Even though Halloween is not celebrated in The Netherlands (if you come to someone’s doorstep trick-or-treating they will most likely punch you in the face!) I did get inspired to write a bit about a haunted experience we had during one of our journeys. Or at least were supposed to have…
Do you remember the movie that starts with a car driving up the most stunning mountain road and that just hearing the music with it already gives you the creeps? It has the best opening credit ever (well, together with Scream). If you have no clue which movie I’m talking about, then take a look here.
I’m talking about the movie “The Shining”. Inspired on a novel by Stephen King that I never finished (shame on me!) and starring in an abandoned hotel up in the mountains of Colorado. No matter how terrifying the movie was, after it was finished I just wanted one thing: to go to Colorado. A-S-A-P!
That would have to wait for another 1.5 years until we saved enough money and by then I had already read the Lonely Planet guidebook from front to back at least twice. We decided we’d go to Rocky Mountain National Park, where the hotel that inspired Stephen King for writing this book, is located. My guidebook already advised me not to linger around in Estes Park (the entrance town to RMNP) too long because of the crowds, but still, I had to visit the hotel. Somehow I expected it to be in the hills, with a view and being somewhat isolated. Well let me tell you, it was not! We were stopped at a barrier by a big guy wearing white gloves, asking why we were visiting. Seeing his facial expression, I suspect he smelled us and thought we were not entitled in, we just came from a 2 day trek and hadn’t showered in 4 days or so. Anyway, he told us that we would have to pay to get in (WTF?) but that in case I just wanted to take a picture, we could enter but without stepping out of the car. Needless to say that my dreams of visiting this well known hotel were smashed to the grounds for good. Bye bye haunted experience.
If you ever make it over to Rocky Mountain National Park, skip The Stanley Hotel and view the movie instead. Luckily we did enjoy our stay in the park a lot. Here are 5 things you shouldn’t miss when visiting:
1. Go on a backcountry hike
In our case, we walked the East Inlet Trail and camped at Lake Verna for the night. You can easily walk the trail without staying overnight but we figured it would be a great way to get away from all the crowds in Estes Park. Being in complete silence, surrounded by wildlife and wilderness is not something we get to experience a lot in Europe. Waking up and seeing the sun rise above the mountains was pure bliss for us. Do book your campsite ahead though as there is only one place at Lake Verna.
2. Drive the Trail Ridge Road
One of the best alpine drives ever! You may get altitude sickness because you make it up to an altitude of 3.713 m. above sealevel but you can easily descend again. Despite it being pretty busy on the road, we enjoyed it, A LOT! Saw plenty of wildlife such as elk and marmots.
3. Stay at Timber Creek campground
Because of the pine beetle there’s not a whole lot of timber left there, but the place is nice and they have quite some elk and moose hanging around. Plus their free ranger program at night was awesome. The ranger that did our talk (about what global warming means to RMNP) was super nice and even made sure we got an applause from our fellow listeners when he found out we came (all the way) from Holland. Very flattering!
4. Chapel on the Rocks
OK, this one is just outside the park (so you could call it cheating), but do visit Chapel on the Rocks. Simply stunning, nothing I have to add to that (except that we came in the afternoon so lighting was poor for taking pictures, so if you plan to visit and want to take decent photos, go during the morning).
5. Play Minigolf at Tiny Town in Estes Park
I know I told you earlier on to skip Estes Park but I wasn’t completely honest. We had tons of fun at the Minigolf. The owners were awesome! We had funny chats with them, especially after we told them we’re from Holland. Everybody in RMNP seems to love people from Holland! Well people from RMNP: we loved you too! You made us feel so welcome!
After doing some more research when coming home, I found out that The Shining was actually not filmed in Colorado at all. We should have gone to Montana. However, we still had a blast and can’t wait to go back one day. For now, the book and the movie will have to do. And will keep on dreaming about a trip to Montana…
Happy Halloween everyone!