“Everything just seems to work, What’s real neat about not having blueprints is that if you make a mistake, you call it art.” -Jim Bishop
We (and by we, I mean Ryan) have a long bucket list of Art Installations that we want to visit across the United States. On our trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park, we got to knock one of those off our list. Bishop Castle is the largest self-built castle in the United States, and maybe the world. It was built by one man, Jim Bishop. At just 15, he saved enough money to buy two and a half acres of land, enclosed on three sides by the San Isabel National Forest.
After Jim Bishop married in 1967, he started construction on a one room cottage. Friends and Family began to ask if he was building a castle, and so Bishop Castle was born. Three stories of rooms including a Grand Ballroom, soaring towers and bridges, and a Fire-Breathing Dragon make Bishop Castle a breathtaking work of art!
Jim Bishop is over 60 years old now, and is still building. He was on site and out working the day we visited. The castle is always open and always free. There are donation boxes scattered around the property. Donations and gift shop sales are the main source of funding for continued construction. There are no tours of the castle, you are free to explore at your own pace. We spent several hours climbing and roaming around the castle. Just remember the castle is an open construction site. So explore with caution!
The drive to Bishop Castle along the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway is beautiful, and will take you over 9,200 feet above sea level. If you are ever in the area I would recommend a stop to check it out. It really is amazing that all this was accomplished by one man!