Haunted at the Stanley Hotel

Everything you are about to read is absolutely true.

We celebrated my sister Patty’s birthday on Friday the 13th at The Stanley Hotel. Two enthusiastic friends, Connie and Donna, flew out from Madison for the occasion. After meeting at my house in Boulder, we loaded my car with our suitcases and a Ouija Board. It had never been used and I know it’s creepy, but I couldn’t help myself. There was a crisp feel to the air that November afternoon. As the foothills rose up on the side of the highway and the river tumbled by, it began to snow.

Stephen King’s book The Shining made this Estes Park hotel famous. He wrote it after his family experienced paranormal activity when they stayed in room 217. Many remember Jack Nicholson who played the possessed father in the movie and his two famous lines, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy,” and “Here’s Johnny!”

“I really don’t think anything is going to happen tonight,” I said to the group as we wound north along Highway 36.

My sister rolled her eyes and groaned.

“Ghosts aren’t like dogs that come when you call them.” I said, worried they would be disappointed.

“I know Susie, but it’ll be fun to see what happens,” Patty responded.

As we entered Estes Park, the Rocky Mountains served as a dramatic backdrop with its reflection in the pristine lake. It appeared like a hand-painted movie set. The Stanley Hotel perched above it, exuded an ominous presence with its ghostly white exterior.

After parking the car we walked across the Stanley’s massive veranda and entered the 100-year-old Victorian. Several other groups meandered in the spacious lobby. A few glanced at the Ouija board under my arm and giggled. I felt my cheeks grow hot. The auspicious date hadn’t gone unnoticed by many hotel guests, but several wedding parties arrived as well. I turned around at the commotion caused by a group that entered with all kinds of equipment. We overheard whispers that ghost-busters had come to dispel any paranormal activity.

The man at the front desk checked Connie and Donna into rooms located on a benign wing for ghost activity (much to their relief). However, my sister and I pounced on the very infamous 4th floor wing where hotel guests have often regaled the front desk with reports of children running up and down the hallway in the middle of the night. My sister stayed at the end of the hall in Room 412 and I checked into 406 known as “Billy’s” room. He was a little boy that haunted by moving items in the rooms and closets on our wing. As I put my things away for the evening, I hung my leather coat dead center in the closet so I would notice if it got moved. When I joined my sister and friends, I told them what I did and we all looked at each other and laughed.

Check out the size of those orbs. We could not find any in the same room the next day.

Armed with digital cameras in hopes of catching some orbs on film, we went to the 4:00 Haunted Ghost Tour. Our guide, Kevin, took us on an exploration of the historic Hotel, going to areas that had reported paranormal activity. Connie and I started taking random pictures in the piano room. He took us to Room 217 which is where the King family stayed. He said it was believed to be haunted by a man who swindled and pick-pocketed hotel guests. He was also a lady’s man and has been known to caress female hotel guests. He didn’t seem to be around that afternoon.

Satisfied with extensive historical tour of the building and the number of orb photos we captured on film, we went to our rooms to dress for dinner. I checked to see if my coat had been moved and there it was; dead center where I left it.

During dinner we strained our ears to hear the eerie sounds of the piano that had been reported to play at random intervals, but classical music filtered down from overhead speakers. Since it was November and the off-season, (the same time of year Stephen King had visited) half the cavernous dining room was left in darkness and I couldn’t escape a pervasive draft.

After dinner we walked the hallways and came upon the group there to dismiss any ghostly activity. Ironically, they were using the same EMF detectors the paranormal experts use.

“We took pictures of orbs down that hallway a few hours ago.” I said. Their meters shot way up, but they explained that electrical wiring enclosed in the walls caused the high readings and dust caused the orb effects.

“If I am not seeing ghosts in the middle of the night then what am I seeing?” I asked.

“We call that sleep paralysis. In other words, you are still dreaming when you wake up.”

“I am clearly awake when I see apparitions walk through my bedroom, but they are the experts,” I thought.

As the group went off to investigate another part of the hotel, a blonde-haired woman stayed behind. “Come over here and feel this,” she said. We walked over the bottom of the stairwell. “This is the vortex of the hotel,” she said. I walked up to the wall and stood with my back to it. A tingling sensation began on the soles of my feet and then moved through me to the top of my head where my hair stood on end. We each took a turn. “How would they explain this?” I asked.

Click on the image to enlarge and you will see the orbs. This is the hallway we sat in and used the Ouija Board.

