Bishop Castle

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The front half of Bishop Castle from the south. The main tower is over 160 ft (49 m) tall.
The front of the castle with view of towers.

Bishop Castle is an "elaborate and intricate"[1] "one-man project" named after its constructor, Jim Bishop,[2] that has become a roadside attraction in central Colorado.[3]

The "castle" is located in south central Colorado on State Highway 165[4] in the Wet Mountains of Southern Colorado in the San Isabel National Forest, southwest of Pueblo, Colorado.[5]

A personal visit on 01/23/2023 showed the attraction looking very badly neglected and appeared to be deserted.


Bishop bought the land for the site for $450 when he was 15, and construction on what was originally intended to be a family project to build a cottage[6] started in 1969.[7] After Bishop surrounded the cottage with rocks, several neighbors noted that the structure looked something like a castle. Bishop took this into consideration and soon began building his castle.

According to Roadsideamerica, "for most" of the 40 years he has worked on the castle "Bishop was engaged in a running battle with Washington bureaucrats over the rocks that he used," which came from the National Forest surrounding his property. "Bishop felt that they were his for the taking, the government wanted to charge him per truckload." That dispute has been settled.[8] 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.[9][10]

The site has become a tourist attraction, and devoted a chapter to the castle and rated it "major fun" and describing it as, "one man's massive-obsessive labor of medieval fantasy construction".[11] But it also issued a "parent's alert," warning potential visitors that Jim Bishop is "a tough-talking man with strong, extreme beliefs, and sometimes he expresses them bluntly and loudly. If you and your children want to avoid potentially offensive rants (involving politics), you may want to steer clear."[8]

In the winter of 2014–15 a dispute developed over control of the castle after Jim Bishop and his wife Phoebe were both diagnosed with cancer, and David Merrill, who Jim "considered a friend," was made a trustee of Bishop Castle. According to website, Merrill turned the site "into Castle Church—for the Redemption, according to the Custer County Clerk and Recorder's Office".[3] Since then, the Bishops have "spent $20,000 trying to get a clear title to Bishop Castle, and to get Merrill's name off all paperwork."[3][1]

A song about the castle, called "Fire Breathing Dragon," is featured on the 2017 album, The Castle Builder, by English musician Kid Carpet.[12]

On March 28, 2018, a fire ignited on the Bishop Castle property, disintegrating the gift shop and a guest house. The fire is speculated to be electrical, and did not damage the castle itself (which is mostly made of stone).[13] Despite the fire, the attraction re-opened to the public later that week, while being supported with donations and volunteer labor.[14]



  1. ^ a b pompia, jon (May 2, 2015). "Controversy invades Bishop Castle". the pueblo chieftain. Archived from the original on 13 October 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  2. ^ Ragan, Tom (9 June 2002). "Builder prefers being king of what he sees/Castle is maverick's 33- year labor of love". The Gazette. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2010.(subscription required)
  4. ^ Porter, Mary Jean (April 23, 2006). "Adobe to Steel': Byway exhibit focuses on history's foundation: buildings". The Pueblo Chieftain. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2010.(subscription required)
  5. ^ "Ripleys Believe it or not". Reading Eagle. July 11, 1983. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  6. ^ Owen, Rob (July 30, 2006). "The craziest castle in Colorado: Bishop's vision is a work in progress". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  7. ^ "From a life's labor, a castle rises, Jim Bishop started his 160-foot-high creation in 1969. He doesn't plan to ever stop building". The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 14, 2002. Retrieved 12 January 2010.(purchase required)
  8. ^ a b "Bishop Castle". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  9. ^ Searles, Denis M. (May 11, 1996). "A Man's Castle Under Siege by Bureaucrats". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 January 2010.[permanent dead link](Abstract only, purchase required)
  10. ^ Searles, Denis M (April 28, 1996). "Castle Craftsman Withstands Long State Siege; Colorado: Jim Bishop draws 60,000 visitors a year to his creation in the mountains while fending off assaults by highway and tax officials". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2010.(purchase required)
  11. ^ search on
  12. ^ Moses, Caro (28 July 2016). "Kid Carpet: Building castles on the Fringe".
  13. ^ Canterbury, Carie (29 March 2018). "Investigators: Cause of Bishop's Castle fire likely electrical". Canon City Daily Record. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  14. ^ Kraemer, Sam (5 April 2018). "Volunteers help pick up debris after Bishop Castle Fire". KOAA News 5. Archived from the original on 2018-04-06. Retrieved 10 April 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°3′41.22″N 105°5′39.87″W / 38.0614500°N 105.0944083°W / 38.0614500; -105.0944083