Coldest Places in United States

Lowest Temperatures

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.

States in America where temperatures have dropped to -50 °F (-45 °C) or lower at least once
Location °F °C Date
Prospect Creek Camp, Alaska -80 -62.2Jan 23, 1971
Rogers Pass, Montana -70 -56.7Jan 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 -46.1Feb 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 -45.6Jan 22, 1885
San Jacinto, Nevada -50 -45.6Jan 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.

Places in the contiguous states with the lowest average annual temperature
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
Stanley, Idaho 34.4 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
Leadville, Colorado 34.6 1.4
Silverton, Colorado 34.7 1.5
Gould, Colorado 34.9 1.6
Wisdom, Montana 35.2 1.8

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).

Mean annual temperature
Location Mean °F Mean °C
Orr, Minnesota 35.6 2.0
Rollette, North Dakota 36.1 2.3
Embarrass, Minnesota 36.4 2.4
Rolla, North Dakota 36.6 2.5
Allagash, Maine 37.5 3.0
Clayton Lake, Maine 37.5 3.1
Clarksburg, Michigan 38.4 3.5
Caspain, Michigan 38.5 3.6
Burke, Vermont 38.8 3.8
First Connecticut Lake, NH 39.1 3.9
Westby, Montana 39.1 3.9
Averill Lake, Vermont 39.2 4.0
Minocqua, Wisconsin 39.5 4.1
Plantywood, Montana 39.5 4.1
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:

Number of days per year when the lowest temperature is 32 °F or less
Location Freezing Days
Bodie, California 303
Utqiagvik, Alaska 300
Darwin Ranch, Wyoming 299
Sargents, Colorado 295
Stanley, Idaho 294
Bondurant, Wyoming 289
Warren, Idaho 289
Yellowstone South Entrance, WY 289
Fraser, Colorado 288
Kuparuk, Alaska 286
Deadhorse, Alaska 283
Wainwright, Alaska 283
Colville, Alaska 281
Dixie, Idaho 281
Nuiqsut, Alaska 281

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.

Number of days per year when the highest temperature is 32 °F or less
Location Days
Mt Washington, New Hampshire 159
Mount Mansfield Peak, Vermont 128
Mullan Pass, Montana 119
Langdon, North Dakota 117
Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming 116
Embarrass, Minnesota 114
Hallock, Minnesota 114
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.

Top ten spots for the most days from 1995 to 2005 with the lowest temperature in the contiguous US
Location Days
Stanley, Idaho 398
West Yellowstone, Montana 337
Gunnison, Colorado 170
Truckee, California 161
Alamosa, Colorado 142
Saranac Lake, New York 128
Jackson, Wyoming 109
Berlin, New Hampshire 92
Fraser, Colorado 91
Wisdom, Montana 91

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.

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