Ice Castles brings a winter wonderland to Summit County
Whether you’re a longtime community member or a first-time visitor to Summit County, few of the area’s many amenities can compare with the winter wonderland that is the Dillon Ice Castles.
The Ice Castles offer a truly immersive experience for families, allowing visitors to navigate their way through an awe-inspiring series of winding tunnels beneath the castles’ frozen walls, dwarfed by 50-foot towers of ice overhead.
“The Ice Castles are nothing short of magical,” said Kerstin Anderson, Dillon’s marketing and communications director. “It’s a unique experience you can’t find anywhere else in the county that really allows you to get outside under the winter sky and explore something enchanted.”
The attraction comes courtesy of Ice Castles, a Utah-based company that began as a modest backyard ice-cave creation and has grown to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually across its four locations in Utah, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Colorado.
This will be the fourth year the castles are set up in Dillon, located right in the heart of town inside Dillon Town Park. Each fall, a batch of workers arrives at the park to construct the castles, beginning with a detailed layout of the acre-sized plot, and moving into the meticulous process of harvesting and placing icicles to build structures.
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The work isn’t easy. It requires up to 30 builders and 10,000 man-hours to complete, during which workers endure frigid temperatures and sometimes must tragically watch their work melt away on warmer days early in the season. Once it’s finished, the attraction boasts castle spires ranging from 30-55 feet tall, along with a widespread and impressive arrangement of arches, caves, slides and even fountain features.
The castles shine with a cool blue and gray during the day, but at night, the walls are illuminated by color-changing lights embedded into the ice. And for those who’ve already had the chance to visit the spectacle, the castles are recreated every season with a one-of-a-kind design and new twists and turns.
“They change up the features each year, and they’re always trying something new,” Anderson said. “There’s always a variety of different things to explore and to wonder at. It really just lets you be a kid again and to be amazed at this creation made out of natural materials. It lets you see through that lens every time you visit.”
And after the exciting adventure inside the frozen wonder is complete, there’s plenty of ways to fill the day just a short walk away.
“You can pair it with a trip down to the marina waterfront and see our holiday tree lit up or enjoy one of the unique restaurants in the town of Dillon to make an afternoon or evening of it,” Anderson said.
Reservations for the ice castles can be made at IceCastles.com.
This story previously published in the winter 2020-21 edition of Explore Breckenridge & Summit County magazine.
Dillon Ice Castles tickets are for sale at IceCastles.com/colorado.
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