Just as Graceland is the “Mecca” for Elvis fans, The Stanley Hotel is the “Mecca” for paranormal investigators. This is one of the big ones that you have to visit. In November of 2016, we found ourselves once again in Denver, Colorado. On this trip, we decided we would spruce it up little, and take one night to spend at the infamous Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park.
UPDATE: Since we originally posted this post (on our older blog site), we have produced some videos about our visit if you would like to check them out. Below the videos, we will continue on with our experiences on this adventure.
Estes Park is about an hour and half drive from Denver. We lined up a rental car to be delivered to our hotel, and with great excitement (although our rental car showed up about an hour late), we headed out and up into the Rocky Mountain National Park to our great haunted destination. We had a very intense agenda and schedule planned out for the day which included the day time historical tour, a quick break while we did our “Haunted Spotlight” segment for BTE Radio, then the night time ghost tour. At some point, we needed to get dinner and do a little investigating, but we figured we would go with the flow or see if we would capture anything while on the tours, which is sometimes the case.
When we arrived on the property, we were confused to find three large buildings. The first building was the concert hall, then the lodge, then the actual hotel. We were not aware of the difference between the buildings, so we went into the lodge first to try and check-in. Of course we were told that we were in the wrong place, and we walked over to the other building to check-in. Another thing we were not sure about was the parking. You cannot pull right in front of the hotel, but there is an area where you can pull in right in front of the lodge. We just left the car there until we found out were to go.
Marianne had booked us a special paranormal package that put us on the active fourth floor, provided us with a KII meter, 2 coffee mugs, and 2 ghost squishy dolls with the Stanley Hotel printed on his chest. We call him Glenn’s cousin because is the same ghost that we use to market Dark Shadow Ghost Tours.
After we checked in and got our “paranormal” gifts, we we were told that we have to drive around to a parking area behind the hotel. Of course, I was a little anxious by this point to see our room and inside the hotel, so we decided to leave our luggage in the car and we would come back out later and get it when we were ready to turn in for the evening.
The Historical Tour After walking around for a little while, we decided it was time to make our way down to the tour reception area so that we didn’t miss next tour time. The tour began in the Stanley Tour reception area in the basement of the hotel where they show you a short video about the grounds and the Stanley couple.
We then went outside in the gazebo next to the hotel. Here we learned about the early life of Mr. F.O. Stanley and how he earned his wealth which was not from the Stanley Steamer company, but from a process he invented for the development of photographs. He sold the invention to Eastman-Kodak company, and became a very wealthy man. We also learned that the hotel was originally built as a guest house for the Stanley’s friends who visited the area. The Stanley’s never charged their guests to stay at the hotel, that was not the point of the property. It was a place where their guests could come and visit. The Stanleys moved into the area due to medical issues that Mr. Stanley was having. He was suffering from symptoms of consumption (tuberculosis), and he was getting worse. His doctor told him that he would feel better and death would be prolonged if he spent more time at higher altitudes with thinner air. As it turns out, the doctor was correct.
From the Gazebo, we went inside and leaned about the billiard room. This was the room where most most guests would spend the evening. The men would play pool while the women would sit and watch, but they were not allowed to speak. Women were allowed in the room, but they had to enter through the doorways on the porch and not through the Pinion room. They were not allowed to play pool either, this wouldn’t of been proper at the time. F.O. Stanley was an avid pool player and quite competitive. One time, one of the guests snickered when F.O. missed hitting the cue ball. He was asked to leave the hotel.
This room housed four pool tables. Cue sticks and billiard balls from the time period are still hanging on the walls.
When the adults were down in this room, the children were set up to the attic for the evening with their nannies. A quick side note here about the attic. The attic is now the fourth floor of the hotel. This floor has most of the paranormal activity reports in the building. It is possible that all of the activity that is reported about children on this floor is actually residual experiences dating back to when the floor housed the children of the rich and famous while the adults were downstairs partying it up with their friends.
Next we went into the men’s bar and smoking room called the Pinon Room., which did not allow women. This is the room where the famous writer Stephen King had his first vision for the story the Shining. He got the idea of the Inn keeper speaking with the ghost bartender while he was sitting at the bar in this room having a night cap. Also, during the time the Stanley's where here, this was the only room on the 144 acre grounds where you could drink and smoke. The Stanley's were part of the Temperance Movement, and did not partake in such things, but they knew that they had to have a place for their guests who did. This was the purpose of the Pinion Room.
