Built over 125 years ago, this hotel in the Rocky Mountains has a reputation for opulence and hospitality, but that’s not the only thing that makes the Hotel Colorado a destination spot. It’s also reported to be one of the most haunted buildings in the state of Colorado, from which it derived its name. Begun as a mountain oasis in the style of Italian resorts, thousands of guests have passed through its doors and more than just a few of them have reported paranormal activity during their stay. Today let’s explore the history and haunts of the famous Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, CO.
Built in 1892, just seven years after the gold rush town of Glenwood Springs was incorporated, the goal of the Colorado was to attract the rich gold barrons with luxurious accommodations that would fit their discerning tastes. The hotel was originally lovingly referred to as the “Grande Dame,” by its builder and locals alike. The area surrounding the hotel is world-famous for its healing waters from the local springs throughout the region, and the hotel was sure to capitalize on them with a European style spa for guests. A 100 foot water fountain was one of the central decorations within its courtyard, again demonstrating the opulence that the hotel would boast. The hotel also boasts even more amenities for the upper class guests, including an indoor waterfall, a bird sanctuary, tennis courts and even a Victorian garden to stroll through on temperate days.
During the days of WWII, the hotel was commandeered by the U.S. Navy, despite its landlocked state and lack of access to the ocean. The navy used it as a hospital for a good portion of the war, spurred on by the collectivist nature of the country in the war effort. From 1943 to 1946, nearly 6000 patients passed through its doors for treatment and recovery after battles in the pacific and injuries incurred on battlefields in the European theater. A room in the basement was even converted into a “brig,” or naval prison during the occupation by the military, and a morgue for the unfortunate soldiers who would never make it home.
Several famous names have even stayed at the Hotel Colorado with its reputation for hospitality and luxurious accommodations, including two famous U.S. Presidents like William Howard Taft, who staunchly avoided the spa. One other famous face to explore the spa and hotel was the famous “Unsinkable” Molly Brown. One of the suites in the tower has even been converted as an homage to the famous Denver philanthropist. She visited often with her husband’s gold strike occurring nearby, and all evidence points to her enjoyment of the hotel when she was on vacation in the mountains.
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was a frequent guest, even turning the hotel into a makeshift White House while on a three week bear hunt in the mountains. The president was well-known for his nature conservation, love of hunting, and eccentric interests in all of the trappings of the Rocky Mountains, visiting year after year to enjoy the local scenery and game. Legend even says the Hotel Colorado may have been the location where the famous “Teddy bear” was given its name. To cheer the president up after a failed hunt, hotel maids are said to have presented him with a stuffed bear. He gifted the bear to his young daughter upon his return, who exclaimed she would “Call it Teddy,” and the name stuck for over a century.
The most famous aspect of the hotel today, however, are the legends of long-dead guests that stuck around in the afterlife to haunt the hotel high in the mountains. The Hotel Colorado has been dubbed the “most haunted hotel in Colorado,” with quite a bit of evidence to support the claim. The legends are so prevalent that the hotel itself has a webpage dedicated to its ghostly guests. The basement where the brig and morgue was established during its days as a military hospital is said to be one of the most active parts of the hotel, with handymen and janitors seeing more than their fair share of paranormal activity. One of the night watchmen in the 1930s reported seeing a woman’s face in the window, her hands cupped around her eyes, but when he turned on the light to investigate, the ghostly woman has disappeared into the night. Another man in the same position gave a nighttime tour for some guests into the basement, where a conversation between two women was heard along with the sound of a typewriter. When they opened the door, no one was present in the basement, and even more surprising, a typewriter was never found in the basement.
Still more spirits haunt the upper floors of the hotel as well, with stories ranging from the smell of cigar smoke in the hallways to the frightening experience of waking up in the night to see a figure standing over the bed. Two famous ghosts are said to reside on the first floor, known affectionately as “Bobby,” and “Walter.” Bobby is said to be the spirit of a WWII soldier from the days that the U.S. Navy used the hotel as a hospital. Bobby is primarily known for his association with the smell of Gardenias, while Walter is known for the smell of cigar smoke. Some say the spirit of Walter, named for the hotel’s founder, is actually a later owner of the hotel named E.E.Lucas, who owned the hotel from 1916 to his death in 1927.
The most haunted room in the luxurious hotel is said to be room 661, where a ghostly woman has been reported doing a variety of activities within the room while guests are staying there. One report says she frequently came in the room to close the windows, and even more reports of the phantom woman seen standing over the beds of guests in the night, usually wearing a floral dress identified from the early days of the 20th Century. Some theorize that this woman may have been a nurse in the hospital, or a maid from decades prior. Whatever her story, the hotel has collected dozens of stories of her haunting of room 661.
The Hotel Colorado is still a luxurious hotel, with 125 years of history and hospitality, and even a few haunts. If you visit, you can enjoy the European spa with healing springs, maybe a few games on the tennis court, and if you’re lucky, a glimpse of the ghostly activity that the Hotel is famous for. Make sure to ask for room 661 if you want a little more excitement during your stay.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.