DILLON — In our exclusive new series Adventures with Alan, we'll travel across Colorado week-by-week to show you thrills and chills, hidden gems and well-known spots.
This week our adventures take us to the award-winning Ice Castles in Dillon, a frozen attraction that brings crowds of people to Colorado each winter.
Now in its fourth year, the Ice Castles located in Summit County have grown more popular and more magnificent every year.
Building the castles is no small feat. It takes a talented team of engineers, architects and builders.
Build Manager Keith Heintzelman says that they start planning the castles each year in the fall.
"We have a crew of about 25 people. About 10,000 man hours is what we figure it takes to get it open," Heintzelman said.
Made from 100 million pounds of ice, it takes the team about four to six weeks to build.
There's no supporting structures found throughout the castles. It's all water and ice!
Even more amazing is that it's built from hundreds of thousands of tiny icicles.
The icicles Heintzelman tells us are grown in factories and farms.
"They start out about the size of your thumb. We'll hand place it in there. We'll spray water over top of it, and then it'll grow both out and up," said Heintzelman.
On a visit to the castles, you'll see breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, fountains and several slides.
The largest is a 50 foot slide made entirely of ice blocks. Expect to wait when you visit, but it's worth it!
Small tunnels are built throughout the castles as well.
I give them a try, but quickly realize that this part of the attraction is better suited for the little ones.
Even more impressive is a collection of frozen thrones found throughout the castles.
They've been carved out of ice blocks. The largest one weighs 2,500 pounds.
The Ice Castles are stunning during the day, but Heintzelman says that they really shine at night.
"We have hundreds of LEDs in here, so we have different greens and blues and pinks and reds and just kind of change it, and it's just kind of a magical wonderland," said Heintzelman.
For more information and to buy tickets, you can visit their website - Icecastles.com.