Partner Content July 23, 2016
The Story Behind This Grand Building Was So Terrifying, It Actually Inspired A Famous Horror Film
Just five miles away from Rocky Mountain National Park stands one of the most beautiful hotels in the country. The Stanley Hotel opened its doors at the turn of the 20th century as an isolated mountain retreat that welcomed visitors and socialites from around the country. This historic landmark boasts incredible views of the Rockies and Lake Estes; however, most people know it as one of the spookiest landmarks in the country. It’s no coincidence that the Stanley inspired Stephen King’s famous novel and later horror film
The Shining. Learn more about the night that led to this haunted inspiration, and why it may not have been such an unusual incident:
The Stanley Hotel is a breathtaking Colonial Revival-style hotel that officially opened its doors on July 4th, 1909. At that time, Estes Park was a local spot for hunters, and not the bustling ski town that you'll find today. The newly-built hotel was impressive with amenities such as dual electric and gas lighting, telephones in every room, a hydraulic elevator, and custom built Mountain Wagons to retrieve guests from the train station.
It was 1974 when Stephen King and his wife Tabitha spent a night in the hotel. The couple had been briefly living in Boulder and were taking a night of vacation. The season was just about to close, and the Kings found that they were the only guests in the hotel. The long empty hallways would make a clear impression on Stephen King as more material for his future novel.
That night, King and his wife were served dinner alone in the dining room. All the other tables had chairs on them, packed up for the season. The two could hear the soft jazz music from the dining room echoing down the hallways and it created quite an impression. Room 217 was the fateful room where they stayed overnight. King awoke in the middle of the night after a most vivid dream of his three-year-old son running down those same empty hallways screaming in terror.
King suddenly awoke in a panic, nearly having fallen out of the bed. He stood up and looked out over the Rockies while he smoked a cigarette to calm his nerves. By the time the cigarette was finished, King knew the basic structure for his upcoming book.
In King's novel, it is the Overlook Hotel that is the source of hauntings and vengeful murders. King has claimed that the Stanley was the inspiration for the story, and room 217 plays a prominent role.
While the hotel is incredible in its own regard, many guests visit in hopes of reliving the story that was eventually made into the famous horror film. As you can tell by this gift shop display, the Stanley is welcoming to enthusiasts of The Shining.
You can't help but wonder if there might have been a little something more to King's experience than the nightmare. Perhaps he picked up on something that has intrinsically been part of the hotel since it was built. There are actually quite a number of alleged ghost or spirit sightings independent of the horror film. In 1911, a housekeeper by the name of Elizabeth Wilson was electrocuted in a terrible lightning storm. And the room she died in? You guessed it...Room 217.
A whole spectrum of paranormal activity has been recorded in the beautiful and haunted halls of the Stanley, ranging from mysterious suitcase unpacking to the sound of phantom children running through the hallways. The Stanley even has a resident psychic named Madame Vera and a specialized paranormal investigator named Callea Seck. Guests and visitors can sign up for a guided ghost tour and see for themselves the terrifying allure of the Stanley.
Whether or not you believe the hotel to be haunted, visiting the Stanley is an experience not to be missed. Have you stayed overnight here? We’d love to hear about your experience there!