We did a post earlier about the 13 most haunted cities in America and Denver was not included on that list, that’s because I wanted to give it its own post!
Having done a few ghost tours of Denver in my day, there are a few places that continually come up as some of the most haunted sites in Denver and if you’re looking to explore the city’s dark side, be sure to add these buildings or landmarks to your list!
Most haunted places in Denver
The story behind Cheesman Park sounds like it’s the synopsis of a 1980s horror film, which is somewhat true as the creepy tale of Cheesman Park inspired the nightmare-inducing Poltergeist. If my kid ever says, “They’re here,” like the little girl does, I’ll hope they get sucked into the TV.
Cheesman Park went by the name of Mount Prospect Cemetery back in the mid-1800s. As Denver grew and the area around the cemetery became a residential neighborhood, the bodies were moved to another part of town and the area turned into a park. Unfortunately, the person hired to do the job wasn’t the most upstanding of citizens and realized he could get paid more for less work. He began dismembering the bodies to fill more coffins as he was paid by the coffin.
When his shady business was discovered, he was let go but there was no estimation of how many bodies were left in the park. Even now, when Denver’s hit with torrential rain, sometimes bones or other remains resurface at the park.
As for ghostly experiences, people have seen forlorn ghosts or people walking through the park late at night, others have heard whispering or moaning, or just felt a general overwhelming sadness while going through the park.
Whether it’s a sinister entity within the house or the bad luck left over from the original owner, William Riddick Whitehead, who was a surgeon who was known for having many of his patients pass away while on the operating table or soon after they were discharged, this Denver mansion is known to be haunted. This is also a supposed site where a woman hung herself on her wedding day. Back in the ‘50s, the mansion was turned into a restaurant but staff soon began reporting of cutlery moving on its own or glasses shattering.
The fancy and upscale Brown Palace isn’t just a historical landmark in Denver, it’s also a haunted hotel! During the month of October, you can take a ghost tour of the Brown Palace and learn about its history and hauntings. The hotel is stunning and it’s easy to see why some didn’t want to check out.
Some of the ghostly stories I’ve heard of the Brown Palace include the ghost of a waiter riding the elevator, a baby crying in the basement, a train conductor walking through walls, a string quartet getting ready to play in Ellyngton’s even though live music wasn’t a part of the lineup (apparently they told the person who found them that it’s OK as they live there), and the spirited Mrs. Louise Crawford Hill, who lived in room 904 for more than 10 years. Over the years, staff has gotten calls from the room with no one on the line or sometimes even when there was no phone in the room and it seems she was not pleased with some of the renovations to her room and undid all the construction and took down the furnishings.
Fun fact: The hotel has an underground tunnel that connected to a brothel across the street, so the gentlemen visiting their lady of the night weren’t spotted out in public. It even had a track and rail cart in case he got too drunk and couldn’t walk back to the hotel. Now the tunnels are used for moving items to storage or for housekeeping.
While Union Station is a hip place to hang out today, it’s definitely been a fun place for spirits to hang out in for many, many years. Built in 1914, this 100-year-old train station is a Denver icon and is often one of the first major landmarks visitors see in the city. The Union Station that’s standing today isn’t the original, and knowing the previous versions were burned down, helps shed some light on why the site is haunted.
Some say they’ve seen the ghost of a lost little girl in the basement and others have reported sightings of ghosts waiting on the platform or a military officer walking through the hall. Even if you don’t encounter a ghostly spirit, you’ll definitely find some delicious spirits at Terminal Bar!
Denver Firefighters Museum
The museum isn’t just home to a great collection of artifacts and firehouse items, it’s also home to a very disturbed spirit. Built in 1909 and acting as a fire station for 60 years, the place is hopping with activity, even today.
Ghost hunters have identified two spirits in the museum, one that’s just a bit mischievous and one that’s a little more malevolent. Tom and Caleb are their names, with Tom being benevolent and sometimes known to move papers, mess with the printers, or even ringing bells. Caleb is the darker of the two and there’s even “Caleb’s closet,” where workers avoid as they’ve felt like they’re being watched or the air feels colder and heavier.
The Denver Botanic Gardens
The beautiful botanic gardens is a treat for the eyes but was once the site of a cemetery until 1950. Like Cheesman Park, seems whoever was responsible for moving the bodies wasn’t the most thorough. In fact, they even have a forensic pathologist on call to date any bones that occasionally pop up to make sure they’re not new.
Most of the scary stories of ghostly encounters happen at the Botanic Garden’s Waring House Mansion – an office building not open to the public, except on the ghost tours in October. There’s something dark and dangerous haunting the house with many staff members sharing stories of freaky paranormal activity happening. One staff member was even so traumatized after being attacked that she quit and refused to step foot in that building again. She was able to keep her job and they just moved her office.