There is another item that needs to be pointed out about The Pinon Room and that is the flag that is hanging over the fireplace. The flag was donated in 2010 by Sargent Michael Bergman. It does show some battle ware and stains and remnants of war. Sargent Bergman came to spend some time in the area in hopes of healing and resting up, which he did. He eventually found himself on one of the day tours at the Stanley and learning of the patriotism of the Stanley's. He decided to donate the flag to the hotel. Each year, he returns for the tours and notices even more changes within the flag. If you look closely at it, you will notice a face. Some say that it is F.O. Stanley himself coming through on the flag to show his appreciation for the donation.
Our next stop was the music room. In here, there was a local magician setting up for a performance that evening, but we heard the stories on how Mrs. Stanley would come into this room on many occasions to play the piano. The Steinway Grand Piano was a gift from F.O. Stanley to his wife Flora on the night they opened the hotel. The piano was shipped to a nearby train station, then hauled up the mounted by oxen. This piano was not only played by Mrs. Stanley, but also other famous musician over the time of the hotel, including John Phillips Sousa. Sousa would not only play the piano, but he would also tune it when he as at the hotel for the Stanley's. Every time he did, he would etch his initials and date inside the lid of the piano. Most recently, the hotel had the piano sent out to be restored in Denver. When it returned, the technician bragged to the hotel management, not only did the piano look brand new, but he was able to get the “chicken scratch” from out of the underside of the piano's lid. He had no idea that he erased a piece of long lost history. Fortunately, the hotel has a photograph of that “chicken scratch” archived for posterity purposes.
We left this room and went out into the main lobby. Here the guide talked about the TV movie series “The Shining” and how that was filmed in the hotel. Just so you know, the movie, “The Shining” was inspirited by the Stanley Hotel, but was not filmed there, the TV movie series, “The Shining,” was filmed at the Stanley. The series is more adaptive from the novel by Stephen King. The main lobby was renovated and updated for that series. When you look at the picture below, notice the beautiful wood work on the ceiling and walls. This is all fake, and was put in by the production crew. The hotel left it all in place since it looks pretty close to what the original hotel looked like when the Stanley’s were here. The tour guide also explained more about the Stanley's and how they would greet their guests in this area.
We then went up to the staircase and she talked about the different photos hanging in this area. She also pointed out the spindles on the stair case. Each group of four spindles represent the four seasons. If you look closely at the photo below, you will see that they are all different and in groups of four. There is a lot of symbolism like this built into the hotel. F.O. Stanley was a strong believer in the healing powers of nature, and he incorporated a lot of symbolic references to natural elements.
The next stop after the grand staircase was the infamous room 217. Room 217 is the room that Stephen King stayed in when he spent his time at the Stanley, and this is where he got most of his inspiration to write the book. This is also the room that the maid was cleaning when the explosion took off the front right side of the building, which also took her life and why the room has so much paranormal activity. Jim Carrey also tried to spend the night in this room during the filming of Dumb and Dumber, but he could not deal with the paranormal occurrences, so he refused to stay there anymore.
The Haunted Spotlight Live from the Stanley after leaving room 217, we were running a little short on time and had to leave the tour. We were scheduled to do our radio segment on Beyond the Edge Radio, called “The Haunted Spotlight,” so we had to go back to our room and await the call from the show’s host Eric. You can hear the recording of our show under the history section of the Stanley Hotel on PANICd.com.
The Ghost Tour After the show, we had to scurry again downstairs to take the ghost tour. Again, the tour began in the reception area of the Stanley Tours. We were able to get there a little early and have a nice conversation with the tour guide. This is one of the best ways to get information about location, and sometimes make new friends. These tour guides, in most cases, are heavy into history of the location and to paranormal activity. They are story tellers, and love to share information with you. You may think that you will be a little bored if you go on one of the tours already knowing the story and history, but to be honest, it has been our experience that you never really get the same tour guide each time, and sometimes the stories can be a little different from guide to guide.
We were excited for this tour especially, since this is why we came here in the first place. To learn more about the history and the paranormal. I guess our excitement was apparent since the guide pointed out that he was a little worried that he would meet our expectations. Let me just say right here, he did very well.