The four of us returned to the 4th floor wing. I retrieved the Ouija board and we found a spot in the middle of the long hallway. We sat down on the tapestried carpeting, I pulled out the board and we put our fingers on the “planchette.” After a couple of minutes, I jerked it and everyone screamed. “I did it,” I admitted. We all laughed. I was getting very tired and was ready to go to bed.

Suddenly, we were struck by a cold breeze. We turned and gazed down the empty hallway. The door at the end of the hall stood wide open.

“Oh my God!” we said in unison.

“Do you think someone down there could have poked their head in?” I asked.

As Patty stood up, the door slammed shut. She ran down the hall and checked, but no one was on the landing or anywhere on the outdoor stairwell.

Patty’s friends were pretty freaked out. “I’ve had enough,” said Donna.

We said our good nights and after washing up, I tumbled into bed. Banging on the floor above me kept me awake for hours. I thought, “Why don’t those stupid ghost-busters set their equipment down instead of dropping it on the floor?” I covered my head with my pillow.

As I nodded off, screams of children and the pounding of feet resounded down the hallway. “Seriously?,” I thought rolling my burning eyes, “What if someone sees the hotel guests or staff running and laughing? Someone will catch them.”

It ended as abruptly as it started and I drifted off to sleep. An hour later, I was startled by a sound in my room. A pale-faced man with black hair parted down the middle and a goatee wearing a white shirt, black bow tie, and jacket, floated from the tapestry floor, rose over me and out the window. “Great. Now I am having sleep paralysis on top of all noise!” I turned over and fell back to sleep.

I woke up a few hours later to  a shaft of gray morning light. I dressed and called my sister. She came right over. “Did you hear them?” Patty asked, “The children ran down the hall at a really fast pace, but instead of slowing at the end of the hall, their steps just ended in mid-stride.”

“Well, I had sleep paralysis and saw some guy float over my head. What was up with all the equipment being banged over our heads all night?” I got up to check my coat and gasped. The sleeve had been pulled and it was almost off the hanger.

“Can you believe it Patty? I never expected anything, but they really put on a show!”

“Maybe because it was Friday the 13th,” she said. I gave her a big eye-roll.

We met Connie and Donna who said they had a great night’s sleep.

The blonde lady from the night before walked towards us. “Did you hear them?” she asked.

“They weren’t hotel guests or staff?” I asked.

“No,” she laughed, “those were the ghostly children the Stanley Hotel is famous for. Last night was the first time I’ve heard them since arriving a few days ago.”

“Well I had sleep paralysis last night,” I said and described my apparition.

“Sounds like you got a visit from F.O. Stanley himself!” she said, “That isn’t sleep paralysis. Immediately upon waking is the easiest time to see ghosts. That’s why they fade.”

While we checked out, the man at the desk asked how our night was. I said, “I wish those ghost-busters would have set down their equipment more gently. They banged in the attic above me all night long.”

“Ma’am, The Stanley doesn’t have an attic.” He pointed out the window. “You were on the 4th floor wing in a dormer room. There was nothing above you.”

 Do you believe in ghosts?

1st photo by hotelsinsider.travelhero.com  – The rest by S. Lindau

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About Susie Lindau

I am a Boulder, Colorado writer and artist who loves adventure both real and imagined. Come with me. It's always a Wild Ride!
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46 Responses to Haunted at the Stanley Hotel

  1. Staci says:

    I am curious about your third photo (the one from the 4th floor). I was going through my photos tonight that I took at the Stanley in 2012. While in some of mine you can see the larger somewhat transparent orbs, I was intrigued to notice tonight the smaller glowing/neon like spots in some of my photos. I had not noticed these before tonight. So I thought I’d look at some other photos on the internet and noticed they are in your photos too. Your thoughts?

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      I can only say that when I returned, I didn’t get any pictures of orbs. I have a theory. I think because it was Friday the 13th, it is possible that some guests held seances or did something to stir the entities up. After I got back home, we went to the mountains. In a picture my husband took, a huge orb floated next to me. I was “flicked” or snapped with a finger on the side of my leg several times after laying down over the next couple of weeks and then it ended. Weird or what? I thought it could be one of the kids.
      The only other time I have found pictures of orbs like that was in Richmond, ironically, on a haunted outdoor tour. In one of the orbs, you can clearly see a face. It is super creepy.
      Everything I said in the story is absolutely true. Stephen King stayed up there for a few nights in the 70’s and was haunted. Then he wrote The Shining!

