Jim Bishop began his solo project in 1969 on land surrounded by the San Isabel National Forest, high in the Rocky Mountains of southern Colorado. Ten years earlier, at the age of 15, Bishop purchased the 2-1/2 acres for $450.
Bishop was a strapping 25 when he started building what he thought would be a one-room stone family vacation cabin … soon, however, the project took on a life of its own.
He fell in love with building. Each room, staircase and tower came from his imagination, without a blueprint or drawing.
“Everything just seems to work,” he was quoted as saying in a Pittsburgh Post Gazette article in 2006. “What’s real neat about not having blueprints is that if you make a mistake, you call it art.”
And amazing art it is–including multiple rooms, a grand hall, and a maze of intricate wrought-iron bridges and walkways surrounding its towers, one of which reaches more than 160 feet. There is even a fire breathing dragon made from metal lunch pails.
The castle is a combination of rock, metal and wood. All of the rocks are gathered locally by Bishop using a national forest service “non-invasive rock hauling permit.” This allows him to haul as much rock as he can without the use of heavy machinery or dynamite and without building roads.
If you go —
Bishop’s Castle is located at 12705 CO-165; Wetmore, Colorado.
Directions: Colorado Highway 165 at milepost 12, five miles north of San Isabel.
Cost: Free; donations to help with future construction are welcomed.
Hours: Daylight hours. Open daily May -October; weekends November-April.
Facilities on site: Gift store featuring a variety of unique items including original ornamental iron work by Jim Bishop.
Caution: Elevation is more than 9,000 feet. Check weather conditions before heading out.
Photo: Bishop’s Castle. Source: Wikipedia