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 the Yukon 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 annual temperature averages of around 12 °F (-11 °C).
Outside of Alaska, just four places among 7,200 weather stations average a year-round temperature that's below freezing. The peak of Mount Washington in New Hampshire has the coldest climate over the year.
Many of the twenty coldest places are near the Continental Divide in Colorado or in and around Yellowstone National Park. They all have an annual mean temperature of less than 35 °F (1.7 °C).
Of the four towns that make this list, the coldest is Crested Butte in Colorado, a recreation resort located high in the mountains. Leadville and West Yellowstone are other mountain towns that rank among the nation's coldest spots.
In fact all places but one among the coldest 20 are at high elevations. The outlier is Embarrass, Minnesota, a rural center north of Duluth in St Louis County, near Lake Vermilion. At 1,400 feet (427 m), it's the only site here that's below 6,000 feet (1,829 m).
|Mt Washington, New Hampshire||27.4||-2.6|
|Climax Mine, Colorado||30.6||-0.8|
|Darwin Ranch, Wyoming||31.0||-0.6|
|Bonham-Wells Reservoir, Colorado||31.4||-0.3|
|Wolf Creek Ski Area, Colorado||33.2||0.7|
|Mt Evans Field Station, Colorado||33.4||0.8|
|Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming||33.4||0.8|
|Crested Butte, Colorado||33.8||1.0|
|Electric Lake, Utah||33.8||1.0|
|Daniel Fish Hatchery, Wyoming||34.0||1.1|
|Burgess Junction, Wyoming||34.1||1.2|
|Old Faithful, Wyoming||34.2||1.2|
|Yellowstone Park South Entrance, Wyoming||34.4||1.3|
|West Yellowstone, Montana||34.4||1.3|
|Taylor Park Reservoir, Colorado||34.6||1.4|
|Blowhard Mountain, Utah||34.8||1.6|
|Cooke City-Silver Gate, Montana||34.9||1.6|
The mean annual temperatures given here are long-term historical averages, based on weather data collected from 1981 to 2010 for the NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.
Places That Most often Have Freezing Temperatures
The place in the United States that most often drops below freezing is not in the far north, 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 even has more days 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. Several currently inhabited towns include Stanley, Fraser, Wisdom, Leadville, Silverton and Dillon.
|Darwin Ranch, Wyoming||298|
|Fremont Forest, near Fort Rock, Oregon||288|
|Charleston Reservoir, Nevada||281|
|Yellowstone Park South Entrance, Wyoming||280|
|Daniel Fish Hatchery, Wyoming||276|
|Wise River, Montana||275|
|Dixie, Idaho County, Idaho||274|
|Climax Mine, Colorado||273|
|Wild Horse Reservoir, Nevada||272|
|Antero Reservoir, Colorado||270|
|State Forest State Park, Colorado||270|
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.