Southern Colorado Haunted Hotels: Sweet Screams!
Taking a trip to the Centennial State? The diverse landscape, the outdoor activities, and the rich cultural heritage make for a great vacation, no matter what part you decide to visit. But don’t forget about the ghosts! These Southern Colorado Haunted Hotels will ensure your trip is to die for.
In 1890, a wealthy Prussian Count, named James Pourtales, headed out west to build a casino. After a fire and a partnership with Spencer and Julie Penrose, the Broadmoor Hotel was added to the property. Spencer was often away on business so Julie would stay in the penthouse sparking rumors of a scandalous affair with the Count. Mysteriously, Julie went missing in the woods one day. She was found naked, and confused and died shortly thereafter. Her tragic, unexplained death has caused Julie’s spirit to remain at the Broadmoor Hotel, lurking in the penthouse where she stayed all those years ago.
The staff at this Colorado Haunted Hotel note such strange occurrences as lights turning on and off, deep cold spots and objects moving. They regularly see a woman in a long dress floating down the hallways. Guests in the penthouse get the feeling of being followed by a heavy sense of dread. Julie doesn’t seem to like other people sleeping in her bed, for she has been known to rip off the covers and grab the sleeping guest by the ankle. Poor Julie’s torment would be a delight for Count Pourtales. Her hauntings have only helped to make the Broadmoor a success, just as he had always wanted.
At the base of Pikes Peak stands the Cliff House. This Colorado Haunted Hotel has been around longer than Colorado has been a state! With its clever name “The Inn,” served as a stagecoach stop and boarding house for hunters. During the 1870s, Edward Nichols came west to battle tuberculosis. He bought “The Inn,” remodeled it into luxury accommodations and renamed it the Cliff House. He then founded the Manitou Bath House Company, promoting the healing properties of the nearby springs. This made the Cliff House a prime destination for the wealthy, and guests included Theodore Roosevelt, P.T. Barnum, Thomas Edison and Clark Gable!
One evening in 1913, however, this pristine image was shattered. Guests were gathered on the veranda when Albert Whitehead, the night watchman came running out onto the lawn, covered in blood, and collapsed. Two masked men had snuck into his office, moments before, and demanded he open the safe. When he refused, they shot him and ran off. Albert died two days later, and his killers were never found.
What’s even more tragic is that Albert is caught in the worst kind of paranormal activity: A residual haunting. Albert’s spirit is forced to relive his murder over and over, like a death loop. Every year on the anniversary of his death, this loop becomes visible to guests of the Cliff House. Year one: The hotel is hosting a moonlight serenade, when suddenly the music is broken by a scream. A shadowy figure ran out into the lawn and then disappeared the moment he collapsed. The bloody footprints he left behind slowly faded until there was no trace of the frightening incident. This annual event has become so common that the police no longer respond to the calls of a bloody man running out of this Colorado Haunted Hotel.
Creede was the city that hosted Colorado’s last silver boom. Prospectors from all over came with the hopes of striking it rich. Phillip Zang, a brewer from Denver, didn’t need silver to make him rich. He opened the P.H. Zang Brewing Company for Creede’s thirsty prospectors, then built the Zang Hotel in 1892. After he passed, his son, John, ran the hotel until he was murdered. Apparently, he had stopped by to pay a call on a young married woman while her husband was out of town. She claimed that John made unwanted advances and when he got rough with her, she grabbed her husbands Colt .45 and shot him in the face. The townsfolk had a hard time believing this because John was such a well-respected businessman with a loving wife of his own, but nonetheless, the young lady was acquitted. John’s wife was so filled with grief and embarrassment that she attempted suicide, twice. Once by hanging and the other time slitting her wrists with broken glass. Both attempts failed. The hotel changed hands and was eventually renamed for the town itself.
Perhaps it is the sad fate of the Zang’s that has turned this into one of Denver’s most Haunted Hotels. Footsteps are heard wandering around on the roof, loud banging comes from empty rooms, disembodied whistling is heard in the old saloon, and a shadowy figure is sometimes seen disappearing around a corner. This is believed to be John, still keeping an eye on the place.
