The Stanley Hotel – Iconic Estes Park, Colorado Hotel

Stanley Hotel - FrontWhen people mention or think of the Stanley Hotel their first thoughts might be “The Shining”. There is a reason for that I will get to it in a bit. For now however, I’d like to share a little bit about the hotel, where it’s located, etc. The Stanley Hotel is located in Estes Park, Colorado about five miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. This 140 room Colonial Revival hotel also includes a restaurant and spa with panoramic views of Lakes Estes, the Rockies, and Longs Peak. It is in a very beautiful location. Btw, I have been there many times with different family and friends that have been here in Colorado to visit so these pictures are from multiple visits through the last 15 or so years. They are in no particular order.

Stanley Hotel - Outside 4Originally built as a resort for upper-class Easterners and a health retreat for sufferers of pulmonary tuberculous, the Stanley Hotel was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley of Stanley Steamer and opened on July 4, 1909. On May 26, 1977 it was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places. It has since been expanded twice, once in June of 1985 and again in April of 1998.

Stanley-Hotel-Lobby-FireplaceWhen the hotel was first built it only had 48 rooms, with the concert hall being completed later in 1909 and a smaller bed and breakfast called the Stanley Manor in 1910. He was so invested in the hotel that he even built a fleet of specially designed steam-powered vehicles called Mountain Wagons to bring people from the nearest train depot in Lyons, Colorado. However, Stanley ended up spending more money than he made each summer and ended up selling it in 1926. He sold it to a private company incorporated for the purpose of running the hotel, but sadly that failed too.  Stanley did end up buying it again in foreclosure in 1929 but sold it again in 1930. This time it was sole to Roe Emery, an automobile and hotel magnate. But because of Stanley’s involvement in the hotel, contributed to the growth of Estes Park and the creation of nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.

Stanley Hotel - Outside 2As mentioned earlier this hotel is often associated with Stephen King’s book “The Shining”. Here is the story about how that happened. In 1974 Stephen and Tabitha King spent one night at the Stanley Hotel while visiting the area. On the night they were checking in, all the other guests were checking out as the hotel was shutting down for the winter season. If you have seen the movie, you can guess correctly that they stayed in room 217. While Tabitha slept, he went down to the bar and had a conversation with the bartender Grady after wandering through the hotel’s long, now empty, corridors.

Stanley-Hotel-LobbyKing has stated that by the time he went to bed he had the whole Shining book in his mind. In an interview King said “I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a firehose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in a chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of The Shining firmly set in my mind.” It’s kind of freaky to me now that I know where the girls in the hallway come from. Eerie.

Stanley Hotel - Outside 1As a side note regarding The Shining- The primary setting is an isolated Colorado resort named the Overlook Hotel which closes for the winter. In the front matter of the book, King tactfully states “Some of the most beautiful resort hotels in the world are located in Colorado, but the hotel in these pages is based on none of them. The Overlook and the people associated with it exist wholly in the author’s imagination. However, today people still flock to the Stanley Hotel and can’t help but think of Stephen King and The Shining.

Stanley-Hotel-Mom_LouI also wanted to share that the Stanley Hotel was featured in the 1977 TV miniseries version of The Shining, as well as the fictional Hotel Danbury of Aspen, CO in the 1994 movie Dumb and Dumber. It is still quite popular today and people still flock to the Stanley Hotel and can’t help but think of Stephen King and The Shining. I know I definitely do every time we visit.

Stanley Hotel - Side ViewEver since the publication of the Shining, the Stanley Hotel has also gained a reputation as a setting for paranormal activity. The hotel has even hosted numerous paranormal investigators and appeared in shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. Today they offer guided tours of the hotel which feature spaces reputed to be exceptionally active. In the next section, I am going to share a tour Gene and I took one visit which has made me never want to stay at the hotel, lol. I am just giving a heads up in case you don’t want to read or hear about paranormal activity or don’t believe in it. If you don’t believe or don’t want to read the rest of this post, I completely understand. Just wanted to let you know before I continued. Click here to go to the bottom of this post for more visitor information, etc.

 Stanley-Hotel-PianoThey have day and night tours, but we decided to do the day tour. Our guide took us through the main part of the hotel and shared some history about the hotel (some of which I shared above).  He also shared some interesting history about their elevator. I can’t remember what it was, but it wasn’t a scary or haunting story. That happened on another. We made our way to the 2nd floor and stopped in the long corridor hallway leading to room 217. On the way, he pointed out a sofa that apparently moves by itself from one side of the hallway to the other randomly. Very strange,  but people mumbled that a hotel worker could be moving it to mess with people.

Stanley-Hotel-Music-RoomAnyway, we finally made it to room 217 and the guide was sharing a little about the significance of the room but that they are guests’ rooms and don’t go into the rooms on tours. However, we were extremely lucky as the current guest of room 217 was on our tour! That was really cool. He opened the door and let us in.  The room was a little bit of a mess and joked that the maid had been mad and threw his stuff around, lol. But he then became serious and said that he did have a weird thing happen. When he had checked in he had washed his face and left his washcloth and towel on the bed before he went out for dinner. When he came back they were both hanging in the bathroom again. He said as you can see, I am a kind of messy guy and I didn’t do it. Very strange indeed as it was not due to turn down service, etc.

Stanley Hotel - CarA husband a wife shared that they were also staying at the hotel and were woken up by little kids’ voices talking. Their kids were in the bed next to them asleep but the voices were coming from the bed where the kids were sleeping. Very creepy. I don’t know how I could have gone back to sleep after that. maybe they didn’t.

