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The Haunted History of the Stanley Hotel: Ghostly Encounters in the Heart of the Rockies


The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, is known as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States. The hotel's history is rich with tales of paranormal activity and ghostly encounters, and its reputation as a haunted destination has attracted visitors from around the world. In this article, we will explore the history of the Stanley Hotel, the stories of its ghostly inhabitants, and the hotel's cultural significance.

History of the Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel was built in 1909 by F.O. Stanley, a wealthy businessman and inventor who had moved to Colorado due to his tuberculosis diagnosis. Stanley had made his fortune by inventing a dry photographic plate, which made photography more accessible to the masses. He was also the co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer, an early steam-powered car.

Stanley originally built the hotel as a summer retreat for himself and his wife, Flora. The hotel was designed in the Georgian Revival style and boasted luxurious amenities, including electric lights, telephones, and en suite bathrooms. The hotel's location in the Rocky Mountains provided guests with stunning views and easy access to outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and horseback riding.

The Stanley Hotel gained national attention in 1974 when Stephen King stayed at the hotel and was inspired to write his best-selling novel, "The Shining." The novel, which tells the story of a writer and his family who become isolated in a haunted hotel during the winter, was later adapted into a popular film directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Ghostly Encounters

The Stanley Hotel has gained a reputation as a haunted destination, with numerous reports of ghostly encounters over the years. Guests and staff members have reported seeing apparitions, hearing unexplained noises, and feeling a presence in their rooms.

One of the most famous ghostly inhabitants of the Stanley Hotel is the spirit of Flora Stanley, who is said to haunt the hotel's ballroom. Flora is known to appear in a white ball gown and dance with male guests before disappearing into thin air. Guests have also reported seeing a man in a top hat standing on the grand staircase, who is believed to be F.O. Stanley himself.

Another famous ghost at the Stanley Hotel is a former housekeeper named Elizabeth Wilson, who is said to haunt room 217. According to legend, Wilson was injured in an explosion in the room while lighting a lantern, and her ghost has been known to turn off lights and fold guests' clothes.

Other reported ghostly encounters at the Stanley Hotel include the sound of children's laughter and running footsteps in the hallways, unexplained cold spots, and the smell of cigar smoke in non-smoking rooms.

Cultural Significance

The Stanley Hotel has become a cultural icon, with its haunted reputation and connection to Stephen King's "The Shining" making it a popular destination for horror fans and paranormal enthusiasts. The hotel's grand architecture and scenic location in the Rocky Mountains have also made it a popular wedding and event venue.

In recent years, the Stanley Hotel has embraced its haunted reputation by offering ghost tours, paranormal investigations, and a Halloween-themed horror film festival. The hotel's connection to "The Shining" has also led to the creation of a hedge maze inspired by the one in the film.


The Stanley Hotel in Colorado is a unique destination that combines luxury accommodations with a haunting history. Its reputation as a haunted location has made it a popular destination for paranormal enthusiasts and horror fans, while its scenic location and grand architecture have made it a sought-after event venue. Whether or not one believes in ghosts, the Stanley Hotel's history and ghostly encounters make it a fascinating destination for those seeking a memorable experience.

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