His wife’s presence is a bit more chilling. Guests have been startled awake to find the glasses in their room smashed on the floor. Upon taking a picture of the damage, one guest noticed a woman in the reflection of the mirror. She had long hair and was wearing old fashioned clothing but her face was blurred out and her neck was bent and stretched as though it were badly broken.
On a more pleasant note, guests that stay in the Calamity Jane Room, so named because that’s where she slept when she came through Creede, have heard bells and laughter. Some have even seen her likeness walking through the closed door!
Originally a bank on the first floor and hotel rooms on the second, this 1911 Colorado Haunted Hotel has two resident ghosts. On top of the typical spiritual activity, muddy footprints are often found leading to the safe in the lobby, but they never retreat in the other direction. The other stand out is a very strange haunting. The entity manifests itself as a thick grey cloud that floats throughout this Haunted Hotel. It is usually headed for the old, sealed up elevator shaft.
Antonito had once been a tiny border sheep camp called San Antonio Junction. Then the Denver & Rio Grande railroads built a depot that still stands right across the street from the hotel. Commercial businesses popped up everywhere and the town grew and prospered. The mysterious cloud that is seen in the Steam Train Hotel could belong to one of the junction’s original inhabitants and the engine steam is the only way he can seem to make himself known.
In historic downtown Durango, is The Strater Hotel. From this Colorado Haunted Hotel, it is an easy walk to the train station, making it a popular place for railroad wanting to ride on the scenic Durango & Silverton steam excursion train. It is also a prime destination for ghost hunters! The Strater is believed to be haunted by many apparitions, most of them of the folks who were coming and going on the train in the 19th century. Guests have seen a tall man in an old conductor’s uniform, a woman and a little girl with old fashioned luggage, a man in white suspenders walking towards the train tracks, and a saloon girl hovering near the bar. The hotel even keeps a “Ghost Diary” in each room for guests to record any spooky encounters. One entry tells of a woman checking into her 2nd floor room. As she unpacked, she noticed a portrait of a woman facing the bed. She was continuously drawn to the painting and every time she turned to look at it, it seems as though the woman had slightly shifted her positions, with the eyes always fixated on her as she unpacked. She was so spooked that she ended up throwing a towel over the frame so she could get some rest.
The Rochester has been is listed as one of the 100 Most Haunted Hotels in America. It’s been featured in a “Ghostbusters” episode, and a newer series called “Frontier Tastes and Tales,” which describes the hotel as a place “where ghosts and tourists still mingle every day.” Open since the 1890’s, this Colorado Haunted Hotel was involved in a lot of incidents during Prohibition, sue to being in a rough end of town at the time. The active spirits make it quite popular with single male travelers.
The first reported spirits at the Rochester likes to go through guests’ personal items, turn on hair dryers, and leave lipstick stains on glasses. When she shows herself, she is often wearing Victorian Lingerie and teasingly disappearing as she starts to remove it. She is mostly seen in The John Wayne Room and she may not be alone in there. Many guests have also sworn to hear the voice of The Duke, himself coming from their turned of television. Even jazz-blues musician and actor Bill Henderson insists he had a conversation with the old cowboy when he stayed there. But you aren’t likely to stay in Room 204 anytime soon. It would take years to even get on the waiting list!
This Colorado Haunted Hotel opened in 1883. The saloon was the most popular place in town because across the street was a bordello. The proprietor had a tunnel built to run from her establishment to the hotel. This kind of popularity in the “wild west,” seemed to come with quite a bit of bloodshed. The saloon was robbed at gun point on a regular basis. This is probably since it was common knowledge that no one knew the combination to the safe, so it was never fully closed. Finally, one night, a bartender who was sick of having a gun pointed in his face, slammed the safe shut. It was quite the fiasco and a man from Denver had to come down to get it open again. But in doing so, he also reset the combination so that it could be of use. Needless to say, the hotel had a rough start!
