Stone turrets, towers and moats may make you think of Europe’s finest castles or the Disney version for that matter, but believe it or not, you can find castles in Colorado too.
If you’d like to indulge your inner lord or lady or you’re looking for some medieval adventures this side of the Atlantic, check out these castles in Colorado.
Visit a castle in Colorado erected one stone at a time: Bishop Castle, west of Pueblo in the San Isabel National Forest
Jim Bishop didn’t set out to build a castle in Colorado. His accidental castle began with a bike ride back in 1959 when Bishop was just 15. He and some friends stumbled on a beautiful 2.5-acre parcel of land surrounded on three sides by the San Isabel National Forest in the Wet Mountains. The property cost $1,200 with a down payment of $450. Bishop had saved up enough money from mowing lawns to afford the land and convinced his parents to help him buy it.
At first, the family planned to build a cabin there. But, rocks were plentiful in the area – and free.
So, Bishop started building the first room of his cabin by hand. Friends and ranchers in the area thought his creation resembled a turret and asked Bishop if he was building a castle. He wasn’t sure, but by 1972, he decided he was indeed building a castle.
Bishop had learned welding from at the family’s Bishop Ornamental Iron Shop in Pueblo. Little by little – hauling each stone himself and building new additions with found and donated materials – Bishop built a castle with a tower that soars 160 feet in the air. Bishop always has welcomed visitors for free although donations are accepted. Learn more about visiting Bishop Castle.
Stay in a castle in Colorado: The Redstone Castle near Aspen
Have you always wanted to stay in a castle? Here’s your chance to spend the night in a Colorado castle that once welcomed Rockefellers and Roosevelts.
Perched on a hill overlooking the stunning Crystal River Valley in the Victorian mining town of Redstone, the red-roofed stone castle features magnificent architectural details more typical of Bavaria, Germany, than the Colorado Rockies.
The Redstone Castle in Colorado is a 27,000-square-foot, 42-room refuge.
Enter the turn-of-the-century residence, and richly designed rooms greet you. The library, decked in hand-stenciled gold leaf, green leather and rich mahogany, makes you want to sit and read a wonderful book, play a game or gaze out at the view. The Grand Room, designed like a great English hall, boasts soaring vaulted ceilings. A glass-enclosed loggia and patio are the perfect setting for a tasty meal. While the Redstone Castle’s owners have gone through good times and bad over the decades, many original pieces remain. They include Tiffany fixtures, diamond-dust mirrors, bustle couches and 14 fireplaces fashioned with Italian marble and Venetian tiles.
Watch a PBS video about The Redstone Castle.
Tour a Colorado castle: Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods is famous for its jutting red rocks that soar to the sky. You might think that the rocks look like natural castle towers. But, nearby is a stunning, human-built, English Tudor castle. Tucked at the base of Pikes Peak is an architectural marvel that railroad tycoon and Civil War general, William Jackson Palmer, erected for his family. Palmer, who established Colorado Springs in 1871, dubbed his not-so-modest abode Glen Eyrie Castle.
These days, a Christian ministry called The Navigators owns Glen Eyrie Castle. They welcome visitors for tours Mondays through Saturdays.
If you’d like to learn all about the Glen Eyrie Castle before a visit, check out this video from PBS.
Have tea at a castle in Colorado: Cherokee Ranch & Castle in Sedalia near Castle Rock
Cherokee Castle combines the regal beauty of a 15th-century-style Scottish castle with vistas of rugged Colorado ranch land. Thanks to a conservation easement, both the castle and the surrounding ranch land will be protected in perpetuity.
A real estate developer named Charles Alfred Johnson came to Denver from Boston in the late 1800s and helped develop Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood. In 1924, Johnson and his wife, Alice Gifford Phillips, bought land from two families who had homesteaded near Sedalia. The couple built this castle in Colorado between 1924 and 1926 and dubbed it Charlford Castle in honor of Alice’s son, Gifford, and the couple’s son, Charlie. Designed by well-known architect Burnham Hoyt, the 24-room castle is made from locally-sourced rhyolite and petrified wood.
In 1954, legendary rancher Mildred Montague Genevieve “Tweet” Kimball purchased the castle and property. She renamed the castle and ranch to honor Cherokee Indians. Kimball had the idea of raising a hardy breed of cattle that she had first seen as a teen. They are known as Santa Gertrudis and despite plenty of skepticism from male ranchers in Colorado, Kimball was the first to successfully breed the cattle in Colorado. Tweet died in 1999 and left the castle and land to a foundation.
The castle still houses a collection of world-class art, antiques and rare books while the adjacent Cherokee Ranch is home to native wildlife, flora and fauna and serves as a learning laboratory for people of all ages while preserving the heritage of the West.
Visitors who plan ahead can enjoy tea at the castle, go for a guided hike, take a tour, enjoy lunch or dinner or host a wedding.
Learn about the history of Cherokee Ranch & Castle.
Stroll the gardens, learn history at a museum or enjoy tea at a Colorado castle: Miramont Castle and Gardens in Manitou Springs
Miramont means “look to the mountains,” and this castle in Colorado is named for its beautiful location on a hill in Manitou Springs.
The castle was built between 1895 and 1897 by a French priest, Jean Baptiste Francolon, and his mother Marie Francolon, who was the daughter of a French count.
The Francolons also built an adjacent sanitarium where nuns with the Sisters of Mercy cared for people who were sick with tuberculosis.
Only three years after finishing construction of Miramont, the Francolons fled the castle amid a scandal. (Check with experts in the castle’s book store to learn more about this chapter of history.)
The Sisters of Mercy later moved into the castle. Following World War II, the castle was divided into apartments for war veterans. It later fell into disrepair and was abandoned and condemned after a fire in the 1970s.
That’s when leaders of the Historical Society of Manitou Springs came to the rescue, bought the property in 1976 and turned it into a museum.
Tourists can visit the castle now, learn about local history and enjoy tea.
The 14,000-square-foot castle is a mix of nine architectural styles. It boasts medieval, crenellated battlements and a Gothic front door along with Venetian, Byzantine and Moorish accents.
The castle was designed to take advantage of its hilly site, and, in a modern twist, all four floors have at least one exit to the outdoors. Altogether, Miramont features 40 rooms, including an eight-sided room, a 16-sided room and a solarium.
There are plenty of steps to climb: 200 in all. And, special chair lifts help make the castle accessible to all people.
Outdoors, visitors can stroll the gardens and even peek into a rare, historic tuberculosis hut, where health seekers spent time trying to recover from the infectious illness.
Hike to the ruins of a former castle in Colorado: Mount Falcon Park, Jefferson County Open Space near Morrison
Do you love castles and hiking? Then, Mount Falcon Park near Denver is a great place for an adventure. Once upon a time, an iron, automobile and publishing magnate named John Brisben Walker built a castle at the top of Mount Falcon. He also hoped to build a summer White House for U.S. presidents. Alas, Walker’s wife died in 1916, then just two years later, lightning struck and burned down the castle. (Or, perhaps there was a more sinister cause of the fire. Read more about Walker.) All that remains of the castle are the cornerstone and ruins of some fireplaces. But, the hike is fun and children and adult castle-lovers alike will enjoy imagining the sprawling building that once stood there. There’s also a wooden tower to climb.