By Allyson Hogan

282bIt’s not unusual for visitors to fall in love with our neck-of-the-woods, but few have embraced—and created a monument to—our infamous winters like Brent Christensen. A California transplant, Christensen began “building” with ice in his Utah backyard—ice towers and slides for the kids. Next, he built an igloo, and added chunks of snow and ice to his original structure. Christensen says that’s when he started thinking about icicles. “At first, it was just for cosmetics. Then I found you can actually grow them in different ways.”

Grow them, he did—into what has become a winter must-see. Midway/Soldier Hollow is the home of Utah’s “Ice Castles” adventure. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and serene winter landscapes, this fantasy-land seems right at home. These “Ice Castles” are unique, stunning creations of towers, archways and caves. Ice walls that stand up to 20 feet continue to grow throughout the winter season—doubling or tripling in height! Christensen’s patented method for “growing” these ice structures involves—you guessed it: water and cold temperatures. Sprinklers spray water onto metal racks to form thousands of icicles. These are removed, planted in the ground and drenched with water; wind and cold weather determine their shapes and forms.

While these are impressive mechanical and engineering feats, Christensen gives Mother Nature credit for “the real artistic side.” This pairing of human ingenuity and our natural cold winters results in a magical and mesmerizing phenomenon.

Christensen is especially passionate about the colors and patterns of the ice castles at night, enhanced by LED lights embedded in the ice: “When you spray water in the middle of the night and you have icicles that catch the water, that’s when the art happens.”

What to expect:
If it’s cold enough for “ice to grow”… Wear a warm coat and insulated boots. Scarves, hats, gloves are recommended.
Cameras welcomed; flash advised for evening shots.

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