Ghosts walk among us.
At least that’s what local paranormal investigators say. Others agree, after hearing reports of mysterious sightings, unexplained sounds and just that strange feeling that tickles your spine and raises your goose bumps.
Boulder County isn’t short of ghost stories. You can read them in books like “Haunted Longmont: Haunted History and Colorful Coloradans,” by Richard Estep. That book highlights 20 different destinations in Longmont that are said to be haunted. You can also visit them on ghost tours, like Banjo Billy’s bus tour that runs every fall.
Or maybe you want to visit the spots yourself and check them out firsthand. Maybe you’ve stayed in a haunted hotel. Maybe you want to. Maybe you want to avoid one.
Here’s how to know for sure. Here are the places in Boulder and Boulder County, plus a selection of hotels across the state, that have a history of hauntings.
The Ghosts of Boulder
- Pearl Street Mall/Boulder Creek: Near Ninth Avenue and Pearl Street, and near Boulder Creek late at night, people have said they see a man with a dark hat, his head tipped to the ground, carrying a dark tote bag. Other accounts describe him as a faceless man. Some believe this is the ghost of William Tull, who was arrested for stealing horses in the 1800s and imprisoned, beaten, tortured and hanged on Pearl Street. The catch: It was later discovered he was innocent.
- Boulder Theater/The Ghost BBQ: The Boulder Theater in downtown is a well-known haunt. The ghost: George Paper, who managed the theater in the ‘40s and died there after he was accidentally hanged in the lighting rig. The reports: People say George is quite the prankster. He is said to flip light switches, turn on faucets and open doors. Some people report seeing his form. George is such a famous ghost in Boulder that the restaurant next door was named after him. It used to be George’s Food & Drink. Now, it’s The Ghost BBQ. It serves made-from-scratch barbecue.
- Hotel Boulderado: The Hotel Boulderado doesn’t actively advertise its ghosts like some historic hotels in Colorado do, but there are reports that rooms 302 and 304 are haunted. People claim they see a woman wearing white in the hallways on the top floor, experience electrical disturbances and hear ghostly voices. As the story goes, the supposed haunted rooms were the location of a double suicide.
- Macky Auditorium, University of Colorado campus: Macky’s ghost is one of the area’s most famous. The legend claims it’s student Elaura Jaquette, who was raped and murdered in the auditorium by a custodian (Joseph Dyre Morse, who was ultimately charged for the crimes). People claim to see her and a man in brown or hear an organ (there isn’t one here anymore). The most haunted spot: where the student’s body was found, in room 304, which is today a storage room.
- Arnett-Fullen House: This is a private residence, located at 646 Pearl St., but it’s a famous local haunt to drive past. The ghost is believed to be Oliva Fullen, who used to live in the Victorian house. People claim to see a young girl in white or feel cold spots when walking past. The current residents sometimes play into the legend and have been known to put a mannequin in the front window to scare people.
- Columbia Cemetery: Boulder’s cemetery is, not surprisingly, another ghost hot spot. This cemetery houses many historic and notable tombs. People like to visit the grave of Jane Doe, who was an unsolved death for decades until she was identified as Dorothy Gay Hoard. Other highlights include the graves of Mary Rippon, Marietta Kingsley (“Lady of the Evening”) and “Rocky Mountain” Joe Sturtevent. Whether or not the ghosts of these notables remain is impossible to prove, but there have been historic ghost tours of the cemetery in years past when actors shared stories of Boulder’s pioneers and legends by their gravesites.
Ghosts of Boulder County
Beyond Boulder, there are many other ghost sightings throughout Boulder County.
- Brown’s Shoe Fit Co., Longmont: Downtown Longmont is lined with historic buildings, which means plenty of lore. At this shoe store and on the sidewalk in front of it, people claim to see the ghost of a woman in a long, white dress. Some say she has also visited the nearby Longmont Theatre.
- Cheese Importers, Longmont: This cheese shop and European deli is located in a beautiful historic building. In the past, when the building stored museum artifacts, people reported seeing the spirit of an ex-employee named Stanley. However, since the Cheese Importers moved in, the ghost accounts have dwindled.
- Dickens Opera House and Tavern, Longmont: This is one of Longmont’s most prominent haunted locations. The list of stories is long, but some employees and performers claim to have seen the ghost of a young girl in the basement and multiple children in what is now the green room. Other people say they have seen a woman in what used to be the vault.
- St. Vrain Masonic Lodge, Longmont: This building is located next to the opera house. The legend: A former Mason had a heart attack while climbing the staircase and died at the top. People claim to see his form to this day, but have no fear; he’s friendly. So is the playful young boy named Silas who is said to haunt the lodge.
