For the record, although very skeptical of many accounts, I am a believer in the spirit world. Whether it be residual or just outright hauntings, I believe that there are things in this world we just don't understand yet. That's why taking the tour at the Stanley Hotel, reportedly one of the most haunted places in the U.S., was an exhilarating experience.
It helps that Kathy and I both are history buffs. The Stanley is celebrating 100 years after opening in 1909, and for reasons I will attempt to explain later in this blog, it seems to hold on to it's visitors past like a scrap book. The tour starts in the basement tour office with a bit of history on how the Stanley Hotel came to be. While in the office, look for the computer screen that presents a slide show of various pictures from staff and guests that have caught strange images on film. From orbs to full on apparitions these pics are very intriguing, although you have to wonder if some where involved in photo shop..maybe seeing is believing.
From the basement, the tour guide takes you to the lobby for a bit more history, including an exhibit of the Stanley Steamer Car and tales of Earl of Dunraven, said to be involved in the largest U.S land steal. Land that would eventually be sold to F.O. Stanley and his wife for the hotel. You'll also see the Pinion and Music Rooms, both with reported spirits, including that of Mrs. Stanley who is said to play the piano once in a while, as long as no one is in the room. Guess she's shy.
The tour then proceeds upstairs to the second floor with plenty of story's of ghostly encounters, including that of the Chamber Maid who is said to haunt room 217. This room used to be the Presidential Suite and has housed many famous guests, including actor Jim Carey, whom according to the tour guide, left the room after only 3 hours but never explained why.
From there it's upstairs to the 4th floor where back in the day many children played. The guide had plenty of experiences of his own to share about this floor of the hotel, and even treats the guests to tips on how they may experience the spirits for themselves. At least 2 of those touring with us experienced something that could have been a child trying to touch their hand.
After the 4th floor it's down to the basement tunnels, where the tour guide gives an explanation as to why the Stanley could be so haunted. F.O. Stanley didn't want to cut out all the Rock on the mountain, and instead built over it. This is primarily Granite and Quartz, and the guides explanation is that Granite captures sound and energy, and quartz releases them. Those two elements, coupled with a power source upstream from the hotel are why some believe residual hauntings, or place memories, have been reported throughout the hotel in almost every room.
Out of the entire tour, I found the story of how Stephen King came to write The Shining the best. Apparently he was writing a story about a haunted amusement park where the roller coasters would fly off their tracks and eat you, receiving some harsh criticism from friends. He wanted to take some time to think it through, so he and his wife Tabitha took a trip up through Estes Park, into Rocky Mountain National Park. Trailridge road (highway 34) was closed due to weather so they turned around and Stephen decided, since they had time on their hands, that they would check out the Stanley. Long story short, he reportedly experienced several things during his stay, many of which are incorporated into his classic novel. It's a fascinating tale, and if you have never read The Shining, I highly recommend you do before visiting the Hotel. If you're just not into reading, watch the mini series produced by Stephen King from the late 1990's, as it will give you a much closer feel of the novel than the Stanley Kubrick film with Jack Nicholson. Kubrick took too many liberties with the book and the location, not even filming at the Stanley.
For me personally, I found the tour to be very informative and well presented..and yes, I did "feel" something in several areas. Call it a different energy if you want, but I've only had these feelings in places I believe to be haunted. Is it my mind at work? Having been to so many places, haunted and not, I don't think so. I've walked away from many a place telling Kathy that the stories of Ghosts are bunk, but not the Stanley Hotel.
If you want to take the tour, call ahead and make an appointment. I suggest at least a week ahead of time, depending on the time of the year. As of this writing, tickets are $15. You do not have to stay at the Stanley to take the tour, but I recommend getting the full experience. If you have the dough, and they have the availability, try to stay in room 217 or 418 :) Otherwise any room will do. We stayed in the Manor House, an adjacent building to the main hotel, but it's just as historic and has just as many stories.
Legends of America has more on Estes Park haunts here, and enjoy the many spookie stories already offered with our Ghostly Legends pages!