There’s no need to hop across the pond to get your fix of fairytale castles – the Rocky Mountain State is practically bursting with turrets, ballrooms and formal gardens. While Colorado might be best known for its russet-red peaks and powder white snow, it’s got its fair share of highfalutin pursuits too. Don’t believe us? From 13th century Celtic castles to turrets made from beer cans, we’ve rounded up seven of the best castles in Colorado.
7 Best Castles in Colorado
1. Bishop Castle – Rye
Possibly the most distinctive building in the whole of the Rocky Mountain state, Bishop Castle started life as one solitary room in a stone cottage. Jim Bishop, a high school drop-out who had been told he would ‘amount to nothing’ purchased the 2.5-acre plot with $450 in 1967. Over the next six decades, he set about building the castle, which now reaches 16 stories high. The castle also features three huge cathedral-style windows, steel fire-breathing dragons and wrought iron walkways. Jim is still building too. It’s one of the largest one-man architecture projects in the world.
The castle is free to enter and open all year round from dawn until dusk.
2. Glen Eyrie Castle – Colorado Springs
Railroad tycoon and Civil War General William Jackson Palmer built this sprawling 18 bedroom residence in 1871. Nestled into seven acres of manicured gardens, the home features a 2,200-sq. ft ‘Grand Hall’, seven meeting rooms and a tea room. Today, the Christian ministry of The Navigators owns the castle and run regular tours from Monday–Saturday every week. You can also book a ‘spot of tea’, served in the library and lounge. Unsurprisingly, it’s a popular wedding destination.
3. Cherokee Ranch and Castle – Sedalia
Cherokee Castle looks like it’s been plucked straight out of 15th century Scotland, but the impressive palace was actually built in the 1920s. Real estate developer Charles Alfred Johnson, who played a pivotal role in developing Denver’s Park Hill – built the castle between 1924 and 1926. He named it Charlford Castle after his wife’s son Gifford and the couple’s son Charlie. The castle boasts 24 rooms, a working ranch and over 3,400 acres of grounds.
4. Westminster Castle – Denver
This handsome red sandstone castle was built to house an elite university, but due to wars, issues with funding and competition the school led a short life. Completed in 1893, the castle didn’t open its doors until 1908. Nowadays the Belleview Christian Schools use the facility for extra classroom space. The 175-foot historic landmark is part of the National Register of Historic Palaces. While there aren’t any public tours of the castle, you can get a good look at it from the street. If you are lucky to venture inside, make sure to explore the Front Range, which offers sweeping views of Denver.
5. Miramont Castle – Manitou Springs
Once a sumptuous private residence, the 14,000 sq. ft Miramont Castle now doubles up as the Miramont Museum. Colorado’s most controversial citizen Colonel John Chivington, who commanded the San Creek Massacre of 1864, first owned the lands. It passed through a fair few hands before it got to William Frizzell, a wealthy entrepreneur who decided to make the most of the space by building a whopping castle. To build Miramot’s two ft. thick walls, builders quarried and hand-cut native green sandstone. Work began in 1895. The castle was the height of modernity at the time it was built, featuring indoor plumbing and electricity using the county’s first-ever electric generator.
Today the museum preserves its Victorian heritage through educational experiences and artefacts. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $8 for children aged 6–12.
6. Cano’s Castle – Antonito
When it comes to castles, most people think of gilded turrets and hilltop perches. Not Donald ‘Cano’ Espinoza. The Vietnam veteran constructed the unusual landmark entirely out of metal refuse, mostly from beer cans, grills and hubcaps. He built the castle in gratitude for having survived the war. The castle features four gleaming towers and he’s continually adding to it to this day. Each tower represents a different function – the king, the queen, the palace and the rook. The four-story ‘king house’ is the crown jewel.
7. Dunafon Castle – Idledale
Located 15 miles west of Denver, Dunafon Castle sits on 17 acres of pristine gardens with sparking views of Bear Creek Canyon. Outdoors there are miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as private ponds teeming with trouts. Indoors, the castle also features tunnels, double-paned pivot windows and handmade light fixtures. A wealthy water engineer called Marcus Wright originally designed the property, taking inspiration from 13th century Celtic castles. Building began in 1929 and finished in 1941. Nowadays it’s Colorado’s premier wedding venue.