You may recognize the Stanley Hotel even if you’ve never read Stephen King’s The Shining or seen the 1980 movie based on the book. Stephen King stayed in room 217 in 1974, and what he experienced immediately inspired him to write The Shining. King and his wife spontaneously stayed there to take shelter from a storm. The hotel was preparing to close for the season, and all of the guests and most of the staff had already departed. The empty corridors and echoing halls cast an eerie tone over the already ominous environment.
The Stanley, which King renamed The Overlook for his novel, has been the sight of multiple paranormal sightings and experiences since its construction in 1909. Its notoriety continues to spread, and as a result the hotel has been featured on numerous tv shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. Thousands of guests have reported unexplainable and strange events over the years. I recently stayed there myself after attending Aiden Sinclair’s magic show and the séance that followed.
The hotel was built in Estes National Park – the gateway to one of the most visited national parks in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park. Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora originally moved to Estes Park because Freelan had developed tuberculosis and was told the mountain air would help his health. They first built a small house for their family, but then decided to build a place for family and friends to stay while visiting.
Construction on the hotel started in 1903 and was completed six years later. Originally named the Colonial Revival Hotel, it had many state-of-the-art innovations including a hydraulic elevator, electric and gas heating, running water and even telephones. Over time, the Stanley’s continued expanding by developing a concert hall, a music lounge where Flora often played piano, a billiard room where Freelan entertained his male guests and even a bowling alley.
Thousands of people come to visit or stay at the Stanley Hotel each year. Many are attracted by tales of the paranormal. Numerous tours and shows are available for the curious, including a night-time paranormal/ghost tour that journey through parts of the hotel closed to the public. Over the years visitors have reported full body apparitions, disembodied voices, shadows, and things being moved in their room. One of the most common stories is of kids running down the hallways of the 4th floor. It’s said the Stanley kids played in those very hallways over a century ago. Many believe Mr. and Mrs. Stanley still roam and check on their hotel to this day.
We witnessed paranormal activity at the Stanley firsthand while staying the night in June. We had a rollaway bed delivered to our room before leaving for dinner. When we returned, the bed was no longer there. We spoke to the front desk and checked with maid service, they had no record of someone entering the room and removing the bed.
Later that night at the séance, we were told of many instances of rollaway beds changing rooms when no one was there. We were moved into a different room on the 4th floor and as we walked we kept seeing shadows moving at the end of the hallways. We all were exhausted by that time and went to bed. Early the next morning, my room mate and I both heard a little girl calling out “Mama”. No children were staying on the floor and there were no kids outside at the time.
If you like the paranormal and magic, Aiden Sinclair conducts magic shows featuring himself and guest magicians in the original carriage house. Aiden is a world known magician who’s been on America’s Got Talent, and Penn and Tellers Fool Us. I met Aiden back in 2012 at a paracon and we became friends. Luckily, there were still tickets available for his show the night we stayed there.
Aiden skillfully incorporates the paranormal history of the Stanley into his performances. He even has a collection of items that he has gathered over the years, including a 1909 guest book, a strait jacket, multiple ouija boards, creepy dolls, and other unique items. When you go see his show, arrive early to check out the pieces for yourself.
If you are ever in Estes Parks Colorado visiting, take a day and spend some time walking around the Stanley Hotel, take in one of Aiden’s shows or even the séance, tell him Jenny sent you. If you dare, spend the night. You may have a run in with a spirit of the Stanley too.
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