TOP
canos castle

Cano’s Castle – One Man, Mary Jane and God

Just off the highway, in the small run down town of Antonito, Colorado, there is a giant pile of junk that one man has transformed into a temple.  Welcome to Cano’s Castle!

canos castle

Located six miles north of the New Mexico Border, two blocks off highway 285 (Main Street), sits this magnificent piece of architecture and residence.  Since the early 1980’s Cano Espinoza has been collecting other people’s junk and creating a masterpiece for God, that’s right I said God.
cano's castle

Weird, spectacular, out of this world, no matter what you think of this creation there’s one thing for sure:  Love it or hate it, this castle is like no other.  From the King and Queen towers rising what appears to be 40 feet high, to the glass bottle windows and of course the ‘all seeing eye which hangs outside the gate, this is one crazy roadside attraction.  Under constant construction for over 30 years it’s like a more affordable, recycled version of Gaudi’s famous La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

canos castle   canos castle

Cano saw us walking around taking photos and came outside to greet us.  He offered up a inkjet printed photograph of what the castle looks like when the flowers are blooming.  We offered up a small donation and he invited us into his home to share a few more photographs and religious relics.  He tells us stories of how he began the temple, how he doesn’t drink or smoke tobacco, and then he says “I only smoke Mary Jane”Ahhhh that explains a lot!  Come to find out he built the entire temple while high; Cano says Mary Jane is his artistic inspiration and it brings him closer to God.

canos castle

inside canos castle

On our way out things got a little weird:  Cano started talking about marching on Washington, reclaiming the Espinoza’s wealth and land…then he told us he is living proof that “one can live on bread alone (as he’s holding up a piece of bubbly, rubbery, unleavened wheat bread), just like it says in the bible, I am Living Proof!”, he went on to talk about white leavened bread being the demise of our culture since the medieval times, how women today can’t cook because they are not properly taught how to shop, and most importantly how women should only birth children and be in the kitchen as that is their divine right…..this went on for about 20 minutes as we slowly, and uncomfortably, shuffled back towards the front door.

nikki wynn at canos castle

“Thank you so much for visiting, have a blessed day”, and just like that he was gone.  Nikki and I just stood there outside his front door in awe, did that really just happen?!? 

outside canos castle

We walked back to the RV in silence, put away the camera, started the engine, and continued on our route towards Taos.  After all, it’s just another strangely wonderful day in this unsedentary life of ours.

Have you ever experienced an odd, or transcendent, pit stop? Tell us about your favorite roadside attraction in the comments below, and you get bonus points if its a weirder experience than Cano’s Castle!

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (20)

  • I visited just a few months before you guys. A whimsical place indeed. http://www.mikesroadtrip.com/canos-castle/

    reply
  • Hello,

    My name is Laura Peterson – I am an artist, architect and musician currently living in Brooklyn, NY. I recently graduated with a Masters in Architecture from Columbia University and received a small grant to travel around the western part of the country documenting the architecture of roadside america. My partner and I are camping and roadtripping in hoping of catching a glimpse of something in the sky ourselves, or at least to take part of the existing roadside American culture. We are interested in the architectures, stories and places that bring people together alongside the great American highways.

    I’ve been fascinated with Cano Espinosa’s story and was wondering if you know how to get in touch with him, which is why I am contacting you. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Please email me.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    -Laura

    reply
    • Hello Laura,

      We can contact Cano almost daily. He doesn’t use a computer, the internet, nor do we believe him to have a phone other than a landline, but we can relay a message for you, or back and forth. We, Antonito News, a local startup in the same Town & County as Cano’s Castle, are writing a story on him and visiting with him again soon. Info[AT]AntonitoNews[DOT]com is out email if you’d prefer to contact us directly.

      Take care,
      Antonito News

      reply
  • Lisa Holt

    I absolutely love this story! My husband is always telling me that I am oddly attracted to weird people. The fact of the matter is, I just love that people can be so different and, well, downright weird. I always say, everybody has a story…and the weirder it is, the more fun it is to listen. Then, you realize it is a never ending story and you have to jump in with “oh, sorry, my husband is calling me. Gotta go”Haha.

    reply
    • Lisa, sounds like you and I would be great travel companions! You can caravan with us anytime!

      reply
  • Carol Pike

    Wow, what an interesting event! So glad he didn’t make Nikki stay in the kitchen and make him some bread! Tks. for sharing the story and the pictures! and Mike, you’re funny! lol…

    reply
  • Joey Lorenzo

    WHAT AN AWESOME DISCOVERY!!! My fiancé and I recently hit the desert for my birthday and our anniversary and while traveling on the cliché trip to the Grand Canyon stopped off at an old mining town named Chloride. What grabbed us was my inert necessity “to make a left” whenever possible and see where it takes us. What we found was amazing. There was this man, named Digger Dave, who used to be a miner in this town and started a little restaurant/bar. Over time, he has used roadside junk and trash to decorate and create and entire utopia. He even has a fire pit and a stage in the back should you and a few friends feel like camping and throwing a little shindig. He openly invites all his visitors to sign the front porch with your name, date and hometown. More importantly, if you continue down the road, into the mining area, some genius took it upon themselves to paint murals on the natural rocks. It’s a great hike and the paintings are gorgeous. If you’re ever on Route 93, about halfway between Boulder City and Kingman, you’ll find this little gem, if you haven’t already that is. Thanks for sharing and good luck on your travels!

    reply
  • Nicki! Back into your RV Kitchen! Life on the road is never boring, huh?

    reply
  • Pete Olson

    After being an urban paramedic for 23 years and running over 50,000 911 calls, I have no interest in ‘colorful’ (except in flowers)

    reply
  • paul van

    Fascinating! We came across Bishop Castle in Colorado years ago. It is also a manmade castle that is under constant construction.

    http://www.bishopcastle.org

    reply
  • Ginger

    I do believe that Mr. Cano Espinoza miss quoted the Bible. It was when the devil was tempting Jesus after 40 days in the desert. Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered the devil ” It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Nothing was said about Mary Jane being there…. LOL; not unless Mary Jane and the Devil are the same. That’s for you to decide.

    reply
  • pretty cool pit stop none the less…

    reply
  • Don

    Wow that was just another dull moment…not kinda takes the words out of a comment, dont realy no how to respond. Lol

    reply
  • Hmm, after reading that I have to decide if it’s worth it or not to stop. It sounds interesting and then a bit…awkward. I’m not sure how I’d react. Thanks for the good read!

    reply
    • it’s worth a stop, just don’t go in if he offers. that’s where things got weird.

      reply
  • Mike Laudenslager

    What a great story!! This one will stay with you for some time I bet.Thanks for sharing it. I bet you drove in silence for awhile huh! I might have eventually looked at my wife and asked if she felt like getting in the kitchen. 😉

    reply

Post a Comment