The Patterson Inn

AboutBoulder has featured 3 most famous and most haunted hotels in Colorado and likely these three are high on the lists of other states also.  We divide ourselves into three categories.

  • Those who believe that some form of ghosts or spirits of the dead exist
  • Those who believe that ghosts are nonsense. If your hotel room makes noise, blame the plumbing. If it feels “wrong,” blame the room service or the strain you imbibe before going to your hotel room
  • Those who are not sure about ghosts, and have an open mind

For those that don’t believe, and are closed-minded,they may be in for a surprise at their next haunted hotel visit. For those that admit that ghosts may or do exist, Danger from ghosts is, in my experience, quite rare. Possibly annoying or even scary, but not dangerous unless you are tripping around in the dark, especially in an unfamiliar dark room. While ghosts may generally not pose a threat, falling, on the other hand, can be tragically dangerous.

To stay safe in a hotel room, DO NOT FALL DOWN.

So, nuts and bolts. First, pick a hotel which is generally understood to be haunted.

The best example locally is the Stanley Hotel, a favorite of Stephen King, and the heart of the book and movies, The Shining. Although the hotel  visually featured in the Jack Nicholson original movie version of the story, it is about the Stanley Hotel. Most consider it the most haunted hotel in Colorado.

The belief is that the Stanley was the scene of significant horror in the past, and the vibes or ghosts or haunting spirits have never left. We spent a Halloween night and a New Years formal dancing and eating night in the Old Hotel, not in one of the beautiful new condos which surround the original building, complete with it’s own Stanley Steamer automobile in the lobby.

The Stanley Hotel Is Nested above the town of Estes Park

The Lobby of the FAMOUS and FASCINATING Hotel Boulderado.


The Patterson Inn

2.The Patterson Inn, 30 minutes up the highway in Denver is probably the second most haunted hotel in the immediate vicinity.

Lobby of the Patterson Inn

Owner and host Chris Chiari revels in sharing the history of the haunted hotel, including its significant history involving past residents and present day ghosts. Note that Chris permits 12 spirits to stay, free of the normal room charges, and has named the bar in the hotel “The 12 Spirits Lounge.” 


3. Boulder’s own Hotel Boulderado.

The Hotel Boulderado, two blocks off the Pearl Street Mall

Can ghosts be survived or can the danger be mitigated? Yes and yes! While generally harmless beyond startling you, ghosts can be disturbing if you’re not prepared. I don’t mean prepared with garlic and Holy Water. I mean mentally ready.

Assuming you seek a ghostly experience or even interaction, and want to avoid any troublesome impact from the ghostly encounter,

  1. Most important, do not bring young children. The Patterson for example discourages or prohibits guests under 21 years old. An encounter, however subtle, can truly scare and traumatize a youngster.
  2. Don’t believe in ghosts? Willing to gamble your child’s mental health because you don’t believe?
  3. Start at the lobby.
  4. The lobby of the Patterson Inn is quite welcoming.
  5. If you walk into the building and  you immediately feel very uncomfortable upon entering, consider leaving. If the bad vibes are due to nasty extra non-paying incorporeal (without a body with substance), LEAVE. If the disturbing feeling is due to the bad vibes of the hotel, even with no ghosts, is this a place you want to stay in for the night?
  6. Are the bad feelings the result of your expectation or the result of an unwanted and unpleasant spirit, one which may or may not visibly manifest itself. Whether the enshrouded atmosphere is due to rude extra guests who happened to be dead,or your bad feelings are the result of your expectations, neither is conducive to a good night’s sleep.
  7. If you must stay, take precautions.   

Here are some tips when confronting ghosts: 

When staying at a haunted hotel like the Patterson, there are a few things to keep in mind for a comfortable and potentially supernatural experience. First, it’s advisable not to leave the TV on all night. You might fall asleep to something harmless, but wake up to the unsettling sounds of a horror movie. Such noises can seep into your subconscious, especially during the REM phase of sleep, influencing your dreams and overall sleep quality.

Staying hydrated is essential, especially in the high desert climate of the Front Range. Neglecting hydration could lead to an unexpected visit to the ER, which might have its own share of ghostly stories. And the bright lights and siren of the ambulance will interfere with your sleep.

If you start feeling fearful or agitated, resort to classic relaxation techniques. Stretching, meditating, deep breathing, listening to calm music, or even playing guitar and singing (as long as it doesn’t disturb other guests) can be effective.

Being receptive is key. An unusual feeling might be the first sign of a ghostly presence, which, after all, is part of the thrill of staying in a haunted hotel. When an encounter does begin, it’s important to stay calm. Most spirits are unlikely to cause harm, and being fearful can be more of a nuisance to them.

Personal experiences can vary. For instance, during a stay in the Patterson, one might turn off the TV, lay down, and use slow breathing and physical relaxation techniques. If nothing happens, there’s always the option of booking another night. Letting the spirit take the lead can lead to fascinating experiences, like having a conversation with a spirit without the need for visual apparitions. Such encounters can feel incredibly real and unique, differing vastly from any other experience.

However, it’s advised to avoid using tools like Ouija Boards, Tarot Cards, or Crystal Balls in your search for ghosts. In a truly haunted hotel, such additional aids are unnecessary and might even be overwhelming. Likewise, avoid heavy meals before bed, as they can affect your dreams without any supernatural assistance.

Remember, while being open to experiences is good, you’re still in control. If things become too intense, don’t hesitate to turn on the lights and switch to something comforting on TV.

Finally, enjoy your unique experience. Just like a staff member at AboutBoulder who saw ghosts in the form of glowing children in the window, be open and receptive. The Patterson is known to have a diverse array of spirit guests, ranging from adults to animals, each with their own story. Such encounters are rare and can be incredibly special.

The story of the ghost guests at the Stanley deserves a blog of its own, as does the Boulderado. The Boulderado is a Boulder gem. The ghosts are a free extra provided by the hotel like a chocolate left on your pillow.

In conclusion, be receptive, skip fear, and don’t be too surprised if you have an encounter with an extra guest! After all, that is part of the reason why you picked the haunted hotel. Also remember that each of these three hotels are very special treats with or without ghosts, with one in the heart of downtown Boulder, one close in Denver, and one at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes, a short SCENIC drive from Boulder North by North West from town.

Happy Haunting!!!


  • Senior Counsel Emeritus to the Boulder Law firm Dolan + Zimmerman LLP : (720)-610-0951
  • Former Judge
  • First Chair and Originator of the Colorado Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Committee, a National first.
  • Previous Chair, Boulder Criminal Defense Bar (8 years)
  • Twice chair Executive Counsel, Colorado Bar Association Criminal Law Section
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  • Life Member, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
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  • Chair, Colorado NORML, 7 years including during the successful effort to legalize recreational pot in Colorado
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