Bishops Castle is the pinnacle of weird roadside attractions. It has everything. A quirky owner. Conspiracy theories. Scandal. Lawsuits…and probably more.
Jim Bishop, for whom the castle is named, bought the land on which his Castle sits when he was a meer 15 years old and began construction on his Castle. The Castle was built by Jim and his dad without blueprints, plans, or an architect. And looks like it. Cas felt a little wary about climbing up the rickety steps or venturing out on the iron balconies. I figured it was safe enough, but avoided the holes in the wood and areas where the iron wasn’t latched to the supports. Yeah. It is a little “rough”. Construction continues to this day, 60 years later. Bishop describes it as such “Bishop castle is a monumental statue in stone and iron that cries loud testament to the beauty and glory of not only Having a Dream, but Sticking with your Dream no matter what, and most importantly, that if you do believe in yourself and strive to maintain that belief, anything can happen!” Do you get a sense of Jim Bishop yet?
He’s had fights with the Department of Transportation, the County building code department (obviously), the Colorado Department of Tourism, and even the Bureau of Land Management all to make that dream come true. The Castle is surrounded on three sides by the San Isabel National Forest. The first lawsuit came up when Bishop hauled the rocks used for the Castle off of federal land without a permit or paying for them or legally acquiring them. He needed enough rocks to raise the Castle to the 160 feet it currently is! There is even, supposedly, a stone tunnels/bunker beneath the Castle (just a hint of his conspiracy-mindedness!).
Jim eventually got sick and handed over the Castle for his friend to manage. The friend turned the Castle into Castle Church — for the Redemption and began all sorts of off-the-wall proselytizing. Bishop has spent tons of time and money trying to regain control over the Castle. More lawsuits. It is now firmly back in his hands. And still open 24/7 and free for anyone who wishes to stop by.
If you go, you are warned that Jim Bishop has strong views about the government and is not going to stop himself from sharing them–with amble expletives. Please do read more about him in this Gazette Story.
The Bishop Castle is located along State Highway 165 which happens to be a part of the Frontier Pathways Byway. We always like taking our time on the Byways–we live in a beautiful country and we get the best glimpses of it on the back roads!