      Like

  2. seanbidd says:

    Have crawled around in some old Victorian hotels down here for work during the day, all their darkest recesses, someone could easily get lost in them at night. Then who knows what one might bump into, but they all come with their tales and yarns about their histories and haunting. What experience stands out for you the most, apart form the above story, interested in listening (like I just did above, had me hooked).

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Thank you so much!
      It is all absolutely true. For years I saw a lot of ghosts at night and lack of sleep was becoming a problem. I put bowls of salt around my bedroom and it did the trick! I hear a lot from across the room, but haven’t seen much since.
      The book I just finished is based in part on my own experiences. I think it is more realistic than a lot of stories.
      Old houses have their stories, but I also think ghosts can attach themselves to places or people later… After that night at the Stanley, I felt tapping on my leg at night for about two weeks and then it went away. I wondered if one of the kids came back with me… crazy. I know!
      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  3. camparigirl says:

    I don’t talk about it and I don’t make a big deal about it either. I guess I am sensitive enough to experience and feel presences from time to time. Years ago, I mentioned it to my mother and, very matter of factly, she said it happened to her all the time. Like you, when it happens, I don’t experience any fear or alarm. Very entertaining post

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Thanks Campari!
      Since it only started happening to me in the 8 years or so, I have tried to make sense of it. I am convinced they are ghosts. Most of the time they don’t bother me at all, but if they get all up in my personal space, then I may freak out! It is great to find those that support you. They can be entertaining stories to tell…

      Like

  4. John says:

    Oh man, no way! I’d be so hookin’ it out the door!!

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      I don’t think so. I think our brains are so busy trying to make sense of what we just witnessed that we don’t really fear it. Although I say that and there have been times when I opened up my eyes only to see a pair staring back at me and boy, that freaked me out!
      Thanks John!

      Like

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Whoa, that’s realy creeeeeeepy…

    Like

  7. Hi! Found this post on Catie Rhodes’ blog. :)) I’m actually making a trip up to Denver to visit some family. We’re planning on touring the Stanley Hotel!!! Always been a big fan of the stories about it. Enjoyed the read!! Thanks for sharing. :)

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Thanks for stopping by! You will love the tour. They do a great job. Keep your eyes open while you are there and snap a load of pictures, but leave the Ouija board at home!

      Like

  8. Catie Rhodes says:

    I loved reading this! It’s funny when you have a real experience. Your mind tries to explain it away, and if it’s night, you’re just really annoyed at the jerks keeping you awake. Thanks for sending me the link. :D

    Like

  9. JWo says:

    That’s so awesome.

    I’m one of those people who SO want to believe but have never had an experience I could say was definitely paranormal.

    I had my K2 Meter go off after it had been sitting silent for 10-15 minutes in the basement of The Farnsworth House in Gettsyburg. I had checked all of the walls and found nothing and have no explanation but I never saw anything. http://thelifeofjwo.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/travel-log-2009-day-2-part-i/

    I’ve been trying to get Tammy to stay with me in the Brumder Mansion in Milwaukee but she doesn’t want to, partially because she knows I won’t sleep and would say, “Did you hear that?” at the slightest noise. haha…

    Definitely jealous of your experience and I’m still working on Tammy…

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      I think as you get older, it is more likely to happen and I think women are more likely to be sensitive. I see them after I have woken to a noise in the middle of the night and open my eyes to them. I only have a couple of seconds before they fade, so I really try to concentrate on them. There have been some really scary dudes too. I hate when they seem menacing and just stare at me! ((((shivers)))) I have witnessed a lot of crazy stuff and would hate to get caught in that world…

      Like

  10. susielindau says:

    Thanks! i was too exhausted to be frightened. For some reason when I witness strange sighting, I am rarely alarmed. Although there have been a couple who looked menacing and angry and I had to throw the covers over my head!

    Like

  11. The Hook says:

    Sounds like you got your money’s worth! You’re braver than me, I’ll tell you that!

    Like

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  13. That one made me tingle! My Grandad was knocked out and left for dead in Burma during the second World War. At about the same time that he was laying uncouncious his younger sister woke up in her bed back here in the UK and saw him sitting or standing at the end of her bed. She screamed and their mother came running in and saw him there too!

    Like

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Susie that was an amazing story, I am going to email Kass, Cheryl and Joan and tell them that we have to go…immediately. What fun except my heart is in my throat a little.

    Like

  16. That is soooo cool that you stayed there. I would love to stay in a haunted place!

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      I could not believe that all that happened in one night! Luckily there were witnesses to almost all of it…
      I did ask the blonde-haired lady about the kids running down the hall, and she said that she sprang out of bed and looked down the long hallway and although she could hear them, no one was there!!!

