The Stanley Hotel in Colorado May Be the Scariest in the World

posted: 01/25/17
by: Sasha Brown-Worsham

Stanley Hotel Estes Park CO.jpg
Photo: Hustvedt, Own work

It was first made famous in Stephen King's The Shining and it's easy to see why. The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is grand, imposing, and terrifying with its white facade, red roof, and the rocky mountains rising up all around it. In 1973, Stephen King spent a night in Room 217 and the rest is history.

The Shining was first a book. Then it was two movies, with the Stanley Kubrick one being considered one of the most terrifying films of all time. The book and films tell the story of a hotel so haunted, so full of evil, that it turns its winter caretaker into a madman, intent on killing his wife and son. The story is one of madness, of writer's block, of the horror within us all, and most of all of a hotel that is almost alive with evil.

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The real hotel is not quite as scary. But it's not completely benign, either.

When King stayed in the hotel with his wife, they were the only guests in the whole building. But the feeling that they weren't alone is what inspired the novel. And the ghosts are very real, say modern day guests. The Stanley Hotel opened in 1909. Owned by F.O. and Flora Stanley, it was imagined as an an isolated, mountain retreat. Both Mr. and Mrs. Stanley are said to still be present in the hotel, though both have long since died.

Driving to top of Mt Washington 1899.jpg
Photo: F.O. and Flora Stanley, Unknown - The New York Times, Public Domain

The hotel has been home to many horrible things. In 1911, Ms. Elizabeth Wilson, a housekeeper, was electrocuted during a thunderstorm in Room 217. She wasn't killed, but the room has been considered cursed ever since. Guests say strange occurrences are par for the course when you stay there. Clothes are unpacked on their own. Items move across the floor. Lights turn off and on. Children's laughter fills the fourth floor even when there are no children in sight.

Though the Kubrick version of the movie didn't feature The Stanley for its exterior shots (It was Mount Hood's Timberline Lodge), it is well known as the inspiration anyway. According to the current managers, Room 217 is the most popular room and who could blame anyone for that? Anyone who has seen the movie or read the book will remember the bruises on Danny Torrance and the horrible creature rising from the bathtub to greet Jack Torrance in Room 217.

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Staying at the Stanley is a dream for many a horror junkie. And while they might not meet Jack Torrance or Stephen King, being in a place of such inspiration, surrounded by the spirits of children and former owners, it's easy to imagine how we all might go a little mad.

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