(800) 976-1377 www.stanleyhotel.com
In a place as rugged as Rocky Mountain National Park, a stately Victorian mansion stands out. Thanks to its striking appearance—not to mention the legends of hauntings spurred by a bestselling horror writer—Estes Park’s Stanley Hotel came to represent the park every bit as much as the horses and log cabins that define much of its early history.
Stanley Hotel History
Freelan Stanley opened the iconic hotel more than a century ago. Before heading west, Stanley owned a steam motor car company in Maine with his twin brother. In 1903, suffering from tuberculosis, he sought the mountains at the recommendation of a doctor who thought it might improve his health. Like many before him, he found something restorative in the high mountain town of Estes Park.
Still, he wasn’t quite ready to shed all the trappings of his distinguished East Coast life. In 1905, he completed a colonial-style mansion, and two years later began construction on a 48-room hotel meant to cater to wealthier visitors finding their way to the Rockies. The hotel was the first of its kind in many ways for the area. At the time, most people in Estes Park still traveled on horseback and slept in cabins. But the Stanley boasted electricity, running water, and wagon service from the train depot in nearby Lyons.
Stay in a Haunted Room
The Stanley’s famous ghosts didn’t show up until much later. The hotel was simply a stylish building until Stephen King spent a night there in 1974. It hadn’t been renovated at the time and its former luster had begun to fade, lending it a spooky aura. According to King, he and his wife were the only guests there as the staff prepared to close up for the winter. Wandering the nearly empty halls, it occurred to King that it would make an ideal setting for a ghost story. That very evening, “I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming,” he later wrote. That night inspired The Shining, which became a bestselling book. In 1980, the classic Stanley Kubrick horror movie adaptation was released.
Take if from us, if you can, make sure to stay in room 217. Not only is it the presidential suite with some of the best views of Rocky Mountain National Park, but it’s also the room Stephen King stayed in when starting to write his book. It’s been rumored funnyman Jim Carry himself couldn’t even make it through a night in the room, so you know things must be a bit off. Bookings go quickly so make sure to reserve a few months in advance, and always remember to be nice to the folks at the reservation desk, since you know, they have the power to say yes.
Other famously haunted rooms include 418 where guests have repeatedly complained about the noise of young children playing in the hall outside, and room 407, which is where it is believed Lord Dunraven still resides. Rumor has it the Lord used to hide in the closet and stare at the nannies who lived in the room during the first few years of the hotel. (Creepy, we know) It’s so creepy some people won’t even go into the room according to hotel staff.
Stanley Hotel Ghost Tours
Don’t worry though you won’t have to experience this all by yourself, and if you’re really paranoid think second floor where the least amount of supernatural occurrences have been reported. Of course, if you want the full story make sure to check out the hotels ghost tours, where visitors walk through the hallways that it is rumored F.O. himself roams as his wife Flora plays the piano in the ballroom downstairs.
The book, the movie, the grand architecture, and the hotel’s dramatic location draw people in to this day for an evening and perhaps a whiskey with the hospitable ghosts—including that of Freelan Stanley himself—who allegedly still watch over the hotel.
The Stanley Hotel
333 Wonderview Avenue Estes Park, CO 80517