Jack Nicholson with bartender Joe Turkel in lobby card for the film 'The Shining', 1980
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Where Was 'The Shining' Filmed? The Real Hotel Behind the Overlook

Not one, but two hotels have ties to Stephen King's classic horror film.

If you're a horror movie enthusiast, you might recognize the exterior of Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon, from scenes in The Shining, a film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name, which was released in 1980. However, the stunning, snow-covered lodge had its feature film debut long before The Shining and has been depicted in several movies, including All the Young Men, Lost Horizon, and Hear No Evil.

Even prior to being on the big screen, the lodge has enjoyed a long and interesting history dating back to the 1930s. Plans to build the hotel go back to the Great Depression and were even initially funded by a program created by the government to help people and businesses navigate the economic challenges of the time.

Once funding was set, construction began in 1936 with plans by Gilbert Stanley Underwood who is also known for designing National Park Service Lodges such as Bryce Canyon Lodge and Yosemite's Ahwahnee Lodge. The design is especially notable because of its unique roofline with that mimics the dramatic peak of Mt. Hood. It's also known for its art collection and features many works from accomplished Oregon artists within its interior.

The charming ski getaway was built on the south slope of Mt. Hood - which is about 50 miles away from Portland. It was constructed 6,000 feet above sea level and sprawls a massive 55,000 square feet. When construction was completed in September of 1937, it earned a visit from President Franklin Dr. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, with the president calling the hotel a "monument to the skill and faithful performance of workers."

In February of 1938, it officially opened and was one of the first ski lodges in the United States. Shortly after, the Magic Mile Chairlift - the second-ever chairlift in the United States - opened, making Timberline Lodge a destination for skiers, which it continues to be known for to this day.

After the worldwide tumult of World War II, the hotel closed and reopened twice before regaining its status as a bustling tourist destination. Its popularity continued to increase, and it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

The Timberline Becomes The Overlook

Looking from the side of Timberline Lodge toward the center of building. The entrance area and window to the restaurant are visible. The Lodge is a National Historic Landmark. This is on Mt Hood located in Northwest Oregon.

A few short years later, the hotel's exterior was depicted as the fictional Overlook Hotel in The Shining. While not all of the movie's scenes were shot here, the exterior was, and other scenes that look like the hotel were shot at Elstree Studios in England to look like Timberline Lodge.

Eagle-eyed fans of The Shining might notice one discrepancy between the book and the movie, which can be attributed to a request by Timberline Lodge's team. In the novel, the featured room was 217, however, the hotel asked that the movie producers not use that number so that hotel guests wouldn't be frightened to stay in the room, and instead, the room featured in the movie is the nonexistent room 237. Despite the chilling scenes in The Shining, brave hotel guests who are fans of the Stephen King novel often request room 217.

While the hotel isn't actually haunted - making ghost hunting out of the question - there are a variety of other activities at the hotel, including skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and biking.

The hotel is best known for its skiing and snowboarding and has 41 ski trails as well as a total of 10 ski lifts, gondolas, and trams to navigate the trails. It also boasts the highest vertical ski run in the Pacific Northwest.

The weather proves to be great for snow sports, with almost 33 feet of snow falling each year! It also offers the longest ski season in North America, with skiing sometimes possible even through August!

Other winter activities include rides in a snowcat on Mt. Hood, snow tubing and snowshoeing. In the warmer months, guests can hike Timberline's trails or cruise through the family-friendly bike park.

The cozy, 70-room lodge is also home to several restaurants, including the Cascade Dining Room and Ram's Head Bar & Restaurant, as well as the Wy'East Café and the Blue Ox Bar, so there's no shortage of places to rest and recharge after a long day of activities.

Another fun fact about the hotel is its long tradition of having resident St. Bernards greet and mingle with the guests, which began back in 1937. Today, when guests stay at the lodge, they're likely to run into the hotel's current furry residents, Heidi and Bruno, who are cared for by long-term employees. Plush toys of Heidi and Bruno are even available in the lodge gift shops!

For more information on Timberline Lodge, visit www.timberlinelodge.com.

What Hotel Inspired the Novel?

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While Timberline Lodge may have brought The Overlook to life on screen, another hotel actually inspired the story. The Stanley Hotel has become one of the most well-known in the United States due to its ties to Stephen King's creepy novel. As the story goes, King and his wife needed a weekend away from the kids and showed up at the Stanley in Estes Park, Colorado, on the day it was set to close for the winter season. The staff agreed to let them stay for the weekend if they paid cash, so they were literally the only two guests in the entire hotel (sound familiar?). They checked into room 217, the Presidential Suite. 

That night, King had a nightmare that his son was being chased throughout the hotel by an evil spirit inside the hotel's walls. After abruptly waking up shaken, he went outside to smoke a cigarette. It was during that smoke that his mind laid the groundwork for his first best-selling novel, The Shining. The 1977 novel and 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson really helped boost tourism at the historic hotel. In fact, they even have the film playing nonstop on one of their TV channels. 

But the hotel had a reputation for the paranormal before King and his wife came to visit. It was founded in 1909 by an inventor, F.O. Stanley. After he passed away in 1940, guests reported seeing Stanley's ghost at the front desk during check-in or hearing the musical talents of his deceased wife, Flora Stanley, coming from an empty room. Unlike other haunted buildings, there were no horrific crimes that took place at the Stanley. But nonetheless, the flickering lights, moving objects, shadows and unidentified laughter have made the hotel a hot spot for paranormal investigators. Guests can even choose the "ghost adventurer" package to stay on the infamous 4th floor. They will receive a mug that says "Redrum" (murder spelled backward for The Shining fans), an electromagnetic field reader, and other tools you'll need for your ghost-hunting adventure. 

The most requested room by far is 217, the room that inspired Stephen King that fateful night. Apparently, when Jim Carrey was onsite filming his 1994 comedy film Dumb and Dumber, he stayed in 217. Something spooked him so bad he ran from the room in the middle of the night and refused to return.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Horror Novels Featuring Truly Chilling Ghost Stories