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With winter on its way out, one Rocky Mountain town says goodbye to its ice castles


Some parts of the country celebrate the cold months by putting up wintry sculptures. But because of an uneven winter this year, one Rocky Mountain town is having to work extra hard to keep its ice castles, well, icy. Colorado Public Radio's Dan Boyce has this postcard.

DAN BOYCE, BYLINE: Whatever you're picturing when hearing the name Colorado Ice Castles, it's probably not that far off from the reality here - well, mostly. Imagine a grand castle made entirely of ice and then chop the roof off. Still, you're walking the acre-sized floorplan of this frozen architectural marvel. Walls of ice 15, 30 feet high through smoothly carved white-blue tunnels beneath frozen bridges that are slowly melting.

Yep, getting pretty sloppy.

KEITH HEINZELMAN: It is. I have my muck boots on because it's just wet and sloppy.

BOYCE: Keith Heintzelman manages the ice castles in the small mountain town of Cripple Creek.

HEINTZELMAN: We've tried to fight with Mother Nature. Now we're - we lost that battle a long time ago, so now we're trying to adapt and work with her.

KARRI GLASS: The turquoise blues and - it just looks like glitter, like glitter on top when the sun is shining on it.

BOYCE: Local Karri Glass can see the castles through the windows of Maudie's Incredible Emporium. She sells art here. The icy attraction has been great for Cripple Creek businesses - loads of tourists. Now she watches as workers spend their days rebuilding what melted off the day before.

GLASS: I'm hoping the weather man will give us a couple more cold, snowy days and keep it going.

BOYCE: Recently, the organizers moved opening the castles from 4 to 6 p.m. to let the sun set and the day's repairs harden.


BOYCE: Then it might as well be mid-December again. Multicolored LEDs embedded in the icy walls shaped months ago with miles of carefully arranged water lines - there's something new around every corner, says visitor Love Lessard.

LOVE LESSARD: It's like an adventure.

BOYCE: A crystalline icy throne, a wishing well, a sculpture of a dragon.

LESSARD: You're surprised. You never know that there's a slide.


BOYCE: An ice slide D. Rios just went down with her boyfriend.

D RIOS: And it was awesome. I screamed, I think. I said whee.

BOYCE: Organizers had planned to shut down the ice castles this weekend, but Old Man Winter has been cooperating just enough. Closing day has been pushed out to March 9.

For NPR News, I'm Dan Boyce in Cripple Creek, Colo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Dan Boyce
With over a decade of journalism experience, Dan joined Colorado Public Radio in 2018 as a regional reporter covering major news developments in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas. Previously in his career, he covered state government for Montana Public Radio as the capitol bureau chief. Additionally, Dan was a reporter for the Colorado public media collaborative, Inside Energy, and a freelance journalist whose work was featured on NPR’s Environment & Energy Collaborative.
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