Bishop Castle is the culmination of one man’s lifelong ambitions to build his own castle in the mountains of Colorado
Bishop Castle is a work in progress, as you walk up from the road you will pass through the unfinished forecastle, make your way through some pines and suddenly the castle will appear before you.
It is a handsome design, almost Eiffel Tower-like in appearance, and remember what you see now had no grand plan or pre-made drawings, but was built piecemeal, section by section, a little at a time, year after year, driven only by the imagination of Jim Bishop the builder and owner of the castle, culminating in what you see before you today.
There are three soaring stone towers and multiple iron bridges with vistas of the surrounding forest. There is a fire-breathing dragon perched high on the peak of the Grand Room, whose interior is impressive, with its stained glass windows and interesting shadows that slowly move across its rough floor.
The highest point of the castle today is the iron steeple on top of the square tower at 160 feet. The tower in the rear with the iron dome on top is accessed from the Grand Room. The tallest tower is accessed by first climbing the shorter tower behind it.
There are lots of iron walkways to explore that take you around the outside of the structure and the iron works theme continues with the stairways, bridges, and towers that have iron structures on top of them for the bravest to continue even higher if they dare.
Go slowly and gain your confidence as you walk the escarpments at your own pace, the castle has no guides, you are encouraged to explore it as you wish and as much as you dare.
The brave will enjoy climbing very high, viewing the surrounding landscape from iron ladders and bridges, while the more reserved with enjoy exploring the nooks and crannies of the interior.
As you explore the castle just remember almost everything you touch or walk on was built by one man for no other reason than because he wanted to build and create and share it for free with the public.
Jim Bishop has been constructing his Colorado castle for over 60 years. It all started in 1959, at the age of 15 young Jim had saved enough money from mowing lawns and his paper route to purchase a 2 1/2 acre parcel of land at 9000 feet in the San Isabel National Forest to the west of Pueblo for $450, with his parents signing the paperwork for him as he was still a minor.
Now married, in 1969 at the age of twenty-five, Jim decided it was time to start building a cabin using the plentiful and free rocks that were everywhere. When he decided he needed running water for the cabin he salvaged a 40-foot metal cylinder to use as a cistern and stood it upright and covered the outside with rocks to hide the metal of the tank. Soon others commented that it looked like he was building a castle rather than a cabin. It took a couple of years, but by 1972 Jim had decided he would build a castle! So began what you see today, which is still a work in progress.
Jim did everything himself, from hauling rock, felling trees and milling it into lumber, building scaffolding as he went, all the ornamental ironwork, and also hand dug the 12 feet deep foundations. He has created and rigged complex systems of pulleys to hoist everything into place. In the 1980s a friend’s donation of scrap was turned into a dragon sculpture that was put in place 80 feet up in front of the Grand Ballroom. With the addition of a hot air balloon burner, he turned it into a fire-breathing dragon.
Free – accepts donations at one of the donation boxes placed around the castle
Visitors are encouraged to explore the castle on their own, there are no guided tours.
Weddings are held at the castle, but no receptions
Due to the number of trees and how the castle sits on the property getting a full view of the castle in the frame can be difficult
There are good views from the different towers
Wide-angle lenses are a must if you want to capture the interior stone and iron work
Getting to Bishops Castle
The easiest way to get to Bishop Castle is from I-25. Whether you go all the way to Pueblo on the main highways or take the back roads from Colorado Springs the time is about the same. You will see signs for the castle as you come upon it, and there are usually cars out front.
Parking is along the side of highway 165 on either side of the road