Written by Kat Honaker
Estes Park, Colorado boasts beautiful parks such as the Rocky Mountain National Park, wildlife such as Elk and Moose and of course, paranormal activity. The famous Stanley Hotel is one of the more known haunted locations and is placed on many Most Haunted lists worldwide. Thousands of visitors each year flock to see the Colonial revival hotel in hopes to experience the claims of ghostly guests and come home with a ghost story themselves.
I had grown up with the greatest horror generation with such writers and directors as Stephen King, Wes Craven and John Carpenter. In that time, I must have watched The Shining a million times; daydreaming of one day visiting the famous hotel I had spent so many nights reading about. My fascination had me studying everything I could get my hands on with the promise to myself that one day I would visit the hotel.
I placed the Stanley on a “pre-bucket” list of haunted locations and thirty years later, I finally found myself standing on the sprawling grounds looking up at the majestic buildings. Little did I know that my family and I would have several experiences during our simple afternoon tour.
Walking into the hotel, I immediately noticed the static charge in the air. The kind of charge one would notice in the air before and after lightning strikes, making every hair on your body stand up. As our tour guide revealed the history of the Stanley family and information about the hotel; it felt like I had an older female presence slide up next to me as the guide was talking about the Victorian laws. It was so strong that I actually turned to my left to see if someone had come up to me. The guide went on to explain that the laws of that time were quite strict in regards to men and women sharing rooms if they were not married.
Before the Stanley home became a hotel, the family opened their doors to many friends and family. Guests who were unmarried were separated; especially when it came to sleeping arrangements for their guests. The guide went on to explain that if the Stanley home had more guests than they could accommodate; it wasn’t uncommon for Mrs. Flora Stanley, the owner’s wife, to have the gentlemen sleep outside on the lawn in tents and send the ladies to their rooms.
It was at that moment in the Concert Hall I literally heard an older female scoff loudly in protest to this claim. I could feel her tense up, her shoulders straighten and then just as if a living woman was talking to me; I heard “Why, why, I never! I have never done such a thing! I’ve never let anyone sleep outside! Tell him!” The voice was so clear that I looked to my left so fast, that I made the people behind me jump. There was not a living woman standing next to me at this time.
With mediums, many would have already written us off as crazy and often we can’t just walk up to the living and say “Well, here is this spirit and let me tell you; they are none too happy with you!” Mrs. Stanley, however, would have none of that and insisted that I tell this knowledgeable guide that he go back and research more.
I interpreted that she really liked and respected this gentlemen save that one piece of incorrect information that she felt was insulting. Otherwise, she thoroughly enjoyed the guide reliving the stories of their home and about their family. After we finished in the concert hall where I met Mrs. Stanley, I spoke with the guide privately and explained what had been relayed to me. Whether he believed me or not, I will say that he didn’t tell me I was crazy and that he would most certainly go back and try to research further.
I was quite surprised that the hotel’s extended stay spirits weren’t evil as many claimed they were. I honestly expected and prepared to feel some very negative energy while visiting; possibly even hearing REDRUM or having two twins calling me out to play. It wasn’t like that at all. I felt happiness, joy and the love for the hotel and the surrounding area. I instantly felt like the reason they were still there, was simply because they couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. The spirits I encountered wanted to be there and they know they can be seen and heard.
Throughout the tour, I didn’t really have any notable experiences until we walked to the second floor. There, my scalp began tingling and a zing went up my spine to alert me that we were most definitely not alone. The second floor which is reported as one of the two more haunted levels seemed to hold a lot of static charge and energy that seemed somewhat blanketing. It was at this point that some phone batteries were draining, malfunctions on cameras and my phone began taking pictures on its own; which has never happened to me. I spent the entire tour taking burst photos and trying to capture what I could with the remaining battery I still had.
As we approached the upper levels near the supposed Spirit Vortex, a fourth floor location where light anomalies, orbs and phantom smells occur have been documented, I noticed the air changed. It got heavier and the static charge became so strong that it was next to impossible not to get zapped while touching anything metal or others. You could actually see the arc of electricity between yourself and the item or person you touched.
I had brought my youngest sons to do the tour with me; who I know also have abilities, and noticed my youngest looking up at the top stairwell curving upward. I began to take as many pictures as I could squeeze in just as he said “Mom, I really don’t want to go up there.” And my other son pointed upward as he came up to us and said “Mom, there’s a shadow man up there!”
There was no one there and our entire group was just starting to head up that way. The couple in the second photo was the first to go up and we were following. In that time period, everyone was having issues with electronics and I asked the spirits to try their best to come forward so that I may take a photograph of them. With the burst option, I took more than forty-seven photos of that staircase and in one photo in between all the others; a man who know one saw and everyone agreed was just simply not there, appears.
I found it fascinating because he does appear to be dressed in 1900’s clothing with the knickers, hat and shirt as well as seemingly to stop his walk upward to look right down at me. Reviewing later that evening, we could tell where the most activity happened due to the clarity of the photos and how each time the camera started acting up; we had some unusual anomalies that we simply could not explain.
As we headed back down the stairs on the fourth floor, my boyfriend stopped to take a photo of the elevator glass door located there. It was unusual because it wasn’t a photo opportunity or something that was spectacular enough to stop to take it. I asked him later what made him choose to stop and photograph that elevator to which he had no real reasons. He just felt like he needed to take it.
Reviewing the photos we saw an image in the glass reflection that seemed to be out of place. The skeptic and investigator in me wants to lean towards pareidolia for debunking purposes but, with further evaluation, it dawned on me that possibly it’s Mr. Stanley with his snow white beard. After looking for a photograph of Mr. Stanley, it dawned on me how alike they seemed to appear. However, I put these side to side for you to be the judge of that one. This was captured on the same floor with all the charge, the ghostly guest on the stairwell and on one of the most reported haunted floors of the Stanley hotel.
At our last stop on the tour, we found ourselves in the basement where it has been reported a little boy likes to play. I picked up the name “Robert” although I have seen different names in other reports. We had clear photos but, just like in certain spots, my camera was taking photos by itself. None of the other people in our group stayed very long so it was just my two sons, my boyfriend’s teenage children, the guide and myself.
My youngest son asked “Robert” to please come and take a photograph with us so we could remember him. I explained we had waited a long time to come see him and we were so happy to finally meet him. In the rock area that was part of the basement, we caught a light anomaly that we can’t explain and you will see the side by side from the burst photos I took how quick it happened.
The Stanley Hotel is one of the most interesting places I have visited and has a personality all of its own. Some stories regarding the spirit guests seemed to be “borrowed” from other spooky tales possibly from other areas; while others blend the fear and characters of Stephen King’s cabin feve inspired novel. The rest though? Well, you will just have to visit the Stanley and make that call yourself. My visit though showed me that the Stanley Hotel is indeed haunted and their guests are on a very, very late checkout.