If you’ve ever seen pictures of the Dillon Ice Castles, then you will know why this is such a popular winter activity in Colorado! This past weekend we decided to make the trek from Montrose, CO out to Dillon, CO to see these impressive ice structures. Nathan and I had never seen the ice castles before, so we were truly in awe as we walked around the magical display! If you’re planning on taking a trip to the ice castles this year, check out my tips below for an enjoyable and fun experience!
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What are the Dillon Ice Castles?
The ice castles are an award winning attraction with locations in six different cities in North America. Each display weighs around 20 million pounds and is completely sculpted by hand from professional ice artists! These artists create icicles from scratch and then place them on the ice castles in order to form the beautiful structures that you see in these pictures.
The great thing about the Dillon Ice Castles is that they will look different from year to year due to weather! No two experiences will be alike when you visit. Variances in sunshine and snowfall create unique structures each year, so it is worth visiting multiple times if you decide to!
Dillon Ice Castles – The Details
The Dillon Ice Castles are typically open from late December to early February, depending on the weather, so you still have plenty of time to get out and see the ice castles this year! Located just about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Denver, you can easily make this a day trip or a short weekend getaway.
Before visiting the Dillon Ice Castles you will need to head to their website and decide what day and time you would like to go. Entry is allowed in 30 minute time slots but once you are inside the castles, you can stay as long as you would like! I would recommend purchasing your tickets in advance on the ice castles website. You will be able to buy tickets at the door, but there is no guarantee that you will make it inside if a time slot is sold out!
Below is the pricing of the tickets:
I would plan to spend about 45 minutes to 1 hour walking around and exploring around the ice castles. There are lots of secret tunnels, fun ice slides and other nooks and crannies within the castles to explore, so you will definitely want to take your time!
Helpful Tips for Visiting the Dillon Ice Castles
1. What to Wear and Bring
Like I said above, you will be wandering around the ice castles for a decent amount of time out in the cold, plus you will be waiting in the entry line for at least 10 -15 minutes to get in. When we visited (in early January), temperatures were at about 6 degrees but felt like negative 5 – BRRRR! In order to stay warm and have the most enjoyable experience, make sure to bring:
- Warm jackets, gloves, hats, socks, and scarves. Wear lots of layers!
- Snow pants if you plan to crawl through the secret tunnels or ride one of the many ice slides.
- Hand warmers – these saved my life while I had my hands exposed to the elements while taking pictures!
- Warm shoes with good traction – snow boots or heavy duty hiking boots will do!
Strollers are not allowed inside of the ice castles due to the snowy and slippery conditions, so bring a sled to haul the little ones around!
Also, be sure to bring a camera to get some unique and memorable pictures!
2. Plan Ahead and Purchase Tickets Early
Time slots fill up quickly, especially on the weekends, so make sure to buy your tickets online in advance! We went on a Saturday night from 7:30pm to 8pm. It was a bit busier than I would imagine a weekday is, plus it was much colder too! My recommendation would be to visit on a weekday if possible between 4:30pm and 5pm. We were able to experience the ice castles lit up at night but missed out on seeing them in the daylight! If you go around dusk, you will get the best of both worlds.
3. Eat Before You Go
Outside food and drinks are not allowed in the Dillon Ice Castles, and there will not be food or beverages within the castles, so be sure to eat before you go! Here are a few of my top recommendations for before or after your visit to the ice castles:
- Zuma Road House – Located in Keystone about 15 minutes from the ice castles. We ate here beforehand and it was delicious!
- Dillon Dam Brewery – We frequent this restaurant when we are in the area. They have a wide variety of options for everyone!
- Cameez Hot Chocolate – This is located directly across the street from the ice castles – so convenient! We headed over to Cameez after we were done and had some yummy hot chocolate to warm up!
Lastly, be sure to use an indoor restroom before entering. There are a few porta potties outside of the castles, but I can’t imagine those would be very enjoyable in the freezing cold!
Other Fun Things to do in Summit County
If you are planning a day trip or weekend trip around your ice castle visit, be sure to explore Dillon and the other surrounding towns in Summit County! Dillon is the perfect place to visit in the winter because there are so many fun things to do. Breckenridge and Keystone are not very far away and provide a wide variety of additional winter activities for you to enjoy while you are staying in the area.
When we visited the ice castles, we decided to stick around for an entire weekend and do some exploring and skiing in Keystone! We got married right in Keystone Village at Warren Station, so we always like to go back and reminisce 🙂
Other fun activities in the area include:
- Snowshoeing or cross country skiing (I love a great winter workout!)
- Ice Skating at Lake Keystone (one of my favorite things to do!)
- Shopping at the Outlets at Silverthorne (just kidding – THIS is one of my favorite things to do!)
- Ice fishing at Lake Dillon (too cold for me…)
- Skiing (too cold but don’t care – it’s waaaay too much fun!). Breckenridge, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin are very close to Dillon. You can check out my post all about skiing here!
I hope these tips help you have the best, warmest and most memorable experience while visiting the Dillon Ice Castles! After your visit, I’d love to hear about your favorite part in the comments below. And as always, feel free to contact me with any questions!