May 12

The Stanley Hotel


I can’t tell you how excited I am that the Stanley Hotel is going to be race central. My excitement is generated on several levels. The Stanley Hotel appeals to my interests as a history lover, a cinephile, a guy who wanted to be an architect when he was a kid, and as a nature lover. Here are some of the reasons you should be excited about it too:


In 1903, Freelan Oscar Stanley (of Stanley Steamer) suffered from tuberculosis and moved out West at his doctor’s suggestion. Now, at this time there was hardly even a wagon trail up the mountain, but Stanley was determined to drive his Steamer up there. People said he was crazy. No one would go with him to fetch water from streams for the car’s boiler, so he made the trip by himself. He made it from Denver to Estes Park in less than 2 hours. You can barely drive it in that time today (Google Maps says it would take 1 hour 29 minutes). Way to go, Stanley.

But I digress. He and his wife stayed the summer in a cabin in Estes Park and they immediately fell in love with the area (naturally). Stanley’s health also dramatically improved (thanks to Colorado mountain air). So, Stanley did what anybody would do, he built a 140-room neo-georgian hotel! He designed it himself, too. In 1909 the hotel was built. It cost Stanley a half-million dollars, which he paid cash for. The hotel was very popular and attracted all kinds of famous people. In fact, during a two-month period in 1911, over 2,500 guests visited the hotel, including J.C. Penney, John Phillip Sousa, Harvey Firestone, etc.

Stanley and his wife never had children of their own, but they would often use the hotel as a venue to hold special events for the local children.


The Stanley Hotel is famous for many things, like being haunted and blah, blah, blah. But most notable is the role it has played in such cinema classics as Dumb and Dumber. The Stanley Hotel was the filming location for “Hotel Danbury” in the film! I put together some clips to refresh your memory.

The hotel is also famous for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining”. Kubrick’s film adaption was unfortunately not filmed on location at The Stanley Hotel. Now that I think about it, that’s probably for the best. I saw The Shining on TV when I was fourteen. I was home alone. Freaked me right out.


I won’t bore you with details, but the building is beautiful. The building was built after the neo-Georgian style using wood and rock from the surrounding area. Most of the timber came from the Bear Lake burn in 1900. They say this is why the faint smell of wood smoke can be detected on a warm, summer day.


The view from The Stanley Hotel is spectacular. Overlooking Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains, it is easy to understand why Stanley fell in love with this place. At his funeral in l940, one local man said, “He enjoyed sitting out in front of the hotel, interpreting the beauty of the mountains to guests. He could give a respect for the mountains that nobody else could give.”

That makes sense, the mountains saved his life.

Did we miss any reasons why The Stanley Hotel is awesome? Leave a comment. Remember, 15% off to runners.


Watch this video if you are having trouble reserving your room at the Stanley


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