Visiting the Ice Castles has become a family tradition that my kids look forward to every year. Even though we’re not traveling far from home, a visit to the Ice Castles feels like we have been transported to a far off magical world. If you’re visiting Park City in the winter, an evening visit to the Ice Castles is an absolute must-do activity.
What are the Ice Castles?
Before you go, it’s important to know that the Ice Castles aren’t actually castles at all. With no roof, the Ice Castles are more like a giant Ice fortress with giant walls made of icicles up to 20 feet tall. Each year the Ice Castles are grown from scratch right at the Homestead Resort in Midway, just 20 minutes away from Park City. Starting with a few imported giant icicles, and a specially designed sprinkler system of sorts, the Ice Castles grow all through the fall and early winter to be ready for visitors to enjoy throughout the winter months.
Embedded within the ice, there are hundreds of multi-colored lights that make the ice seem to come alive at night as it glows from within.
Inside the Ice Castles, you’ll find tunnels, secret passageways, and our family favorite - the Ice Slides. You’ll spend your time making snowballs, crawling around on your belly, and you’ll probably have a hard time wiping the giant smile off your face. Basically, you’ll be transported back to when you were a kid, so my best suggestion is that you fully embrace the experience.
What to wear to the Ice Castles?
Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in close contact with the snow and ice, you’ll want to make sure that you’re dressed for the weather. While it may be tempting to wear cute clothes for the photos, one ride down the ice slide will make you wish that you had worn snow pants to give you extra insulation and protection from getting wet.
The ground inside of the Ice Castles is mostly snow and crushed ice, so your feet will be getting wet and cold easily. Waterproof snow boots with good traction are the best footwear to wear in the Ice Castles. Also, waterproof mittens or gloves are a must-have, especially for kids.
When is the best time to visit the Ice Castles?
While the entire Ice Castle will take you at least an hour to explore, I recommend planning on at least 2 hours of time for your visit. If your kids are a little bit older, it’s easy to give them the freedom to explore independently, since there is only one exit and one entrance to the ice castle.
To visit the Ice Castles, you’ll need to reserve an entrance time. While it’s always magical, we prefer to visit one hour before sunset so that we can enjoy the Ice Castles both in the light as well as in the dark. If you want to visit the Ice Castles without as many crowds, try and plan your visit during the week, as weekends are very popular and tend to get very crowded.
When you get to the Ice Castles, plan on finding a good spot to take a few pictures. Once your family discovers all the amazing places to explore, it will be hard to get everyone back together and holding still long enough to take a few pictures. After you get your pictures, make your way immediately to the slides. The lines for the slides can get incredibly long as the night progresses, so get in line as soon as you can so that you don’t have to wait as long.
Are the Ice Castles little-kid friendly?
Yes, the Ice Castles are very kid-friendly. I especially love that there is only one entrance and exit so even if one of our little ones wanders off, they can’t ever really escape. The Ice Castles are not stroller-friendly, so plan on leaving that behind. If you are coming to the Ice Castles with a baby or little kids, plan on bringing a sled to pull them around in. It’s difficult for their little legs to walk through all the snow and they’ll likely get tired very easily.
What else should I bring to the Ice Castles?
We always take a thermos full of hot cocoa and leave it in the car for after our visit to the Ice Castles. It’s a great way to end the night, as well as warm up from the inside out. In years past, Ice Castles has sold hot cocoa inside at their snack booth, but they have not announced that they will be doing that in 2021, so plan on bringing your own.
Also, if there is anyone in your family that gets cold easily, I recommend getting some hand and toe warmers and bringing them with you just in case they get extra chilly.
When are the Ice Castles open?
The Ice Castles typically open at the end of December or the beginning of January every year, depending on the weather. While they try to stay open into March, I have seen them close in February before, so don’t procrastinate your visit. I have found that visiting the Ice Castles in early February to be the best since the icicles are usually bigger than early in the season, but they typically haven’t started melting yet. The Utah Ice Castles are closed on Sundays.
How much does it cost to visit the Ice Castles?
Advanced tickets to the Ice Castles are always recommended since popular dates sell out quickly.
Adult tickets (ages 12+)
$13.99 - Monday-Thursday
$19.99 - Friday-Saturday & Holidays
Child tickets (4-11)
$9.99 - Monday-Thursday
$12.99 - Friday-Saturday & Holidays