Haunted tales, historic charm, and the backdrop to Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ – The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, piques the interest of many.

But, ‘Can you go into the Stanley Hotel for free?’

Here’s the brief answer: Visitors are generally required to book a room or a tour to explore the hotel in its entirety, but the public areas like the lobby and the grounds are usually accessible free of charge.

In this article, we delve deeper into what you can and cannot do for free at The Stanley Hotel.

Exploring The Stanley Hotel

History and Significance

The Stanley Hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado, is a historic landmark that has captivated visitors for decades. Built in 1909 by F.O. Stanley, the hotel has a rich history that dates back over a century. It was originally designed as a summer retreat for wealthy vacationers seeking respite in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

The hotel gained significant recognition when it served as the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel, “The Shining.” King and his wife stayed at the Stanley Hotel in 1974, during its offseason when they were the only guests. The eerie atmosphere and haunting experiences they encountered during their stay inspired King to write his famous horror novel, which was later adapted into a movie by Stanley Kubrick.

Today, the Stanley Hotel is not only known for its historical significance and connection to the supernatural but also for its luxurious accommodations and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Architecture and Attractions

The Stanley Hotel showcases beautiful Georgian architecture, with its grand white fa├žade and elegant interior. The hotel features a variety of rooms and suites, each with its own unique charm and character. From cozy, rustic rooms to luxurious, modern suites, there is an accommodation option to suit every guest’s preference.

Aside from its stunning architecture, the Stanley Hotel offers a range of attractions and amenities for visitors to enjoy. Guests can take guided tours of the hotel, learning about its history and paranormal legends. The hotel also boasts a spa, a fine dining restaurant, and several shops and boutiques for guests to explore.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be delighted to discover the hotel’s proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park, where they can embark on hiking, fishing, and wildlife-watching adventures. The Stanley Hotel truly offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Famous Appearances

Due to its reputation as a paranormal hotspot, the Stanley Hotel has attracted a number of famous guests and paranormal investigators over the years. It has been featured in various television shows, including “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures,” where investigators have attempted to capture evidence of supernatural activity.

Visitors to the Stanley Hotel have reported numerous ghostly encounters, including sightings of the original owner, F.O. Stanley, and his wife, Flora. The most famous ghostly inhabitant is said to be Lucy, a young girl who roams the hallways and plays pranks on unsuspecting guests.

While some guests may come to the Stanley Hotel in search of a paranormal experience, others simply appreciate its historical significance and breathtaking beauty. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, a visit to the Stanley Hotel is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Visiting The Stanley Hotel For Free

Access to Public Areas

While the Stanley Hotel is primarily a luxury accommodation, it is possible to visit and explore certain areas of the hotel without paying for a room. The main lobby, the gift shop, and the whiskey bar are open to the public, allowing you to soak in the historic atmosphere and maybe even catch a glimpse of the famous haunted rooms. Take a stroll through the corridors and admire the Victorian architecture that has made the Stanley Hotel an iconic landmark.

Grounds and Gardens

The Stanley Hotel is surrounded by beautiful grounds and gardens, and you are welcome to explore them for free. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the meticulously manicured gardens, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and bask in the stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. The hotel’s expansive property offers plenty of photo opportunities and a chance to connect with nature.

Free Events and Activities

The Stanley Hotel hosts various free events and activities throughout the year, allowing visitors to experience the hotel’s charm without spending a dime. Keep an eye on their website or social media pages for updates on events such as live music performances, art exhibits, and outdoor movie screenings. Attending these events not only gives you a chance to explore the hotel but also immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scene of Estes Park, Colorado.

Additionally, the Stanley Hotel offers complimentary guided historical tours for guests staying at the hotel. While this may not be completely free, it is an excellent opportunity to learn about the hotel’s rich history and ghostly tales from knowledgeable guides.

It’s important to note that while certain areas and events at the Stanley Hotel are free, overnight accommodation and access to private areas require a paid reservation. Always check the hotel’s official website for the most up-to-date information on visiting the Stanley Hotel for free.

Paid Experiences at The Stanley Hotel

If you’re planning a visit to The Stanley Hotel, there are several paid experiences that you can enjoy during your stay. From room reservations to guided tours and dining options, the hotel offers a range of activities that cater to different interests. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from these paid experiences.

Room Reservations

Staying overnight at The Stanley Hotel is an experience like no other. The hotel offers a variety of room options to suit different budgets and preferences. From the historic rooms in the main building to the luxurious suites in the Lodge, there’s something for everyone. You can choose to stay in the same room that inspired Stephen King’s famous novel, “The Shining,” or opt for a room with breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains. Room rates vary depending on the season and availability, so it’s best to check the hotel’s official website for the most up-to-date information.