Blake Street Vault
This LoDo bar is haunted by Lydia or “the lady in red.” You can see a likeness of her in the window above the front door, rocking in her chair, but people have spotted her in the bar or heard her walking down the steps or across the saloon floor. She’s a pleasant entity and has a bit of sass. On our ghost tour of the vault, we were told that some paranormal investigators set up equipment, hoping to catch Lydia on film or tape. After hours of recording she hadn’t made an appearance. One of the investigators thanked her for her participation and upon listening to the recording, a female voice responded, “You’re welcome.”
Another creepy spot at this restaurant is the actual vault in the basement. A man attempted robbing the vault but got locked inside instead. The owner left him there for over a week and inside you can see scratches and nail marks in the vault’s walls.
The Lumber Baron Inn
In 1970, a grisly murder took place in the building when Marrianne Weaver and Cara Lee Knoche were found shot and strangled to death. Their murderer was never found and guests of the inn have reported hearing footsteps or voices throughout the property.
The Patterson Inn
Also known as the Croke-Patterson Mansion, this gigantic Capitol Hill mansion was built in 1891 and now runs as a B&B. Thomas Croke went to his new home only once and then declared he would never return as there was something evil in or about the house. Another Thomas, a Thomas Patterson, bought the mansion a few years later. Patterson and his wife, Kate, are said to make appearances, and some have even spotted a child playing on the stairs.
We had the chance to visit the mansion when it was open to the public, otherwise you’ll need to rent a room to access the haunted building, and took a quick trip down to the wine cellar – a site in the house noted by ghost hunters as haunted. It was definitely creepy and you get that feeling that someone’s right behind you.
Some of the reports of paranormal activity include construction crew’s equipment being moved during the night or all their work being undone. One renovator in the ‘70s got so annoyed that he brought two guards to the property, but whatever was in the building scared the dogs so much that they jumped out of a third story window to escape… or were they thrown?
Denver Children’s Home
There’s something extra creepy when it comes to little kid ghosts, probably why horror films love using them. Sadly, the Denver Children’s Home was once a home for Denver’s orphans in the late 1800s and a fire broke out and tragically killed many of the children living there. Today’s visitors report hearing children playing and crying in the home. An older ghost also occupies the building, a bride who’s sighted walking down the stairs and across the hallway on the second floor.
The Buckhorn Exchange
Whether or not you go ghost hunting in Denver or not, you need to pay a visit to the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant. It doesn’t look like a restaurant from the outside, which makes sense as it was built as a trading post in the early 1890s and it seems some of its old visitors like to make return visits from time to time. Keep a lookout for miners, traders, and cowboys as you dine at this iconic steakhouse, or pay attention to your table as they’re known to move on their own, or keep your ears open for voices and the sounds of footsteps.
If you don’t spot any ghosts, you’ll probably still have a creepy feeling that someone’s watching you with all the taxidermied animals decorating walls.
Built in 1891, this popular hotel is both historic and haunted. One of the most active hauntings is by a woman who was murdered by her husband and she makes appearances in her room and sometimes shows up in photographs. Another hot spot for paranormal activity is in the Cruise Room bar where sightings of a postal worker are common. He sits at the bar, drinks his beer, and then the bartender finds the beer is still full. It’s reported that he was working around Christmas and never showed up to make his deliveries.
The Molly Brown House
The Unsinkable Molly Brown won’t even let death stop her from enjoying the home she shared with her husband JJ. The home has gone through several lives of its own as the Brown’s residence, a home for wayward girls, and even as an apartment complex. People have reported sightings of Molly herself as well as seeing light bulbs unscrew themselves, blinds opening and closing on their own, as well as doors opening and closing throughout the house.
Colorado State Capitol Building
Politics and phantoms come together at the Colorado State Capitol Building. The most frequent report is the disembodied heads floating in the tunnel under the capitol. Legend has it that the heads of the bad band of brothers, Jose and Felipe Espinosa, were sent to the capitol and stored in the tunnels. Workers have reported hearing horses running across the marble floor – supposedly the Espinosa brothers on horseback, looking for their heads. There are also the spirits of jilted mistresses of Senators and legislators who make appearances in the capitol building and mess with the electrical of the building.
The tunnel system leading to the capitol also has a few ghostly stories of its own. You can still see remnants of the tunnels today, most are blocked off but you can find entrances in the basements of bars, restaurants, and some were even opened up and turned into lower level shops in LoDo. On Market St., a madam was killed when she didn’t use the peephole to see who was on the other side of her door. She was a smoker and loved feather boas and today people claim to smell smoke and find feathers near her former post.
Recommendations for Denver ghost tours
Below are some of the tour operators I’ve done ghost tours of Denver with and can highly recommend:
Know of other haunted places in Denver? Share them with us in the comments below or on Twitter!