Stanley Hotel - Outside 3Another couple was visiting from Omaha and shared an experience they had had while staying at the Stanley Hotel. The night they checked in, they checked into their room, did some unpacking, and went to the bar for a few drinks. They came back and he laid his wallet, keys, watch, and the bar receipt on his nightstand. When he woke up the next morning there was a ticket stub for a concert in Chicago from the night before. Very strange as he was having drinks with his girlfriend/wife in Colorado. Hmmm. Just a little weird.

Stanley Hotel - Dining RoomHowever, the weirdest thing for me personally was still about to happen. We continued on the tour and ended up in the basement and tunnel area.  This is also where they state there is a lot of paranormal activity. You can look up some of the stores but I have my own to share. While we were down there talking and looking around a felt a little bump, touch, tug, etc on my leg. It was only for a second and no one was around me to have accidentally bumped into me. It was a very strange feeling and the guide said he believed it was the ghost of a little girl that apparently liked to run around down there before she died.  I had NO idea and did not make it up. I will share that my family, especially my grandma, is sensitive to such things and our guide said maybe she felt it and that was why she came to me. Or maybe because I am short and she felt a kid connection. Who knows, but it was surreal, and I still get goosebumps when thinking about it. Again, I did not make this up and would not be comfortable staying here because of any possible connections. Don’t need or want that, lol. Maybe my grandma 🙂

Stanley Hotel - Store1Anyway, the tour is fun but not for everyone. As I said earlier I have been there many times with family and friends and I am sharing pics of them, us, and the hotel from many different visits. Hope you enjoy them. Here is a link to their website with more information if you are wanting to come to visit the area and stay the night, or just take a peak during the day.

p.s. make sure to check out the section below about parking.

Stanley Hotel Visitor Information


333 Wonderview Avenue Estes Park, CO 80517  




24/7 hotel but the shops, restaurants, etc all have different hours. I would check the website for more information and times.

Tour Information:

Day Tour

Standard Price
$24 per person
Children – ages 8-17 
$17 per person
Hotel Guests
$21 per person
AAA Discount (must present card)
$21 per person
Military Discount (with valid ID)
$21 per person
Senior Discount (55+)
$21 per person

Night Tour

Standard Price
$28 per person
Hotel Guests
$25 per person
AAA Discount (must present card)
$25 per person
Military Discount (with valid ID)
$25 per person
Senior Discount (55+)
$25 per person

Tour Policies:

Tour Policies:

  • Children under the age of eight are not permitted for both the Day and Night Tours. This includes infants being carried or being pushed in strollers.
  • Advance purchase is strongly recommended. Tickets are sold on a space-available basis.
  • Due to little to no cancellations on tours, we do not have a waiting list.
  • Day visitors and hotel guests are welcome.
  • Pets are not permitted.
  • Alcoholic beverages are not permitted. Intoxicated guests may be asked to leave without a refund.
  • Audio and video recordings are not permitted. Photography is allowed.
  • Tours do not feature guest rooms.
  • Visitors who purchase discounted tickets online will be asked to show proof of military service and/or AAA membership upon arrival. Spouses and children of military ID holders and AAA members are eligible for discounted tickets.
  • Total walking distance can be about one and a quarter miles and may feature stairs. Please plan accordingly.
  • All tours are wheelchair accessible.
  • Please hydrate well and bring a water bottle. The altitude may affect different people and we do not want people to faint on the tour.
  • Weather permitting, tours may feature outdoor sites. Please prepare accordingly.
  • Tour routes are subject to change depending on venue availability.
  • Bookings cannot be transferred, canceled, or refunded less than 24 hours before the appointed tour time. All changes are subject to availability.
  • Please arrive 10-15 minutes ahead of time to check in for your tour. We can not accommodate late arrivals. As a friendly reminder, give yourself ample time to travel to Estes Park. It can take up to three hours to travel from Denver. Parking:

The day fee of $10 is payable to the Guard Gate attendee upon arrival. Parking is complimentary for all guests staying at the hotel but is not valid for those who have a tour, restaurant, or entertainment ticket. New reservations made once on the property do not apply and no refunds will be available after entrance. Please bring a confirmation email or booking reference number to provide to the attendee. The Medallion can be kept as a keepsake souvenir of your visit or you may redeem the coin at Colorado Cherry Co., and Cascades Restaurant for $5 off any purchase.


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6 thoughts on “The Stanley Hotel – Iconic Estes Park, Colorado Hotel

  1. The Stanley is on several of my friends’ bucket lists. They are especially interested in going around Halloween. I’ve heard there is quite the party that night and tickets sell out almost immediately. Thank you for sharing your photos. It is a very beautiful hotel and area.

  2. Samantha, as a writer, I especially appreciated the background you offered on Stephen King’s experience at this hotel leading to The Shining. I am confident your experiences were real. Now, don’t you wonder why the little girl was dead at such a young age? I have had many conversations with spirits who really want to communicate. But I deliberately avoid places so proud of ghosts that simply rattle, talk from the childrens’ mattress, and try to scare you; those spirits are stuck! You might enjoy a series called “Upload”, which treats the Afterlife as a computer simulation–light and fascinating! This is my favorite of your pieces so far.

    1. HI Kebba, thank you so much for your message and insight. I also wondered what happened to her. Glad to know that I am not a freak, lol. It definitely runs in my family. I could tell you some stories sometime about my grandma’s experiences. Crazy. Anyway, I do appreciate the info about Upload. I will definitely have to check it out. So glad you enjoyed my post. DM sometime if you’d like. Have a blessed weekend. 🙂

  3. OMG! Thanks for the great stories! I lived in Loveland, CO for 2-3 years and took our guests to the Stanley and Estes Park. I love the ghost stories—makes me want to visit it again. And thansk for the Stephen King story!

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