Ice Castles Make Grand Cripple Creek Debut

Popular Attraction Opens Early Due to Cold Weather

Trevor Phipps


After a brief two-year hiatus, the beloved Ice Castles attraction has officially returned to Colorado.


Better yet, the fantastical attraction, which brought joy to visitors in other parts of the state, is making its first appearance in Cripple Creek. In addition, due to favorable conditions, Ice Castles is welcoming visitors much earlier than expected.


When word first came out that the attraction would be coming to town, it was vague regarding the opening date. The Ice Castles’ website started selling tickets, but it just stated that the attraction would be open to the public some time in December or January. A recent town hall meeting even indicated that the opening would not occur until the very end of 2023, or possible even later.

But then it was announced that due to favorable and cold weather conditions, Ice Castles would be making its grand opening at 4 p.m. on Dec. 19.  The long-awaited grand opening occurred right before the sunset to showcase the exquisite lighting built into the castle.


And according to the Ice Castles’ officials, the attraction is slated to stay open as long as weather will allow. Some years, the Ice Castles have been able to remain open into the month of March.


The Ice Castles are now open to visitors and everyone wishing to partake in the experience, needs to reserve a time slot online at Visitors will then be allowed to spend as much time as they like, with many spending and hour and a half to two hours inside the attraction, according to company operators.


The Ice Castles are known to sell out often, so it is wise to plan ahead. The castles are open to all ages with the walking surface resembling an experience of “walking around on sand.”


The structure in Cripple Creek is posted up on a hill on the southeast part of town, where the attraction can be seen from just about anywhere in the city. The attraction is about an acre in size, and it is filled with a variety of activities and special perks for families.

The castle consists of several rooms where people can enjoy the beauty of the naturally frozen water in the form of lit-up castle walls. While inside, visitors can wander through various archways and caverns that are nestled inside the castle.


The castles are also built with ice slides that people of all ages can cruise down. According to Ice Castles build crew member Anna Closser, there are even two slides next to each other that people can race down.

While inside the castle, children and the more adventurous adults can crawl through the web of crawl tunnels. But Closser cautions that it might not be the best idea for those who are claustrophobic.


Closser said that the process of building the Ice Castles  starts in August or September for planning and research.  Generally, it takes a crew of around 50 people to build and operate. “Once the weather turns, which this year was a little bit before Thanksgiving, we start actually posting icicles and then it just kind of shoots right up from there,” Closser explained.


Closser said that the castles really only take water to preserve through the winter season once they are built. “We let Mother Nature do most of the work so that’s why we have to be in places that have traditionally pretty cold temperatures overnight or have pretty cold temperatures during the day time,” Closser said. “And we typically choose places that allow us to run water on the castles every night.”


The Birth of Ice Castles


The Ice Castles first came about after founder Brent Christensen moved with his family of six kids from sunny California to snowy Utah. It was there he developed a rare idea. In order to keep his stir-crazy kids from going wild one winter, he had the idea to build an ice castle in his yard to give his kids a reason to get out of the house.


The first ice castle in his yard then grew to a business that started building ice castles in various places all over the country since 2011. Now the company builds and operates six different ice castles across the U.S. every season with each of them being unique.


The company now has an attraction in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Utah, Minnesota, New York, along with Colorado. “Every castle is unique in their own way because it has a lot to do with what the land is like, what the structure is like and how the ice will grow,” Closser explained. “So, everyone is a little different.”


The company had a location in Colorado for four years up until the ’21-’22 winter season. The Colorado site was previously located in Dillon, but some complains occurred due to traffic congestion. The castles took two years off from coming to Colorado before picking Cripple Creek as its destination for at least the ’23-’24 winter season.

“We are really excited to be in Cripple Creek this year and to be back in Colorado,” Closser said. “We have always enjoyed being here, so thank you!”