Within the land of “300 days of sunshine,” there are plenty of oddities to discover and explore. As DIA is the main gateway to the Rockies, Colorado Fun Guide provides an easy entrance to all things strange and quirky of Color-Odd-o.
The Centennial State is ripe with a unique history, and the stories that follow only dip a toe into weird Colorado, touching upon castles, close encounters, and coffin races.
We begin with the dentist-turned-infamous-gunslinger and gambler John Henry “Doc” Holliday. After being acquitted for a shooting in Leadville in 1884 (his last known confrontation), Holliday eventually moved to Glenwood Springs in 1887 for the reputed curative power of the hot springs — Doc was deteriorating, inflicted with tuberculosis. Prematurely pale and acutely ailing, Doc died the same year while attended to by nurses. As he lay dying, Holliday supposedly looked at his bootless feet and said, “This is funny.” Doc always assumed he would be killed someday with his boots on. Holliday died Nov. 8, 1887, and was buried in Linwood Cemetery. However, the records were lost of exactly where his body is located within the grounds. With that, the City of Glenwood Springs still erected a monument within the graveyard, despite it not marking his actual burial location. The current headstone is the third; the first had the incorrect birth date, and vandals damaged the second.
There’s No Troll Toll…
You don’t have to pull out your wallet, purse, or dig into your pockets to see Denmark artist Thomas Dambo’s recycled and reclaimed-wood sculpture in Breckenridge. Named Isak Heartstone, it is one of several recycled wooden trolls Dambo has built worldwide — in Illinois, Ohio, Florida, China, South Korea, and Puerto Rico.
Heartstone got his name after three little girls came by and gifted him a stone heart, which Dambo installed within the sculpture. Built solely from recycled wood by local volunteers, the wooden sculpture was so popular that on some days, he would have more than 3,000 visitors. This drew complaints — and unfortunately, he was dismantled. However, his heart beats again — Heartstone was reborn a little further into nature.
Plan 9 from San Luis Valley
UFOs are a large part of both our folklore and pop culture, even with Hollywood cashing in on the phenomena. The San Luis Valley is one of the hot spots for sightings in southern Colorado and has been the subject of documentaries and episodes produced by The History Channel and Vice. An observation platform and campground north of Hooper Colorado — known simply as the UFO Watchtower — was created by Judy Messoline in May 2000 to capitalize on UFO sightings in the valley. The structure has remained since, dedicated to keeping eyes on the skies for over 20 years.
UFOwatchtower.com | 719-378-2296
Open weekends, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Camping hours start at 5 p.m.
$2.00 per person or $5.00 per vehicle, and $15 per night of camping
In my Father’s house, there are many rooms…
Cano’s Castle rises in Antonito, Colorado, its shiny silver walls reflecting the Colorado sunlight. Scrap aluminum, hubcaps, and bicycle reflectors make up much of the structure, but the predominant material is countless beer cans, carefully cut apart. It comes as no surprise that Antonito is part of the mysterious San Luis Valley (see above). With a population of only 650, it lies six miles above the New Mexico border. The castle is free to look at, but don’t expect to go inside. Cano’s Castle exists on the north side of town on State St. — three blocks east of U.S. 285, between E. 10th and E. 11th Avenues.
A couple of hours northeast of Antonito — in the midst of the San Isabel National Forest, near Rye — you will find another castle: Bishop Castle. This castle is an elaborate, surreal, middle-earth-looking structure built single-handedly by its namesake: Jim Bishop.
“This castle is the personification of not having a plan and seeing how it all works out — the never-ending game we call life,” says Mary Wagner, Colorado Springs-based copywriter, and experienced traveler. “Just out of reach and beyond borders, Bishop’s Castle is the epitome of a childhood dream come true. It’s the ideal place to hide from a cruel stepmother or sneak around and behind a dragon before slaying.”
State St & E 10th Ave
285 E 10th Ave
Antonito, CO 81120
BishopCastle.org | 719-564-4366
Frozen Cadavers and Coffin Competitions
Manitou Springs hosts a morbid match inspired by a woman’s casket that washed down a mountain in 1929. The Emma Crawford Coffin Races & Festival emphasizes the fun in funeral. Born in 1863 in Massachusetts, Emma Crawford was quite musical, performing and giving piano lessons at the age of 12. Due to illness, Emma moved to Manitou Springs with her mother hoping that the fresh air and mineral springs would alleviate her tuberculosis. Death ultimately knocked on Crawford’s door — she passed away on Dec. 4, 1891. Crawford was interned at the top of local Red Mountain. However, the burial site succumbed to weathering, and her coffin fell into a landslide.
This incident eventually evolved into a Halloween festival, but it’s not the only one.
