I read up the entire FAQ on the site to figure out how to make my trip the absolute best, however, I found after going there were a few additional things I would have liked to have known ahead of time so I decided to write up a blog post giving you my tips for how to rock your visit to Ice Castles.
1. Buy your tickets ahead of time, online
There are a couple of reason to buy your tickets ahead of time, especially if you plan on going on the weekends. I’ve noticed that tickets tend to sell out for the coming weekend. If you’re coming from Denver like I was, it would be a total bummer to travel all the way to Dillon just to be shut out of getting to go inside the Ice Castles. All tickets are for a 30-minute window of entry, and the most popular times seem to be between 4-7 pm on Saturdays so if you are looking to go during that day/time, I recommend securing tickets at LEAST one week before you want to go.
The added benefit of buying your tickets online is that they are cheaper. Online the tickets for Friday – Sunday are $18.95 for General Admission (12+) and $14.95 for a Child (4-11). Kids 3 and younger are free! If you try to buy standby tickets on-site at the booth, they are $25 and $20 respectively. Online tickets Monday – Thursday night are $1-2 cheaper than the weekend tickets but are also more expensive if you try to buy on-site.
Pro tip: Check the online site several times if you are looking to go day-of. When I went this Saturday, I checked for tickets around 12 noon and saw that later on in the day (after 4 pm) were all sold out. However I refreshed the site a few times and noticed that the “SOLD OUT” notice would sometimes change, and tickets would actually open up. It was through this refreshing that I actually snagged my tickets for Saturday at 4 – 4:30 pm. So give the old refresh trick a try if you are trying to go later on the same day and it looks “SOLD OUT.”
It looks like tickets are only on sale through February 2, 2019. It looks like they update the calendar as the weeks go on (probably based on the weather predictions) so definitely book your tickets now before you get shut out of the weekend of your choice.
If you pre-purchased your tickets, have the QR code on your phone ready once you get to the entrance booth – they will scan the code and then ask each person to read the safety waiver and then sign their name to accept the terms – then you’re ready to go inside!
2. Get there during your allotted 30-minute window
They don’t include this information in the FAQs, but when you go to buy tickets the mention that you are buying a ticket to enter during the stated window of time. If you show up before your time, you may have to wait to get in, if you show up after your time, you may not get to enter at all.
When I went, I didn’t necessarily see anyone enforcing these rules (the line and ticket process was pretty chill), but why take the chance! Once you get inside, you can stay as long as you like – however please note there is no re-entry allowed once you leave.
3. Eat and go to the bathroom before entering
There are no food options or bathrooms inside the Ice Castles in Dillon. There are porta-potties outside the entrance and the exit areas. If they are sticklers about the no re-entry policy, that means you won’t be able to get back in if you want to go to the bathroom. You also don’t want to cut your stay short because you are getting hangry!
4. Wear shoes with good traction
They mention to wear winter boots on the site, and I agree. I’d even go one step further and say if you have Yak Traxs, wear them. It might be a bit overkill (and you can certainly get by without them), but much of the space doesn’t have soft snow pile – it’s mainly ice. I wish I had brought mine. So if you don’t like slipping around (or are prone to falling when walking on ice), make sure to wear shoes or shoe accessories that give you some good traction!
5. Wear water-resistant clothing and be prepared to crawl on your hands and knees
The site says to wear warm winter clothes, but to be more specific, I think wearing ski clothes is a good idea. There are a bunch of areas were you can army crawl through tunnels or into igloos – mainly over ice. If you wear jeans, they will get pretty wet, so I recommend some water-resistant pants and jacket.
I think maybe these areas where you need to crawl may have been designed with kids in mind, but I saw plenty of adults taking them on. If you’re claustrophobic or aren’t flexible/nimble/a child – you’ll probably want to skip the igloos and you’ll definitely want to skip the tunnels. Once you crawl down and get into the igloos, you can stand, but there isn’t that much room in there – once more than five adults in the igloo I was starting to feel kinda panicky because it starts to feel very small very quickly.
The tunnels are pretty tight as well – I’m 5’2″ and I even felt it was kinda close quarters. I had to army crawl the whole way through and some of the exit/entry points require you to sorta seal-slide in/out. The children in front of me didn’t seem to mind though. 😉
Make sure to bring hats and warm gloves too – Everything around you is made of ice, so if you spend a significant time walking around or taking pictures, you’ll want to make sure you are warm enough.
6. Go around 4 – 4:30 pm to get the best of both worlds
If you want to see the Ice Castles during the daylight AND the nighttime (when everything is lit up with colored lights), go around the 4 – 4:30 pm entry time. You’ll be there early enough that you’ll get some good pictures while it’s still light out, but you won’t have to wait hours to also see the Castles once everything gets dark.
I actually preferred the photos I took during the daylight hours over the ones I took once it turned night, so if photos are your primary objective, you might even want to go during the daytime. It will be less crowded, so you’ll get a better chance of getting that perfect shot without anyone in your background.
Nighttime you get the ice being lit up in a lot of colors – but sometimes that can make your photos look like a giant wall of blue/yellow/purple/whatever color is shining at that moment, and you don’t actually get to see the details of the ice structure. Also, unless you properly color-correct your photos, you could end up looking like some scary all-green monster in your shots.
There is a fire show that happens every Friday and Saturday night between 7 – 9 pm, but I didn’t wait around to see it so I can’t comment!
7. Plan to spend about 45 minutes – 1 hour walking around/waiting in lines
If you go during the prime time hours of between 4 – 7 pm, expect to spend about 45 minutes to 1 hour inside if you want to walk around, see everything, take pictures, and wait on line for the big attractions.
In 2018, the big attractions were the Pixel Wall and Big Slide.
Pixel Wall is a wall that glows with rainbow-colored lights. When we first got there around 4:30 pm, there weren’t that many people waiting to take a photo of the Pixel Wall. But then maybe 30 minutes later there was a huge line after it turned dark and you could really see the colors.
The Big Slide is a slide made of ice that anyone over 42″ can go down. The Big Slide line was pretty long – it maybe took 10 minutes to get to the front (for about 5 seconds of sliding – it’s a relatively short slide). They provide these little blue plastic mats you sit on to go down the slide so you don’t get your behind wet, and there are two tracks alongside one another so if you want, you can race a friend down to the bottom. Also when you hit the bottom, there is a furry white rug that stops you from sliding so don’t worry about sliding into a pile of snow/ice at the end!
As you can see from this map of the Ice Castles from 2018,
8. Bring a sled for little kids
You’re not allowed to bring strollers inside, so if you have little ones who you think won’t be able to walk on the ice, be sure to bring a little sled to drag them around on.
9. Have fun!
I had a lot of fun during my visit to the Ice Castles. Probably my favorite area was the Dome Room, where you can see icicles coming down from a large domed ceiling.
There are other cool areas to take photos that aren’t marked on the map – little alcoves with large icicles dangling, and there is an area by the Kid Slide where you can sit – it’s not quite an ice throne like they have at some of the other Ice Castles this company created in the US and Canada, but it could make a good shot.
Have fun finding cool little nooks (even getting down on your hands and knees) to get some interesting shots! I also found the Big Slide fun as well – just wished it was a longer ride.
Those are my tips on how to make the most of your visit to the Ice Castles in Dillon, Colorado. For more info and to buy tickets, visit the official site for Ice Castles Dillon. If you’re on you way to Ice Castles, the address to punch into your GPS is 120 Buffalo St, Dillon, CO 80435.
If you found this guide helpful, or have any other tips to share, let me know by leaving a comment below!