The Stanley Hotel began operations in 1909. The resort complex was built by F.O. Stanley who gained fame and fortune as the inventor and manufacturer of the Stanley Steamer automobile. The hotel served tourists visiting the Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park area.
Until 1926, many guests arrived via specially designed Stanley Steamer touring cars. The resort consists of a group of Classical Revival buildings set against the rugged backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. The district also includes the Stanley Power Plant, located 3.5 miles northwest of the hotel. Stanley built the plant in 1907 to provide electric power to his hotel, allowing him to claim that it was the first in the nation to "heat, light and cook meals exclusively with electricity."