Stanley Hotel

Stanley Hotel Haunted hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, that inspired Stephen King’s novel The Shining.


The Stanley Hotel is named after its builder, F. O. (Freelan Oscar) Stanley, who invented the Stanley Steam Engine horseless carriage in the early years of the 20th century. Stanley, who lived in Maine, suffered from tuberculosis that was so advanced that his doctor advised him not to make any plans beyond six months and to go west to get fresher air. The doctor arranged for Stanley and his wife, Flora, to spend time in a friend’s cabin in Estes Park. The couple arrived in 1903 and quickly fell in love with the area. Almost immediately, Stanley’s health improved. They decided to stay, even though the rustic town lacked many of the amenities they enjoyed back east.

Stanley bought 160 acres of land from Lord Dunraven, an Irish earl, and began constructing a luxury hotel in the Georgian style in 1907. The complex included a main building, reservoir, ice pond, and nine-hole golf course.

The hotel opened in 1909. Its luxury was unparalleled: running water, electricity, telephones, and sumptuous appointments. The facility had no heat, however, for Stanley intended to run it only as a summer resort. Stanley also built a road and brought guests to the hotel by automobile. Previously, resorts were accessible only by rail or horse-drawn carriage. The hotel attracted celebrities, royalty, and political leaders, among them “The Unsinkable” Molly Brown, the emperor and empress of Japan, composer John Philip Sousa, and President Theodore Roosevelt.

Stanley died in 1940. The hotel is now open yearround. In 1974, Stephen king and his wife, Tabitha, stayed at the Stanley in room 217, the best room in the hotel. King was working on a new story idea, and the hotel inspired him. The result was The Shining, which became a bestseller in 1977. In 1980, the novel was made into a film by director Stanley Kubrick.

Haunting Activity

The Stanley was haunted well before King made it famous. King himself reportedly saw one of the ghosts, a small boy who calls to his nanny on the second floor. The boy has been seen elsewhere throughout the hotel.

Haunting activity occurs on all floors. The fourth floor—the former servants’ quarters—is the most active. Lord Dunraven is said to haunt Room 407. Lights go on and off, and the elevator nearby makes noises when not in service. Dunraven’s ghost has been seen standing in a corner and also has been seen looking out the window when the room is unoccupied. Room 418, one of the most active on the fourth floor, as well as in the entire hotel, is also known as the “Demon Room” because a female guest staying there once felt as though Demons were trying to possess her in the bed. Her fingernail scratches are still on the headboard. Room 418 is also home to ghosts of children who play in the hallway and to trapped ghosts.

Room 217, named after Stephen King, appears to be one of the least active rooms. Stanley haunts the lobby, bar, and billiard room, where he has appeared to guests. Phantom piano music in the ballroom is said to be played by Flora.

Haunting activity is found elsewhere throughout the hotel, including the service tunnels underneath it. Exterior buildings—a manor house, concert hall, and carriage house—also have activity.

Several geophysical factors may contribute to the durability and intensity of activity, making the Stanley a favourite of paranormal investigators. It is situated high in the Rocky Mountains, is near a lake, and rests on magnetite rock, which actually is exposed in the service tunnels. Mountains, large bodies of water, and certain properties of soil and minerals are associated with some sites that have high levels of paranormal phenomena.



  • Davis, Susan S. (ed.) Stanley Ghost Stories. Estes Park, Colo.: The Stanley Museum, 2005.
  • “Rocky Mountain Legends: Haunted Estes Park, Colorado.” Available online. URL: CP-EstesParkHaunting.html. Downloaded September 27, 2006.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007