Cover Story

COVER: Haunted historic high country towns attract paranormal investigations

Mike Kaminski, founder and lead investigator of Idaho Springs Ghost Hunters/Colorado Paranormal Society conducts an investigation in Glenwood Springs

By Jeffrey V. Smith
Ghost hunting is hot. Popular television shows, the Internet and the increasing availability of sensitive high-tech equipment, have made the belief in and investigation of the paranormal more mainstream. Despite a lack of acceptance in academic circles, believing in ghosts is not as taboo as it once was.

A study conducted by CBS News shows 48 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, while a poll released by the Pew Research Center shows 18 percent of Americans say they’ve seen a ghost, and 29 percent say they have been in touch with the dead. With all the spiritual activity found in the mountain towns between Georgetown and Estes Park, however, it’s difficult to find anyone who doesn’t have their own personal spine-chilling tale.

While more and more professionals and amateurs take up the pursuit of ghost hunting each year, the state’s hot spots for spirits seem to remain the same. Many of the more well-known haunted places lie in the Front Range mountain towns between Georgetown and Estes Park. Most of this region’s historic towns have a least one established ghost story, many have more. It’s also likely additional ghostly experiences remain personal secrets or were dismissed by skeptics. This has not only attracted paranormal teams from around Colorado and the country to conduct investigations, it’s also helped spawn a few local groups.

Long before ghost hunting was popular, people have been experiencing paranormal activity in the haunted locations of Idaho Springs, Central City, Ward and Estes Park, among others. Many long-time residents don’t need an investigation to know they are living with ghosts, but thanks to the many teams that have been drawn to these haunted places, several stories have been supported and new ones created.

Idaho Springs Ghost Hunters/Co.P.S Colorado Paranormal Society
One local group, formed in 2009, was drawn into the field by their own experiences and their appreciation for ghost hunter television shows. The Idaho Springs Ghost Hunters/Co.P.S Colorado Paranormal Society was founded by Mike Kaminski and his mother Teresa Kaminski. The two have a team of family members and friends that assist anyone having issues with spirits and conduct investigations at known haunted locations.

“I’ve grown up always having paranormal activity in my life,” Mike said. “My aunt started talking to me about it when I was really young, and later, so did my mom.” Teresa grew up in an old Victorian house in Idaho Springs built in 1800s. “It was a very active house,” she said. “I still have nightmares about that house to this day. Some of it was pretty bizarre. My mother refuses to acknowledge any of it, but I remember everything.”

The two had been watching several of the paranormal television shows, and in October 2009 made the decision to start their own team. They contacted a few teams in Colorado Spring that helped them get started. “And, we’ve ben doing it ever since,” Mike said.

When people have experiences like seeing things move on their own, noticing shadow figures, seeing something out of the corner of the eye, hearing noises, smelling faint smells or anything they can not explain, they call the group.

“We set up an initial interview, go in and talk to the client. They show us the hot spots of what’s going on. Then we get our team together, grab our equipment, set up our infrared cameras on the spots of activity and run it all through our DVR system,” Mike said. “Then we send groups of two or three people in to different areas. We do about 6-8 hours of investigating and when we’re done, we go back a look at the evidence.”

The investigators search their audio and video recordings for electronic voice phenomenon (EVPs), which are voices that can only be heard on recordings, full body apparitions, electromagnetic fields, which, according to Mike and others, ghosts and spirits give out. While they always hope to find evidence, the group actually goes in trying to find logical explanations for what’s going on. “If we see that it’s something we can explain, we give them ideas on how to take care of the logical problem,” Mike said. “We then help them with the spiritual problem, if they want it. If they want the spirit to go, we cleanse the house and try to get it out of there. If they want it to stay, we leave it alone.”

Like most all paranormal investigators, the non-profit group’s services are free. Their motivation for doing the work is to help people, bring light to the paranormal, teach people and show that not everything has a paranormal explanation. They have, however, come across numerous unexplainable phenomenon including spirits in photographs, clear voices on tape and all sorts of psychic activity.
In addition to several adult team members, they also have a junior investigation team complete with scholastic requirements. They do their own set-up and research. “They will be surpassing us at this when they are our age,” Teresa said. Teens between the ages of 13-17 are welcome to join the group.

For ghost hunting and investigations of all paranormal, call Mike at 303-435-2226 at any time or e-mail idahosprings Visit their website at and look for them on Facebook to learn more.

LeeAnna Jonas of Spirit Realm Investigative Project has gotten to know the spirits of Central City well.

Spirit Realm Investigative Project
LeeAnna Jonas, lead investigator at the professional, all girl, paranormal team Spirit Realm Investigative Project, has experienced an abundance of paranormal activity in Central City. She explains the town is “chock full” of the spirits of women and children who’ve died, mostly from scarlet fever. Most of the men, according to Jonas, are miners, gamblers or murders.

“Every building has a story and every building has something there. Most spirits I have come in contact with are happy here and not menacing at all,” she said.

Jonas has found the Historical Museum and the former Doc Holiday Casino have the most activity, with the red Russell buildings at the North end of Main Street on Lawrence Street to be very active as well.

There has also been evidence of spirits in the Gilpin County Courthouse, built 1900. Long-time resident and county worker at the courthouse, Josey Wales, stared in a episode of My Ghost Story, sharing his experience using Jonas and her company to communicate with the spirit. To see the team’s evidence, visit To learn more, e-mail or find them on Facebook.

Stanley Hotel Investigative Team
The Stanley Hotel is so haunted, and investigated, it has it’s own official resident paranormal investigators made up of Lisa Nyhart, Karl Pfeiffer and Connor Randall. The team leads public weekend ghost hunts, lectures at paranormal conferences and events, and considers guest evidence.

If you’re interested in attending one of their ghost hunts, visit the Stanley Hotel’s website at to schedule one. You can also find the team on twitter @StanleyParaTeam.

Altitude Paranormal Group
Altitude Paranormal Group’s founder, Grayson W. McGraw, has been researching the paranormal for over two decades. His group has investigated over 200 of the country’s most active locations including the Elkhorn Lodge in Estes Park, Red Ram/Rathskeller in Georgetown, Gold Hill Inn, Nevadaville General Store, The Pioneer Inn in Nederland and a newspaper print shop in Central City. Altitude Paranormal regularly does investigations in Nevadaville and is holding a Ghost Hunt and Dinner at the Stage Stop in Rollinsville, Oct. 2.

“Through research into ghosts, haunted places and unexplained phenomenon we seek to find answers to the many questions surrounding the paranormal realm. Allow us to find answers for you and give you the peace of mind you are seeking,” McGraw said.

Contact McGraw at 720-237-1807 or e-mail They are also on Facebook.

Many more Colorado-based groups have visited this region and conducted numerous investigations. While there is nothing conclusive when it comes to the spirit world, countless people will attest that something is going on just outside our realm of perception in many of these purportedly haunted places. Keep an eye out for ghost hunts and tours in the Peak to Peak and Clear Creek Valley regions all year long.

If you think you are having issues with ghosts in your home, always use your best judgment when it comes to people who claim to speak to the dead and see ghosts and never pay for these types of services. Whether you believe or not, ghost hunts in the high country can be good fun as well as educational.

Idaho Springs Ghost Hunters/Colorado Paranormal Society

Spirit Realm Investigative Project

Stanley Hotel Investigative Team
@ StanleyParaTeam •

Altitude Paranormal Group

Read about the Paranormal Convention that was held in Central City in September here: Convene with psychics, spirits at paranormal convention

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