Haunted Hotel Tour: Colorado Edition – The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, CO)
Thursday got us on the road to Estes Park, Colorado where we were headed to the mountains to stay in the World Famous Stanley Hotel. This place was where Stephen King was inspired to write “The Shining” and you can see why. It’s big, old and double-creepy. Sounds like a perfect place to say “what up” to a ghost or eight, right?
After some confusing directions from both Siri and the Google Map app on our iPhones, we were on our way. By then I had mastered the art of streaming my music via BlueTooth through our deluxe Ford Focus’ radio system. It took a Master’s Degree in Crappy Technology, but we got it done and we were puttering up through the Rocky Mountains in tiny style.
(Pro Tip: Don’t buy a Ford Focus. Just. Don’t.)
After saying “holy crap” and “man, that’s beautiful” about 800 times in the hour it took us to get from Fort Collins to Estes Park, we had arrived. We knew we had plenty of time for ghost huntin’, so we stopped off for a hike. There was a 3 mile and change trail that would deliver us up into the mountains to a little place called Gem Lake. We just didn’t know exactly where to find it. So, we stopped off at one of those DNR places and a golden-throated park ranger dished out the straight dope.
Seriously. The guy should have a career in radio.
“Here’s what you’re going to do…” he said and Matt and I were in awe. The dude knew the trails and stuff like the back of his hand. He encouraged us to go off the trail, climb some rocks, and go buck wild out there. He did warn us: “Don’t step on the flowers.”
(For the record, we didn’t.)
Here’s the thing about hiking. I never really “got” it before my trip to Colorado. I thought it was a fancy word for walking and quite honestly, it didn’t sound like much fun to me. Now, having gone on a couple award-winning hikes? I’m a huge fan. Huge.
We took some small packs of beef jerky, a bottle of water and we were ready to rock.
Look…I know you don’t care about the hike. I get it. You wanna read about ghost crap. So, just humor me and look at some of these pictures. We’ll get to the goods in no time, okay?
When the hike was done, we had to haul some Ford Focus to the hotel and check in. We had a ghost tour starting at 3pm (yeah, more on that in a bit) and we wanted to check out the historic (and haunted?) hotel we’d be staying at.
Pulling up to the hotel, we got to see just how majestic and awesome it is. Seriously. Even if you’re not into ghosts and such, this place is a thing of beauty. Thanks, LivingSocial. Best. Deal. Ever.
We got checked into our “active” room, got a quick look at our place and it was time to head downstairs for our tour.
Matt and I arrived at the spot where the tours start to be greeted by a couple of dudes and a woman. One of the guys had some of the craziest eyebrows I’d ever seen. Like someone went nutty with the hairbrush when they drew up his face. We asked if we were in the right place for the ghost tour and Eyebrows told us we were.
“However,” he said. “The ghost tours start at 9pm.”
“Huh,” I said. “The lady on the phone told me the ghost tour I signed up for was at 3pm.”
“Yeah,” Brows Deluxe said. “You guys aren’t signed up for the ghost tour.”
I took a deep breath and resisted the urge the get my fists stuck in his jungle-esqe eyebrows.
“Well, can we sign up for the ghost tour, then?” I asked through gritted teeth. I could feel my heart sink into my other sloppy internal organs.
“Nope,” Brows McBrowserton said. “It’s full.”
“Can we get on a stand-by list in case someone craps out?”
“No,” Stupid Eyebrow Face said and gave me the smarmiest look of all time.
So, the two of us were stuck with just a historical tour of The Stanley. The woman, (who we soon learned was named Toya) took us over to the chairs and let us watch a video.
“You guys want the haunted tour, eh?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” we both chimed like a couple of eager little cub scouts.
“I’ll hook you up,” Toya said.
From there, we watched a video hosted by one of their goofy tour guides named Scary Mary. She was creepy all right, but could’ve used the help of a dialogue coach. But in no time, Toya took us on a whirlwind tour of some of The Stanley’s scary places.
To cut to the chase, she took us into the Orchestra Hall, a small, separate building where they once held piano performances and such. She told us how the ghost of Mrs. Stanley was sometimes seen in the balcony, waving down to people. But where it got really kind of cool was when we went into the basement and she told us about the 1970’s.
