11 Tips for a Magical Experience at the Dillon Ice Castles

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Update for the 2022 season: the Ice Castles won’t be returning to Dillon CO this season. There are 5 locations around the country that will be open this year and most these tips apply no matter where you find your magical winter experience this year!

A magical experience comes to Colorado every winter. If you haven’t visited the Dillon Ice Castles before, this is a must-add to your list of winter adventures this year. Explore and play through 20 million pounds of ice for a winter experience like no other. And they’re back this year for the Ice Castles Colorado 2021 season.

Ice Castles sign at the entrance at night
The Ice Castles in Dillon are a magical winter experience.

Experiencing the Magic of the Ice Castles

The Ice Castles are massive, hand-built structures created from 20 million pounds of ice. Explore what seems like a never-ending series of rooms, reached through icicle archways and slot canyons. Crawl through hand-carved ice tunnels, slide down 50-foot ice slides, and watch water shoot up from ice fountains.

During the day, the castles feel like a fairy-tale, as you’re surrounded by awe-inspiring walls and archways of icicles. You won’t be able to help from channeling your inner Elsa. At night, color-changing LED lights embedded in the ice structures give the castles an entirely different feel but no less impressive.

the silhouettes of people with the glow of lights from inside the Dillon Ice Castles

Other Ice Castle Locations

The Ice Castles will be in 3 other locations this season. In addition to Ice Castles Colorado 2021, you’ll also find them in Midway, Utah; North Woodstock, New Hampshire; and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

COVID-19 Precautions at the Dillon Ice Castles

Like many other attractions, the Ice Castles Colorado 2021 season has put precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These changes include mask requirements (for guests and employees), one-way traffic through certain areas, reduced capacity, and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the facility.

kids in the Dillon Ice Castles with a backdrop of color-changing lights
Experience the Ice Castles after dark, when color-changing LED lights illuminate the icicles

11 Tips for Visiting the Dillion Ice Castles

It’s one of Colorado’s most unique experiences found in the mountains every winter. Knowing what to expect before you go will ensure the entire family has the best experience at the Ice Castles in Dillon, Colorado.

1. Buy tickets in advance – and early

Tickets to the Ice Castles in Dillon sell out, so reserve your spot ahead of time. And since the season is so short, and buy your tickets early. Many time slots sell out quickly, and online ticket prices are also lower than tickets at the gate.

2. Leave pets at home

Dogs are unfortunately not allowed in the Ice Castles. And with the low winter temps in the Colorado mountains, you wouldn’t want to leave your dog in the car while you spend time exploring the castles.

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However, service animals (but not comfort or emotional support animals) are allowed to accompany guests inside the castles.

3. Bring a sled instead of a stroller

While strollers are not allowed, sleds are permitted. Bring one along to tow the kiddos when their little legs get tired from climbing, playing, and exploring.

4. Wear the right shoes

The icy, packed snow can get slick. Winter boots are your best bet because of the cold, but any shoes with good traction will make walking through the structures much more manageable.

5. Hit the restroom before entering

There are portable restroom facilities near the entrance. If you think you’ll need them, stop before going into the Ice Castles. There is no re-entry once you exit.

6. Be ready to play

The Ice Castles in Dillon are an interactive experience, and it’s not just for kids! Mom and dad also get in on the fun, climbing through ice tunnels and soaring down ice slides.

hand carved tunnels in the Ice Castles
These hand-carved ice tunnels are fun for the grown-ups too!

7. Plan to eat before – or after

Food and drinks are not permitted in the Ice Castles, so plan your visit accordingly. If there isn’t time to grab a meal before your timed entry, bring snacks if you want something before entering the castles.

8. Bring your camera

As you can imagine, there are SO many incredible photo opportunities. So many that I had to force myself to put my camera down, so I wasn’t just experiencing the Ice Castles through the camera lens.

Post your best shots on social media with the hashtag #icecastles.

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9. Choose a late afternoon time slot

Daylight and nighttime hours make very different experiences at the Ice Castles. To get both experiences, time your visit for late afternoon, so you can stay until the sun goes down.

