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The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park is the perfect place to get away from the pressures of being a queer person in 2019, because it feels like you’ve entered another world.

All the classic old architecture and decor is still up, and there’s the general vibe that you’ve stepped into another world. Especially during the fall, there’s something in the air about The Stanley. The multiple ghost stories that surround the spot, the same stories that made it the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, seem to hang thick in the air.

From room 217 to the haunted halls and the underground passageways, there’s a definite spooky aura. But is the hotel really haunted?

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According to Jill Schladweiler, director of activities at The Stanley, it’s all about what you want to believe. Guests come in and show her photos with light in the corner, and she just nods and smiles. What harm is it doing anyone if they believe they had an awesome ghost experience?

Live and let live, unless, of course, the ghosts are violent. In The Shining, we see the worst possible case scenario with a ghost. Much like the Trump administration, we see Jack Nicholson possessed by the lure of wealth and opulence, charging through walls with an ax and attempting to destroy all in his path.

Times like that are when we need to take action, and The Stanley acts as a perfect reminder of that, even if it is a getaway.

Walking through its storied hallways, standing outside of door 217, you can feel the hair on your arms standing up. But unfortunately, as much fun as Halloween and haunted hotels are, queer people in 2019 are all-to-used to being scared. Much like Danny and his mom in The Shining, sometimes it feels like all we can do is sit there and wait for the man with the ax to charge through the door.


But, it’s fall, the season of change, and it does look like the tides could be changing. As I sat in the coffee shop at The Stanley after our photo shoot watching the Trump impeachment updates on TV and feeling the cool, fall breeze still on my clothes, I couldn’t help but hope. Even if things get a little scary, we can all hang on to hope that good things are coming.

So, this fall, enjoy yourself and feel free to escape, to get away. Lose yourself in the fun of a haunted house or a crowded bar. But don’t forget about the true horror that stalks the queer community, and the positive steps we can take to stop it.

-Addison Herron-Wheeler

When you check in, you may check out again…

…and you may not want to.

The newest building at The Stanley may have a modern rooftop, but even that cant stop the spooky.

Come play with us

Photos by Veronica L. Holyfield

Models: Tequila Mockingbird, Lexi Leigh, and Victoria Page Matthews