An ethereal woman dressed in black who vanishes if you get too close, an apparition that plays slots at the local casino, unexplained flashes of light that show up only in photographs — these are actual accounts of the supernatural side of Colorado.
Get into the spirit of Halloween at some of the following eerie spots — you’ll certainly get goosebumps, and, who knows, you may even scare up a specter or two.
Stephen King got the idea for “The Shining” while staying at this sprawling, 102-year-old hotel in Estes Park, where children’s laughter is often heard in deserted hallways and ghostly strains of piano music emanate from the empty ballroom. There’s no shortage of spooky inspiration at the Stanley; in fact, the hotel is so haunted, they offer a popular ghost tour that takes you to the most haunted rooms and areas of the hotel, including an eerie underground tunnel.
Rumor has it that the spirits inhabiting this historic grand hotel in Glenwood Springs love to play games in the middle of the night. They’ll wait until a guest is snug in his bed, then switch on the lights. When the guest gets up to investigate, they’ll switch them back off. During a 1982 renovation, wallpaper that had been applied to a wall the night before is said to have been found neatly rolled up on the floor the morning after. Several apparitions have been sighted roaming the halls, including a Victorian-era little girl who plays with a ball. Elsewhere in Glenwood, the Frontier Historical Society offers moonlit ghost walk tours through Linwood Cemetary in the second half of October. Visitors get to meet some of the town's famous historic residents, including gunslinger Doc Holliday.
Central City Masonic Cemetery
Unexplained orbs of light mar photographs taken at this Central City cemetary at night, and a little boy has been seen following visitors around the grounds, ducking behind trees whenever they try to talk to him. Another strange character — a beautiful woman in black — appears twice a year and places columbines on the grave of resident John Edward Cameron. Any attempts to find out more about this mysterious woman have been fruitless — she vanishes into thin air when visitors approach.
Cripple Creek has a long, storied history — and the ghostly remnants to prove it. Among the town’s sites are Buffalo Billy’s Casino, inhabited by the spirit of a young girl who draws on the walls and makes bar glasses fly through the air, and the Colorado Grande Casino, haunted by Maggie, a turn-of-the-century Irish woman who smells strongly of roses and plays slots after hours. Other haunted places include the Hotel St. Nicholas, The Palace Hotel and the Mamie R. Mine.
Among Denver’s haunted hot spots are the Brown Palace Hotel, which offers a ghost tour to private groups, and the Molly Brown House, where light bulbs unscrew themselves and the door from the dining room to the kitchen opens and closes on its own. Perhaps the most chilling of Denver’s haunted spots is Cheesman Park, the graveyard-turned-public-park that inspired the movie “Poltergeist.” When the area was converted from a graveyard to a park in the late 1800s, a half-hearted attempt was made to relocate the bodies. It is believed that many remain buried beneath the park, and the surrounding houses are rumored to get visits from spirits. One particularly haunted house, The Henry Treat Rogers Mansion, has since been demolished, but not before inspiring the story The Changeling, which author Russell Hunter based on real-life events he experienced while living there.
Ghost Tours and Events
If the idea of exploring Colorado’s haunted places by yourself leaves you cold, check out one of the many group tours offered throughout the state. Tour Aspen’s creepy past on the DarkSide Tour or encounter some of Boulder’s favorite ghosts at the Historic Boulder's Meet the Spirits event. You can also immerse yourself in dark-side exploration with Denver’s Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society, which ups the ante with classes, haunted dinners and haunted wine tours.
Photo: The Stanley Hotel by flickr/Ben Ramirez