Why I like Birthdays at the Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

Snowshoeing in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, February, 2016

My lovely wife has given me a surprise birthday present: a weekend in Estes Park at the historic Stanley Hotel, accompanied by our travel buddies, Ray and Shirley Yang.

The Stanley Hotel’s front entry

Wikipedia describes Estes Park and the Stanley Hotel thusly:

The Town of Estes Park is a popular summer resort and the location of the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park lies along the Big Thompson River. Estes Park had a population of 5,858 at the 2010 census. Landmarks include the Stanley Hotel.

The main lobby, and view from our room

The Stanley Hotel is a 420-room Colonial Revival hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Approximately five miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, the Stanley offers panoramic views of Lake Estes, the Rockies and especially Long’s Peak. 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.  The hotel and its surrounding structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Stanley Hotel also hosted the horror novelist Stephen King, serving as inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in his 1977 bestseller The Shining and its 1980 film adaption of the same name, as well as the location for the 1997 miniseries. Today, it includes a restaurant, spa, and bed-and-breakfast and provides guided tours which feature the history and alleged paranormal activity of the site.

The beautiful old Whiskey Bar
Two spirits encountered during our visit to the “haunted” Stanley Hotel

Rocky Mountain National Park is five minutes away and provides opportunities for a multitude of winter activities, including sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking in beautiful mountain landscapes.  We hiked around Sprague Lake and had a peek at Bear Lake as well.

Dunner at the Dunraven inn included my imaginary “pyromaniac’s birthday cake”

Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National park are pretty neat year round, but especially so in the “off-season” when tourists thin out, campgrounds are empty and the Stanley Hotel has discounted “Winter Getaway” rooms for roughly half price.  Ghost Tours are additionally offered for those who imagine they will have no trouble sleeping that evening….

More on the Stanley Hotel’s paranormal past:  Ghostly ImageManifestations


Author: David Willett

Worked at Agilent Technologies and Hewlett-Packard, attended University of Washington and Michigan State University, lived in the Netherlands, the Peoples Republic of China and the United States, visited 36 countries, 11 of 13 Canadian Provinces and all 50 U.S. states, living in Fort Collins, CO, USA

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