The Most Haunted Places in Colorado
Who needs sleep, anyway?
Standard Halloween festivities not quite doing it for you? Have a need for all that’s creepy and haunting, but one month a year just doesn’t satisfy you? Good news (bonus points if you’re a bit of a history buff, too): Colorado is crawling with haunted places to visit. Your next paranormal experience or adrenaline rush is waiting for you—maybe right around the corner, maybe a totally worthwhile drive if you’re up for the challenge. Travel down a spooky, storied road, visit a bone-chilling cemetery, or stay overnight at a very spirited hotel and know you’re in for an experience you’ll never forget. Who needs sleep, anyway?
You’ve no doubt heard of the Molly Brown House and likely passed it on the street once or twice, too. Molly Brown was a notable member of Denver’s elite and perhaps known best for being a Titanic survivor, and despite allegedly living a relatively happy life, visitors to the museum and staff have reported quite a bit of strange happenings. Some have smelled what’s believed to be husband JJ Brown’s pipe or have witnessed lights often on the fritz, and staff have reported furniture being seemingly rearranged. Sometimes, figures can even be seen roaming the house. A visit is worth it alone for the history, but the potential for getting a bit spooked or walking into a cold spot is definitely an added bonus.
A haunted road is one thing, but a haunted road in Colorado means you’re likely on the edge of a mountain and at some serious elevation. Phantom Canyon Road is a detour off the Gold Belt Tour byway connecting Cripple Creek and Florence, and was originally the railroad for that route. As you drive along, you can clearly see the ghost towns of Wilbur, Adelaide, and Glenbrook, and legend has it that the reason for Phantom Canyon’s name is credited to sightings of a man wearing a prison uniform walking along the tracks in the 1890s. The man supposedly had been executed at the Colorado State Penitentiary a few days earlier.
This sprawling five star hotel has a lot to offer for anyone seeking a relaxing and indulgent getaway. But along with the golf course, spa, and nearby zoo, there’s one feature you won’t find in any brochure. Staff and guests alike have reported the presence of a woman, often in the penthouse where Julie Penrose, co-founder of the property once lived. While not confirmed, Penrose’s death is said to have been surrounded by a strange occurrence in which she went missing and was later found, confused and shaking in the woods nearby with no memory of how she got there. She passed away a week later, and perhaps her spirit remains, watching over the property and seeking answers about her own mysterious death.
This sprawling stone mansion built in 1891 is often rented for weddings and events due to its impressive structural beauty and picturesque prairie views. But it’s also a historic property and somewhat of a museum of the times, with a bit of paranormal activity sprinkled in. The ghost of Julia Kistler—daughter of F. Kistler, who bought the property in 1926—is said to haunt the home, with visitors and staff alike reporting hearing a woman’s sobs, seeing a silhouette figure moving about when the mansion was otherwise vacant, and lights sporadically turning on and off.
Founded as a mining town in the late 1800s, Central City is now known as a destination for those looking to head to the hills for a gambling fix in the casinos that now dot the area. But one thing hasn’t changed: the woman in black who twice a year appears in this hilltop cemetery above the town. Known as the “Columbine Lady,” she comes to visit the grave of John Cameron, a prominent former resident of Central City who died in 1884. Some believe she is his fiancee, appearing to leave flowers for her lost love on November 1st, the anniversary of Cameron’s death, and April 5th, a date for which the significance remains a mystery... much like the woman herself.
Let’s clarify one thing: The Patterson Inn is labeled by current owner Chris Chiari as a “spirited” (not haunted) hotel. Meaning, you don’t have to fear any bodily harm via ghostly encounters. You should expect, however, to maybe be followed up the stairs by the ghost of Tulleen Sudan, who committed suicide in the hotel in the 1950s. Or, you might see the lights turn on in your room in the middle of the night, hear a baby crying in the basement, or feel the presence of original owner Thomas Patterson in what was his study. No matter what, there’s a really good chance you experience some kind of paranormal activity, whether you’re hanging out for happy hour or staying from night until breakfast the next morning (which, by the way, is a killer meal—no pun intended).
Up there on the list of some of the spookiest places in the state is Hotel Colorado, and for good reason. Originally built as a hotel in 1893 (we’re noticing a pattern with these places), the massive space served as that, plus a hospital, plus a prison, plus a temporary White House, plus an alleged crematorium. Over 6,500 patients passed through what was called the US Naval Convalescent Hospital between 1943 and 1946, serving Navy soldiers from WWII and also holding prisoners in its basement “brig,” with many ghostly encounters being credited to those who died during this time. But there are quite a few reported ghost sightings of long-ago hotel residents, mysterious women, and even the hotel’s founder, Walter Devereaux, mixed with your standard haunting fare of wacky lights, ominous sounds, and unexplained phenomenon.
