Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Colorado is home to a number of very famous tourist attractions from the second most visited mountain on earth, Longs Peak, to the tallest Sand dunes in North America at the Great Dunes National Park. While these incredible sites are absolutely not to be missed during a visit to the great state of Colorado, sometimes I like to get a bit more off the grid in my adventures. With a desire to explore some of the old west ghost towns of Colorado, I set off on a road trip through the mountains outside of Colorado Springs. I didn’t really have any expectations for this somewhat random adventure so when I stumbled upon an ice festival in the famous gambling, ghost town of Cripple Creek I was more than pleased.

Cripple Creek Ice Festival 2020 : February 08–16, 2020

Ice Festival Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek

Tour buses… Large, modern tour buses like you would normally see hauling the masses into Disney World. This was the last thing I expected to see when pulling into a small town mining town of just over 1,000 people in the mountains of Southern Colorado. However, as we passed the old abandoned farm houses on the way into the city, tour buses were lined up along the road and the only thing I could think to be the cause of this was ‘casinos.’ While I previously had thought that Black Hawk and Central City were the only places for people to throw away money into slot machines, Cripple Creek has a main-street filled with large, neon-lighted casions. After finally finding a tight parking spot on one of the crowded streets, I stepped out into a smell of cinnamon roasted almonds and the sound of music in the chilled air. As I approached the small downtown, I immediately knew this was not just another normal Saturday in Cripple Creek, but some sort of event was going down. Turning the corner onto the main drag there were ice sculptors wielding chainsaws across from beer tents with live music and I discovered I had stumbled upon the Cripple Creek Ice Festival of 2019!

Ice Sculptures in Cripple Creek

Ice Festival of 2019

Booze, ice sculptures, gambling and live music pretty much sums up the Cripple Creek Ice Festival. Apparently the theme was ‘Mythological Wonderland’ for the ice sculptors and they were busy at work carving out some of the most amazing ice figures I’ve ever randomly stumbled upon in a small mountain town. I decided to jump right in to the festivities as I ordered myself a delicious booze filled coffee drink, listened to some music and eventually made my way into a casino called the ‘Brass Ass.’ After quickly throwing money away in a blackjack game, I wandered back out onto the street to watch the wild art of chainsaw ice sculpting. While’s it’s quite an amazing thing to watch, the idea of spending an entire day creating something that is going to literally disappear overnight seems a bit much for me to ever get into the ice carving business. Further down the street there was an ice slide for kids that was conveniently located next to the Bud Light tent. Not having kids or a taste for the bland, tasteless beverage that is Bud Light, I made my way over to a beautifully crafted ice stage where a DJ was playing his set. The festival draws a strange crowd of families, gamblers and mountain folk from the small towns surrounding Cripple Creek. It may not be the wildest festival you will ever attend, but the setting is unique and no matter what your age or interests, it’s hard not to enjoy this strange festival tucked away in a ghost town of the mountains.

The Location

Cripple Creek is located just an hour outside of Colorado Springs off Highway 67. It’s quite a scenic drive to get there and it even passes over the Great Divide on the way. Check out the map below for the exact location.