I recently visited Colorado for the first time to visit my boyfriend. He works at Copper Mountain in Summit County and I stayed with him there for the majority of the time. Both being fans of things that are historic, creepy and reportedly haunted, he suggested we drive to Estes Park and stay at the famed Stanley Hotel for the night, to which I enthusiastically agreed. If it was good enough for Stephan King, it was good enough for me.
We drove to Estes Park (in November mind you, it was very cold) and after passing a large herd of elk, arrived at the large, white hotel which looms almost menacingly over the town. After a quick look around the lobby, which was adorned with dozens of small, decorated Christmas trees, we began to haggle for a room. The front desk guy Patrick gave us a choice of a roomy, more expensive room on the second or third floors, or a “cozy” room on the supposedly haunted fourth floor of the historic main building. After a quick tour of the cozy room, we decided that we didn’t need much space and would room with the fourth floor ghosts.
Considering the hotel is over a hundred years old, I expected the room to be rather dated. Much to my surprise, I was met with modern amenities such as a flat screen TV and an iPod dock. Although the history is easily felt throughout the hotel, I was satisfied that I would be comfortable and “cozy” under my lovely down comforter. The only complaint I had about the room was that the water from the shower barely got to lukewarm, and a hot shower is important to me in freezing Colorado. Other than that, I thought our accommodations were more than adequate. That was, of course, if the ghosts left us alone all night.
One simply cannot stay at the Stanley Hotel and not take the night ghost tour, so of course we immediately signed up for it. After a lovely dinner at the Rock Inn (thanks for the recommendation, Patrick), we met our group down at the Archives room on the basement floor. Our guide, ParaNorma, took us out to the Concert Hall, the fourth most haunted building in the United States. Whose list that is, I don’t know, but the ranking made it sound spooky anyway. With the lights off, ParaNorma explained the history of the building and the ghost sightings and left us for a few minutes to take photos and conduct our own investigations. I didn’t see or hear a thing, but my boyfriend had an object move in a room where he was all alone. Ghost activity or shoddy stacking skills? We’ll never know. Next we were taken downstairs to interact with Lucy, a resident spirit. We witnessed a door close on its own, but ParaNorma was suspiciously close to the door for me to call it spirit-driven.
I felt like we were touring a real-life Clue mansion as we went to the Billiard Room and the Music Room, two places F.O. Stanley and his wife are still reported to be seen. I kept an eye out for Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard as we walked through, although again I saw no evidence of ghostly activity. Next we moved onto the MacGregor Room, which is used for weddings, banquets and the occasional haunting.
ParaNorma also explained the most haunted guest rooms to us, which are 217 and 401. A late housekeeper supposedly haunts 217, where Stephen King stayed. The story goes that he experienced this haunting and was so impressed with the overall creepiness of the hotel that his writer’s block vanished like an apparition in the night and he busted out The Shining shortly thereafter. Jim Carrey also stayed in 217 whilst filming Dumb and Dumber, and was so freaked out by whatever happened (he won’t talk about it) that he left the hotel and only agreed to step foot in it again to do his scenes. As for 401, the ghost of a man named Lord Dunraven can be felt there. He was the original owner of the land that the Stanley sits on and loved it so much that he never left. He reportedly was a lady’s man and likes to try to get the attention of women who stay in his room. Various other unnamed spirits supposedly roam freely on the fourth floor, making a good night’s sleep for me seem like it was going to be impossible.
I was definitely disappointed when I saw and heard nothing paranormal. I am definitely open to it and would love to have a ghost experience, but it didn’t happen. My boyfriend said maybe I was trying too hard, and maybe he was right. A young girl did snap a compelling photo of a female figure (complete with long, flowing dress) next to the piano in the Concert Hall, when her next photo of the same spot shows nothing. I was impressed by that photo the most, and it leads me to believe that although I personally did not experience any spirit activity, The Stanley Hotel is a perfectly creepy and natural place for ghosts to hang out. Maybe next time…