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The Haunted Stanley Hotel

Updated on October 1, 2014

The Spooky Hotel that Inspired "The Shining"

I love to read a good Stephen King novel, and even more, I love to watch a good movie made from his books. If a hotel is creepy enough to raise the hair on the back of Stephen King's neck, you can bet it's got to be a scary place! Even though King's novel "The Shining" is fiction, the inspiration for the book is a very real place.

Now there are real ghost stories about the Stanley Hotel which are based on true fact. This lens explores some of those, as well as celebrates the story of "The Shining" and the incredibly frightening film based on the novel. Jack Nicholson was perfectly cast as the caretaker who lets the place scare him nutty.

Just be careful you do not fall victim to his same fate!

Beware the ghosts of The Stanley Hotel!

The Stanley Twins
The Stanley Twins

Who was Stanley?

Ever heard of the "Stanley Steamer"?

Francis and Freelan Stanley, identical twins, were inventors whose main claim to fame was the Stanley Steamer - an automobile powered by steam. Theirs was the first car to make it to the top of Mount Washington, in 1899. They were overcome by gas powered automobiles soon after. Freelan Stanley sufferred much of his life from Tuberculosis. He spent summers recuperating in Estes Park, Colorado, where he opened the Stanley Hotel.

It is Mr Freelan Stanley and his wife Flora's ghost who are the most famous haunts of the Stanley hotel still. Perhaps it was the time they spent there while resting from his illness, and dreaming up the grand hotel, that keeps them there for eternity... but they are said to be friendly ghosts - playing piano and hanging around the hotel lobby.

The Hauntings - Are mostly from the former servants' quarters

Lord Dunraven
Lord Dunraven

The 4th floor of the hotel is the one which seems to have the most paranormal activity. This is where the servants lived in the early days of the hotel. The main presence there seems to be of children playing. Who these children were is unclear, but in the story woven by King, they are the children of the caretaker who went insane.

Room 407 is said to be haunted by Lord Dunraven, Windham Wyndham-Quin, 4th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl. Lord Dunraven owned the property the Stanley was built on before it was purchased by Mr Stanley. Lord Dunraven hoped to keep his holdings in Estes park for an exclusive game preserve for himself and his English friends. Some controversy over his claiming 15,000 acres of what is now Rocky Mountain National Park might have led to his bitterness, and could account for his haunting the hotel who stole his thunder. His own "English Hotel" built before the Stanley, burned to the ground in 1911.

(side note: Noticed during research that the Stanleys were connected to the Marriots through the steam engine, and the Windhams through Lord Dunraven - both names highly regarded to this day with hotels.... coincidence? Or could it be that jealous and angry souls lurk around the hotel to try to frighten would be investors away?)

Come on in! Don't mind the ghosts.....

Come on in! Don't mind the ghosts.....
Come on in! Don't mind the ghosts.....
Follow Down
Follow Down

Ghosts Will Follow You Down

Going down the staircase, beware of the spirits who like to follow you down. Don't let them trip you up!

Ghost in the Mirror
Ghost in the Mirror

Ghosts in the Mirror

The billiards room is a popular hangout for ghosts at the Stanley Hotel - but they can only be seen in the mirror!

Are you brave enough - to stay at the Stanley Hotel?

If you stayed at the hotel, would you keep the lights on? Tell us just how brave you are!

Would you stay at the Stanley with the lights off?

See results
Ghost of room 401
Ghost of room 401

The Ghost of room 401

The room that used to be the Nanny's lounge is the most haunted of the hotel. There is a ghost of a man who especially likes to open and close doors.

Perhaps the fact that this was the Nanny's lounge is why we hear so much about the children on the 4th floor?

Haunted Stanley Hotel Concert Hall
Haunted Stanley Hotel Concert Hall

The Haunted Concert Hall

The Ghosts of "Lucy" and "Paul"

Lucy was a teenager who ran away from her parents after an argument, and Paul was a maintenance man who died here while shoveling snow. After more than 100 years in existence, the hotel grounds has many stories of ghosts and hauntings, not limited to the hotel itself.

The Shining - Never watch alone

It is now a classic, but still, a horror story scarier than any typical scary movie out there. Imagine yourself living a bitter cold winter at the huge Stanley Hotel, by yourself, with all those ghosts.....

Dick Hallorann

It's just that, you know, some places are like people. Some "shine" and some don't. I guess you could say the Overlook Hotel here has somethin' almost like "shining."

The Original Stephen King Novel - Read it on your Kindle, or the old fashioned way!

The Shining
The Shining

Kindle Edition


More to the Story - A Second Book is out!

Every bit as good, not quite as scary (maybe because I'm older now?) King has written a sequel to his beloved "Shining". The book is called "Doctor Sleep" and takes place many years later. The main character is the little boy from The Shining all grown up. You will see a few others you'll recognize, but the story is told from the grown boy's perspective. It's really a bit different, yet still has that otherworldly feel that only King can pull off like it is on just the other side of reality. I enjoyed it very much!

Doctor Sleeeeeeep

COMMENTS - Welcome and encouraged!

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    • N Beaulieu profile image

      N Beaulieu 

      6 years ago

      Ghost Hunters filmed an investigation at this hotel which first peaked my interest. I didn't know the history behind the hotel but was very interested to read it here. I'd love to stay a night at the Stanley but probably not by myself. P.S. I love the black and white photos.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I aint afraid of no ghost

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Interesting story, I had not heard of the Stanley Hotel. - I believe I will stay away from there.

    • DreamingBoomer profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kay 

      7 years ago from Jackson, MS

      @Laura Schofield: Thanks Laura!

    • Laura Schofield profile image

      Laura Schofield 

      7 years ago from Chicago, IL USA

      My son will love this lens! He stayed on the Queen Mary in Long Beach CA and wrote a page about its ghosts. He's also a big fan of the Shining. You've done a great job here. I'll be recommending it to people!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm not too proud to say spirits exist and are real especially is we humans go looking for them, we'll find them. 'thumbs up' on your lens.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I took the ghost tour at the Stanley and took my digital camera. In the basement, I caught several orbs. In the hallway upstairs, I caught a figure on my camera where nobody was standing. It wasn't just a shadow either. I deleted it. I believe that all of these things are evil and no longer even watch the shows.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      Whoa, very creepy lens, the Shining is one of best/worst horror books ever written in my opinion- I didn't know there was an actual place that inspired the book.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Fantastic lens - interesting subject and wonderful pictures.


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