Coldest Places in United States
The lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States was -80 degrees Fahrenheit (-62 degrees Celsius) on January 23, 1971 at Prospect Creek Camp, located near the Arctic Circle along the Alaska pipeline. This is not much warmer than the -81.4 °F record low for North America that Snag in Yukon, Canada dropped to on February 3, 1947. On that extremely cold February day, Tanacross Alaska reached -75 °F.
The lower 48 states of the US hit their official coldest temperature of -70 °F on January 20, 1954 at Rogers Pass, Montana. The pass sits at 5,470 feet (1,667 metres) elevation in the Rocky Mountains, northwest of Helena.
|Prospect Creek Camp, Alaska||-80||-62.2||Jan 23, 1971|
|Rogers Pass, Montana||-70||-56.7||Jan 20, 1954|
|Peter's Sink, Utah||-69||-56.1||Feb 1, 1985|
|Riverside RS, Wyoming||-66||-54.4||Feb 9, 1933|
|Maybell, Colorado||-61||-51.7||Feb 1, 1985|
|Island Park Dam, Idaho||-60||-51.1||Jan 18, 1943|
|Tower, Minnesota||-60||-51.1||Feb 2, 1996|
|Parshall, North Dakota||-60||-51.1||Feb 15, 1936|
|McIntosh, South Dakota||-58||-50.0||Feb 17, 1936|
|Tetonia, Idaho||-57||-49.4||Feb 9, 1933|
|Couderay, Wisconsin||-55||-48.3||Feb 4, 1996|
|Seneca, Oregon||-54||-47.8||Feb 10, 1933|
|Old Forge, New York||-52||-46.7||Feb 18, 1979|
|Vanderbilt, Michigan||-51||-46.1||Feb 9, 1934|
|Bloomfield, Vermont||-50||-45.6||Dec 30, 1933|
|Big Black River, Maine||-50||-45.6||Jan 16, 2009|
|Gavilan, New Mexico||-50||-45.6||Feb 1, 1951|
|Mount Washington, New Hampshire||-50||-45.6||Jan 22, 1885|
|San Jacinto, Nevada||-50||-45.6||Jan 8, 1937|
Coldest Weather All Year
The coldest climate year-round in the United States is on Alaska's north coast, along the Beaufort Sea. This region has an annual temperature that averages around 13 °F (-10 °C).
South of Alaska, just two out of 7055 weather stations record an annual temperature that averages below freezing. Among all these stations that contributed quality data from 1991 to 2020 for NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), the peak of Mount Washington in New Hampshire has the coldest climate overall, with a mean temperature of 28 °F.
Fewer than 20 stations have an annual mean temperature of no more than 35 °F (1.7 °C). Another thing these sites have in common is that they're all over 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) elevation. Of the towns that make this list, the coldest is Crested Butte, a recreation resort located high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
|Location||Mean °F||Mean °C|
|Mt Washington, New Hampshire||28.0||-2.2|
|Darwin Ranch, Wyoming||31.3||-0.4|
|Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming||32.0||0.0|
|Climax Mine, Colorado||32.3||0.1|
|Daniel Fish Hatchery, Wyoming||32.5||0.3|
|Bonham-Wells Reservoir, Colorado||33.1||0.6|
|Crested Butte, Colorado||34.2||1.2|
|Cooke City-Silver Gate, Montana||34.2||1.2|
|Electric Lake, Utah||34.3||1.3|
|Old Faithful, Wyoming||34.4||1.3|
|Yellowstone South Entrance, WY||34.4||1.3|
|Taylor Park Reservoir, Colorado||34.5||1.4|
|Burgess Junction, Wyoming||34.6||1.4|
Climbing down below 2,500 feet, the coldest places outside of Alaska have average temperatures above 35 °F. The locations listed below are a sampling of sites in states where the annual mean temperature is less than 40 °F (4.4 °C).
|Location||Mean °F||Mean °C|
|Rollette, North Dakota||36.1||2.3|
|Rolla, North Dakota||36.6||2.5|
|Clayton Lake, Maine||37.5||3.1|
|First Connecticut Lake, NH||39.1||3.9|
|Averill Lake, Vermont||39.2||4.0|
|St. Germain, Wisconsin||39.5||4.2|
|Akers Pond, New Hampshire||39.6||4.2|
|Lake Clear, New York||39.7||4.3|
Places That Most often Have Freezing Temperatures
The weather station in the United States where it most frequently drops below freezing is not in the far north of Alaska, as you'd expect. Instead it's in California, a state known more for warmth than incessant cold.
Bodie lies at 8,369 feet (2,551 metres) elevation near the Nevada border, north of Mono Lake. The former mining town has more nights of frost than anywhere in Alaska. Not surprisingly, people gave up on living in Bodie and it's now a ghost town.
Still, not all places that frequently freeze are remote or abandoned. Small towns with a lot of icy nights include Stanley Idaho, Fraser Colorado, and Wisdom Montana.
The weather freezes most often at these US weather stations:
|Darwin Ranch, Wyoming||299|
|Yellowstone South Entrance, WY||289|
It's one thing to have a lot of frosty nights, but it's altogether another intensity of persistent cold when it doesn't thaw out during the day. A dozen weather stations in Alaska record freezing highs on over half the days in a year. At the top of the list is a site near Utqiagvik, which typically doesn't melt for 239 days a year.
Outside of Alaska, the weather stations ranked here most often have days that do not warm up to above freezing.
|Mt Washington, New Hampshire||159|
|Mount Mansfield Peak, Vermont||128|
|Mullan Pass, Montana||119|
|Langdon, North Dakota||117|
|Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming||116|
|Sand Lake, Minnesota||114|
|Rolla, North Dakota||114|
Most Days with Coldest Temperature
On any single day, the mountain town of Stanley, Idaho is most often the coldest place in the states outside of Alaska. Stanley is nestled in the midst of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area at 6,260 feet (1,908 metres) elevation.
|West Yellowstone, Montana||337|
|Saranac Lake, New York||128|
|Berlin, New Hampshire||92|
Guy King. 2007. The Hottest and Coldest Places in the Conterminous United States. Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers. 69: 101-114.
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Climate Normals.