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?
Denver 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.
Florence 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.
Colorado SpringsThis 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.
Highlands Ranch 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.
Central City Masonic Cemetery
Clear Creek CanyonFounded 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.
Denver 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).
Glenwood Springs 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.
Aspen 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.
St. Elmo Ghost Town
Chaffee CountyWith 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.
The Stanley Hotel
Estes ParkThis 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.
DenverDenver 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.
Brown Palace Hotel
DenverWith 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.
Gold Camp Rail Tunnels
Colorado SpringsOriginally 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.
Museum of Colorado Prisons
Cañon CityThis 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.
ThorntonSometimes 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.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Molly Martin is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @mollydbu on Instagram and Twitter for more updates on food, fun, and life in the Mile High.
Grab your green and your Guinness-St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, and there’s fun to be had. In addition to being the first big celebratory holiday after New Year’s, St. Paddy’s is also a signal of spring; more hours of sunshine, T-shirt temps, and filling Blake, Market, and Larimer with drunken revelry make up a particularly Denver type of equinox. However you plan to celebrate-with family friendly activities or for those over the legal drinking age only-there are parades to be watched, playful drinks to be sipped, and a whole lot of shamrock-ing to do.
If you’re ready to put your dancing shoes to good use, wiggle your way on over to Mile High Spirits-doors are opening at 12 pm and there’s no cover ‘til 10. Enjoy MHS’ drinks, big dance floor, and even bigger outdoor patio for all the Irish pride and shenanigans you can handle.
Cook Street’s special St. Paddy’s Day class involves making the perfect steak while sipping on Irish whiskey. On Friday only, learn about proteins, cooking methods, and choosing side dishes carefully while cooking up traditional Irish cuisine.
Crawl around town. You know, figuratively…
March 17 – 18
Is it a drinking holiday in Denver if there aren’t a handful of bar crawls happening? Probably not. St. Paddy’s Day is no different; you can start crawling from a number of bars, but a few in particular have everything plotted out for you (for a small fee). Start at the Ginn Mill and receive a map of over 10 pub locations you’ll be crawling to either Friday or Saturday, plus drink special vouchers. There’s also a crawl departing from Nola Jane (Friday only) with its own food and drink specials, plus a scavenger hunt and some St. Paddy’s merch, too.
Visit one of Denver’s Irish Pubs
March 17 – 18
If you can’t think of a better place to spend St. Paddy’s Day then at a local Irish pub, we salute you-just be prepared to throw a few elbows making your way to the bar. Denver’s got several good ol’ pubs from Broadway to Larimer Square that’ll be in full swing this weekend, pouring fresh pints as far as the eye can see. Check out Scruffy Murphy’s, Nallen’s, The Irish Rover, Finley’s, The Celtic on Market, or the Fainting Goat for that SPD revelry you know, love, and trekked out for.
Sip and savour St. Paddy’s themed bevvies
Through March 17
Everyone pulls out the green food dye and mint flavouring for St. Paddy’s, but there are some other creative drink specials to sample, too. The OG’s got a boozy milkshake for the occasion, aptly named “Who’s Your Paddy,” a mix of vanilla ice cream, Crème de Menthe, Tullamore Dew, Bailey’s, and whipped cream. BEZEL’s Irish Matcha Man is pretty unique, with Teeling Small Batch whiskey, lime, thyme-infused honey, and matcha powder. And then Slater’s 50/50 takes it to another level (unsurprisingly) with its Lucky Mint Green Shake: mint-flavored ice cream in a frosting-rimmed glass with Lucky Charm marshmallows, rainbow stripe sour strips, whipped cream and green sprinkles. Other notable specials can be found at Poka Lola Social Club, Dairy Block’s Moo Bar, and Seven Grand.
Sing along and cheers to live music
Denver’s The Monkey Barrel is known for its regular live performances, and this St. Patrick’s Day you can tune in to Elijah Petty & The Part-Times and other musical guests if you’re in search of a chiller spot to sip your Guinness. Or, have one of the best burgers in town while relishing the shenanigans and live music of Cherry Cricket Cherry Creek this St. Paddy’s Day. Food and drink specials will also be available through the holiday weekend, so leave extra room or wear your stretchy (green) pants.
Feeling restless? Or maybe you’re itching to get a few laps in before hammering down several pints this Saturday? Either way, Highlands Ranch is hosting its St. Patrick’s Day 5K where finishing the race gets you St. Patrick’s Day merch, an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, and of course, a complimentary pint courtesy of Living the Dream Brewing.
Drink and do good at Holidaily Brewing Co.
This St. Paddy’s Day, Holidaily and the Gluten Intolerance Group are putting on their Raise a Pint, Lend a Hand fundraiser. A special glitter and green Firkin tapping is happening at 4 pm at both taprooms, with special (and gluten-free) treats available at the Golden location, thanks to Farmhouse 5280 and Waive the Grain bakery. 10% of all St. Patrick’s Day sales will be donated to the Gluten Intolerance Group.
March 17 – 18
Talnua Distillery is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day bash to remember this year, featuring food trucks, live music, special themed cocktails, and more. Limited bottles of Talnua’s exclusive Olde Saint’s Keep whiskey will be available for purchase, which you can hang onto while you dance along to pipe bands or eat a brat or two from El Jefe’s.
Watch some Irish step dancing
Head on over to Stanley Marketplace to witness the talent and skill of the students at the Wick School of Irish Dance at 12 pm, and follow it up with a green cerveza at Cheluna Brewing Co. Of course, plenty of tasty lunch and dinner options are available around the marketplace so you can soak up a bit of that beer.