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Opening Day for Ice Castles in Cripple Creek

The popular ice castles you may have seen on display in Dillon Colorado are coming to Cripple Creek.
Ice Castles Cripple Creek
Ice Castles Cripple Creek
Ice Castle Sarah Murphy.jpg
Posted at 7:43 PM, Dec 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-19 15:08:21-05

CRIPPLE CREEK — The company that owns the ice castles announced Friday morning an opening date of December 19. With that announcement, more tickets are expected to become available.

Work has been going on for several weeks now to get the venue created and ready for the thousands of people who visit each year.

The walls of the ice castles are carefully being sculpted. Right now the ice castles are nearly 12 feet tall. Kail Hanrahan is the Ice Castles Event Manager. She said when they are done the walls will be around 20 feet tall.

“Welcome ice castles in cripple creek, we are currently building in the construction phase,” Hanrahan said.

A group of 20 artists have been busy creating this winter wonderland. They are working hard to build and create the castles so family and friends can enjoy. They use multiple tools and techniques when building, including chainsaws.

“You can see at the top of our ice walls we have some new growth, ” Hanrahan said.

The castles are formed from the ground up.

“We intentionally hand place each icicle and hope it grows in the direction we want it to, run water on it, as it expands it combines with the icicles next to it and we create an ice wall,” Hanrahan said.

She said it takes four to six weeks of cold weather to build the castles.

“We are always kind of working, working to adapt to the weather,” Hanrahan said.

Hanrahan said when the temperature cools off in the evenings and with snow in the forecast, that's when a lot of the creation happens.

The castles will have color-changing lights inside the ice.

“We will have not only the castles you get to explore but as you go through we have ice slides, ice caverns, crawl tunnels, big slides, kid slides, something for everyone,” Hanrahan said.

Town officials estimate anywhere between 80,000 to 100,000 people will come check out the ice castles.

“Tourism is huge here, all the small businesses here, but you need people to come out to support the small businesses,” said Shay Ruesch.

Shay Ruesch and her family live just outside Cripple Creek. Christensen Mountain Home builders is her family’s business. Ruesch said she is excited that Cripple Creek is hosting the ice castles this year.

“This was my first time seeing them,” Ruesch said. “Today I looked over and said oh my goddess they really are right there.”

Ruesch hopes the attraction will help her business and others around Cripple Creek as well.

“I hope people will come out and see how beautiful it is and how away from the city it is because that is why I like living out here,” Ruesch said.

She said less people visit cripple creek when it is cold out, but she hopes this will bring more people to town.

“This little town has so much potential. I am glad they are going to do things like the ice castles to bring more people up here, to bring them up to the mountains,” Ruesch said.

When talking with Ruesch about the ice castles, her son, Alvin Ruesch, got very excited.

“Let's go mom, I want to go see them,” Alvin said. “It's ice castle time!”

The ice castles are not ready for the Ruesch family to visit just yet. Crews still have some work to do.

According to Hanrahan, nearly 400 people per hour will be able to venture through the castles, once they are opened. She said they let in about 200 people every thirty minutes. Once inside, people can stay and play as long as they like.

It's been two years since the Ice Castles have been to Colorado. They were previously featured in Dillon.

Some tickets are available now.

Is Ice Castles accessible to guests with mobility disabilities?

Peak season tickets (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and during winter breaks)

  • $27 and up for ages 12 and up
  • $22 for 12 years of age and under.

Off-peak tickets (Wednesdays and Thursdays)

  • $21 and up for general admission, ages 12 and up
  • $16 for ages 4-11 years old.

The castles will be built on an open area in downtown Cripple Creek.