The Stanley Hotel

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"Stanley Hotel" redirects here. For the hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, see Stanley Hotel, Nairobi.
The Stanley Hotel
Stanley Hotel Estes Park CO.jpg
The Stanley Hotel is located in Colorado
The Stanley Hotel
Location 333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park, Colorado
Coordinates 40°23′0″N 105°31′6″W / 40.38333°N 105.51833°W / 40.38333; -105.51833Coordinates: 40°23′0″N 105°31′6″W / 40.38333°N 105.51833°W / 40.38333; -105.51833
Architect Freelan Oscar Stanley
Architectural style Colonial Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 85001256[1]
Added to NRHP May 26, 1977 (Expanded June 20, 1985 & April 16, 1998)
Front of Stanley Hotel, February 2011

The Stanley Hotel is a 140-room Colonial Revival hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Located within sight of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Stanley offers panoramic views of the Rockies. It was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley of Stanley Steamer fame and opened on July 4, 1909, catering to the American upper class at the turn of the century.[2] The hotel and its surrounding lands are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1] The Stanley Hotel also hosted the horror novelist Stephen King, serving as inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in his 1977 bestseller The Shining.


Hotel lobby
Music Room windows showing snowy mountains, February 2011
Vintage Stanley Steamer in hotel lobby
Antique Chickering and Sons piano

Freelan Oscar Stanley and his twin brother were born in Kingfield, Maine in 1849. From 1885 to 1904, they were co-owners of the Stanley Dry Plate Company and, from before 1900 to 1917, operated the Stanley Motor Carriage Company. From 1890, he and his brother were residents of the upper-class Hunnewell Hill neighborhood in Newton, Massachusetts where they founded the Hunnewell Social Club.

In 1903, Stanley and his wife Flora came to Estes Park for his health.[3] Stanley suffered from tuberculosis and came West at his doctor's suggestion. Over the course of one summer, Stanley's health improved dramatically.[2] Impressed by the beauty of the valley and grateful for his recovery, he decided to return to Colorado every summer. In 1905, he completed an elegant colonial-revival mansion like his home in New England and, in 1907, began construction on the Hotel Stanley, a 48-room grand hotel that catered to the class of wealthy urbanites who composed the Stanleys' social circle in Newton.[3]

Stanley built on land that he had purchased from the Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, an Anglo-Irish peer. Lord Dunraven first came to the area in 1872 while on a hunting trip. He illegally acquired up to 15,000 acres (61 km2) of the Estes Valley in an unsuccessful attempt to create a private hunting preserve. unpopular with the local ranchers and farmers, Dunraven finally left the area in 1884.[2][3] Dunraven's reputation was such that, when Stanley suggested "The Dunraven" as a name for his new hotel, 180 people signed a buckskin petition requesting that he name it for himself.

The Stanley Hotel was completed in 1909 and featured a hydraulic elevator, electricity, running water, telephones and a fleet of Stanley Mountain Wagons to bring guests to the hotel from the nearest train depot in Lyons, Colorado; all of this at a time when Estes Park was little more than a locale for hunters and naturalists. The presence of the hotel and Stanley's own involvement greatly contributed to the growth of Estes Park (incorporated in 1917) and the creation of the Rocky Mountain National Park (established in 1915).


The Stanley Hotel National Register District contains eleven contributing buildings including the main hotel, a concert hall, carriage house and The Lodge, a smaller bed-and-breakfast originally called Stanley Manor. The buildings were designed by F.O. Stanley himself with the professional assistance of Denver architect T. Robert Wieger and contractor Frank Kirchoff. The main building is a steel-frame structure with wood cladding resting upon a granite masonry foundation. Wood for flooring, clapboarding and finishing was brought by wagon from Kirchoff's Denver Lumberyard and the Bluff City Lumber Company of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The Griffith sawmill near Bierstadt Lake and Stanley's own Hidden Valley lumber operation, located in the future national park, supplied framing material.


As early as the 1970s, the Stanley Hotel has had reports of paranormal activity. Ghost stories surround the state rooms on the hotel's main floor as well as the guest rooms, the fourth floor, and the hotel's concert hall. Various paranormal investigation groups have visited the Stanley property to investigate these claims.[citation needed]

In May 2006, the Syfy television show Ghost Hunters, led by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, filmed an episode at the Stanley hotel[4][5] which aired on May 31, 2006. The show returned on Halloween of 2006 for a live, six-hour follow-up investigation, with special guest CM Punk.

