Sailing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, and hiking are only a few of the activities that occur year-round at the Dillon Reservoir. Sitting between the high peaks and beautiful ski resorts of Summit County, Colorado, the reservoir is one of the largest in the state and supplies Denver with much of its clean water.
A majority of the water that fills the reservoir comes from the Snake and Blue Rivers, and each year it is filled with 50,000 rainbow trout. On either side, there are marinas stocked with pontoons, sailboats, and paddleboards that are available for rent and allow for incredible viewing points. Additionally, Breckenridge, Copper, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin are all within just a few miles of the reservoir, making it a very popular tourist destination.
Commonly referred to as Lake Dillon or the Dillon Dam, the body of water transforms into a thick sheet of ice for several months of the year. The town of Dillon receives around 130 inches of snow from October to May, and the roads surrounding the reservoir, including I-70, frequently close due to extreme weather patterns.
But when the winter season begins to heat up and spring skiers are seen wearing shorts and t-shirts, the Rotary Club of Summit County kicks off its annual fundraiser. Essentially, participants can pay $5 to guess exactly when they think the frozen reservoir will completely thaw out. The Rotary Club then places a timekeeping device onto the ice, and when it melts through into the water, the timer stops. Calculated down to the second, the three participants with the closest guesses receive hefty rewards. Since the competition first began in 1986, the reservoir has melted as early as April 11th and as late as May 26th.
This year, two locals from Frisco and Dillon and one out-of-stater from Iowa took the top 3 placements. Their guesses were within 10 minutes to a few hours of the exact time, and each went home with anywhere from a $1,000 to a $4,000 prize. Anyone can participate in the contest, provided that they purchase the $5 ticket. The ultimate prize of infinite bragging rights encourages a friendly but competitive Ice Melt every spring in Dillon, Colorado.
**WATCH: Summit County Rotarian explaining the contest and placing the floating device!