Our first stop after watching a short movie (The same one we saw on the Historical Tour, but that was fine,) was the Concert Hall. According to the tour guide, who was a former security guard (which gave him access to the buildings late at night), the concert hall is very active. Which would make sense since since it is somewhat of a theater and a location that Flora loved when she was alive.
The hall was designed after the Boston Symphony Hall, and has nearly perfect acoustics. There were many musical and theatrical performances within this building and the hall is in great shape now that it has been recently renovated.
We spent some time up in the balcony of the hall where we heard the tales former employees who are now spirits within the building. We were also told that this is the area where F.O. and Flora would host the extreme rich and famous such as the Vanderbilts or the Rockefellers when they would visit.
While we were up in the balcony, we kept taking photos down into the hall. We captured several pictures that had orbs in them, some of which seemed to be around a person’s head area, as if they were sitting in one of the chairs watching a show up on stage. Below is one of those pictures, but we have posted more on PANICd.com under the evidence section for the Stanley Hotel.
As you look at the above picture you can see the bright blue orbs around the chairs in the first row to the right. We debunked this as being as any type of lens flair since the photos before and after (taken at the same time) do not show these orbs. We posted the other photos on the Stanley Hotel page.
Also, while we were in the balcony, some of the group was sitting down on the floor trying to communicate using pencils as dowsing rods. Half way through the session, I was getting cold breezes blowing by me so I stood up with the KII meter and was getting some strange readings on the device. I asked Marianne to snap a picture of me, and in this picture you can see the KII meter going, and right above it there is an orb.
We left this area and went down into the main room that used to be called the “Casino” and took several pictures around the stage area where there are reports of a little boy that sometimes appears from nowhere. We were not able to get him in the photos this time, but you can definitely get the sense that there is something going on in this room. Even the feeling of someone looking down and watching from up in the balcony.
From that room, we went downstairs to the “green room.” In here, many of the performers have reported seeing and communicating with a girl around college age. Paranormal investigators have determined that her name is Lucy, and some thing that she may have passed away in the “green room,” after staying there one winter when the complex was closed to guests.
We believe that Lucy may have not been there that night. There were no responses on the flashlights and we caught nothing within photos or audio in this room either; however, there are others who say and have evidence that this is one of the most active rooms in the basement.
Outside of this room, we went to the hall of pianos. This is the area where they claim they hear the pianos playing by themselves and parties going on late at night. When the area is investigated by security, of course nobody is found down there.
The women’s bathroom has been reported to have activity as well. Marianne went in there to get some pictures before we heading back out of the basement.
When up out of the basement, we stopped by the carriage house. We only stopped briefly outside of the building. It was a little chilly out, so the guide went over the Carriage House very quickly. So quickly, we didn’t even take a picture of it, but this was the building that the Ghost Adventures were locked into for their investigation. Guests do not go in that building now, it is only storage for the hotel.
Our next stop was then went back to the billiard room as we did on the historical tour and hear most of the same information we did during the historical tour; however, the group continued trying to communicate using the pencils. We again took several pictures in this room, but had to dismiss most of them since the most of the room is surrounded by mirrors and windows. This time, we did learn about the floor which is quite interesting. The floor is covered with cork. This was done so that if the billiard balls would leave the tables they would not get damaged since they were made of ivory.
We heard more about the room and how the mirrors can be used with photos to try to catch another dimension. You can take a picture within a mirror at an angle to another mirror and sometimes you can pick up on female apparitions within the room. Although we have several pictures from this room, we did not see anything that could be called paranormal.
We left the billiard room and went to the Pinon room again. There was not much different this time from earlier, although we took more photos, we did not get anything paranormal.
We left the Pinon room and headed down to the basement area, where the tour began. Down in the basement is the office for the resident physic if you want to make an appointment to meet with here. Here in this hall way, they had their original ice chests that are now being used as cases to house artifacts for the hotel and the Stanley's.
To the left of the cabinets is the entrance to the caverns. This is the area we have been waiting to see, since there is reportedly a ton of activity in this area. Marianne took several pictures down in this area, and after reviewing the pictures we did capture a few orbs. One picture in particular shows a blue orb that may be emitting it’s own light source.
You can zoom in on that little blue orb and notice that it is not dust. It also appears to be putting off it’s own light. Now, keep in mind, this room was completely dark when were down there as well.
We spent some time down in this area, Marianne took several pictures which you can see on the photo page for this location. This was the last stop of the tour.
