Twenty years ago, my former boss and I were obsessed with the lore of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. It’s an iconic Colorado hotel, of course, but also iconic for different reasons among ‘ghost hunter’ types around the world.

Stephen King stayed there (in infamous Room 217) while he wrote The Shining, and legend goes that the book is loosely based around things he saw, heard and felt in the hotel while he stayed there. The ‘haunted’ rumors have persisted ever since, even beforehand I would imagine, so naturally people flock from all over the world to experience for themselves what so many others claim to have experienced while staying there.

Stanley Hotel in Estes Park
Stanley Hotel

In that fall of 2002, for whatever reason, the hotel was surprisingly mostly vacant on Halloween eve, which fell midweek. My old boss and I had a few contacts there at the time and asked if it’d be possible for a few of us to come and spend the night, but instead of just sleeping, stay awake all night with run of the hotel – meaning we could go anywhere we wanted, minus the few occupied rooms – and broadcast live all night long. They agreed.

Imagine the excitement as we unloaded our gear (into Room 217, of course!) and got ready for the long night ahead. What would we see? What would we hear?

We’d been told people could hear kids in the old tunnel in the basement, which allegedly was a service tunnel or a way for F.O. Stanley to move about between the buildings on the property back in the day.

We’d heard stories of Windham Wyndham-Quin, the Earl of Dunraven, magically appearing in the middle of the night, standing over the bed of a woman sleeping in Room 401. The mysterious scent of cigar smoke that would randomly pop up in the same room, or jewelry that would be moved across the room overnight and in a different spot the following morning.

Or the story of another woman who collapsed in the lobby after seeing his portrait on the wall and suddenly realizing she had seen him in her room the night before.

We’d heard about the noises up in the old bell tower, or how nobody would go into the now remodeled Carriage House at night because of all the crazy feelings or noises they’d hear.

We, of course, wanted to see and do all of it! Even better... live on the air! How amazing would it be if we captured some of this activity on camera or with a microphone as we broadcasted live at 2, 3, or 4 o’clock in the morning? And do you know what happened?

Absolutely nothing. Not a peep. Not a single thing seen or heard, aside from a rogue alarm clock going off in a random room. We stayed up all night long, wandering the hotel with a master key, going through every door we could into the depths of the alleged most haunted rooms, hallways and spaces of the hotel only to find absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.

To this day, I can’t say I believe in ghosts or definitively say whether or not the Stanley is haunted. I know many people who say it is, and they don’t give me any reason not to believe them. I guess as with all things in life, to see something is to believe in something. Or maybe in my case, it’s the opposite, and that’s because I didn’t see anything at all.

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