One of Colorado’s most Unusual Roadside Attractions is Bishop Castle. Visiting Bishop Castle had been on Lisa’s list of places to see since we were in Colorado in 2019 but didn’t make it that far south. This time on our stay in Colorado Springs we made the journey south to see the castle.
- What is Bishop Castle?
- Our Thoughts on Visiting Bishop Castle
- How We Heard of Bishop Castle
- Questions about Bishop Castle
- Other Things to See and Do in the Area
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What is Bishop Castle?
Jim Bishop purchased 2½ acres of land where the castle is built for $450 when he was just 15 years old. What started out as a mountain cabin for him and his wife, slowly turned into a dream of building his own castle. He planned on building a cottage on the land, but when people started telling him his cottage looked like a castle he took the idea to heart and built a castle over the next 50+ years.
Every year since 1969, Bishop has single-handedly gathered and set over 1000 tons of rock to create this stone and iron fortress in the middle of nowhere. Bishop calls it “a monument to hardworking people” and “America’s biggest, one-man, physical project.” “I always wanted a castle. Every man wants a castle.”
Three full stories of interior rooms complete with a Grand Ballroom, soaring towers and bridges with vistas of a hundred miles, and a Fire-Breathing Dragon make Bishop Castle quite an unforgettable experience!
The rocks for the castle came from the National Forest surrounding his property and Bishop felt that they were his for the taking. The federal government saw it differently and for nearly 40 years as he worked on the castle, he was engaged in a battle over the rocks that he used. The government wanted to charge him per truckload, which he refused. That dispute has since been settled.
In 1996, he was challenged by the local and state government over unsanctioned road signs that pointed to the site. They settled the dispute by issuing official road signs.
Our Thoughts on Visiting Bishop Castle
Bishop Castle is truly a unique stone structure! While parts of the castle are beautifully designed with stained glass and some amazing metalwork, other parts are scary, to say the least.
If you decide to visit, be fair warned, it is not for the faint of heart. It is an active construction zone with lots and lots of possible hazards. Having worked on wind turbines, I’m very comfortable working at heights and around construction but wandering around Bishop Castle had me on edge. Walking on the catwalks gave me an eerie feeling. Everywhere I stepped I had a feeling of an accident waiting to happen.
The stairs and turrets do not have rails or if they do they are not the proper height which throws off your sense of balance. Floorboards have holes or missing boards so keep your eyes open and if you climb to the top, use caution. Needless to say, this place is not even close to being up to code! Wear good shoes and keep a hand on the kids. While the hazards are there, it is still an interesting place that we feel you should check out. Just be careful!
Located in the mountains of the San Isabel National Forest about an hour and a half South of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The easiest way to get to Bishop Castle is from I-25. Take exit #74 at Colorado City and head towards the mountains. (right off the exit ramp from the north and left off the exit ramp from the south) This puts you on Colorado state highway 165 and it’s 24 miles without a turn to the Castle. You will see signs for the castle as you come upon it, and there are usually many cars out front.
12705 CO-165, Rye, CO 81069
Parking is along the side of the road.
How We Heard of Bishop Castle
During our travels, Lisa always uses Roadside America to find unique locations near wherever we’re staying. This iPhone app or website that I call the “Let’s go see the big ball of string” app is actually a great tool for finding neat, out-of-the-way, and interesting places. While the app has countless muffler men, personal “art” trash heaps, and, rundown attractions, there are things we never would have found without the app. Some of the cool things she found using the app was a restaurant in an old Air Force tanker aircraft, giant president heads, Green Giant, Bishop Castle, and many more.
Lisa saw Bishop Castle on the app and had me put it on our list of places to visit when back in Colorado.
Questions about Bishop Castle
How much does it cost to go to Bishop Castle?
Nothing. It is free to go to Bishop Castle although they do accept donations. It’s open daily to the public. Castle Keepsakes, the Gift Shop at Bishop Castle, is a main source of funding for the continued construction of the Castle and offers a wide range of unique and informative collector’s items.
Can you get married at Bishop Castle?
Yes, you can get married at Bishop Castle. There is a chapel on the middle level of the castle that makes a perfect location for a wedding. Although they don’t allow receptions or private parties.
Is Bishop Castle still being built?
Yes, for the past 50+ years, Jim Bishop has been building his castle and at nearly 80 years old he still works on it.
Is Bishop Castle dog friendly?
While most of Colorado is very dog-friendly, Bishop Castle is NOT! They do however welcome dogs. In our opinion, though it’s not a safe place to bring your dogs. Some of the upper floors are wood with holes a paw could get caught in and the steps going up are just wide enough for one person. Not a good place for our 4 legged friends.
Other Things to See and Do in the Area
It is definitely, an Unusual Roadside Attraction, Visiting Bishop Castle is an interesting way to spend a day trip from Colorado Springs or other areas in Southern Colorado. Do be careful going around the site as there are many hazards. Visitors are encouraged to explore the castle on their own as there are no guided tours. The best opportunities to view the actual construction of the castle by Mr. Bishop are during weekends.
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