Ice Castles in the USA
Have you ever wanted to feel like Elsa, standing in a castle made of pure ice? Or see what fascinating shapes ice can take? This dream can become reality at the ice castles in the US. Every year, unique buildings are created out of ice. Each of the places we are about to introduce you to is different in its design and will let you dive into a new, magical world.
History of the Ice Castles
Most of the ice castles in the USA are created every year by the so-called “Ice Castle Project”. It was started in 2008 by Brent Christensen. He built ice caves for his children in his backyard, and his constructions were met with great enthusiasm. That’s how he developed his idea for the now well-visited ice buildings.
He founded an entire company specialized in building ice castles. Over a period of several months, they build the majority of these well-known ice castles across the USA. They control the shape in which the water freezes, melt it back down if necessary, and then reshape it. Therefore, each castle ends up being a large contiguous piece of ice which weighs over 9,000 tons.
This construction method is quite unique, since most ice sculptures, as well as many other ice castles around the world, are usually carved out of one giant block of ice or made out of multiple blocks of ice stacked on top of each other. The architectural masterpieces are positioned in colder regions. How long you can visit them each year depends on the weather.
Locations of the Ice Castles
Our first ice castle is located in Dillon in the state of Colorado. It is situated close to the outlet at Silverthorne in Town Park and is open for visitors mainly between December and March. There are tunnels to crawl through, frozen fountains and thrones to sit on and make you feel like a king or queen yourself. LEDs are used in many places to enhance the magic.
Since it is so close to the shopping center, why not combine your shopping trip with your visit to the ice castle? There are also a lot of hiking opportunities in the Dillon area – especially in the Dillon Reservoir.
New Woodstock, New Hampshire
The ice castle in North Woodstock is open from mid-January to mid-February. The handmade, LED-lit tunnels, ice caves and ice slides invite you to explore, while the magical forest will transport you to a fantasy world. Horse carriage tours or sledding with a tire tube are especially fun.
The ice castle, however, is not all that New Woodstock has to offer. There are a ton of other snow activities waiting for you. These include skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and riding a snow mobile. So, you see: A trip here in the winter is definitely worth it!
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
The ice castle at Geneva National Resort in Wisconsin is open from late January to late February. It features tunnels, caves, arches, slides, a maze and niches made of ice. The latter are especially popular for marriage proposals. Carriage rides are also available here. Nearby, you will find the Dancing Horse Theatre, a petting zoo, as well as more opportunities for winter activities.
Lake George, New York
This ice castle is located at the Lake George Festival Commons at Charles R. Wood Park. It is usually open from January to early March and stretches across approximately 4,047 square meters. Why not visit the nearby outlet with some shops, several museums such as the Hyde Collection Art Museum and Historic House, and beautiful hiking trails as well?
New Brighton, Minnesota
Located at Long Lake Regional Park, this ice castle features caves, tunnels, fountains, slides and more. The highlight, however, is the fairy tale garden, which is open from early January to early March. You will also find an indoor playground nearby, as well as a lot of parks for extensive walks.
This site was among the first of the “Ice Castle Project”. Each year, the castle is built at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center. This puts it right in the middle of the former site of the Olympic Games. It usually opens in late December or early January and can be visited through the end of February – depending on the weather.
Apart from ice slides, fountains, small niches of ice and caves, there are even small canyons here. Other highlights include a maze and carriage rides.
Besides the ice castle, we also recommend a visit to the nearby city, Park City. It’s as diverse as a big city without losing its small-town flair. It has a large playground, reservations, hot springs and many hiking and biking trails. In addition, the whole area is great for skiing.
Another highlight in Park City is the Sundance Film Festival in the winter. It is the largest independent film festival and is held every year from late January to February.
Our Tips for a Great Ice Castle Trip
The right clothing for the ice castles
The right clothing is an absolute must for visiting any of these places. Dress as if you’re going to play in the snow for several hours. Don’t forget your scarf, hat and gloves! In addition, we recommend wearing snow pants if you want to climb through the tunnels or use the slides.
Be sure to wear thick shoes with a little tread. Otherwise, the risk of slipping is very high. Shoes with small spikes are also allowed, but not absolutely necessary.
Best time of day to visit the ice castles
There is not really a perfect time of day to visit the ice castles. However, we recommend going once during the day and once at night if you are able to. The ice castles give off different and unique vibes at both times.
Photo ideas for the ice castles
The ice castles as well as the sculptures are works of art and, therefore, great photo subjects. But photographing them creatively can be a challenge. Our first idea is to take a photo of the surroundings. Most of the time, there will be snow in the region, which is why it will automatically create the impression of a fairy tale castle.
Try to capture details like the glitter in the sun or the warm reflections of the setting sun.
If you want to take pictures with people, here are some of our ideas: One person could be standing under a passageway made of ice or in front of a large, impressive wall as you photograph them from behind. A throne made of ice offers many possibilities – sitting on it, hiding behind it, almost falling down – there are no limits to your creativity! Other fun ideas include sliding down on one of the slides or taking a photo from inside one of the tunnels.
Other Ice Attractions
Winter Carnival Ice Palace in Saranac Lake, New York
On the beach of Lake Flowers Pontiac Bay, the same ice palace has been set up by volunteers from the area during the carnival season since 1897. It is usually in February and a great stopover on your way to Lake Placid. A trip to High Falls Gorge to go skiing or hiking is also always a great idea!
At the end of January, the International Snow Sculpture Championships take place in Breckenridge, Colorado. Twelve teams handcraft works of art in a period of four days. Feel free to visit the exhibit afterwards!
Winter carnival in Houghton, Michigan
Michigan Technology University hosts a winter carnival in early February. It has a different theme every year, according to which the students create their ice sculptures. Some take several months to complete, while others only take a few hours. In addition to that, there are broomball games, comedy performances, and a carnival queen is crowned.
Rockport is home to the Samoset Glacier Ice Bar & Lounge in January. You will find bar counters, chairs, tables, couches and sculptures made from ice here. Fire lamps and faux fur pillows add to the unique flair. Even the drinks follow the theme: “Snowball Martini” and “Old Man Winter” are among the classics. At night, there is also live music.
City Center DC, Washington
Every year, for a few days in December, you will find a different ice structure here, which is lit up with different lights. In 2021, for example, it was a maze made of ice. So, if you happen to be around at that time, make sure to stop by and check out this year’s highlight in the US capital.
Ice can be transformed into incredibly fascinating shapes. These places offer you unique pieces of art and are actually all worth a visit. No matter what you choose – it will be an exceptional experience. So, don’t miss your opportunity! Visit the ice castles or one of the other icy places across the USA!