10. Visit during the week

Weekends (Friday-Saturday-Sunday) are the busiest time at the Ice Castles, so try to time your visit for Monday-Thursday. You’re more likely to avoid the crowds, get the time slot you want, and save money on tickets during the week.

11. Don’t hesitate to visit again

Once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, right? Well, not really. The magic of the castles changes from day to night, from season to season, and even within a season. It most definitely won’t be the same experience twice.

Dillon Ice Castles in Colorado during the day
The experience during the day is entirely different from the color-changing magic of the castles at night.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does it Take to Go Through the Ice Castles?

It typically takes about 45 minutes to cover all of the Ice Castles in Dillon. We had so much fun on the ice slides that we stayed a little more than an hour.

How Long Can You Stay in the Ice Castles?

With a reserved time slot, you can stay and explore as long as you would like.

How Much Does it Cost to Go to the Ice Castles?

Ticket prices vary by day of week and age. Weekends (Friday-Sunday) and holidays are $22.99 for adults and $17.99 for kids ages 4-11. Weekday tickets (Monday-Thursday) offer some savings at $17.99 for adults and $13.99 for kids.

When Do the Dillon Ice Castles Open?

The weather determines the opening and closing dates of the Ice Castles each year, so the dates vary. For the 2020-2021 season, the Ice Castles are expected to open in late December, which is a little earlier than the usual early January opening date. The closing date is usually late March.

How Long Are the Ice Castles Open?

The Ice Castles need cold, frigid temps to maintain their structure, so they are only open during the coldest months of the season. They are typically open for up to 3 months.

Are the Ice Castles Worth It?

Absolutely! Exploring the Ice Castles is a unique experience that is definitely worth adding to any Colorado itinerary. Each year, the structures are hand-built, which takes crews about 4,000 hours to build.
All the effort to create this phenomenal winter experience is worth every penny.

What Should I Wear to the Ice Castles?

Dress for the cold when visiting the Dillon Ice Castles! Wear the same thing you would wear for any winter outdoor activity: snow pants, a warm coat, hat, mittens, and boots with good traction. Keep your face warm, especially after the sun sets, with a neck gaiter. For the Ice Castles Colorado 2021 season, plan to also wear a mask.

How Are the Dillon Ice Castles Made?

Crews build their own materials by growing 30-foot icicles each night – about 10,000 of them each day. The harvested icicles are used to construct the walls and archways.

Find more information on the Ice Castles Colorado 2022 season here

exploring the Ice Castles in Dillon Colorado

Where to Stay When Visiting the Ice Castles

We like quick and easy hotels when we’re just looking for a place to sleep (and maybe swim!). The Best Western Ptarmigan Lodge in Dillon is just a 5-minute walk to the Ice Castles.

Rental homes and condos are also plentiful in Dillon. Check Airbnb or VRBO for available properties.

Other Things to Do While Visiting Dillon Colorado

Make your visit to the Ice Castles part of a winter getaway in the Colorado mountains.

Skiing and Snowboarding Near Dillon

Dillon is close to Keystone Ski Resort (10-minute drive) and Breckenridge Ski Resort (30 min drive), which makes a visit to the Ice Castles in Dillon a great addition to a day out on the slopes. Vail and Copper Mountain Ski Resorts are also short drives from Dillon.

Related Reading: The 7 Best Family-Friendly Ski Resorts in Colorado

Even if you’re not a skier or boarder, each of these ski resorts offers shopping, restaurants, and other winter activities.

Snow Adventures at Frisco Adventure Park

Keep the winter experience going with tubing, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, and more at Frisco Adventure Park is less than 15 minutes from the Ice Castles.

Shopping

We know not everyone is into a full day of outdoor adventures in frigid temps. And sometimes a little retail therapy is in order. If that’s the case, then we recommend a stop at the Silverthorne Outlet Mall.

Have you been to the Ice Castles in Dillon or another location? Let us know about your experience in the comments!


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