      Like

  17. susielindau says:

    Thank you!! I will remember that! Do you have a haunted tale to tell????

    Like

    • mgmillerbooks says:

      Indeed I do. There are lots of ghost stories about the Crescent, and I’ve had some really unusual feelings there before, like being watched, and seeing people in mirrors who weren’t there when I turned around.

      But the weirdest thing that ever happened to me was when I used to be a tour guide in a cavern. One evening I was hosing off the walkways when the hose yanked from my hands and I saw it snake back up the stairwell. “Quit messin’ around!” I shouted, thinking another guide was pulling a trick on me. But when I returned topside, I discovered I was the only one on the property. I left early ;)

      Like

  18. mgmillerbooks says:

    Jealous. Great story. If you ever get to Eureka Springs, AR, book a room at the Crescent Hotel…if you dare ;)

    Like

  19. Creepy and fun! I’d never be brave enough to sleep there…

    Like

  20. Helen says:

    That was really fun to read! I’ve seen ghosts, and not just when I
    m waking up! I loved the shining, I have a copy of the dvd with Jack Nichols – imagine being able to visit that marvellous hotel!

    Like

  21. By the way…I think your orb pics are authentic!!

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Thank you so much!
      Wow! You know I have gone back and could not snap one picture of them (orbs). I have some other experiences I will share before Halloween. Our house is so haunted…

      I look forward to reading your Stephen King post too.
      Your blog is awesome!

      Like

  22. When I first joined the Air Force, I attended technical training school in Denver and I wanted to visit that hotel so bad! That is so cool that you got to stay there AND experience paranormal activity!! That movie played a big part in my life actually (posted the story about it in my blog post “The Stephen King Influence”). The pictures were a great addition! Thanks for sharing your story.

    Like

  23. aliciastreet says:

    Great post, Susie! I’ve had a ghost experience, too, but I don’t think I’d ever have the nerve to sleep at The Stanley. And to think the man himself greeted you! Oooh . . .

    Love your orb photos.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      I am not sure why I didn’t take a picture of my jacket in the closet. I was so exhausted and was still trying to process everything!

      It was a crazy night. I couldn’t believe all that and more happened that night. I didn’t include my sister’s experience. Only my own. I wonder what other’s experienced that night…..
      Thanks for reading and the Twitter Shout!

      Like

  24. Hi Susie,
    Great story! I didn’t know Stephen King had an actual paranormal experience while at the hotel. I thought it was all made up.

    I have to say though, your story gave me goosebumps. I think I may have to visit the hotel myself. A catch 22 though; if someone is looking for something to happen, do they cause it to happen? Or if a person had no idea about the history of the hotel, would they still experience the paranormal activities? Food for thought.

    BTW, when I drove by the hotel a few weeks ago, I didn’t see the famous maze garden. Is that there, maybe somewhere in the back?

    Anyways, good read. Thanks!

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Thanks Francelia!
      I met some friends of my brother who stayed there once and the hangers clinking in the closet kept them up all night. The next day they found out the hotel was haunted. I think ghosts are pretty oblivious!!!

      The maze was added using artistic license!
      Thanks for coming by to read!!

      Like

  25. Susie, that was an awesome tale! Thanks for putting it out there for us to experience too. I would have been very freaked out I think!!

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Thanks Sheila! I was so exhausted when I got back home. It took me a while to process all of it!! I spoke with my sister today who reminded me of a few other things that happened. That was one wild night!!

      Like

  26. soesposito says:

    omg! I’m so jealous! Wow, you really really got a show. I watch Ghost Hunters religiously and they don’t even get that much activity! I’m putting that on my list of places I must go. Thanks for telling your story. Did you have any activity follow you home? :-)

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      It was the craziest night. I have seen all kinds of paranormal activity and know you can’t predict it. I was shocked by all of it! I wonder if it was because the entities could sense that so many had come and wanted to see something. I do know there were many there totally unaware of what was going on. There were 2 weddings that weekend!!

      I have been back and could not get a photo of one orb! That day the cast from Ghost Hunters was there….

      Like

      • susielindau says:

        I just saw your last question. I did have someone follow me home who poked me a couple of times (hard!) when I was trying to go to sleep. It only last a couple of days and it never came back.
        I have had a lot of other encounters since…I will be writing some more of my experiences before Halloween!
        Thanks for reading!

        Like

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