Haunted getaways: Three Halloween events worth pursuing outside Eagle County | VailDaily.com

Haunted getaways: Three Halloween events worth pursuing outside Eagle County

Melanie Wong
Special to the Daily

Your own backyard is always a good place to haunt, but have you ever wondered what kind of ghoulish characters terrorize the populace outside of Eagle County?

While the Vail Valley has its share of Halloween bashes to enjoy, venture a bit further from home to discover events that are certainly worth a weekend trip. Colorado has wholly embraced Halloween, and some events have pulled out all the stops to draw folks from around the state. Here are a few of our top picks for spooky events around the state.

For the ultimate costume party …

• Twin Terrors at the Stanley Hotel Halloween is a big deal at what is known as "one of the most haunted hotels in the world." Nestled among spectacular mountain views in Estes Park, the historic Stanley Hotel was Stephen King's inspiration for the novel "The Shining."

"Stephen King spent the night here in room 217, and that's when he had the dream — or nightmare — that led to the creation of the story for 'The Shining,'" said the Stanley's Frederic Lahey. "It's certainly a big draw, and we've crafted two weeks of hugely popular events around it."

Dubbed the Twin Terror Weekends, festivities at the Stanley begin on Friday with the Redrum Murder Mystery Dinner. Visitors are served a four-course meal prepared by executive chef Robert Corey in the dramatic McGregor Ballroom. Throughout the evening, mysterious events will unfold, and diners may find their charming dinner companions turn out to be suspicious characters instead.

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On Saturday, the ninth annual Shining Ball promises to be an affair to remember. Revelers will be served drinks and apps to complement a concert by Southern rock and blues masters the North Mississippi Allstars. Visitors are typically decked out in their most elaborate costumes, as is the hotel itself. Organizers call the hotel's trappings for the events "sets," rather than decorations, so expect the hotel to be transformed from historic to gloriously haunted.

The following weekend brings iHeart Media's Boo Bash, a night of DJs, dancing and costumes on Friday, Oct. 28. Events wrap up on Saturday, Oct. 29, with Act 3 of the Stanley's Shining-themed soirees, the sold-out Masquerade Party. Visitors can round out the weekend by spending the day at nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.

"October is one of the most astounding times in Estes Park," Lahey said. "The clouds are kissing the snow-covered peaks, the elk are in full rut, the colors are great and the air is crisp and clear. It's an extraordinarily beautiful and colorful time"

For more information and tickets, go to http://www.stanleyhotel.com/halloweenatthestanley.

For the undead …

• Denver's annual Zombie Crawl At Colorado's premiere zombie event, participants can dress up, gore out and pretty much live out their "Walking Dead" fantasies during this day of undead activities in downtown Denver.

The 11th annual Denver Zombie Crawl begins on Saturday at Skyline Park with Organ Trail, a team adventure race that is, of course, zombie themed. Organizer Chris Stafford calls it "part 'Amazing Race,' part 'Fear Factor' and part haunted house."

The heart — or brains — of the action kicks off at noon, when makeup artists will help folks get zombie-fied, and participants can enjoy music, food, contests, a zombie-version performance of "Thriller" and hobnobbing with other zombies. At 4 p.m., all of the undead will parade down 16th Street and crawl back to the park, turning downtown Denver into an end-of-days apocalypse zone for the afternoon.

After the crawl, festivities continue at Jackson's sports bar, where DJs will crank out tunes for stiff-armed dancers at the Zombie Prom- and Stay Alive-themed parties. Admission to the festival is free. Tickets start at $45 for the Organ Trail and $10 for the after party at Jackson's.

The Zombie Crawl began as an event for founder Danny Newman's birthday party and has morphed into an annual event that grows each year. Now, people come from all over Colorado and surrounding states to participate. This is a family-friendly event, so little zombies are welcome, too.

Stafford said he's constantly impressed at the creative costumes and the enthusiasm for zombie culture.

"It's all part of the celebration of the season, but it's also an escape of normal life and becoming something different. Maybe it's a statement of society that we've decided we'd like to be brainless creatures as an escape," he said, laughing.

"It's a reason to get dressed up and be something other than you are. Plus, it's fun and social. You come to some events to watch performers, but here, the participants are the performers."

Find out more at denverzombie crawl.com.

For the ghost hunter …

• Cemetery horseback rides in Central City — October is graveyard tour season, and nothing makes the experience more unique than doing it on horseback in some of the most fabled and historic cemeteries in the state.

A&A Historical Trails Stables, located outside Central City, has been in the horseback touring business for 31 years. The graveyard tours operate year-round, said owner Ginger DeRay, but are particularly popular at this time of year. This is a great activity for the entire family, and DeRay customizes the trips to suit comfort and age level. Adult groups can even set up an evening ride for a spooky atmosphere.

That said, DeRay's rides emphasize history over haunting. The area is home to six graveyards dating back to the late 1800s, when the mining area was the richest square mile in Colorado. Central City swelled from a population of 200 to 10,000 in a matter of a couple of months in 1880, said DeRay.

In that crush of people came a number of notorious characters and Wild West types, as well as cholera, dysentery, pneumonia and tragic accidents.

"The tombstones are all really unique and tell the story of the people who live here," said DeRay, adding that the rides also boast amazing scenery. "Riders go over a beautiful ridge, and along the way, you'll see four 14ers, St. Mary's Glacier and the Continental Divide."

Spend the night in nearby Central City or Black Hawk, where you can hit the casinos and buffets, or continue your spooky weekend with Central City's Creepy Crawl. On Friday and Saturday, guides from the Gilpin Historical Society will lead attendees through some of the area's historical buildings. You'll see live, creepy reenactments of murders and ghost stories from Central City lore.

For more information on horseback tours, see http://www.aastables.com. For Creepy Crawl tickets and information, go to http://www.gilpinhistory.org/creepy-crawl.