The Stanley Hotel – A Place Where Fairy Tales are Made


Update – **I got divorced in 2017, so dreams were not made at the Stanley Hotel…

The other day my husband sent me an-email with a list of the “8 Scariest Places on Earth.”  Among them, The Stanley Hotel located in Estes Park, Colorado.  Why would I care about scary places?  I hate scary places!  But The Stanley has always been somewhat significant to me.

I grew up in Colorado, and Estes Park was a favorite destination for my family when I was growing up.  It sits at the base of the Rocky Mountain National Park, so the scenery is beautiful.  Elks roam freely through Estes Park.  There’s a cute main street with little shops, a lake and of course, The Stanley.  This hotel is quite majestic and beautiful, and it’s stunning to look at as you enter Estes Park.

Unfortunately for my family, Estes Park holds just as many special memories as it does scary ones.  On one camping trip in 1976, we were unloading the car and moving into our cabin for the weekend when my then two-year-old sister went missing.  You know how that goes, adults aren’t paying attention, kids are running rampant, and oops, one is missing.  This particular cabin sat about ten feet away from a raging river.

She was nowhere to be found, and although no one wanted to admit it, the assumption was that she had fallen into the river.  But then she was found at the cabin next door doing what two-year-olds do, picking dandelions.  Crisis averted.

Until the next crisis when a five-year-old me came in contact with a tick.  A quick thinking adult, a lit cigarette, a raging fire, and crisis averted.  By the way, this was the 70’s; anything went.  If you happen to come in contact with a tick yourself, this method of removal is HIGHLY DANGEROUS and should not be used.

Whenever out-of-towners would visit, we would take them to Estes Park and dream about staying at The Stanley.  So naturally when my then-Stephen-King-loving-boyfriend came to Colorado for the first time, I took him to The Stanley.  You may not know this, but Stephen King stayed at The Stanley as a one-night stop-over on a family vacation.  He was so inspired by the place, they stayed for two months while he wrote “The Shining.”

The particular day Shawn Jones and I were there, we watched as they were setting up for a wedding.  “How cool would it be to get married at The Stanley,” we said to each other.  Cool indeed.

I should let you know, I hate blood and gore.  Horror movies.  Being scared, I already said that but I’ll say it again.  Ghosts.  Zombies. Stephen King books.  Twins.  Just kidding, I don’t hate twins and I’ve only seen the televised broadcast of “The Shining.”  The twins in that version were not creepy at all…

Fast forward three years later when we were planning our own wedding and we picked The Stanley as our location.  Many of our guests were coming from out-of-town and we wanted to give them something spectacular.  It’s haunted?  I don’t care, I’m getting married!

Our wedding day arrived and we stayed there for two nights as did many of our guests.  I hate to break it to you, but not a ghost was seen by anyone.  Although, a few guests encountered some bad luck at the hotel, we’ll go ahead and blame that on the spirits.  The supernatural version, or the liquid version you can decide.

The worst thing about The Stanley?  There wasn’t central air in 1907 when they started building the hotel, and there still wasn’t air conditioning there in 2003.  This was the reason several of our guests gave for checking out of the hotel after staying only one night.  Hmmmm…

We had a beautiful wedding at The Stanley.  We thought it was perfect.  We haven’t stayed there since the wedding, but we keep saying we’re going to.  Although, to be honest, after reading that damn article on the 8 scariest places, I’m not sure if I could do it.  Could you?

The reality is one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.  So, although The Stanley is considered one of the “8 Scariest Places on Earth,” to me it is one of the happiest.

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  1. patikakes says

    You had the most beautiful wedding there! I will never forget you going up those stairs when a slight breeze caught your veil. It was a stunning picture in my mind. Also loved the incredibly cool thunder rolling down the valley after (?) the ceremony.

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