In 1989, a Norwegian citizen brought the corpse of his deceased grandfather, Bredo Morstøl, to the United States, preserved on dry ice and later in liquid nitrogen. Finally, in 1993, almost 30 years ago, Morstøl’s body was placed inside a shed in Nederland, Colorado — where Morstøl’s frozen corpse remains to this day.
And just like the Emma Crawford Coffin races of Manitou Springs, Nederland has its own annual coffin race during Frozen Dead Guy Days every Mar. 8 at 230 feet above sea level.
Emma Crawford Coffin Races & Festival EmmaCrawfordFestival.com
Frozen Dead Guy Days
Dinner at the Mortuary or the Morgue tonight, my Morticia?
The Rabbit Hole is an underground fantasy affair in downtown Colorado Springs. Near where North Tejon and East Kiowa meet, you’ll find an entrance to an apparent subway system. Into The Rabbit Hole, you’ll discover one of the Springs’ most popular restaurants, thematically based upon Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — and adorned with surreal oil paintings by fine artist, Phil Lear.
In this stylin’ subterranean space, you’ll find a beautiful bar and a menu of creative dishes with foundations in French culinary preparations. A century ago, The Rabbit Hole was part of the city morgue for Colorado Springs — and some staff members have attested to possible paranormal activity. Despite the supposed specters, this haunt remains constantly busy, bustling with patrons enjoying delicious dishes and creative cocktails.
“The Rabbit Hole is an enchanting escape from reality,” says Sophie Mark, operations manager. “You step down into an evening of inventive food and sublime cocktails. Our staff exudes a sense of community and hospitality that I’ve never experienced before. Whether you are enjoying your first time ‘down the hole’ or come weekly for your Duchess Martini fix, The Rabbit Hole excels in providing a restaurant experience that you won’t forget.”
101 North Tejon St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Entrance is located on Kiowa; look for the glass subway entrance to lead you down to The Rabbit Hole.
Open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
In the Highlands neighborhood of Mile High — next to Little Man Ice Cream and near El Five — is a historic Denver mortuary turned lively restaurant with decor that layers macabre with posh. The drink menu features sips as savory as the global small plates with which they’re paired — while the rooftop patio is outfitted with a 1975 GMC RV as a bar.
Linger Eatuary is the former base of the Olinger family’s funeral empire, which at one point was responsible for organizing half of Denver’s funerals. It even once housed the body of Buffalo Bill Cody for five months in 1917, while Wyoming and Colorado argued over his final resting place. In June 1917, Buffalo Bill was buried on Lookout Mountain in Golden, just west of Denver.
When the mortuary was purchased, the new owners embraced its morbid history. The rooftop neon sign that proclaimed “Olinger Mortuaries” was barely altered, with the capital “O” being burned out and the word “mortuaries” being changed to currently read, “Linger Eatuaries.”
2030 W 30th Ave
Denver CO 80211
Sun – Thurs 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Fri – Sat 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Brunch: Sat-Sun 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
It’s the so-called “normal” guys who always let you down…
Meow Wolf is an American art and entertainment company that provides an immersive art experience, transporting participants into new dimensions via large-scale art installations. Its flagship attraction, House of Eternal Return, was founded in 2008 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their second art venue opened in Las Vegas in 2021 and was quickly followed by Denver’s Convergence Station.
“Meow Wolf has always held a special place in my heart, so I was ecstatic to learn a new installation would enter Denver,” says Brianne Keefer, an art photographer residing in Old Colorado City. “Convergence Station,” the theme of Meow Wolf’s newest art-behemoth in Colorado did not disappoint. Sticking to the imagination-gone-wild tactics, it’s a massive building with hours of exploring, filled with beautifully detailed artist installations, and a storyline that adds an extra punch. Meow Wolf is an absolute must experience that will keep your inner child entertained for hours.”
Meow Wolf Denver
1338 1st St.
Denver CO 80204
Sun – Thurs 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri & Sat 10 a.m. – midnight
Denver International Airport (DIA) is the central hub of transit and tourism for The Centennial State; it is the largest airport by area in America–among the top-five busiest on the continent. Replacing the Mile High City’s original primary airport–Stapleton International Airport–, DIA has both mystery and conspiracy theory surrounding its infrastructure and décor. There is often talk about an underground labyrinth for a secret bunker. The four main murals — by Chicano artist Leo Tanguma — have been interpreted in various ways, including depictions of the Apocalypse and a One World Order. The blue, fire-eyed mustang statue as you drive into DIA — nicknamed “Blucifer” — is seen as intimidating and scary, and rightly so. “Bluecifer” killed its own creator, Luis Jimenez, when a piece of the 9,000 lbs. sculpture fell upon the sculptor, mortally wounding him.
If you live outside of the state of “300 days of sunshine,” then this cryptic collection of concourses is potentially your entrance point to Color-Odd-o.