The Snow Castle

Ever since Sipapu started making snow (roughly 25 years ago), we have been making a snow castle. The reason for the castle is two-fold:

1. We make snow in February to "bank" it for March. When the snow is one big heap, it stays cold and preserved. That way, when the spring temperatures warm up, we have snow available to push out in the base area.

2. A less practical reason, but a lot more fun: we love a good reason to throw a party, dress up and celebrate. A snow castle is a great excuse for all of that!

We made the snow for the snow castle last month and, if you visited us anytime from mid-January until the first week of February, you've actually skied/snowboarded on snow castle snow. Historically, we typically make that big pile the week before February Fun Fest, Sipapu's annual President's Day Weekend festival, but thanks to some improved efficiencies in our snowmaking system, we were able to make it a few weeks ago.

The below photos show a visual timeline of how we make the castle. At any given time, we'll have 1-5 staff members working on the snow, and we estimate it takes about 125 hours to build it. No two years are ever alike in design, and we always create the castle with kids in mind: we want to make it as FUN as possible for them. The guys who work on the castle - groomers, ski patrollers, terrain park crews, you name it - get to use a lot of creativity in this process. Call them snow castle craftsmen!

This year's creation is about 5,000 square feet and about 2 stories tall. We've made a couple of tunnels - including our biggest one yet! - and at least 5 slides. There are also five levels to the castle and each level has a platform that includes areas for kids to play. There are also countless steps, so moms and dads can bank on some worn-out kids! We'll drop the ropes on the castle at 9 a.m. tomorrow!

A blank canvas. We gathered this snow on Saturday night, Feb. 8.

The snow pile on Feb. 9. We allow the big pile to cure for 24 hours before we start carving.

On Monday, Feb. 10, we started carving. We always start at the top and work our way down.

Progress as of Feb. 11. We use chainsaws (Stihl 046 Bar 36 for all you connoisseurs out there) to carve.

Progress as of Feb. 12. We love creating spots for kids to discover and play.

Nearly complete. The castle as of Feb. 13 - we will spend today smoothing out the snow and getting it ready for tomorrow!

Depending on snow conditions, we typically leave the castle up until early March.

Temperatures have been fairly warm this week, although a warm spell is pretty common for our ski area this time of year. While we are always eager for snow, the bluebird days are the best times to come out, bring your kids and enjoy these warm temperatures.

We'll see you on the castle this weekend!