley’s most famous guests was Stephen King who stayed there in 1974 and was inspired to write The Shining after his experiences there. Although he called the hotel the Overlook Hotel in his book and added several embellishments, there are many features that are the same as what he described. The Stanley Hotel was also the set of the 1997 miniseries of The Shining.
On our very first visit to the Stanley Hotel in 1998, we arrived early at about 10:00 am because we wanted to get out and get into the mountains. We didn’t expect to be able to get into our room, but we were told that the room was ready and we were also told that we were able to stay in the same suite that Stephen King stayed in during his stay. Apparently people often request that room and actually being able to stay in that room is a rarity. We went to our room to unpack and change to go hiking and shortly after entering the room, the radio alarm clock went off. Obviously the previous guest must have set the alarm and not turned it off, so we walked over the clock to turn it off, but the alarm was not set. It wouldn’t turn off, so we went to unplug it from the wall, but it was not plugged in. We looked for a place for batteries, but there wasn’t any. A few seconds later, the radio stopped playing. It was truly creepy.
We weren’t aware at the time that the hotel had quite the reputation for being haunted and we weren’t there for any other reason other than it was a nice hotel with a good location. A few years later, the show Ghost Hunters filmed an episode there and the fame its ghostly reputation soared. On our last visit to the hotel in 2012, we were somewhat disappointed because what was a quiet, quaint, hotel, had become a tourist spot where you could book rooms based upon which ones you were more likely to see a spirit. There are also tours of the hotel going every fifteen minutes during the day and people wander the grounds as they wait for their tour. At night, we saw people setting up cameras trying to capture their own ghostly image and people wander the halls hoping to get a glimpse of spirit.
We don’t doubt that the hotel is truly haunted, especially based upon our experience so many years ago, but didn’t care for the atmosphere of all of the ghost chasers. They even showed the 1980 movie of The Shining, which wasn’t filmed there, 24/7 in the hotel rooms. We did happen to go by the suite we stayed in during our original visit while there was a tour group outside of it because it is one of the most haunted rooms in the hotel. Apparently there was a fire in the room that killed a maid many years ago and she is reported to still haunt the room. Was she upset that we checked in early and didn’t think that the room was ready? We’ll never know. Have you ever had your own ghostly encounter?