Last weekend, my girlfriends and I headed west to the twinkling, fairytale, winter wonderland that is the Dillon Ice Castle.
Allergic to photos and commentary? My tips and links for visiting at the end of this post.
Otherwise, follow me for the (virtual) grand tour!
Just over an hour west of Denver, you’ll find the massive, sparkling structure made entirely out of ice, it’s an instagrammers dream and the perfect weekend getaway.
Most of the visitors seem to be couples and it is very romantic. A perfect last minute Valentines Day outing plus, the punny captions practically write themselves. Think “love at frost sight”, “the snuggle is real”, or “I only have ice for you.”
That said, in my experience, girlfriends are going to be a lot more patient with you when you want a photograph of, or with, everything in sight and they are probably more likely to gasp with you when you find a hidden fountain or “ooh” and “ahh” over all the pretty lights.
The Ice Castles are created by a Utah based company and can be found in several locations across the US and Canada. They use their patented technique to build the great structures entirely out of ice, including slides, thrones, coves, and fountains.
During the day, the castles are a bright blue but at night they come to life with rainbows of light. If it hadn’t been so cold, we probably would have explored, snapped photos, and ridden the slides until they kicked us out.
Which may have almost happened when I, being a little too curious, tried to get a peak inside the fountain to see how it worked. Oops! The castle’s staff couldn’t tell me so I wanted to find out for myself!
If the castle alone isn’t enough for you, on Friday and Saturday nights, they have fire dancers and during the day, you might see Elsa and Anna.
When we arrived, the queue for the long slide was massive but we jumped in anyway.
There are two slides, one at a slightly less steep grade for those who are more risk averse.
You’re given a mat to slide on and a (more aggressive than necessary) shove from the attendant to send you flying down the ice slide.
By the time we all got through the line, it was empty and with a quick glance we raced up for another go.
Thoroughly frozen and giddy, we headed to the condo for snacks, games, and a good nights sleep before skiing the next day.
To plan your own visit and buy tickets, head to the Ice Castles website. I couldn’t find an official end date but tickets are currently only available through February 24. They do sell out so don’t hesitate!
- Dress warm. You’re thinking “Obviously. Thanks for the great tip, Charissa.” But hear me out. It’s dark, in winter, and literally everything around you is ice. The slide? Sitting on ice. Slip on the sidewalk? It’s made out of ice. The walls? A foot thick and made out of, you guessed it, ICE! Dress for what you think you need, then add a layer for good measure.
- Wear your grippy winter boots. Like I mentioned above, the walkways are made of snow on top of ice. They groom the walkways but a few of us left with some bruises and minor injuries from slipping.
- Make a night (or day) of it. It’s easy to pop into the castles and move on but there are several great restaurants nearby and Lake Dillon is stunning, especially at sunset. I recommend Adriano’s Bistro for sharing pizzas or Cafe Profusion for a casual date night. Both are very close to the castles so you can park once and walk.
- Plan ahead. We were rushing to arrive and almost missed our timeslot. Give yourself plenty of time to eat dinner, get to the castles, and get to the ticket office. If you’re going to do it as a day trip, give yourself plenty of time to get to Summit County, we all know I-70 can be completely unpredictable these days.
- Find a place to stay nearby via a friend, AirBnb, or VRBO. This is more of a suggestion than a tip. I recognize that we were very lucky to stay at a family vacation home for free and that this can be out of reach for a last minute trip or for those of us ballin’ on a budget. But like I mentioned above, the conditions on I-70 can add several hours to a normally quick trip. Save yourself the stress and make a weekend out of it.
Have you guys been to the ice castle yet? What are your tips?