overlays: {bottom: true}

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Ice Castles

Happy new year! Can you believe that it's 2020 already? Doesn't that sound like some sort of distant future date? You know, when we'll all have flying cars, or something like that!

Well, we don't have flying cars but we do have plenty of pretty amazing things that go beyond imagination, and we spent the last day of the last decade checking one of them out. No, nothing computerized, electronic or robotic, but something that does require science to build - along with a healthy dose of imagination and creativity. I'm talking about Ice Castles! 

Not sure what Ice Castles are? Read on... you're in for a treat! 

Every year since 2011 the team behind Ice Castles have been making magical creations one ice crystal at a time. Well, more than one a time, more like 5,000 to 12,000 icicles harvested by hand and sculpted individually into formations. These icicles grow and grow taking shapes formed by the wind, water volume, temperature and a little human assistance until they become the 25 million pound structures the public gets to see and explore. Isn't that amazing? To make these structures even more magical, there are thousands of twinkling lights inserted into the ice that glow in a range of colors and sparkle to music when the sun goes down. 

There are six Ice Castles locations around the US and Canada including Midway (Utah), North Woodstock (New Hampshire),  New Brighton (Minnesota), Lake Geneva (Wisconsin), Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) and, luckily for us, Dillon, right here in Colorado. Just like snowflakes, no two Ice Castles are the same.   

We took a trip to Dillon on New Year's Eve to experience the Ice Castles for ourselves again (we also visited last year when we visited Colorado during Winter break - you can read about that here). It was just as magical as our previous visit. Last year we visited late in the day so that we could experience both the stunning blue and white colors of the ice as it sparkled in the sun and also the colorful lights when the sun went down. Our California bodies weren't accustomed to the cold and while we had a blast, we all left feeling rather chilly. This time around we decided to just visit during the day and I made sure to choose the warmest and sunniest day in the forecast. Our bodies have also become somewhat accustomed to Colorado Winters so we didn't leave with feet feeling like blocks of ice like last year!

Okay, enough of me blabbing on, you want to see pictures, right? Prepare yourself, because I took a ton - no surprises there! Here's a look at our visit to Ice Castles...

Seriously, how pretty are all those ice crystals? Pretty magical, right? I love all the blue colors that are formed where the ice is thicker and how it changes hue based on the sun. What also seemed to change color, at least from our perspective inside the Ice Castle, was the color of the sky. Depending on where we stood, the direction of the sun, and how much ice was around us, the sky color varied from light blues to dark blues so deep they almost looked black. The sun rays peering over the edges of the ice structure were simply stunning - if rather dazzling for the kids who did not have sunglasses on. Pro tip - bring sunglasses for the entire family! Colorado is already pretty sunny and all that sunlight reflected of the white ice can get pretty dazzling.   

The ice formations in the Ice Castles vary so much and at every turn we were greeted by something new. Icicles growing up and down like stalactites and stalagmites, ice that looked like bubbles, thin but wide sheets of ice that reminded us of the "Cave Bacon" we'd seen in Inner Space Cavern in Texas, narrow icicles that zig-zagged across walls, ice that appeared to flow like (frozen) molten lava, caves and tunnels with curtains of icicles above, ice formations that grew out the top like the hoodoos we'd seen in Utah and Canada, smooth ice, pointy and jagged ice, snow capped ice... Ice, ice, ice! 

While it was hard for me to choose which type of ice formation I liked best, the kids are guaranteed to be able to tell you theirs without thinking - the slides! Ice Castles in Dillon features three ice slides. A teeny, tiny one just for little kids, a medium slide for kids and adults alike, and a large slide (with the largest queue) for anyone over 42" tall. The kids had a lot of fun sliding down the medium slide over and over again (I had a few turns too), but the largest slide was definitely the highlight, and well worth the wait. Make sure to watch the video below of us all taking a turn on the big slide.

Coming in for a close second for kid favorite after the slides, would have to be the tunnels. Some of the tunnels were tall enough for adults to walk through, but the most fun tunnels were the ones that were so small that crawling was required. Pro tip - make sure you have gloves on if you enter the crawling only tunnels! I took mine off to use my phone and instantly regretted it. My fingers were numb for quite some time after.

The tunnels and slides were super fun, but for me, just taking in all the magnificent ice formations is what it's all about. I was in constant awe as we walked around looking at the ice. It really is stunning, especially when you think about the fact that none of it was there just a few short months ago. Isn't it amazing what science, nature and a little imagination can create?

We spent close to an hour and a half exploring the Ice Castles, and to be honest, I would've happily stayed longer. We stopped for a few more happy snaps on our way out before heading off for hot chocolate to warm up.

The Ice Castles are truly stunning, although it does make me a little sad to think that it will all be gone again come Spring. But that's part of the magic, right? It wouldn't be as special if it was there all year round - plus it would be kind of impossible! If you're wondering where all that ice goes, each Ice Castles location is built by a natural water source, in this case Dillon Reservoir where all the water will eventually go. During our visit to Dillon, the reservoir was frozen solid (at least on top) and we were able to run around and play on the surface. I'ts kind of crazy to think that sometime in Spring the reservoir, like the Ice Castles, will be water once again.

Have you visited Ice Castles before? This was our second visit in Colorado and it definitely won't be our last. We hoped to visit in Utah when we were there over Winter Break a few years back, but as the construction of Ice Castles in weather dependent, and Utah was having a mild early Winter, it didn't open for the season until the day we started our drive back to California.

For more information about Ice Castles and to book tickets, visit https://icecastles.com/

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...