- The Imperial Hotel, Longmont: This hotel, as well as the coffee shop (the Java Stop) that’s located in the same downtown building, has its share of spooky stories. Some say they have seen or heard two young girls. Others say they have seen the ghosts of a young girl and man reading magazines.
- Elite Barber Shop, Longmont: This is the home of a ghost named Shorty. People have said they see Shorty, a tall ghost about 6 feet tall, wearing an apron and standing between the barber chairs. Want to check your ghost radar with the real deal? Find the framed photo of Shorty by the front wall. This barber shop does not hide its friendly ghost.
- Sun Rose Cafe, Longmont: Another historic downtown building houses the Sun Rose Cafe, as well as a nameless ghost that people say they have seen arranging items on a non-existent shelf. The woman is wearing an apron and colorful skirt.
- La Vita Bella Coffee Shop, Longmont: This beautiful, historic coffee shop in downtown used to be a telephone company. Fittingly, people report the sound of old-fashioned phones ringing. Sometimes, people say they smell cigar smoke, even though no one is smoking in the coffee shop.
- Empire Restaurant, Louisville: The site of this restaurant has a dark past. The story is, during the turn of the century, this was a gambling hall. A young woman was shot and killed here while trying to break up a fight, and her ghost still lingers. People report temperature changes, light bulbs vanishing and just that unexplainable feeling of a ghost in the room.
- Old Louisville Inn, Louisville: Head to the attic if you want to feel or hear the spirits that supposedly live in this restaurant. People have claimed to hear strange voices and mysterious coughing. Other people have said they see a disembodied hand running the cash register and have felt a ghost in the room.
Sleep With a Ghost
The supposedly haunted Hotel Boulderado isn’t the only place where you can overnight with a spirit. Here are a few other hotels close to Boulder that guests have claimed are haunted. Some info comes according to HauntedRooms.com:
- The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park: The Stanley is one of Colorado’s most famous supposedl y haunted hotels, most notably for inspiring Stephen King to write “The Shining.” But this dramatic white hotel also has a list of other ghost activities. Haunted rooms (room 217 and 401) may cost extra, especially around Halloween, and you can take various ghost tours, including one that takes you into underground tunnels below the hotel. The ghosts here: Flora Stanley, who some claim plays the piano late at night. Other stories: The ghost of a man resides in the closet of room 401; a housekeeper’s spirit is stuck in room 217 (that’s where King stayed).
- The Baldpate Inn, Estes Park: The Stanley isn’t the only haunted hotel in Estes. This Inn has reports of the ghosts of the builders in the halls and in the Key Room. Some people say they have seen a ghost in the chair by the fireplace. Others report their cigarettes go missing or won’t light or their alcoholic drinks fly off the table.
- Gilpin Hotel Casino, Blackhawk: Before Blackhawk was a gambling town, it was a mining town. People say they see the ghost of a woman named Lucille on the second floor of the Gilpin Hotel. As the story goes, the woman killed herself on this floor after she learned her boyfriend had died in a mining accident.
- Hotel Colorado, Glenwood Springs: When you’re visiting the hot springs of Glenwood, stay in this hotel, built in 1893. You may see the ghost of a girl in Victorian clothes on the stairs, the spirit of the chambermaid (who was supposedly murdered) in the Devereux room and an elevator that works on its own.
- Hotel Jerome, Aspen: Stay in room 310 for a haunted room here. This room overlooks the pool, where Hotel Jerome’s resident ghost supposedly hangs out. The story is that a boy drowned in this pool and never left. Other people have said they see the ghost of a maid who died in the icy pond.
- The Brown Palace Hotel, Denver: The Brown Palace is more than a century old and, fittingly, has collected ghost stories over the years. Among the tales: a ghost in room 904 calls the front desk when no one is in the room and a fancy string quartet of ghosts play in the restaurant, Ellyngton’s. The stories here are extensive.
- Hotel Teatro, Denver: The historic Hotel Teatro in Denver used to be the Tramway Building. Over the years, people have claimed to hear voices and see the ghost of a former mechanic in the halls, toting tools. The best guess is that this is the ghost of a mechanic who used to work on railcars for the tram.
- The Oxford Hotel, Denver: Another beautiful historic hotel in Denver is the Oxford, built in 1891. Ghost stories here include a postal worker at the bar and a young woman in room 320. The story is that a woman was murdered by her husband when he caught her with another man in this room.
- Colorado Grande Casino, Cripple Creek: Another turn-of-the-century hotel, this one is home to an Irish ghost named Maggie who smells of roses. People have said they see her playing the slots, sometimes with a male ghost. Another reported ghost nearby here is a girl named Lily, who supposedly loves purple balloons.