Guided Tours

If you’re interested in the history and paranormal activity associated with The Stanley Hotel, a guided tour is a must-try experience. The hotel offers various guided tours that take you through the hotel’s most haunted areas, sharing stories and anecdotes along the way. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, these tours provide a fascinating insight into the hotel’s past and its ghostly inhabitants. Tours are available at different times throughout the day, and it’s recommended to book in advance to secure your spot.

Dining Options

The Stanley Hotel is not just a place to stay; it’s also a culinary destination. With several dining options to choose from, you can indulge in a memorable meal during your visit. The hotel’s main dining room, Cascades, offers a fine dining experience with a menu inspired by the hotel’s rich history. If you’re looking for a more casual meal, the Whiskey Bar & Lounge serves up delicious pub-style fare and an extensive selection of whiskeys. For a quick bite or a refreshing drink, the outdoor patio at the Concert Hall is the perfect spot to relax and take in the stunning surroundings. Make sure to check the hotel’s website for dining hours and reservations.

Making The Most Of Your Visit

Best Time to Visit

The Stanley Hotel is a popular tourist attraction throughout the year, but there are certain times when you can make the most of your visit. The summer months of June to August are peak season, with large crowds and higher prices. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) or fall (September to October). The hotel is also known for its beautiful Christmas decorations, so visiting during the holiday season can be a magical experience.

Visitor Etiquette

When visiting the Stanley Hotel, it’s important to be respectful of the property and other guests. While you may be tempted to explore every nook and cranny, remember that some areas may be off-limits to the public. Stick to designated visitor areas and follow any posted signs or instructions. Additionally, be mindful of noise levels, especially if you are staying at the hotel. Remember that others may be seeking a peaceful and relaxing experience.

Things to Do Nearby

While visiting the Stanley Hotel, take advantage of the various activities and attractions in the surrounding area. The hotel is located in Estes Park, Colorado, which is known for its stunning natural beauty. Consider exploring the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, where you can hike, bike, or simply enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Estes Park also offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and art galleries to explore. Don’t miss the chance to experience the local flavor and charm of this quaint mountain town.

Beyond The Stanley Hotel

While the Stanley Hotel is undoubtedly a must-visit destination, there is so much more to explore beyond its iconic walls. Estes Park, the charming town where the hotel is located, offers a plethora of attractions and activities that cater to all interests and ages.

Exploring Estes Park

Estes Park is nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and boasts breathtaking natural beauty. Outdoor enthusiasts will be thrilled by the endless hiking trails, scenic drives, and wildlife watching opportunities that abound in the area. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll, you’ll find trails suitable for all skill levels. Don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning vistas!

In addition to its natural wonders, Estes Park is also home to a vibrant arts and culture scene. Take a stroll through the town’s charming streets and discover local galleries, boutiques, and artisan shops. You can even try your hand at pottery, painting, or jewelry making at one of the many creative workshops available.

Nearby Attractions

If you’re looking to expand your exploration beyond Estes Park, there are several nearby attractions that are worth a visit. Just a short drive away, you’ll find the Rocky Mountain National Park, a paradise for nature lovers. With over 415 square miles of pristine wilderness, the park offers endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife spotting.

For history buffs, a visit to the Historic Fall River Hydroplant is a must. This fascinating site provides a glimpse into the early days of hydroelectric power and offers guided tours that delve into its rich history.

Local Festivals and Events

Estes Park is known for its lively festivals and events that take place throughout the year. From the Estes Park Winter Festival, where you can enjoy ice sculptures and winter sports, to the Rooftop Rodeo, a thrilling showcase of cowboy skills, there’s always something exciting happening in town.

One of the most anticipated events is the Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival, which celebrates the area’s Scottish and Irish heritage. This festival features traditional music, Highland games, and a parade that will transport you to the rolling hills of Scotland.

For more information on events and attractions in Estes Park, visit www.visitestespark.com.


In essence, while a free stroll through the Stanley Hotel’s public spaces can be quite enjoyable, truly immersing yourself in its historic charm and spectral lore may require shelling out for a tour or a stay. Whether you’re an avid Stephen King fan, a history buff, or just a casual visitor, The Stanley Hotel offers a unique experience. Its impressive architecture, beautiful grounds, and the chance to perhaps meet a resident ghost all contribute to its appeal. By planning and budgeting for your visit, you can ensure a memorable experience at this iconic landmark.

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