The Scariest Haunted Places and Spooky Sites in Colorado

"The Fountain of Secrets" from Ghosts, Legends and Lore of the Rockies, by Stephanie Waters.
"The Fountain of Secrets" from Ghosts, Legends and Lore of the Rockies, by Stephanie Waters.
Stephanie Waters
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Have we scared you silly yet with all the amazing Halloween activities happening around town? Well, we're not done yet. Find a friend to cling to and explore these nine spooky places, haunted houses and graveyards, all famous for paranormal activity. Best of all, at many of these demonic destinations, visiting's free.

The Brown Palace is one of Denver's poshest party palaces.EXPAND
The Brown Palace is one of Denver's poshest party palaces.
Danielle Lirette

Brown Palace Hotel
321 17th Street

This 127-year-old hotel might be a pinnacle of classic luxury, but it's rumored to have a few skeletons in the closet, including the ghosts of past residents and workers. Paranormal activity has been recorded in the hotel, which used to boast an on-site psychic. Reportedly, spiritually charged spots include room 904, where a Denver socialite lived for fifteen years in the mid-1900s; the San Marco Room where a full ghostly string band has been seen; the boiler room where haunting cries of a baby echo throughout; and one of the service elevators where a happy waiter has been observed forever fulfilling his duty. Soak up some of these spooky vibes by having afternoon tea, a drink at Shipyard Tavern or by booking a room for the night.

Central City Masonic Cemetery
Between Nevadaville Road, Prosser Street and Academy Street, in Central City

There's more than gambling and opera in Central City. For starters, there's this creepy cemetery from the mid-1800s. Legend has it a beautiful woman in black haunts the area. Given that she disappears when approached, we don't think it's a wayward goth. Apparently she leaves flowers at the gravesite of John Edward Cameron each April 5 and November 1, so head there soon to see if you can catch her. Also spotted, a little boy who plays hide and seek behind the trees when visitors come close; after all, even when you're dead you still shouldn't talk to strangers. For more of Central City's haunted history, head to the 11th Annual Creepy Crawl, hosted by the Gilpin Historical Society, at 7 p.m. on October 25 and 26. The event starts at Century Casino, 102 Main Street, in Central City and costs $15 a person. 

Cheesman Park
For over a century, the 81-acre Cheesman Park has been rumored to be haunted by the residents of the Mount Prospect Cemetery, which still lies under the trees, grass and jogging paths. The cemetery opened in 1858, but in 1890, the City of Denver turned the land into a park. Unfortunately, the job of moving the bodies was mismanaged, and while the headstones found new homes, a lot of those bodies stayed underground. For more information or to really get your jitters going, take the two-hour The Ghosts of Capitol Hill jaunt by Denver Walking Tours, at various times Thursday through Sunday, for $20 per person. It starts at Henry Treat Rogers Mansion, 1739 East 13th Avenue, and ends at Morey Middle School, 840 East 14th Avenue. Find out more about the various times and dates online.
Croke-Patterson Mansion
420 East 11th Avenue

If you've ever heard of big guard dogs being so scared in a haunted house that they leaped to their deaths, well, this is the place. The Croke-Patterson Mansion has a long history of paranormal activity, almost dating back to its opening in 1891. Originally owned by Senator Thomas Macdonald Patterson, this building has been apartments and office space. Now it's a hotel called the Patterson Inn. Numerous psychics have claimed they sense a baby in the basement, and one woman claimed she saw the ghost of Kate Patterson while she was in bed, pregnant with her triplets. The edifice has so many spooky stories that Ann Alexander Leggett and her daughter Jordan co-authored the book A Haunted History of Denver's Croke-Patterson Mansion in 2011, and it's still a horrifying read. 

Glow at the Gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens.EXPAND
Glow at the Gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens.
Denver Botanic Gardens Facebook page

Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York Street

On the grounds of the Denver Botanic Gardens on York Street is a literal bed of roses, but what lies underneath proves a bit more sinister. You may know a little of the history if you've read about Cheesman Park, which resides right next to the gardens. This land once housed the 360-acre Mount Prospect Cemetery, which got plowed in the 1890s to make room for the beautiful rows of trees, lily ponds, rock gardens and greenhouse that make up this Denver institution. While all the gravestones were placed elsewhere, not every body got exhumed, and some say those souls haunt the tulips and whisper through the leaves each night like an eerie wind. Security guards on the evening shift have seen strange things, and reports of ghosts prove frequent enough that each Halloween season, the Botanic Gardens hosts haunted tours of the area. Unfortunately this year's tours have already sold out, but next year jump on the chance to learn more about the paranormal side to plant life. In the meantime, go to the gardens for ghouls.

Hotel Jerome in Aspen
330 East Main Street, Aspen

Though they don't like talking about it, the staff at Hotel Jerome know something spooky is going on. The recorded instances of ghosts appearing or strange, unexplained things happening in this 130-year-old hotel abound. Take the Water Boy, the famous ghost of a ten-year-old child who died in the original pool on the property. Legend has it he shows up only to disappear and leave wet footprints across the hallway throughout the hotel. There's even an eerie painting of the kid hanging on the wall near the lobby. Guests have reported faucets turning on, lights flicking off, and objects moving. A maid that died in the hotel is said to still be making beds for the living staff, and some say they hear the crying of a brokenhearted patron who also passed away within the building's walls. The third floor is supposed to be the most haunted, especially room 310, so book there the next time you want to get truly scared.

"The Fountain of Secrets" from Ghosts, Legends and Lore of the Rockies, by Stephanie Waters.EXPAND
"The Fountain of Secrets" from Ghosts, Legends and Lore of the Rockies, by Stephanie Waters.
Stephanie Waters

Manitou Springs
Wander around this little town and soak up creepy cool vibes. According to otherworldly experts, Manitou Springs lies on a spiritually charged fault line, something that draws ghosts and other paranormal activity to it. Blue Moon Haunted History Tours is a great way to get into the mythology of this unique town, and guide Stephanie Waters has been dishing stories and writing books about it since 2002. Take a trip there and see what haunts you encounter.

Museum of Colorado Prisons
201 North 1st Street, Cañon City

Don't be surprised if you have never heard of the Museum of Colorado Prisons; it's not as famous as other institutions in the state – unless you seek out the supernatural. Constructed in 1935, this building housed women inmates. It wasn't used for long and became a museum in 1988 in order to preserve the history of the space. But, there have been plenty of paranormal sightings, from glowing orbs and sounds of coughing and screams to the scent of fresh tobacco wafting through the air. And that's during the day. We can only imagine how spooky the prison is at night. Stanley Hotel in Estes Park
333 East Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park

Writing about the Stanley Hotel never gets old. And if it's good enough for Steven King, it's good enough for us. That's right, the famous horror novelist stayed here once and was so spooked out he was inspired to write a little something called The Shining, his first best seller. While the apparitions you see in the movie don't come from this Estes Park hotel, plenty of spooky sightings have been recorded on the 140-year-old property, which is built on a bed of quartz and limestone that allegedly attracts specters from the other side. The most requested room in the hotel is 217, the one King stayed in. Go see for yourself and wander the haunted stairs, sip whiskey with a ghost at the bar, and hear the sounds of invisible children laughing on the fourth floor.

What are your favorite haunts in Colorado? Let us know at editorial@westword.com.

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