Cañon City, Colorado ~ Skyline Drive, Royal Gorge and Bishop Castle

June 2nd ~ Cañon City, Colorado

Bishop Castle

This trip has included some wonderful reunions. In Florence, Colorado, just outside of Cañon City, we dropped in on Carrie and Leonard Miller. Tim has known Carrie since he was about eight years old and she worked with his parents at their family restaurant, “Poor Richards” in Illinois. 

Arriving mid-day, we found them puttering in their garden. We had prearranged to join them for lunch at a nearby restaurant in town. The salad bar was brimming with selections, but the star of the meal was the amazing rolls. They were so good that I purchased a dozen frozen pieces of the dough to take with us.

Not wanting the day to end so quickly, Leonard and Carrie offered to take our group on a drive to show us some of the highlights of their area.

Turns out that they are excellent tour guides!

Skyline Drive

On top of Skyline Drive

This may not be for “flatlanders”, as this narrow one-way road winds its way up, up and further up, eventually to what is known as a razorback ridge. There are no guard rails, and it is a LONG way down.

“It was built by inmate labor in 1908. The road starts from U.S. Highway 50 with a gradual incline up the side of the ridge. When the road crests, it winds, climbs and falls like a roller coaster until near the end where a scenic outlook overlooks both the city (east) and the highway (west).” ~ Wikipedia

Thankfully, all of us are comfortable with the mountains and thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent views.

Royal Gorge

Royal Gorge Bridge

The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is the home of America’s Highest Suspension Bridge & Zip Line!

There are several ways to get an adrenaline rush here if you are so inclined, from taking the Cloudscraper Zip line, Aerial Gondolas, Royal Rush Skycoaster, or walking across the Royal Gorge Bridge – all located 956 to 1200 feet above the Arkansas River.

General admission ticket includes access to the Bridge, unlimited Aerial Gondola rides, Tommyknocker Playland, Plaza Theater and Gift Shop.

May 1, 2018 – Sept 30, 2018
$27 / Adult (13 & Up)
$22 / Child (6-12)
Children 5 & under are free.

If you purchase your tickets online you can save $2 on each one.

Dick, Karen, Carrie, and Leonard opted not to cross the gorge, and visited while Tim and I took the gondola ride across to the other side.

Gondola coming from opposite side

Not wanting to keep them waiting too long, we passed on seeing the movie on the opposite bank, and walked across the bridge back to the starting point.

Walking across the bridge with high winds

Walking back across the bridge offered up thrilling views down into the gorge far below.

“It’s the only place where you can hide the Empire State Building standing straight up, with an extra three feet on the top for a flagpole!” ~ RoyalGorgeBridge.com

The lighting was not great while we were there, and the wind was fierce, but the views were still impressive. Click on the “Royal Gorge” link above to see better pictures.

Looking down, way down, from the bridge

If you look closely, down below is a railroad line. There is a rail trip you can take that I understand is highly recommended. Here is a link for more information. It may be something for a future trip!

Right behind the Visitors Center is a relatively rare Water Clock. It replaces the original, that kept time for 30 years before being destroyed by the Royal Gorge Fire. Water cascades from bucket to bucket to propel the moving parts.

Water Clock

Carrie is still recovering from recent back surgery and decided to rest for the remainder of the afternoon, while Leonard generously offered to drive us to see a quite unusual and intriguing site.

Bishop Castle

Wow, where to begin???

This is a one-of-a kind, unique, bizarre and fascinating place to visit. Built by hand by only one man, it is definitely well worth a side trip approximately 35 miles from Cañon City.

“For nearly 60 years, Jim Bishop has been constructing one of the most impressive monuments to perseverance in Colorado. Bishop castle is a monumental statue in stone and iron that cries loud testament to the beauty and glory of not only Having a Dream, but Sticking with your Dream no matter what, and most importantly, that if you do believe in yourself and strive to maintain that belief, anything can happen! Three full stories of interior rooms complete with a Grand Ballroom, soaring towers and bridges with vistas of a hundred miles, and a Fire-Breathing Dragon make the Bishop Castle quite the unforgettable experience! Visitors are always welcome free of charge, and the castle itself is always open.” ~ BishopCastle.org

First of all, OSHA would have a field day here. There are safety hazards up the ying-yang and plenty of signage warning visitors that they are entering at their own risk.

Warning sign – posted at entrance of draw bridge over a moat

And in case that was not clear enough…

Another warning sign

We wandered freely to each corner of the castle, exploring turrets, clinging tightly to narrow cast iron railings, and climbing up tight circular staircases. There were no areas off-limits. We were not stopped by cords, gates or signs.

Nowhere was off-limits

Examples of iron work, towers and walkways

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At each turn, we marveled at the ingenuity and skills that this one man possessed to create all of this by himself.

The main ballroom was stunning and has made a unique location for weddings.

Ballroom

Glass Ceiling of ballroom

Various stained glass patterns were joyful as well as whimsical.

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We found one piece resting precariously on its side, waiting to be installed whenever or wherever Jim Bishop decides it should be placed.

Hoping this survives

There is a small maquette model of the castle plunked out in the elements, rusting away. I hope it can be better preserved at some point.

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Click here to read more of the story of how one man came to build this engineering marvel.

One has to question if he is mad, a genius, or a combination of the two. There are youtube videos that can be found where he is interviewed that could support either view.

Sadly the cottage and gift house were completely destroyed by fire in March of this year.

The closest I can come to a similar experience is visiting Watts Towers in Los Angeles, but that is tame in comparison. Still worthy of a visit!

Our campsite beside their home

Back in time for a late dinner at a steak house, where prime rib with all the trimmings was the single offering. We did not go hungry!

They graciously offered us the option of dry-camping on their spacious lot and then Carrie welcomed us for coffee and a hearty breakfast the next morning before we once again hit the highway toward our next adventure.

Trivia Note: I was curious about the little “squiggle” above the letter “n” in the name, Cañon City. The correct pronunciation of the name of the town is the same as “canyon”. The curved line is called a “tilde” in English, or a “virgulilla” in Spanish.

Coming Next: Great Sand Dunes National Park

GRATITUDE MOMENT: What an amazing time we had with Carrie and Leonard. They put out the welcome mat and made us feel so at home and comfortable. Their hospitality, warmth and kindness can not be overstated. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the wonderful stay and tours.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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14 Responses to Cañon City, Colorado ~ Skyline Drive, Royal Gorge and Bishop Castle

  1. Linda and Paul again :) says:

    Having a great time partaking of your Colorado adventures. As always fantastic pics and information!
    love to all of you,
    L and P

    Like

  2. Wow! Looks like Bishops Castle is worth the risk. What a fabulous piece of architecture! Got to add that (and Colorado) on my travel bucket list. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  3. Glad you are enjoying our Colorado. We ducks have not visited Bishop’s Castle, so thanks for the information. We’re trying to get mom to take us there. Thanks for a great post.

    Like

  4. Karen says:

    We did the royal Gorge bridge in the 1980’s, you could drive across and walk across then. If you walked to the middle and stood and a car passed behind you, the boards moved up and down. Terrifying! I always wanted to do the ridge road and Bishop Castle. You’ve inspired me!

    Like

  5. That castle is amazing! What a life’s work that is! Don’t think I could handle those walkways, though as I don’t have a good head for heights. Loved seeing it through your camera lens, though.

    janet

    Like

  6. Terry says:

    Bishops looks amazing, I could spend most of a day there exploring.

    Like

  7. Widdershins says:

    All of it is impressive, but that castle! Oh my! 😀

    Like

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