In 2015, renovations began that apparently stirred up some of that troubled past. Contractors were not able to work through the day because nails and chunks of drywall inexplicably flew threw the air at them until they had to go outside and wait out this spirit’s temper tantrum.
This usually happened when they were working near Room 314, Luigi Regalia hilled himself 125 years before. Workers would hear pacing coming from inside the room and the door would often be bolted from the inside. Once they would remove the door, they found footprints in the dust around the construction.
To this day, the housekeeping staff will only go into that room in pairs. They claim that something keeps touching them while they work, and they will make the beds only to turn around to find them disheveled again. One of the hotel managers has a small dog that she sometimes brings to work with her. The dog refuses to go near room 314 and always stays right by her side when they are in the building.
The Western Hotel was built in 1891 and has a lot in common with the previous one. Like the Grand Imperial in Silverton, a popular bordello also had a tunnel built to run to the Hotel saloon. Also, like the Imperial, it is haunted by the ghost of a man who committed suicide in the hotel.
Floro and Maria Flor ran the hotel for a time and many of the rooms were used for the local minors who had gotten sick or injured due to their dangerous occupation. One of those men named John, had become sick and lost his job due to the mine he worked in closied. Because of his illness, he couldn’t secure work in another mine. Then the poor guys wife died, and he was drowning in sorrow. He wrote a letter to his mother and one to his landlady, then gently folded his clothes and placed them on a chair, he drank a bottle of poison and died quietly in his bed. Sadly, John did not find peace, even in death, for his restless spirit roams the halls of this Colorado Haunted Hotel.
Guests have experienced sudden cold drafts and turned to see a partial apparition of a man they describe as horribly sad and in pain. One woman came into her room after having dinner and noticed a stack of men’s clothing folded neatly in the chair by her bed. By the time she called the front desk, the clothing was gone. She shook it off and went to bed but was awakened by a cold chill to see a man standing by her with his hands outstretched for help.
The figure of a little girl has also been seen at the Western. She has stringy red hair and is wearing a ripped white petticoat and one sock. The owners confirm that a previous owner had a young daughter who perished in a snowstorm. She seems to like causing a ruckus. Two guests in room 18 noticed the woman’s hat floating along the wall. They watched in fear as it fell to the floor and the lamp began to sway back and forth, then a decanter smashed to the floor as though it had been thrown off the dresser. When the bed began shaking the man had had enough and shouted, “For Heaven’s sake, please stop!” And she did.
Millard and Stella Fairlamb built their home in 1906. Millard was obsessed with ancient tribes that lived in cliff dwellings and regularly collected artifacts from his many excavating adventures. On a visit to Utah, he happened upon human bones and Millard did exactly what you’re not supposed to do with human bones: he took them home and stored them in his attic. His wife finally convinced him to give them to a local tribe for a proper burial. The home remained in the Fairlamb family until the late 1970’s and it was eventually turned into a Bed & Breakfast. There is a lot of speculation that wandering spirits were attached to those bones and they are trapped in this Colorado Haunted Hotel.
A common encounter at the Fairlamb B&B is the appearance of several female specters. They are mostly seen in the Millard room and quickly disappear when they are spotted. The rocking chair in the room moves back and forth on its own and the bathroom lights will flicker on and off. In other bedrooms, strange cold spots, disembodied voices, banging sounds, and mysterious footsteps are frequent. There is a decorative shell in the B&B and it constantly shows up in a different area of the house. A team of paranormal investigators came in and made recordings in the home with EMF meters. They captured several different voices but the only words they could identify were “girl, ghosts, blood, death,” and “bones.”
Delta, Co is the location of the annual Council Tree Pow Wow and Festival, and a Lakota medicine man was a guest at the Fairland. After one night in the Millard Room, he and his wife informed the owners that they had no less than five female spirits trapped in the home. They held a cleansing ceremony, covering the entire house in burning sage and called upon the heavens to free these trapped souls. Though the ghostly encounters have dwindled, they have yet to cease entirely.