The Stanley was used as the setting for the finale of the second season of Ghost Hunters Academy which was shown on July 7, 2010.

In November 2008, UK channel LIVING broadcast Most Haunted's investigation of the hotel.[6]

The Stanley Hotel was also featured in an episode of the TV show Ghost Adventures which aired on Travel Channel on October 15, 2010.

Skeptics and "Paranormal Claims Investigators" such as those from the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society have also visited the hotel to test the evidence collected by other parties. [7][8]

The Shining[edit]

The Stanley is famous in popular culture for having inspired horror novelist Stephen King to write The Shining, published in 1977. In 1974, horror writer King spent one night in Room 217 at the Stanley Hotel with his wife Tabitha while on a vacation to the Boulder area. Upon arrival, they discovered that they were the only overnight guests. "They were just getting ready to close for the season, and we found ourselves the only guests in the place — with all those long, empty corridors"[9][10] He and his wife were served dinner in an empty dining room accompanied by canned orchestral music. "Except for our table all the chairs were up on the tables. So the music is echoing down the hall, and, I mean, it was like God had put me there to hear that and see those things."[11] That night, a dream struck King with inspiration for his next book. "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 fire-hose. 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 book firmly set in my mind."[12]

According to King in later interviews, the Stanley served as his model for the Overlook Hotel, the ominous setting of The Shining, his third major work after Salem's Lot (1975) and Carrie (1975). The hotel in King's book is an evil entity haunted by its many victims. The main characters - Jack and Wendy Torrence and their young son Danny - are employed as winter caretakers. As the winter wears on, the hotel begins to exert its influence upon Jack, urging him to murder his family. Danny's clairvoyant abilities - referred to in the novel as "the shine" - lend the book its title.

In 1980, the novel became the basis for an iconic film adaptation directed by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick's vision for the movie differed from King's significantly in many ways, including the portrayal of the Overlook Hotel. The exteriors of Kubrick's Overlook were supplied by the Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mt. Hood in Oregon. Inspiration for the interior sets (erected at Elstree Studios in England) came from the 1927 Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.

Stephen King's notorious dislike for Kubrick's film motivated the production of a 1997 made-for-TV miniseries remake that featured the Stanley Hotel as the primary shooting location.

The Stanley Hotel shows the uncut R-rated version of Kubrick's feature film on a continuous loop on Channel 42 on guest room televisions, and as of June 2015 has constructed a miniature maze inspired by the film's climactic scenes.[13]

In Popular Culture[edit]

The Hotel has also been used as a filming location for other movies and TV shows; most notably, as the "Hotel Danbury" in the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber,[14]

Since 2013, the hotel property has hosted the Stanley Film Festival, an independent horror film festival operated by the Denver Film Society, held in early May. The festival features screenings, panels, student competitions, audience awards and receptions.[15]

The historic Stanley Concert Hall serves as venue for various musical groups such as country-punk band Murder By Death which has performed a Shining-themed series of concerts in the space two years in a row.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b c "Rocky Mountain Legends". 
  3. ^ a b c "Rocky Mountain National Park - Culture". Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  4. ^ "Ghost Hunters". SciFi Channel. Season 2. Episode 222. 2006-05-31. 
  5. ^ Hawes, Jason; Wilson, Grant; Friedman, Michael Jan (2007). "The Stanley Hotel February 2006". Ghost Hunting: True Stories of Unexplained Phenomena from The Atlantic Paranormal Society. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 240–259. ISBN 978-1-4165-4113-4. LCCN 2007016062. 
  6. ^ "New Most Haunted - Tuesday 11 November - Programme Details". Radio Times. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  7. ^ "Investigations of the Stanley Hotel" (PDF). Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  8. ^ Stollznow, Karen (December 21, 2009), "The Stanley Hotel: An Investigation", Skeptical Inquirer, retrieved 2011-03-07 
  9. ^ "The Stephen King Companion" Beahm, George Andrews McMeel press 1989
  10. ^ "Stephen King Country" Beahm, George Running Press 1999
  11. ^[dead link]
  12. ^ "Stephen King: America's Best Loved Boogeyman" Beahm, George Andrews McMeel Press 1998
  13. ^ Turkewitz, Julie (3 September 2015). "Hotel That Inspired ‘The Shining’ Builds on Its Eerie Appeal". New York Times. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  14. ^ "Stanley Hotel Ghost Story". Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  15. ^ McHargue, Brad. "Inaugural Stanley Film Festival to Showcase Independent Horror Cinema May 2-5 at the Stanley Hotel". Mile High Cinema. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 

External links[edit]