If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? No, not Ghostbusters…You’re going to want to call Denver Ghost Hunter’s Founder and Director, Stephanie (Johnson) Smith. Smith is an instructional designer developer and educator who got into ghost hunting by accident; today she helps run Denver Ghost Hunters, a group the helps teach, communicate and recruit fellow hunters. Here is what she had to say about two of the most famous urban legends in Colorado:

1) The Gates of Hell (Thornton)


Riverdale Road in Thornton is the alleged site of several manic instances, ranging from an insane man who murdered his wife and children by setting their mansion on fire, to the grizzly lynchings of former slaves, to the mysterious underground chicken coop that was home to conjured demons and spirits. Several visitors of Riverdale Road have reported hearing a distressed woman’s screams, the creaking sounds of swinging rope and the heavy breathing of supposed seized spirits.

Stephanie’s Take: The first time I investigated Riverdale, was many years ago. It was my first lead investigation and I went out to the road to spot good sites that I thought would work for all of our team and for some guest investigators. I was drawn to the one part of the road. It was daylight but there was just something about this spot. As the team’s psychic, I am often asked to locate hot spots of activity. That night we went to the location and I got out of my car and began walking down the road. It seemed pretty quiet. You could hear the oil drums beating in the fields, but other than that it was quiet. I decided to walk on the other side of the road for a while. As I was walking I could see someone ahead of me. The first thing I remember was that they had on boots, but otherwise it was very shadowed. I have seen ghosts, and this one just seemed to be walking toward me. I tried to think rationally, but I just kept getting nervous, and then that turned to panic and at some point in my walk, I turned around and ran the other direction. I ran and ran from the shadow with the boots. Past my team, past the camera crew, past the cars, until my head cleared. On camera, they caught a white ball of light zooming past me. After a few moments, I cleared my head and walked on the other side of the road. I felt fine, no trepidation at all. But every time I walked on the other side, I would feel the same panicked feeling. This got me thinking, if this was some sort of imprinted event, that I could only see and feel if I stepped in on it. So I began to get volunteers (different nights) and have them experiment. I told them nothing of my experience, just had them walk down the road for as long as they could and then come back and tell us what they felt or saw. Some have reported seeing a shadowy figure, others felt scared, some ran back to the car, some felt like they were being followed and others just felt ill. We have captured video, evps and photographs, but the most compelling is the sound of footsteps behind you as you walk along the dark road. I have never found any historical evidence to support this story, but I keep looking. There are too many people that feel the same thing.

2) Stanley Hotel (Estes Park)

Quite possibly the most famous of Colorado urban legends (thanks to The Shining,) the century-old Stanley Hotel has a reputation for paranormal activity, including the sightings of deceased former guests, the sounds of distressed children, and other unexplainable happenings (like linens being folded when no one is around.) Side Note: I wish I had a ghost who did my laundry…

Stephanie’s Take: I think (the Stanley) is really hyped up. Have I had experiences there? Yes, but with all the media and money they are trying to make, its overblown. there are far better haunted locations in Colorado that are far more active. However, there is a room there that I stayed in where we had a pillow fly across the room, and we had activity on camera and I heard voices and clinking hangers in the closet. But that was many years ago. Since then, we have not had any measurable activity. I do get the shadow man pictures in the main lobby, but that is usually after 1am when everyone else is asleep. Its a fun place, but all the marketing makes me sad.

A few other urban legends you might be familiar with (that Stephanie has yet to investigate):

3) Hotel Colorado (Glenwood Springs)

Guests turning in for the night and being rudely awakened by the lights unexplainably turning on? The sightings of a little girl in a Victorian-era dress roaming the halls? Miscellaneous items being tampered with? Yep, it sounds like the Hotel Colorado is haunted to me!

4) The Ridge Home (Arvada)

The Ridge Home Asylum housed many children, adults and senior citizens from its opening (1912) to closing (1991,) many of whom were allegedly mistreated by hospital staff. Legend has it that before its demolition in 2004, you could see and hear the ghosts of former patients roaming the halls of the deserted building.

5) The Third Bridge (Aurora)

Anyone else planning to sleep with their lights on tonight? For more scary Colorado goodness, by sure to check out our 10 of the Most Haunted Places in Colorado post.

(A HUGE thank you to Stephanie for giving us her experience with a few of these haunted locations! For more information about Stephanie and Denver Ghost Hunters, check out their website.)

What is your experience with these spooky locations?

~Photo of Riverdale Road Courtesy of Stephanie Smith & Mike Bergman

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