The Melrose Hotel began in 1904, by William Ponsford and his two sons, George and James. They dug the basement by hand and laid brick by brick, over four years to build the hotel themselves. The Melrose remained in the family for nearly a century and up until it went to new owners, it would not make this list of Colorado Haunted Hotels.
The young Couple, Sabrina and Marcus Bebb-Jones, that took over the Melrose in 1994 regularly argued over the hotel’s finances. One day Sabrina disappeared. The search went on in the desert for days, but her husband’s explanations kept changing and he soon became suspect. Marcus went on a binge in Vegas, drinking and gambling before he wrote a farewell note to his son, and then shot himself. BUT it was a pathetic attempt because the wound was superficial. The authorities didn’t have enough evidence to charge Marcus, so he took his son to live with his grandmother in England and ran off to become a professional poker player. Real winner. Well, eventually, Sabrina’s skull was found in a remote meadow with a bullet hole in the forehead. Marcus was extradited back to the states and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
The Melrose Hotel sat empty through all of this and was finally purchased and updated. It’s short-term guests must share their accommodations with two permanent lodgers. The sounds of a woman crying would keep visitors awake through all hours of the night. These sobs were loudest in the basement and finally, the manager called the police. What they found was a small pile of Sabrina’s belongings wrapped in a blanket and buried in the corner. After the discovery, the crying stopped, but Sabrina’s spirit is still seen on the grounds. Sometimes she is not alone. Employees say that they have seen her with a tall, thin man who resembles the late William Ponsford. Perhaps he showed up after Sabrina’s disappearance to keep the Melrose operating smoothly. The ghostly pair from two different times are often seen at the top of the stairs, looking over the parlor or looking out the front window of this Colorado Haunted Hotel.
In 1906, deputy sheriff, WT Bross, saved up his money to buy a lot and build a hotel in Paonie, CO. The Bross family lived in their boardinghouse next door and WT’s wife laura, who was known for her excellent cooking, would greet guests with a hearty meal every evening. She was lovingly referred to as “Mother Bross,” and was a big reason why the hotel was so successful. After WT and Laura passed, their son Otto took over the hotel. He combined the hotel with the old boarding house and began remodeling. Every room got an update except for room 2, which was Otto’s childhood room. He claimed that he felt a strong presence urging him to leave that room alone. Many believe that presence to be Mother Bross, herself. That was her favorite room so it makes sense that she would remain there, looking after her baby. Guests that stay in Room 2 have felt their blanket being gently tucked around their body. Instead of fear, most find it comforting and fall right to sleep.
Mother Bross doesn’t limit herself to just one room, though. There are often indentations on beds or sofas where she has sat down to rest. Many guests have seen the apparition of a woman who resembled old photographs of Mother Bross. One young man, after seeing her photograph in the parlor, made a negative remark about her looks. At that moment, an antique mirror that was bolted to the wall, pounded on the floor. There wasn’t a single crack, but the innkeeper knew exactly why that mirror flew to the ground. She rushed up to Room 2 and apologized for the guest’s remark.
The Forest Queen Hotel began as a hotel-bar combo in 1882, but it soon transitioned into a brothel and brought in quite a profit. The aptly named, One-Eye Ruby, fiercely ran the establishment. One day, a handsome gambler wandered into town and won the heart of Ruby’s most popular working girl, Liz. He promised to whisk her away to Denver, and despite her friend’s warnings, she gave every penny she had to him for a high-stakes poker game. He won big and snuck off in the night with all the cash. Liz was left alone and penniless and she shut herself away in her room and drank until she had the courage to throw herself out the window. Her forlorn spirit makes for many sleepless nights as she roams the Forest Queen Hotel, slamming doors, beating pots and pans, and sending inanimate objects flying. She rifles through guest’s personal belongings and trashes rooms that have just been cleaned. Sometimes called the “Red Lady Ghost,” she is the cause of most electronic disturbances, turning out lights, throwing cell phones and breaking surveillance cameras. “They say Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” You don’t know the half of it until you have stayed in this Colorado Haunted Hotel and experienced poor Lizzie’s wrath.
