One of my favorite solo travel adventures is to go somewhere that piques the interest of my inner ghost hunter. It's been an ongoing adventure for me to go looking for paranormal experiences, and one of the top places on my list was The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.
The Stanley Hotel is celebrating 100 years of existence this year, and it glides unexpectedly out of a hillside above the city below. Built in 1909, with an eye toward celebrating with friends, honoring Native American heritage, and being a genuine retreat, The Stanley is a delightful stop for travelers, outside of the hotel's incredible paranormal history.
The drive to the Stanley is not to be rushed. It's a good hour and a half drive from Denver International Airport, and I recommend the drive through the canyon rather than highway 36. Straight up I-25, you hang a left at highway 34 until you get to Estes Park, and it's a wandering path to get there. The road through Loveland is a straight shot, but the canyon path follows the twists and turns of the river beside it (which was a huge convenience when guests were shuttled to Estes Park via the Stanley Steamer cars!). If you're a shutterbug, it's well worth it to plan extra time to stop at the rest stops to take a few pictures. It's beautiful country!
I loved my brief stay at The Stanley - so much that I am planning a second trip. The food in the restaurant was excellent, the staff was friendly and accommodating, and my guest room was inviting and cozy. And maybe the fact that I never felt like a solo traveler meant that I had other-worldly company while I was a guest there. The hotel does not have air conditioning, but the rooms are outfitted with fans that can cut the heat on warm summer days. Don't expect to find a lot of historical items in the gift shop - it's more geared toward a resort shopper. And the Ghost Tour gets a five star rating from me.
If you're not familiar with the history of The Stanley, most of its current lore started in 1973, when a young writer named Stephen King stopped there on the last day of it's summer operation, and asked for a room, and out of that, the final version of "The Shining" was born. If you want to know more, book a slot on the Stanley Hotel Ghost Tour. Not only will you learn more about the Kings' fated stay at the Stanley, you'll learn about the history of the hotel, why the banister on the grand staircase has 4 different types of posts supporting it, and all about the most famous rooms in the Stanley, where evidence of the paranormal abounds.
All in all, if you're into the paranormal, The Stanley doesn't disappoint for opportunity. And if you're just into finding comfortable hotels in a great vacation area, it's a great stop, too!