In addition to being a breathtaking luxury hotel in one of the most sought-after mountain towns in the world, Hotel Jerome also has “particularly haunted” on its resume. There have been a ton of staff stories regarding mischievous ghosts—especially on the third floor—who play tricks and cause chaos, though there’s one spirit that sends chills down people’s spines without fail. The young son of a family who stayed at the hotel in 1936 drowned in the pool shortly after arriving and ever since, the “water boy” has been seen by staff and hotel guests alike, soaking wet or shivering with a towel in the hallway, often leaving wet footprints behind.
With relics from Colorado’s mining past well intact, this ghost town is a popular destination for those looking to get a glimpse into the past. But as you explore the remaining buildings, including the previously bustling general store, stay alert… you might just get a peek at St. Elmo’s most well known former (and possibly present) resident, Annabelle Stark. The town was originally settled in 1878, and the Starks arrived in 1881 toting a young Annabelle along. The Stark children were kept quite isolated in the town, and despite having left at one point to marry, Annabelle mysteriously returned only a short time later and is now said to remain as the town’s supernatural protector.
This place managed to freak out the Stephen King, the veritable king of scream, prompting the author to pen The Shining after a one night stay in the now infamous room 217. Although the film version was not shot at the Stanley, a later miniseries was... and both versions of the frightening tale play on a non-stop loop in the rooms. Built in 1909, there are over a century’s worth of ghost stories lingering in the halls here, including King’s sighting of ghostly children playing in the halls. Ever since, guests have reported a variety of strange noises, unsettling presences, and even some mysterious figures caught on film. Pro-tip: chat with the staff if you get a chance to visit, many have their own close encounters that they’re more than happy to share.
Denver has many lovely parks that are welcome retreats for residents to enjoy some time in the outdoors, and Chessman is no exception. Well, except for one small detail. The park was also formerly Denver’s first graveyard. While some of the bodies originally buried there were moved by loved ones after it was decided that the land would be used for a park instead, many were left unclaimed. Enter E.P. McGovern. He was tasked with moving the remaining bodies, with a fee to be paid for each. So instead of moving them whole, he opted to hack up the remains so they’d fit into children’s coffins leaving McGovern a larger check to collect. Remains leftover from this self-serving horror were found as late as the 1960s, and tales of strange apparitions in the park (and the nearby Botanic Gardens) continue today.
With a long history of famous guests including The Beatles, Ronald Reagan, and Taylor Swift, Brown Palace is one of Denver’s oldest and most luxurious hotels. But despite the afternoon tea service, annual holiday champagne cascade, and the sweeping grand atrium, it holds some dark secrets. In 1911, it was the scene of a double murder instigated by a lovers’ quarrel which left one of the potential suitors of Isabel Springer and a bystander dead. Along with that bit of true crime history, there are many more unexplained hauntings in the building including a former resident who continued calling the front desk long after her death, a ghostly string quartet in the dining room, and a baby’s crying that’s been heard from the boiler room.
Originally built in the 1800s for rail use during the Gold Rush, three of the original nine tunnels located just outside Colorado Springs have since collapsed. The remaining tunnels have been converted for vehicle use, while an ominous spiked gate blocks entry to the others. And that’s where things turn creepy. From stories of workers killed during construction of the tunnels to a tale about a bus filled with children that died in the third tunnel collapse, there are a lot of theories as to why this location may be haunted. But regardless, the fact remains that many reports of children’s laughter, dark figures lurking, and even dusty fingerprints left behind on cars that dare to stop in the still open tunnels surround this spooky destination.
This building was originally a women's prison constructed in 1935 and it remains connected to a still operating prison today. Now, you can tour the site and learn more about its storied history. In fact, you might even get up close and personal with some of its former residents. People have reported orb sightings, distant voices, and other mysterious signs from beyond, including the lingering smell of tobacco. Perhaps some of these odd happenings can be traced back to some of the prison’s notorious past inmates including a convicted cannibal and a 12-year-old jailed for murder.
Sometimes referred to as the most haunted road in America, this small stretch of asphalt outside of Denver is the source of many a terrifying tale. Rusty metal gates were previously left behind from a mansion where a man supposedly became possessed by the devil before burning down the house and killing his family. This became known as the Gates of Hell, although the structure is now gone, the paranormal activity has not slowed down. It is also said that the road was built on Native American burial grounds, and that it’s been the site of many tragic accidents. Reports of headless animals left behind, strange voices chanting, figures appearing then disappearing from sight, and bloody handprints spattered on signs have all been rumoured in the area.
This seemingly innocuous bridge east of Denver is part of the rural County Line Road in Bennett, briefly crossing over the now-dried Kiowa Creek. While it may seem like just a simple overpass, driving through here—or being bold enough to pause for a moment—is sure to send shivers down your spine. Its storied history begins (as far as we know) with its tie to the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, when 675 men of the Third Colordo Cavalry brutally attacked a Native American village, killing and injuring anywhere between 69 and 600 Native American people. Many believe the area is haunted by the spirits of those who needlessly lost their lives during the massacre, with rumors of distant drums being played and sightings of a mysterious ghost rider. Moreover, two cars full of teenagers met grisly fates in 1997, when they crashed and two of the teens were killed and a driver was paralyzed. Some have claimed to see a young girl crying in the area and then disappearing.