The Imperial Hotel, not to be confused with the Grand Imperial Hotel on our first list of Southern Colorado Haunted Hotels, was built in 1896 and might just one of the spookiest places in the state. It was even featured on an episode of Travel Channel’s, Ghost Adventures.
One of the early owners, George Long, married his first cousin and they gave birth to a daughter, Alice, who had a severe mental disorder. She was locked away for years in a private room, only allowed out at night when the guests were asleep. George was killed one evening when he tragically “fell” down the stairs. As it turned out, Alice had pushed him to his death.
The next owners converted the basement into a cabaret-style theater, called the Gold Bar Room Theater and presented an old-fashioned melodrama to rave reviews. They then moved the Imperial Players to a stage in the luxurious Red Rooster Room Bar and Lounge. By 1996, it the nation’s longest-running melodrama theater. Actors who are new to the Imperial Players are often welcome by being locked in the lounge alone, left to hear scratching and moaning from the other side of the wall. The Red Rooster Room used to be Alice’s bedroom, and some say she is still trapped in there, dying to get out!
Those with sensitivities to spirits have noticed there is an equal measure of positive and negative energy flowing throughout the Imperial. The lobby is one place that gives people the creeps. People say they feel like they are being watched and they get a heavy feeling when one the staircase where George died. Employees have seen lurking shadows, and some have sworn that some unseen force has shoved them near the stairs. This negative energy is no doubt radiating from Alice, who was miserable during her life here. On the lighter side of the spectral spectrum is George. His ghost is a merry old rascal who likes to play the slots at night and can be blamed for water faucets turning on, doors opening on their own, and radios going haywire. He has also been known to discreetly pat young women on the behind!
This Colorado Haunted Hotel was originally a hospital, opened in 1898, by the Sisters of
Mercy. The ghostly regulars at the Hotel Saint Nicholas are funny. With names like Stinky and Petey and Half-man, it’s hard to get too frightened. Stinky is hard to miss. He spends most of his time on the stairway and even if he doesn’t show himself, a raggedy miner, you’ll know he’s there by the terrible odor that trails behind him.
Half-Man made his first appearance in room 11, which used to be the hospital operating room. He is very thin and appears to be very tall until guests notice that the lower half of his body is missing. He usually just floats on by, not bothering anyone.
Petey is quite the mischievous spirit. He is believed to be an orphan who was taken care of by the nuns. He’s a and is often seen running through the halls and hiding in the Tavern, moving bottles around and playing pranks on the bartenders. Guests at the Hotel Saint Nicholas have been awakened by child laughing and the sounds of a ball bouncing about on the third floor.
All three spirits are harmless and seem more than happy to share their eternal home.
This final Colorado Haunted Hotel has gone beyond embracing it’s hauntings, it has become an immersive art experience for horror fans. Located in this once-abandoned mountain town of Victor, this former brothel and saloon is designed with a different chilling theme in each room.
The entire town still looks much like it did at the turn of the 20th century. It was once the 5th largest city in Colorado and it’s 500 mines pumped out millions in gold. By the 1990’s the gold ran dry and Victor turned into a ghost town with a bloody past. At a time when miners were attempted to organize, the corporations would bust up the unions by hiring gangsters to commit all sorts of heinous crimes. At the time, the Monarch was an upscale gentlemen’s club, hosting many of these evil corporate millionaires.
It is only fitting that the Black Monarch is now a gothic version of it’s former self, where you can stay in the HH Holmes Room, The Elizabeth Báthory room, or the Witchcraft room, each adorned to honor it’s name. But it isn’t just the stylized décor that makes this place spooky. It is said to be completely satiated with the weary souls and residual energy of all the miners who have lost their lives in Victor, Colorado.
Rest in Peace in Southern Colorado!
If you don’t mind sharing your stay with supernatural souls, or if you’re the type that likes to scare yourself silly and then hide under the covers, then any one of these Southern Colorado Haunted Hotels is just waiting for you to check-in. And that’s not the half of it! Check out our list of More Southern Colorado Haunted Hotels for even more spooky options.