Exploring the Enchanting Colorado Castle


The Centennial State is home to quite a few Colorado Castles. From the cliff-clinging Glen Eyrie Castle to the eccentric Bishop Castle, hand-built from stones and scrap metal, these iconic structures offer windows into the state’s cultural heritage and breathtaking natural beauty.


  • Colorado is home to a range of unique castles and fortresses offering rich history and incredible scenery.
  • Must-see castles include Glen Eyrie, Bishop Castle, Cherokee Ranch, and Miramont Castle Museum.
  • Visitors can tour majestic castles, admire eccentric architecture, enjoy interactive museums, observe wildlife, and take in panoramic views.

A Landmark of Legends: Glen Eyrie Castle

Perched atop a sandstone bluff overlooking Colorado Springs, the regal Glen Eyrie Castle has attracted legends and luminaries for over 140 years. Built in 1871 as the private residence of General William Jackson Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs, the castle hosted guests ranging from President Theodore Roosevelt to Dr. Billy Graham.

Glen Eyrie’s ornate Victorian architecture showcases imposing towers and soaring turrets that complements its natural setting in Garden of the Gods Park. Visitors can tour the richly decorated interior, then hike the property’s scenic trails through pine forests and sandstone formations. Events like Madrigal Dinners and Afternoon Teas evoke Glen Eyrie’s genteel past amidst its timeless natural splendor.

The Bishop’s Masterpiece: Bishop Castle

Contrasting with Glen Eyrie’s refinement, Bishop Castle stands as a testament to one man’s eccentric vision. Solely constructed by builder Jim Bishop using local stones and scrap metal, this one-of-a-kind “megalithic” stone and iron fortress has been under construction for over 50 years.

Visitors can marvel at the castle’s imposing towers, flying buttresses, gargoyles, and intricate ironwork, along with quirky details like a steel dragon and a model of Da Vinci’s flying machine. The interior is equally dramatic, with soaring archways and a domed grand ballroom with glittering stained glass.

Scottish-Style Beauty: Cherokee Ranch and Castle

Originally an 1860s homestead, Cherokee Ranch was transformed into an elegant country estate by early 20th-century owners John and Gertrude Dix. The hilltop 1920s castle, designed in a unique “German Expressionist” style, affords sweeping views of Pikes Peak.

Cherokee Ranch offers visitors a window into 20th century Western ranch life through tours of its historic facilities and natural areas. Highlights include the castle’s arched windows and vaulted ceilings, the smokehouse and barns, and scenic hiking trails with panoramic vistas. Special events like outdoor concerts immerse guests in the ranch’s blend of natural beauty, cultural history and rustic architecture.

A Mountain Majesty: Miramont Castle Museum

Transporting visitors to 16th century France is the Miramont Castle Museum in Manitou Springs. Built in 1895 as the private residence of Father Jean Baptist Francolon, this elegant 42-room neo-gothic castle is adorned with decorative woodwork, stained glass windows, period furnishings, and European artifacts. Self-guided audio tours lead visitors through the intricate architecture and room displays conveying 19th century aristocratic life.

The castle’s crowning glory is its recently restored Victorian-era chapel, resplendent with vaulted ceilings covered in over 65,000 embossed gold leaves. Overlooking Manitou Springs, the castle grounds also feature nine-period gardens cultivating herbs and flowers common during Medieval times. Miramont Castle offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience European castle splendor against a Rocky Mountain backdrop.

Into the Wild: Outdoor Adventures

Beyond their magnificent architecture, Colorado castles offer gateways to outdoor adventure in the Centennial State’s most breathtaking natural landscapes. The area surrounding Glen Eyrie encompasses Garden of the Gods, whose 1,300 acres contain over 15 miles of scenic hiking trails, climbing routes up towering sandstone fins, and parklands inhabited by mule deer, foxes, and golden eagles.

Visitors to Bishop Castle can access the adjacent San Isabel National Forest and Wet Mountain Valley, home to wildflowers, diverse wildlife, rushing streams with rainbow trout, and peaks reaching 12,000 feet. From Cherokee Ranch, guests can embark on guided horseback rides into the adjacent Daniels Park, traversing evergreen forests and meadows roamed by coyotes, black bears, and elk herds.

These castles thus grant both architectural grandeur and opportunities to immerse in Colorado’s natural majesty through hiking, cycling, horseback riding, trout fishing, wildlife viewing, and more. Their scenic backdrops inspire reverence for the state’s rich biodiversity.

