The Pet Cemetery at the Stanley

Paul Conradt
Paul Conradt / Paul Conradt

Every time we so much as touch a toe out of state, I’ve put cemeteries on our travel itinerary. From garden-like expanses to overgrown boot hills, whether they’re the final resting places of the well-known but not that important or the important but not that well-known, I love them all. After realizing that there are a lot of taphophiles out there, I’m finally putting my archive of interesting tombstones to good use.

Welcome to the Stanley Hotel, a picturesque 105-year-old hotel nestled in amongst the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Stephen King stayed here once, finding lodging in room 217 the night before the hotel closed for the winter. He later turned his experience into one of the best-selling (and most disturbing) horror stories of all time.

With ghost tours, a resident psychic, and Halloween celebrations to die for, the majestic hotel is more than happy to play up its creepy connection to The Shining novel and movie. (The Kubrick version plays on one of the hotel’s TV channels 24/7.)

Stacy Conradt

As if the Stanley didn’t deliver enough goosebumps all on its own, you can imagine that it’s slightly jarring to stumble across a cemetery while strolling around the hotel grounds. A pet cemetery, no less—as if everything on the grounds was constructed from the depths of Stephen King’s mind. All that’s missing is a murderous car and a kid with telekinesis.

Stacy Conradt

Located in a discreet spot off to the side of the hotel, it’s believed that the pets belonged to the families of managers and other staff who stayed in a building located just next to the hotel. A handful of tiny tombs pay tribute to animals named Cassy, Holmes, Elsie, and Stanley Blue I, II, and III, among others.

Since our visit in 2012, the little cemetery has been moved to make way for a wedding pavilion, something that the media gleefully latched on to, even going so far as to recruit a pet psychic to give her opinion on the matter. “[The animals] will pull the owners to them if the owners passed over and are unhappy,” Rosemary McArthur said.

Ghost pets and owners or not, the Stanley provides plenty of spooky.

See all entries in our Grave Sightings series here.