You’ll find plenty of haunted places across the United States – from America’s oldest cities on the east coast, to the plains of the southwest where battles of all kinds were fought, from the industrial to the indigenous. Recently I was invited on a tour of haunted Colorado, one of my favorite states (and one where I seem to be spending a lot of time!). It’s been one of the spookiest trips I’ve been on in recent memory.
What… or who… did we find along the way?
Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs
Starting off in no particular order is Colorado Springs and its smaller next door neighbor, Manitou Springs. I’ve always wanted to go to Colorado Springs, not just for its beautiful Garden of the Gods city park, but also to see their famous coffin races. Yes, really, coffin races. No doubt everyone participating in the coffin races is alive, but you’ll find plenty of real spooks around.
They say that the city’s pioneer museum is haunted. (How’s that for a history lesson?) But try spending the night at The Red Crags Estates Onaledge, one of the most haunted places we slept during our Colorado tour. The historic B&B has several friendly ghosts wandering its corridors, and everywhere you look you’ll find strange things going on – photos on shelves that change, people going up and down the stairways when no one is there, cold spots, and the uncanny sensation that someone is in the room with you. Gives me the chills just thinking about it – and yes, I slept with the lights on.
While exploring so many of Colorado’s wonderful modern cities, how about a true blast from the past? The state has quite a few old ghost towns – ghost in the sense that no one lives there, not that they’re full of ghosts – but maybe… About two hours west of Colorado Springs, you’ll find that St. Elmo is one of the state’s best-preserved ghost towns – as if all those miners and troublemakers just went out to lunch and will be right back. Visitors have reported spotting seeing ghostly apparitions when nobody is there – one is said to be the former general store manager, and another who once owned the local hotel.
If you’re visiting a spot that is reportedly haunted, be sure to use your camera with flash. The equipment might pick up things that you aren’t seeing, such as floating orbs, strange ghostly figures, and who knows what else. Creepy.
If you’ve heard anything about haunted Colorado, you’ve probably heard of Estes Park’s famous Stanley Hotel. The Stanley was where interior portions of Steven King’s The Shining were filmed. (The exterior shots were actually from Timberline Lodge here, in Oregon.) This is actually a value luxury hotel, and I highly recommend a stay in “The Lodge,” a building just adjacent to the main hotel, as the rooms are fresh and comfortable, though you have a lesser chance of being paid a visit by something in the middle of the night.
Speaking of visitations, make sure you pre-book a reservation for a haunted tour of the Stanley (guaranteed to sell out). The tour is a fantastic overview of the hotel’s 100-year history, and you’ll definitely get to experience some of the unusual goings on at the hotel – the hotel’s concert hall building is where we saw the strangest of things! For more, book an appointment with the hotel’s resident psychic, Madame Vera.
Boulder is another town that I just love – the city’s lifestyle is so laid back that it’s often the subject of jokes that the town takes nothing seriously, including itself. That’s why you’ll laugh at Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour, which takes you the city’s curiously quirky and spooky spots. Lots of fun and comfortable too (and truly informative – NOT one of those hokey bus tours). And after stumbling through some of the city’s many bars and cafes, spend the night at the historic Hotel Boulderado – which is not haunted, just gorgeous.
As one of our featured mountain town getaways, it is no secret that I love Fort Collins. It is one of Colorado’s beer capitals, but is also great for shopping and food too. It was great to experience a new aspect of this town. The company that does the ghost tours (link) actually started doing general walking tours and found out that most of their locations were haunted, so they tweaked their approach.
I didn’t see as many haunted things, but my camera did – in fact, in many of these haunted spots, folks have caught everything from floating orbs to even ghostly images of people! Super creepy. The tours are a lot of fun and also feature some interesting historical facts – and pair nicely with a local beer before, after, or both. Spend the night in the newly-reopened affordable luxury Armstrong Hotel – which is, thankfully, not haunted.
The state’s largest city and capital is, of course, not exempt from haunting –the spooks start right when you land at the airport, which is said to be cursed because it was partially built on an Indian burial ground. The airport has had some strange mechanical issues that have gone unexplained, and travelers have taken photos with images of people in them who weren’t there.
In town, the city’s two oldest hotels (which happen to be very value luxury, by the way) are both haunted sites. The Oxford Hotel has a few specific rooms which are often visited by the resident ghosts, and at The Brown Palace it is said you can still catch a glimpse of ghostly appearances of weary travelers wandering the halls. Boo!
I’ve heard many say that spooky things go on at Cheesman Park as well – and that’s an easy one to explain, as the park used to be a cemetery. Whoops. (Actually, cemeteries are not often places you spot ghostly sightings, but in this case many of the deceased were criminals or unclaimed dead bodies, and many of the burials were botched, so…) Speaking of bodies, how about lunch at Linger, which used to be a mortuary?
Editorial Disclosure: Our travel was partially sponsored by the Colorado Tourism Board. Spooks were provided free of charge.