Physical address: 333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park
Phone number: +1 970 577 4000
Business hours: Open year round
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IT WAS A quiet night at the end of the 1974 tourist season when horror novelist, Stephen King, and his wife, Tabitha visited the Stanley Hotel for a single overnight stay. They were the only guests in the hotel, which had by then passed its heyday, and the majority of the hotel had been closed down for winter. That night, during their stay in Room 217, King had a nightmare in which the fire hose chased his then-three-year-old son through the halls of the aging hotel. Upon waking from the dream, the writer looked out on the Rocky Mountains and smoked a cigarette to calm his nerves, while the story that would become The Shining began to take shape in his mind.
Set in an isolated hotel, the novel (as well as its film and television series counterparts) features a caretaker and his family, whose lives, and sanity, are severely endangered by the supernatural forces in residence there. The Stanley Hotel came to life as The Overlook Hotel, and was used as a filming location for the TV series, although the film was shot at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. The hotel, which has received significant renovations and upgrades since the Kings’ stay, has embraced its connection to the creepy story, and now not only mentions The Shining in its daily tours, but also has a night time ghost tour in the areas of the hotel that are not occupied by guests.
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The Shining may have given the hotel its greatest fame, but the ghosts that haunted King are thought to have long preceded him. Originally opened in 1909 by entrepreneur Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife, Flora, the hotel is old, remote, and, until 1983, had to close for the winter months due to a lack of heating. Some might say, the perfect refuge for restless spirits. One story tells of an employee who was electrocuted, but survived, in Room 217, and other guests have seen spectral figures haunting the halls or heard piano music from Flora’s ballroom and children’s laughter on the fourth floor. The hotel promises that all of the ghosts are benevolent though, and charges a premium rate to stay in one of the haunted rooms.
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