Although, not quite as permanent as as these castles, visiting the ice castle sculptures in Dillon are an enjoyable experience to add to your bucket list. The Dillon ice castle sculptures are newly carved every year in Summit County.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Recognizing their responsibility as neighbors to vulnerable natural habitats and wildlife populations, Colorado’s castle estates have spearheaded conservation initiatives to preserve local biodiversity.

As Glen Eyrie borders areas inhabited by threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mice, the property has removed invasive plant species and restricted access to sensitive riparian zones along stream corridors to minimize habitat disturbance. Miramont Castle Gardens use no chemical pesticides, reducing runoff pollution that impacts aquatic ecosystems.

Cherokee Ranch facilitates scientific wildlife research and environmental education through its partnership with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Bishop Castle’s builders have constructed owl boxes and ensured minimal footprint expansion to avoid encroaching on the adjoining national forest. By serving as models of environmental stewardship, these castles help sustain the diverse flora and fauna surrounding them.

Celebrating Local Culture

Beyond their rich architectural heritage, Colorado castles provide stages for cultural events that support regional arts, cuisine, and community. Annual Scottish Highland Games at Glen Eyrie celebrate local Celtic roots through athletics, Highland dance performances, and bagpipe competitions. Miramont Castle hosts Victorian tea parties, allowing guests to sample delicate sandwiches and pastries prepared by local bakeries.

Bishop Castle’s builders host heavy metal concerts and medieval festivals featuring artisan crafts and food. At Cherokee Ranch, the “Barnstormers” performance series in a converted 19th-century barn spotlights the Front Range’s vibrant music scene alongside Americana, blues, jazz, and folk artists. By hosting inclusive cultural happenings, these castles sustain community spirit and the area’s creative economy.

Planning Your Castle Quest

To embark on your Colorado castle quest, optimal places to stay include Glen Eyrie’s on-site guest lodges, the Cliff House at Pikes Peak overlooking Miramont Castle, and the Garden of the Gods resort adjoining Cherokee Ranch. These offer easy access to castle tours along with amenities like restaurants, pools, event venues, and spas. Unique stays are also available in Manitou Springs’ historic inns and Bed & Breakfasts.

Ideal times to visit are during summer festivals like Bishop Castle’s Metal Festival (May), Celtic Festival (August), and Miramont Castle’s All Hallows Eve in October. Winter visits offer fewer crowds and magical snow-draped castle scenery. Vehicle access is available to all castles except Bishop Castle, which involves a 1/4-mile uphill hike. With an abundance of majestic fortresses set amidst superlative scenery, Colorado promises the trip of a lifetime for castle devotees.

Other Colorado castle stops and historic places to add to your castle quest:

  • Dunafon Castle (currently a wedding venue)
  • Richthofen Castle
  • The Castle Marne (Bed and Breakfast Inn)
  • Westminster Castle
  • Cano's Castle
  • Redstone Castle

Not actual castles, but still worth the visit:

  • Mount Falcon Castle & Trail Hike
  • Castle Rock (rock formation)


How can I tour Colorado’s castles?

Most castles offer regularly scheduled guided tours, with advanced reservations recommended. Self-guided audio tours are also available at sites like Miramont Castle Museum. Special insider castle tours can often be privately booked.

What is there to do near the castles besides sightseeing?

These castle estates provide gateways to hiking, climbing, cycling, horseback riding, trout fishing, wildlife viewing, and winter sports through their adjacency to national parks/forests and nature preserves. Area towns also offer shopping districts, dining, golf, and cultural attractions.

When is the best time of year to visit Colorado castles?

Summer provides optimum weather but busier crowds, while winter sees fewer visitors and snow-blanketed castle scenery. Shoulder seasons of spring and fall offer moderate weather and temperatures without intense crowds. Festivals also draw visitors during specific months.

What types of lodging options exist near the castles?

Lodging ranges from luxury resorts like the Garden of the Gods resort to budget-friendly campgrounds in state parks/national forests. In between are bed and breakfast inns, vacation rentals, mid-range chain hotels, and unique stays on nearby guest ranches.

What COVID-19 safety precautions are the castles following?

Castle estates have implemented enhanced sanitization procedures, mask mandates in indoor spaces, contactless payment, and social distancing requirements during tours. Guest capacity restrictions and temperature screenings may also be in place. Check individual castle websites for the latest updates.


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.