As you're driving along US 36, you know you've reached the small town of Estes Park, Colorado, when a bright-white building with a rust-red roof comes into view.
It's the famed Stanley Hotel. Built in 1909 by Freelan Oscar Stanley, the hotel is considered one of the most "haunted" hotels in the US.
Perhaps the most popular advocate of its supposed paranormal activity is novelist Stephen King, who spent a night at the hotel in 1974 and left with the entire plot line for his thriller, "The Shining."
Exactly 47 years later, I was following King's footsteps and had a one-night stay booked in the famous hotel. As fog filled the surrounding mountain landscape, I quickly understood why King was haunted by this place.
According to a guide who took me on a tour of the hotel, King claims he was "haunted" by a possessed fire hose during his stay. The tour guide also shared accounts of doors slamming, beds shaking, lights flickering, and the voices of children floating through the hallways.
Stepping inside the hotel felt like traveling back in time. Patterned carpet fills the reception area, dark oak paneling covers the walls, and a grand staircase leads guests upstairs.
I wasn't the only one eager to begin my stay. As the 4 p.m. check-in time approached, a line stretched the entire length of the first floor.
Instead of waiting in line, I toured the hotel's property. Outside, I navigated through the hotel's hedge maze, which was built in 2015. A maze is a key element in "The Shining," and after years of guests inquiring about it, the hotel finally added one.
The property is comprised of four main buildings, including a concert hall built by Freelan Oscar Stanley for his wife. Today, it's one of the hotel's most "haunted" buildings, the tour guide said.
Back inside the main building, there's a classic grand ballroom, named the McGregor Ballroom.
Across from the ballroom is a music room and billiards room. I stepped inside the billiards room where I saw a familiar-looking bar.
Yes, it's the bar that inspired the iconic bar scene in "The Shining." According to the tour guide, King visited the last night before the hotel shut down for the winter and, since the business had filed its taxes for the year, the bartender wouldn't take his money so King drank for free.
Upstairs is perhaps the most famous room: room 217, where King and his wife spent a single night. When Stanley Kubrick was adapting King's novel into a movie, producers changed it from room 217 to 237, afraid that no one would want to stay in a "haunted" room. But today, room 217 is the most popular in the hotel.
After exploring the property, I headed to the now-deserted reception desk where rows of antique keys filled the wall. Unfortunately, I was handed a typical, plastic room key.
With my key in hand, I stepped into the hotel's original elevator from 1909 and headed to the fourth floor where room 402 awaited me.
When I arrived, the key oddly wouldn't work. I debated whether on not this was a bad omen, and headed back downstairs for a replacement.
Finally, I entered the suite, which was one of the hotel's original historic rooms. While I expected it to have a lavish, classic feel like the rest of the hotel, the bedroom felt dated.
When I stepped inside, there was a living-room area with a fold-out couch, coffee table, and entertainment unit with a TV inside.
The bedroom had a matching headboard, a small desk, and another TV.
While the bedroom was home to a mysteriously locked door, there wasn't a mini fridge or AC.
But there were breathtaking views from the bedroom window.
Perhaps the spookiest part of my room was the bathroom. There wasn't an air vent, so mold filled cracks between tiles and a discolored shower curtain hung from the rod.
Of course, I wasn't paying $359 a night for a lavish room - I was on the lookout for a potential ghost sighting. So as the sun set and only hotel guests remained, I explored the empty hotel.
I returned to King's famed room, and this time noticed someone had written "REDRUM," a reference to "The Shining," in the corner of a nearby mirror.
I also took another moment near what the hotel calls "the vortex," which is a spiral staircase with supposedly high spiritual energy.
Back up on my floor, I stopped at room 428, where a ghostly cowboy is said to haunt the room. The floor is apparently also known for its sightings and sounds of children in the halls. Unfortunately, I didn't spot anything out of the ordinary.
But the empty hallways left me thoroughly spooked out. I retreated back to my room for the night. And as I attempted to fall asleep, I waited for any signs that the hotel was haunted.
I woke up the next morning with no nightmares or recollections of ghostly visits. But thanks to the tour guide, I did leave with a collection of ghost stories I won't forget anytime soon.