Stanley Hotel: Ghost Hunting in Colorado

October 14, 2013

Last fall, my husband and I took part in a ghost hunt at the famous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. We were looking for a quick weekend get-away and thought this might be a fun experience.  Plus, we had never stayed at the Stanley before, so we knew this would be a treat.

The Stanley offers several tours including the following:

  • 90-minute walking tour of the hotel and grounds with information on the history of the hotel
  • 2-hour ghost tour that enlightens guests with stories of the hotel’s paranormal history
  • 5-hour ghost hunt (which we participated in)

After marveling at the Stanley’s 1909 architecture and charm, we checked in for our ghost hunt which began at 8:00 p.m. A group of 30 of us started our hunt in the Concert Hall which is a separate building east of the main hotel and rumored to have the most paranormal activity. Our two guides regaled us with stories of the ghosts that haunt the Concert Hall including Flora Stanley and a vagrant named Lucy. They also showed us the various “tools” that were going to aid us in the hunt. There were two K2 EMF meters, several dowsing rods, and various balls and toys that the child ghosts supposedly like to play with. We were also told to take lots of pictures in hopes of catching a spirit fleeing down a hallway or the ever-mysterious orbs that tend to show up when taking pictures in the dark.

After many convincing ghost stories and receiving our instructions, we were set off to hunt! We commenced with turning all the lights out and awkwardly sitting, waiting for something to happen. So we sat, for a very long time. Not a lot happened, so we began wandering the Concert Hall which consists of the main hall, backstage, balcony, and basement. We tried very hard to conjure up ghosts, but all we discovered were our fellow hunters lurking behind corners and trudging up stairs. After well over an hour in the Concert Hall, we moved on to hunt ghosts in guest rooms of the hotel.

A small group of us crammed into a room on the 4th floor, again turned out the lights and waited. This is where the first paranormal event happened. The guide started “speaking” with a ghost and asked a volunteer to hold out her hand. The guide then asked the ghost to move one of the woman’s fingers. We all stared at the volunteer’s hand waiting for something to happen. Five seconds, 10 seconds, 12 seconds… GASP! Her finger moved! Then our minds checked back into reality – of course it moved, the volunteer twitched. The guide kept asking the ghost to move or pinch fingers and it apparently obliged. We watched as the volunteer’s fingers bent back and forth. The volunteer adamantly insisted that she was not moving her fingers. Ok fine, we believed her.

After walking around more areas of the hotel, we found ourselves back in the Concert Hall. By this time, it was near midnight; we were all a little bleary-eyed, but we go sit in a dark room in the creepy, old basement. I think I was so tired by this point that I just wanted a ghost to appear so I could end the tour an hour early and go to bed. Well, the ghost didn’t disappoint.

The guide was summoning a ghost named Lucy. Lucy, a homeless woman, took refuge in the Concert Hall basement during a particularly cold winter. She unfortunately died in the Concert Hall and has been known to “communicate” with guests and staff by tampering with lights and manipulating objects. The guide placed a flashlight on the floor and asked Lucy to turn it on. After a few minutes, the flashlight flickered on. Then, the guide asked Lucy to turn it off, and the room went dark. After witnessing this phenomenon, I still wasn’t completely convinced. Flashlights can be finicky and it was so dark in the room, I couldn’t guarantee someone wasn’t flipping the switch on and off. However, the next time Lucy was summoned, I couldn’t come up with a logical explanation.

We turned on a light in the hallway to help illuminate the room we were sitting in. The guide held a dum-dum sucker in the palm of her hand and asked Lucy to move the sucker. She kept asking and then eventually just sat in silence as we all sat and stared. And then, it moved. The dum-dum sucker lifted from the guide’s hand at a 45 degree angle and was held in that position long enough for all of our jaws to drop. Then it slowly went back down. The guide’s hand was completely motionless during this whole ordeal. At this point it was near 1:00 a.m., I was exhausted, and had sat in nothing but darkness for 5 hours. I very well could have been seeing things, but the others in our group witnessed the same occurrence. We truly believed we had witnessed and actual paranormal event.

Overall, the ghost hunt was a fun and spooky experience. Of course you don’t experience tons of ghosts (most paranormal happenings can easily be reasoned away) and you spend the majority of the time sitting in the dark wondering when you can go back to your room and fall asleep. However, touring the grounds and learning about the incredible history of the Stanley is well worth the trip.

If you have an open mind, like to stay up late and frolic around in the dark, then the ghost hunt is certainly worth the $60 ticket ($50 if you stay overnight at the hotel). If you’d rather enjoy the Stanley without the “hunt,” take advantage of one of their other informative tours and enjoy an overnight stay in one of their beautiful guest rooms (Colorado residents enjoy a 15% discount).  You never know, you may be visited by a ghost whether you decide to hunt them or not.