Dude Rancher Lodge

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A couple who loved their beloved business are spending their afterlife here.

Personal experiences are common with the spirits.

Residual energy or spirits are attached to building materials.

One or two former spectral employees still find ways to be useful.



The 1950s, Modern Movement style, two story Dude Rancher Lodge and Restaurant are built of bricks and wood, with knotty-pine interiors, found throughout the inside of the hotel, giving it a very western feeling. The outside also has wood planks along the top half of the structure, with the bricks laid in the weeping mortar style on the lower part. Built around a rectangular central courtyard, with a low pitched roof, The Dude Rancher Lodge has an irresistible western appeal to many.


I found some happy comments about the Dude Rancher Lodge, made by pleased customers, on Trip Advisor. “It has a very western/cowboy feel, with a pleasant sitting area in the lobby. The decor was like stepping into the past…like a dude ranch lodge in downtown! The location was great because we could explore downtown on foot, eat dinner & have drinks & walk back to the lodge. No vehicle needed!”

Dude Rancher Lodge offers fifty-six comfortable guest rooms that are decorated with authentic western furnishings. Featuring “branded carpet” and knotty-pine paneling, guests will enjoy rooms with a king, queen, or two full-size beds and a fine list of standard amenities. Plus, children stay free!

There are twelve newly remodeled rooms, and more will be added in time, if the guest prefers a more modern feel to their accommodations.



The Dude Rancher Lodge was the first big, modern hotel with a rustic “old west”, theme built in Billings, Montana. The Dude Rancher Lodge was the dream hotel of Annabel and Percival Goan, built with the financial help from area ranchers and businessmen.

Bricks from the old buildings that were demolished were used again to build this much wanted hotel. Saint Vincent Hospital, the Russell Refinery and Washington School all contributed some bricks for the construction of this interesting hotel. Percy and Annabel worked along with Architect firm of Cushing and Terrell to create a beautiful, functional two story building with a basement. The wings of the hotel create a square courtyard, where parking is available.

In 1962, Annabel and Percival were in a car wreck. While Percival passed over to the other side, Annabel survived, and continued on running The Dude Rancher Lodge, with the help of her dedicated staff, who appreciated Annabel’s warm appreciation for them, treating them like her family.

In Annabel’s last few years of life, she was cared for by her devoted staff. In 1983, she was moved into a nursing home, where she too passed over shortly afterward.

Annabel’s grandson ran the Dude Rancher Lodge for awhile. Since 1991, Virginia Karlson has owned the Dude Rancher Lodge, and doesn’t believe in spirits, though some entities are apparently keeping her, her staff, and her guests company!



When people invest their blood, sweat and tears into their beloved business, they sometimes like to continue on in their after life, enjoying their building, and trying to support the continuing efforts in commerce taking place in the structure. They often try to keep an eye on things.

The former owners of the Dude Rancher Lodge may still be there.

Sometimes spirits or residual energy can attach to the materials of the structure, and move when the structure is moved, or attach to the materials when they are used to build something else.

Either children entities or their energy came along with the bricks from Washington School that were used to build part of the hotel.

Sometimes employees of a business connect so strongly to their job, that they don’t let death get in the way of continuing on in their own way in spirit form.

A former cook, thought to be “Bob”, who lived in room 222, likes to come into the kitchen and make himself a snack.

An entity presence seems to “work” in the basement area.



There is activity all over the hotel, but the most haunted rooms are 223, 224, and 226. They are often reserved one year in advance.

The Male Entity of the long-time Cook; Bob

Is thought to be the spirit that clatters pots and pans in the hotel kitchen at night.

When alive, Bob used to come and make himself of snack before going to bed. There is no rational explanation for the paranormal activity that has been felt and heard by staff, investigators and guests, around midnight.

Bob was friends with the current handyman. In one instance, the handyman was looking for a fuse, when he came back, one was sitting on his bench that wasn’t there before.

Unseen Little Children – Either in Spirit or Residual form.

The unmistakable sound of children running up and down the 2nd floor hallway have been heard by guests and staff, when no living children are guests of the Lodge.

A guest heard the commotion, and opened her door, of course not seeing anything alive, but she heard a disembodied voice, coming from the hallway, of an older woman, saying “shhhh!”

The Entity of Annabel

Her favorite room that she likes to visit is room 226, where her grandson stayed when he was in charge of the lodge. Paranormal activity began soon after her passing.

Housekeepers know her well. When the door to 226 won’t open with a key, they ask Annabel to please open the door, and the door suddenly can be opened.

Maids who are working in Room 226 hear knocks on the walls, etc.

The entity of Annabel has been seen, wearing a nightgown, and walking the 2nd floor, perhaps looking after her guests. She apparently enjoys looking out the window.

She may be the one who said “Shh! to the running entity children.

Maids working on the second floor rooms, have heard someone climbing the stairs and walking down the hallway, but no one living was seen.

Unknown male/female entity in the basement

A staff member was doing laundry in the basement, when he saw a shadow quickly move toward the folding and storage area.

A female voice responding to a question was caught on tape in the basement.


Most probably so. Personal experiences and some hard evidence captured suggests that some benign entities are still in the Dude Rancher Lodge, who love their former business, home and place of work.

Many people have had personal experiences with the spirits who stay here.

Around Halloween every year, Rene Christenson of Montana Fun Adventure Tours and author/investigator Karen Stevens lead tours of the haunted buildings of Billings, starting with Dude Rancher Lodge. While waiting for the bus to arrive with participants, Renee and Karen went to the basement, with a recorder, and asked if any spirits wished to communicate. Karen said in her book, MORE HAUNTED MONTANA, that she just asked out loud, wondering if the bus had arrived yet. Karen went back up to the main floor and the bus had arrived. Reviewing her tape, Karen heard a female voice, saying in answer to her question, “It’s out back now.”

In 2007, a photo taken by a Montana Paranormal Research Society investigator in room 226, caught an image of a woman’s face in a reflection of the window.

Montana Paranormal Research Society held an investigation in 2009.

Kitchen: Around 12 o’clock midnight, Shuffling of feet were heard in the kitchen, a loud sigh was caught in a recording, and something gently touched an investigator’s hand.

Utility tunnels under the building – investigators heard children’s voices really close to them, and they got readings on their EMF meters and the temperature went down as well.




415 North 29th Street
Billings, MT 59101

Toll Free: (800) 221-3302
Local: (406) 259-5561

The Dude Rancher Lodge can be found on North 29th Street, running north-south, between 4th and 6th Streets (cross streets), running east-west.

Travel west on Montana Avenue, and turn right on North 29th Street.



  • More Haunted Montana
    by Karen Stevens
    pg. 47-53
  • “Angela’s Adventures: Haunted Billings Tour” on YouTube
  • Montana page on National Registry of Historic Places
  • Review of Dude Rancher Lodge on Trip Advisor.com

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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