We love exploring the off-the-beaten-path, unique and different things as well as the big touristy things. It’s why we decided to write this series. A couple of years ago while doing some research on Colorado, I knew when I got here I needed to see Bishop Castle. Located in Rye, Colorado, this amazing, unique, weird, and crazy place did not disappoint. Not only is the drive amazing to get there, but this castle was the most unique thing we’ve ever seen. I had also done a lot of reading about Jim Bishop, how he came to build this bizarre castle, and his story. It’s a sad, and also encouraging story. You can read his story HERE.
We spent the day exploring crazy hallways that led to yet another staircase to yet another room to yet another staircase, and I found myself trying to backtrack to the original room because from that room I knew I had seen several other doors leading to different places. It’s definitely a fascinating maze. After a few hours of walking through this maze, we started to think we had explored the whole thing. (From our truck we realized we had not explored one whole tower. Well … we’ll have to go back won’t we!)
Our Chance Meeting
On our way out we headed over to where it looked like some construction might be going on. I just wanted to see the castle from the side. We figured if we weren’t supposed to be over there, we’d see a blocked-off section. To my surprise, an older gentleman who was placing mortar and rocks up from above said “how did you like your visit”. I told him “it was bizarre and amazing”.
He said, “I’m Jim Bishop … I started building this castle at 15 years old”. What an honor to meet this man! And to see him still there, building his castle. We stood there and chatted with him for about 20 minutes, while he placed more mortar and rocks, one by one. What a story. What a life. He’s still there building. Every rock. Every stone. Every piece of metal. He is still the sole builder of this castle. He divided his time between continual building and spending the last days with his wife, Phoebe, who just passed away on August 18th, 2018. They were married for over 50 years. The story is just remarkable, sad, and in a roundabout way, very uplifting.
The Story Behind the Man
Jim lost a son at the age of 4 years old when a tree that he and his older son was cutting down fell on him. Read the story of why the main room ceiling and roof are glass. He’s no stranger to loss, that’s for sure. I have really found his story fascinating, and I encourage you to read it prior to visiting. It will give you more of an understanding of the bizarre and crazy structures you are going to visit, and why the weird signs are placed all over the property. He also fights the government every day because they want him to charge people and pay taxes on that money. This is why it will always remain free to visit (he says). You’ll see signs everywhere with a glimpse of his story as well. If you like visiting different and unique places, you won’t be sorry. You may even be lucky enough to see Jim, up on a wall, still building his castle.
This 10-minute conversation with Jim Bishop taught me so much about love, loss, and determination. Enjoy this adventurous place, and please leave him a donation. He very graciously shares his bizarre world with us!
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