We took the opportunity of a day off of work and school for MLK Day to head up to the mountains to check out the Ice Castles in Dillon. While ice castles can be found around the world, this company has castles in four U.S. states and two locations in Canada.
The ice castles are becoming a must-see winter attraction, and it is easy to understand why. Everyday staff build 10,000 icicles to maintain the castles. What originated as an idea from a California transplant now living in Utah, Brent Christensen started building igloo and castle structures for his children in an attempt to embrace their new surroundings. Each year they become more elaborate, and the beginning of a business was born.
In 2010, Christensen began building castles as a business. Back for a third year with a Colorado location, this is the first year the castles were built in the Dillon, CO location. The castles were previously located in Breckenridge and Silverthorne. Located in Dillon Town Park, it took over 20 workers, three to four weeks and thousands of man-hours to build the castles that opened just after Christmas.
The castles feature shorter slides for little tykes and a two-track 50-foot luge type slide where you can race your friends and families down on a plastic sled for visitors 42 inches or over. Tunnels to crawl through, a working fountain and fire breather performances on Friday and Saturday nights are also a part of the experience.
We spent about 1.5 hours there. Emma wanted to stay longer, but we needed to grab dinner before the 1.5-hour drive home.
Based on temperatures, the castles last on average only six to eight weeks. So, put it on your do list soon or maybe plan to visit next year.
Here are our tips for a visit to the Ice Castles.
- Come prepared to spend some time looking for parking. Right outside the castle grounds are some limited parking spots, but most likely you will have to park on another side street or in a lot and walk a bit to the castles.
- Buy your tickets ahead of time online. Not only will you save money but also time waiting in line. You also get priority for entrance over walk-up visitors. A super cool thing is that you don’t have to print your tickets either. Just present your QR code when you check in. Tickets range from $10.95-12.95 for children 4-11 based on weekday and weekend/holiday rates. Adult tickets range from $15.95-$16.95. Children three and under are free. Groupon codes pop up usually in late fall/early winter. The castles are open most holidays excluding Super Bowl Sunday.
- Pack the snow pants, gloves and hats for all kinds of fun.
- Strollers cannot be navigated in the castles, so plan to carry or wear your little one. We also saw visitors pulling young children around in sleds.
- Wear good traction shoes preferably boots for the uneven surfaces.
- We recommend going around 5 P.M. (based on a visit in January) to see the castles in the light and the dark. On a clear night, the stars looked pretty cool looking up from the changing castle lights.
- Plan 1-2 hours to enjoy the castles.
- Be prepared to hear the instrumental music from Frozen multiple times!
- Enjoy lunch, dinner or hot cocoa post castles and support the local businesses.