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Get Outside... in Winter!

Ice Castles: Cripple Creek Welcomes Visitors to an Icy Wonderland

In 2000, Brent Christensen relocated from California to Utah with his wife and six children. Snow was a novelty and Christensen and his children enjoyed discovering all the ways to enjoy winter. One day, his neighbor accidentally left his water hose on and it created a giant ice monolith. This inspired Christensen to create something fun for his children.

Using wooden frames, Christensen started experimenting with water to create tunnels, slides, and sculptures. His front lawn became a winter utopia and before long, the neighborhood kids started showing up to enjoy his icy formations. There was just one problem: In the spring, after the ice melted, the wood crumbled to the ground.

If You Build it, They will Come

The following year, Christensen devised a method to create a structure without a frame. He discovered that inverted icicles could be sprayed with water and it would build them up. They became quite strong. This method allowed him to create walls, slides, arches, tunnels and sculptures. In 2011, he built and opened his first public ice castle.

After his success in Utah, Christensen opened a location in Summit County, Colorado. After a few years in Dillon, the Ice Castles chose a new Colorado location: Cripple Creek.

“Cripple Creek is a great location because of its high elevation, proximity to Colorado Springs and Denver, you can avoid “the tunnel,” and the community is so supportive and excited to host us,” Christensen says.

Months of Preparation and Planning

The planning process for the ice castle begins in summer. They determine the layout by locating the water source, drainage, parking area, and then examine the land formations. They list all of the ice elements and then determine where each element will be placed. In October, they roll in with their equipment and their schematics and begin placing the infrastructure of electricity, water pipes, and lighting. Once freezing temps arrive, they begin building the layers of ice to create an ice castle that spans across nearly an acre of land.

“Mother Nature determines when the Ice Castle will open,” Christensen says. “We typically announce our opening a week before the official date.”

Things to Know Before You Go

  • Make sure you dress warmly and wear appropriate footwear with good traction. At nearly 9,500 feet of elevation, the temps can be quite cold, especially after the sun goes down.
  • Visitors are encouraged to bring their cameras to capture all of the fun.
  • While tickets are available at the Ice Castle, online tickets are encouraged. There are limited numbers of tickets sold and they do sell out. Online tickets are also less expensive.
  • The Ice Castle is unable to accommodate your pets. 

Website: https://icecastles.com/colorado/
Facebook: @TheIceCastles
Instagram: @icecastles_

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