Apparently, in the 70’s, The Stanley was all but bankrupt. No one was staying there, it was closed for a while and people were basically looting the place and stealing stuff from the hotel. A young woman had run away from home and was squatting down in the basement of the Orchestra Hall back in the 70’s. Her name was Lucy and she liked dudes. The people still running the hotel discovered her “room” down in the basement and threw her out. A little later, they found her back in there as she tried to continuing living in the basement. They threw her out again and figured out how and where she was sneaking back in. They boarded the entrance up and that kept her out…in the cold, unforgiving snow.
They think she died outside with nowhere else to go and now haunts the Orchestra Hall basement. While Toya was telling us the story of Lucy and how she came to haunt the place, this happened:
Now, I know the shot was quick, but Matt was pretty quick with the camera. He heard the door squeak, heard Toya say “Hi Luce” and boom: We got a shot of “Lucy” closing the door on us. Now…I don’t know if it was a timing thing or what, but a little later we left the room so that Toya could tell us about another ghost named Paul who hangs out in a room across the hall. After we left “Paul’s” room, we went down the hall and back the way we came. As we approached Lucy’s room, the door slammed closed again.
Was it just part of the show or was there really a ghost? Hard to say. Toya told us that Lucy had slammed doors in people’s face before, but seemed to think she liked us.
(Gosh. A couple of nice dudes from Minnesota? Who wouldn’t?)
The tour was really cool, even if it was during the day. We ended up in the tunnel system built beneath The Stanley. Apparently, there is a network of tunnels that connect the buildings together. These were used to servants and people to move from building to building without having to go outside in the harsh Colorado winters. As we sort of wrapped up the tour, Matt fired a picture into the tunnel. Here’s what he got:
Now, we’re not trying to say there’s something there, but if you look towards the back of the tunnel along the right-hand side, it sorta looks like an image of a kid climbing up on the rocks. It might not be a coincidence that the kids who stayed in the hotel (and were watched by nannies) were forbidden inside (but were sometimes caught sneaking around in) the tunnels.
So this stuff happened during the day. At night, Matt and I were up to our old tricks. We broke out the balls, I left some Lemonheads on the floor (you know, for the ghost kids) and we decided to try and ask the spirits if they wanted to communicate with us. I stabilized my iPad to ensure it wouldn’t get knocked down (like at the Armstrong) and we were ready to rock.
Nothing really happened. We kept the lights dim and tried some other tactics. We even told the ghosts we were nice guys, hoping to illicit a similar reaction like our bellhop at the Armstrong Hotel. Nothing.
Then, I got the bright idea to turn the lights off and use the little light on our iPhones to see if we could see anything moving through the dark. It couldn’t hurt, right?
Almost immediately, we began to see little glowing “orbs” and little slashes of light in the room. It was pretty exciting and we kept capturing them. I know one isn’t supposed to take much stock in that kind of thing, but it seemed like it could be legit. We were pretty calm about it, until this happened to me:
Yeah. I sorta lost it. I suddenly saw this blue orb just rise up from the carpet and I was CONVINCED that I saw something supernatural. Kind of cool, no?
But here’s the thing about that: It was just dust.
Matt looked at the light on his iPhone and you could see tons of little dust particles moving around the phone. The light blasts these little monsters and they put on quite the show. So…yeah.
At different points during the day, we left our room with the doors and armoire open, encouraging the ghosts to close it while we were gone. Nothing. Not even the set of balls *snicker* that Matt brought with him seemed to interest the spirits in any way. I even hoped the creepy closet door next to the bed would creak open in the night while we were asleep.
A couple cool things of note: There are all kinds of creepy old photos in the hallways. One of them had a woman(?) that looked a lot like Dustin Hoffman.
Every time we passed it in the hallway, we laughed.
Also, some joker got wise and defaced the hatch leading into the bell tower:
We also went out and explored the nearby Pet Cemetery, too. Kind of creepy in a “don’t-bury-your-toddler-who-was-hit-by-a-semi-here” kind of way. Oh, Stevie King!
All in all, The Stanley was a blast and really was the impetus for us even coming out to Colorado in the first place.
Would we head out there again some time?
Let me answer that with a question:
DOES ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY?
(yes. yes it does.)