When the tour was over, we finally had a little break and went to dinner in the dinning room. I had made sure they would be open after the tour, since we had not eaten anything since we arrived at the hotel many hours earlier.
Here is where the visit got really interesting….
After dinner, we went upstairs to the room to get our car keys so we could go out to the car and finally bring in our luggage and settle into our room for the evening. When we got to the elevator entrance, we ran into girls staying in room 401, which is right next to the elevator. We were wearing our paranormal shirts at the time, so they asked us about the paranormal activity that was in their room and if we knew anything about the what has been reported by previous guests. Of course, we had to explain to them the paranormal claims about Lord Dunraven and how he still hangs out in their room.
They were freaking out a little bit and asked us to come into the room and check things out for them, since they knew very little about the paranormal and didn’t feel comfortable staying in the room. Marianne jumped at the chance to do a little investigating in room 401, so much so that she went in the room, ended up in the closet with the door closed and started conducting an EVP session without any recorder.
I did have a KII meter with me and was picking up strange readings from a chair that was between the door and the closet while Marianne was in the closet trying to communicate with Lord Dunraven and I was talking with the girls trying to calm their nerves about spending the night in a haunted room.
Besides the KII hits on the chair, we told the girls that everything should be fine that night and they would have nothing to worry about. Marianne did not get touched at all when she was in the closet (one of the claims) and we didn’t sense any other activity in the room. We just told them to stay away from the chair, and get some rest.
As all of this activity was going on, another couple walked by and told us about their room, room 413. The second couple was there for his birthday. The original room that they had booked was small and cramped and when they complained to the front desk, they were moved to room 413, which is larger room on the 4th floor, but also a room with reported paranormal activity. The man thought it was awesome, but the girl was starting to freak out a little bit, since there were reports of people (especially women) who would wake up to the feeling of being strangled. They asked us to come to their room next to check things out and see if it would be OK and safe to spend the night in the room. We told them that we wanted to run back to our room first and grab a recorder and we would come down and perform a quick EVP session and see if we find anything. Marianne ran down to the room to get my recorder, and she grabbed one of our Glenn the Ghost dolls to give to the girls in room 401 to keep them company for the night. They were pretty cool and snapped a picture with us.
The couple from room 413 actually took this picture for us. When we said our good byes to the girls for the night, we went down with the room 413 guests to their room, recorder in hand and ready to see if we could capture an EVP or pick up some EMF responses on the KII meter.
Just to give you some perspective on our day. We check out of our hotel in Denver around 9:30 a.m. that morning and arrived at the Stanley around 1:30 p.m. We have been going non stop since we arrived, and still did not bring in the luggage from of our car. At the time we went down to room 413, Marianne snapped a photo of me in the room that is time stamped 1:36 a.m.
We went into the room and sat in there for a little bit quietly. Neither of us got that feeling of something negative in the room, and we explained to the couple a little bit about paranormal activity and tried to calm the girl down. We mentioned to the spirits in the room that the girl was a little upset and did not want to be bothered while she was sleeping in there that night. Marianne snapped off a few photos as we did a couple of EVP sessions. One of her photos caught a small orb in the middle of the couple’s bed.
The second EVP session, we caught our one and only EVP from the entire day. I had asked, is this your favorite room, and the response was a whisper, “I… don’t…. know….” You can hear that EVP under the evidence for the PANCId.com location page for the Stanley Hotel.
We explained to the couple that we didn’t think that anything would be bothering them, but gave them our room number in case something happened during the night. We told them that they were welcome to come and get us if they needed any assistance.
When we finished with the couple we finally made it out to the car to get our luggage and went back to our room to relax. It was a long busy day and both of us were exhausted. We did manage to perform a short EVP session in our room before finally just crashing for the night, but that EVP session did not turn up any evidence.
We were told by the Ghost Tour Guide that would could go back down to the Concert Hall if we wanted to do some investigating during the night. He assured us that nobody would bother with us, and it would be a good opportunity to go down in Lucy’s room to do an EVP session, but we were so tired, we just basically passed out. That right there will tell you how tired we were… we passed on the opportunity to go down and talk with Lucy on our own.
We had a wonderful time at the Stanley, but with all of the locations that we visit we wish we had more time We had such a busy schedule and would like to allocate a few days at the location in the future. Please let us know down in the comments if you have been to the Stanley before, and if you had an experience.
Find out more about Shawn and Marianne Donley on our About Page.
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