One day, while meandering around the web, mindlessly clicking here and there, I somehow stumbled upon The Ice Castles at Silverthorne. I was immediately fascinated and got right on the horn to find someone who might share my now urgent obsession to go investigate this ice dripping marvel. Score!
Now as many of you may know, Silverthorne is a decent drive…about 2 ½ hours from Fort Collins and that’s on a clear, non-ski-worthy day…so we had lofty expectations. The pictures looked great…it was unique, nothing we’d ever seen…and we were headed to the mountains with the sole purpose of being in ‘awe’.
When we pulled into Silverthorne we realized that neither of us, in all of our excitement, had remembered to print the directions, but hey, it’s an Ice Castle right?...how hard could that be?There were indeed signs posted along the roadside, but to be honest, we could have easily driven by and not given it a second thought. From the car we were unimpressed. Our first reaction: “that’s it??” It looked like a massive, sun glinting, crystal dream on the web…how could that be “it”? By now, I had Googled it on my phone, found the directions, information on parking and was happy to discover that you can park within 20 feet of the main entrance. Good thing ‘cause it was COLD.
As we approached the small office that sits out front, we were a little worried. Had we been duped? We paid our $10 entry fee and asked for a tour (one had been offered via our Facebook page). We entered through a large icicle encrusted arch and despite our proprietary voice shouting ‘listen to your tour guide!’ the cameras seemed to jump from our pockets. We kept apologizing, “we’re listening, sorry”, but our actions ratted us out. Each step seemed to offer a new photo op, a new discovery of this unique art form. With sun dancing on icicles; your imagination starts to hum. Inside, we were antsy to start discovering on our own. When set free, without a word, we drifted into our own paths of exploration. What appeared to us as “small” just 10 minutes earlier seemed to grow and stretch our imaginations.
Did I mention the COLD? You are almost ‘painfully’ reminded that you are lingering in a field of ice; 20-plus feet high of beautiful, glistening ice to be exact. If you go in March, it could easily be 40 ft of ice, as this labor of love continues to grow. This is after all, man made. Brent Christensen, the man with the vision, the man that started by making something fun for his kids, is the force behind this feat of the surreal. Yep, started it in his own front yard. I am always impressed by people who take something so personal and share it with the rest of the world… without expectation or pretense. Brent was there, of course, perfecting the experience and taking time to chat along the way.
There are three definite components to The Ice Castles: Daylight, Sunset, Night. Each contributes to the recipe of revelation. We arrived later in the day, around 3pm, to ensure we could experience each. I think sunset was my favorite, but ask me again in 10 minutes. I took 88 pictures…on my camera. At least another dozen on my phone for rapid posting to Facebook so my friends could “ooo & ahhh” (they didn’t disappoint). We were addicted, plain and simple. Daylight brought shimmer and joy, Sunset offered calm and romance and Night offered mystery and formality. Of course, just like any true art form it is entirely subjective and every visitor’s experience will offer something that is individual to them. Just like the hundreds of thousands of icicles that hang from this curiosity…each of us unique in what we see and how we interpret it. So, it’s up to you. You can stand inside the main arches…look up…and discover a million tiny nuances…or you can think, “it’s just ice”.
If you do decide to make the journey to this frozen frontier, here are our tips to make it an enjoyable experience:
- Dress appropriately. Hats, gloves, warm coat. Even with the sun shining, it gets extremely cold and if you plan to stay after dark, bring layers.
- Hand warmers – They sell them at the entrance for $1 and, honestly, it will be the best $1 you ever spent.
- If your kids like to touch everything, this may not be for them. There is a ‘no touching’ policy.
- Bring your camera! But if you forget it, there is a Target right across the street.
- Arrive in the afternoon if you plan to visit day and night. Your ticket is good all day, so you can leave and return if you want to grab a hot coffee or cocoa nearby.
Adult – one time pass - $10.00
Child – one time pass (12 & under) - $7.50
Child under 3 years – Free
Mon – Thurs: 11am – 9pm
Fri: 11am – 10pm
Sat: 10am – 10pm
Note: hours can change due to weather, so make sure you check their website before you leave.
For a full description and directions, visit their website, www.icecastles.com.