Bishop_Castle2_Fairview_CO.jpgBishop Castle is the name of a large castle located in the Wet Mountains of Southern Colorado, fifteen miles northwest of Rye. It is named after Jim Bishop, the castle’s owner and the man who built the structure almost entirely by hand. It consists of three separate towers, three stories of interior rooms, a grand ballroom, several wrought-iron bridges and stair cases, dozens of stained-glass windows, and one propane-fueled fire breathing dragon. At its highest point, the structure’s tallest tower reaches 160 feet from the ground.
Location
The Castle is located on State Highway 165 in Southern Colorado’s San Isabel National Forest, approximately 13 miles southeast of State Highway 96. This road is part of the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway, and Bishop Castle is listed on the official map.
History
Jim Bishop’s parents bought the land on which the castle nows sits when Jim was fifteen years old for a price of $450. Construction of the castle began as a family cottage in 1969 but, when Bishop decided to cover the cottage with rocks from the surrounding area, neighbors began commenting that the structure looked something like a castle, which encouraged Bishop to take his project in that direction. In the mid 1980s a friend of Bishop donated a truck full of discarded stainless steel warming plates from the Pueblo County Hospital to Bishop’s project, which he used to build a chimney, riveting thousands of hammered "scales" that he had cut out of the plates together around the steel frame, creating the image of a dragon. Once the dragon was completed he installed it where it still sits today, perched off of the front of the Grand Ballroom, nearly eighty feet in the air. Bishop later added a burner from a hot air balloon, also a donation, which he put in the back of the dragons throat, giving it the ability to actually “breath” fire. Another notable event in the castle’s history is the death of Jim Bishop’s son, Roy, who was fatally injured at the property in1988 when he was crushed by a tree stump. He was four years old at the time.
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The Grand Ballroom
Use as a Tourist Attraction
Bishop Castle is always open to the public and there are no admittance fees, though there is a donation box. There are no guided tours through the castle, so visitors are encouraged to explore the castle on their own, with caution as it is considered to be an open construction site. The best opportunities to view actual construction on the castle by Mr. Bishop are during weekends over the summer months. There is also a gift shop, which was also built by Jim Bishop with the help of his father, and is managed by Jim’s wife, Phoebe. The dragon is in use during weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day, sometimes with a “Bonus Surprise guaranteed to amaze.” The surrounding national forest and nearby Lake San Isabel also provide numerous opportunities for hiking, picnicking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and lodging.

Bishop Castle Official Website: http://www.bishopcastle.org