5 Things to Know Before You Go: Midway Utah Ice Castles

Every kid dreams of being in a fairy tale and exploring hidden caves, discovering new tunnels to a different world, and coming out with a bigger sense of adventure. The Midway Ice Castles are the closest you can get to giving your kids that fairy tale experience in Utah. It’s not just for kids though. Parents and other adults alike will find their inner child in their first step at the Midway Ice Castles in Utah.

Secret tunnels, hidden caves, ice slides, and sculptures take up a huge amount of space in Midway where there is nothing in the summer. They construct these castles from scratch every year on the spot, just so you can make the best day trip or weekend getaway from Salt Lake City. 

Located about an hour from Salt Lake City or 35 minutes from Orem, the Ice Castles are located at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. They’re an easy getaway if you’re located along the Wasatch Front and there are plenty of things to do in the valley to make a whole day of it.

midway ice castles Utah

What to expect when you visit the Ice Castles

It’s hard to put together the perfect imagery of the Ice Castles without actually visiting them. It all started when Brent Christensen wanted to create an icy playground for his kids in his front yard. From there, the ice simply grew and grew to bring more smiles to kids from all over. 

One of the coolest things about the Midway Ice Castles is that they’re different every single year. There’s a sense of familiarity, but you can come back each year and find a new layout, secret areas, and fun places to explore.   

It will take you a minimum of an hour to explore everything there, but you’ll definitely want to have more time to play around with kids and on the bigger slides. When we go, we typically block out a 2-2.5 hour period to visit the Utah Ice Castles.

midway ice castles Utah

The Ice Castles in Midway, Utah all begin with massive ice arches that transport you to a new world. Once you get inside, there is winter being piped through the whole area to create a full world of ice.  Along the way, you’ll even find a few fires that you can warm up by and some ice benches where you can rest your legs.  

There are lights embedded in the ice, making it a unique experience at nighttime, as it feels like the whole castle is glowing. This makes the ice castles look pretty different during the day compared to nightime at the ice castles.

During the weekends, there are often performers doing shows or characters like Elsa and Ana there to visit with the kids, so make sure to call ahead and ask if there are any special events coming up.  

When is the best time to visit the Ice Castles?

midway ice castles Utah

The best time of day to visit the Ice Castles is about an hour before sunset.  This allows you some time to see them in the daylight (which is fantastic for pictures), but also be there when it’s starting to get dark so that you can experience them when the colorful lights turn on.  Both day and night are amazing and this timing allows you to straddle both.  

Weekends at the Ice Castles can get VERY BUSY so if possible, try and go during the week to escape the crowds. 

What to wear to the Ice Castles?

midway ice castles Utah

Two hours inside a massive ice sculpture can bring a real chill to your bones. Be sure to dress WARM when you visit the ice castle. You can always bring extra layers, but just don’t forget that the castle is made of ice and snow so you’ll likely be getting cold. Throughout the day, you’ll notice that the ice and snow usually melt a bit, so getting wet and cold is a real possibility, so dress to avoid that.  

Wear good base layers, an insulating layer like fleece, and then snow pants and a coat on top. Of course, a warm hat and waterproof mittens are a must, especially with kids who will likely be touching the ice for the few hours you are there!

Snow boots with good traction are essential so you don’t slip and also so you stay nice and dry when you visit.  We always pair our boots with wool socks to keep everyones feet extra cozy.   

What to do first at the Ice Castles

midway ice castles Utah

You want to get to the castles before the crowds so you can avoid the lines. When you buy your ticket, you’ll have a designated arrival time, so try and book a time that will be outside of peak visiting hours. The first place to head is the slides, as these lines get long fast. The earlier you get there, the shorter the line will be. If you’re not sure where the slides are, there is lots of staff around and they’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction.  

From there, you can explore the rest of the castles for as long as you want. This winter playground can keep you busy for hours. 

What to bring for a visit to the Ice Castles

Extra Layers

We can’t emphasize this enough. The longer you stay on the ice, the colder you’ll get. The colder you get, the more you’ll want to leave. 

This is an experience that you don’t want to miss out on just because you got cold! Bringing extra layers will be a smart idea, especially when you decide you want to go on the sleigh ride at the end rather than hopping straight in your car. 

midway ice castles Utah

Camera

Smartphone cameras have come a long way, but ice castles are a totally different phenomenon. A good camera can capture the different lighting bouncing around the ice structures and balance the contrast well, when your iPhone may struggle. 

Read Next: Exploring The Farm at Heber Valley Artisan Cheese

Sled

If you’re bringing a lot of stuff with you or have young kids, a sled is a great idea. You can haul your kids around, or ask them to take you for a ride. Strollers are pretty useless on the ice, so a sled will make it easier on everyone when your younger kids may get tired. 

midway ice castles Utah

Do I need advance tickets to the Ice Castles?

While you don’t always need advance tickets to the Ice Castles, they’re a great idea to get. 

Ticket prices go up when you buy them at the gate, and they do sell out from time to time. You can buy them for $18/person (12 and up) and $14/kid (Ages 4-11) for the weekdays and $23/$16 respectively on the weekends, so you can save a good chunk of money with the right planning. Even if you’re in Salt Lake City, snag tickets online before driving out. 

Remember that you buy tickets for a specific time, not just the day. You can also look into booking some time in the Arctic Alcove if you want to create a special moment. Whether you are wanting some quiet time away or are looking for some more unique photos, this special hidden room is a great place for it. 

midway ice castles Utah

Other Things to do Near Park City:

How to spend a day in Midway Utah and Heber Valley in the Winter

While the Midway Ice Castles are a definite highlight of the area, there’s plenty to do in Midway and Heber Valley to make for a whole weekend. You can stay at the Heber Valley Homestead Resort and have an incredible getaway, even if you just want out of Salt Lake City for a bit of time. 

midway ice castles Utah

Stay at the Homestead Resort

The former home of the Ice Castles, the Homestead Resort, is a great spot to choose if you want to spend a night up in Midway. It’s a beautiful spot with a crater to swim in and can be an incredibly romantic getaway if the kids are staying at home. 

Soldier Hollow Snow Tubing

Take the kids up to the hill to rent some snow tubes and cruise down the slopes. Just make sure to save some energy for heading to the ice castles at night. Make sure to read our full guide to Soldier Hollow tubing.

Kohler Creamery

Go and taste-test some unique cheeses or get the kids a few scoops of ice cream. Heber Valley Artisan Cheeses is a hidden gem up in the mountains of Midway. 

Ice Skating at the Midway Town Rink

Midway ice skating Utah

Right behind the community center is the Midway Town Ice Rink, the largest outdoor rink in Utah. This rink is full of small-town charm and you’ll always meet friendly people with plenty of free space on the rink. 

Go for a winter hike at Wasatch Mountain State Park

One of the best spots to go hike with the family is on the Pine Creek Nature Trail. You can grab a day pass and set off on the trailhead. If there’s been a lot of use, you may want some traction spikes, but normally it is easily done in hiking boots. 

Swim at the Homestead Crater

The Homestead Resort is home to a geothermal crater that you can swim in to warm up after a long day out in the cold. If you come back from the ice castles, the Homestead Resort has everything to get you back to your normal temperature and make you slowly calm down and sleep at night. 

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