Magical Ice Castles in Colorado

There’s no doubt that Colorado is a winter wonderland. Best known for snowy ski slopes, the Colorado Rockies actually have much more to offer than just skiing. Tucked away in one of Colorado’s small towns is a magnificent castle built of glistening ice. Doesn’t every child (and every child at heart) want to escape our world for a magical world of ice? Even if just for an hour or evening? Set an hour or so west of Denver you will find the town of Dillon, home to these shimmering ice castles in Colorado.

Make your reservations. Dress very, very warm. Then delight your senses taking in the vivid colors in the crisp winter air. Maybe even whiz down an ice slide while you are at it.

Insider Tip: Use discount code “insider15” to get 15% off of your ticket purchase.

Disclosure: Consideration provided by brands mentioned in this post. All opinions are our own.

Colorado Ice Castles, in the town of Dillon just before sunset.

Ice Castles History

The Ice Castles are twinkling castles dreamed up by Brent Christensen. He came up with the idea after building smaller versions of these in his backyard to delight his daughter. Lucky for us, he decided it would be an interesting idea to build them on a larger scale for other to enjoy.

The first large Ice Castle was built in 2009. Since then, each winter these Ice Castles are re-built in a handful of locations around the United States and Canada.

This winter 2020-2021 these twinkling ice castles are once again winter attractions in Colorado, New Hampshire, Utah and Wisconsin. They are the perfect socially distanced outdoor winter attraction.

Each ice castle site opens as soon as the weather permits building of them in an open space outdoors. They close down once the weather becomes too warm.

Ice slides at the Ice Castles in Colorado
Be a child again and feel the cold air on your face as you slide down a sheet of ice in a colorful magic ice castle.

Dillon Ice Castles: Know Before You Go

Purchase Tickets in Advance

Tickets for the Ice Castles Dillon went on sale at 7 a.m. December 18, 2020 at 7 a.m. I logged on about 7:20 a.m. that morning to purchase ours. Many of my preferred time slots were already sold out. I was still able to get a reservation one of our dates of choice, just slightly earlier than I had wanted.

The Ice Castles in Colorado are always a popular winter attraction. But this winter capacity is limited more than typical years, making tickets in higher demand. So, plan ahead and buy your tickets in advance! (Use discount code “insider15” for a 15% discount.)

The limitation on tickets sold is good in many ways. Parking is easier than previous years. There are fewer people. Thus we didn’t encounter much in the way of lines for the ice slides like we have in the past.

Looking up at the sky through icicles at the Dillon Ice Castles
Take time to look up. The Ice Castles are made by “growing” icicles, many of which hang from the top of the castle.

Dress Warm

You will be standing on and surrounded by ice. It will be cold. Telling you to dress warm is an understatement.

We all wore snow pants, warm ski jackets, snow boots, gloves and hats. And, I brought along hand warmers for everyone. That may have been my biggest win of the outing.

I let my daughter wear my Sorel boots. My toes were freezing in my dated Merril snow shoes. My leather gloves did little to warm my fingers. I was very happy to be able to warm my hands in my pockets with hand warmers. Admittedly, I did have my hands out of my gloves snapping pictures much of the time.

The Ice Castles in Colorado at sunset.

Choose a Time Slot Near Dusk

You may have reason to prefer a specific time slot to visit. My preference is just before dusk. I like to arrive while the sun is still out and it is warmer. This is the best time to fly down the ice slides.

But it is ideal to get to see the Dillon Ice Castle at night. This is when the lights embedded in the castle twinkle and change color. The sight is perhaps most magical at night.

Ice Castles in Colorado at dusk
Don’t forget your camera!

Know Before You Go

Wear a mask. Or, wear a neck gaitor or buff that will double for warmth. Plan to cover your mouth and nose. It is required by local ordinance.

When we went Dillon, as a part of Summit County in Colorado, was in red on the state Covid meter. This meant that there was no indoor dining. Everyone was cold and hungry after our visit. So, we did go through a fast food drive through. Just this week the governor moved all Colorado counties that were in the red to orange. So, now there should be limited indoor dining. But be sure to check before you go and plan around it.

There is free parking right in front of the Ice Castles in Dillon, and another nearby lot. We found parking this year easier than the last time we visited. But still plan a little extra time to secure your parking spot.

Ice Castles in Colorado lit up at night
The Dillon Ice Castles light up at sunset.

Bring a Camera, or Phone

This is an attraction where it is hard to take a bad photo. You will certainly want to snap a few photos of the Ice Castles. And, you will probably want to take some of yourselves or the kids too. It is most certainly a selfie opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.

Summit County, Colorado

The town of Dillon is located in Summit County, Colorado. This county is home to Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, as well as several other Colorado Mountain towns. The area is best known for skiing and snowboarding. But there are so many other outdoor winter activities to enjoy.

Be sure to consider snow tubing or sledding. There’s also dog sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling and winter hiking.

Have you visited the Ice Castles in Colorado? What about any of the other locations? Did we miss any tips? Tell us in the comments below!

Magical Ice Castles in Colorado

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