Depending on how you feel about cold weather, chances are our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers are either running from it or to it this time of year.
Alas, we all know that the U.S. is so large that average temperatures can vary quite a bit as you move around.
That’s why I thought our readers might enjoy learning more about the coldest parts of the country in this list compiled by the folks at TravelTrivia.com.
(By the way, those who love winter might want to check out this recent RV Lifestyle blog post about “10 National Park Adventures Perfect for Winter.”
Vermont is the seventh coldest state in the country year-round. In January, the coldest month, you can expect temperatures to hover around 10 degrees. The average snowfall is 86 inches, which is well above the country’s average of 28 inches, according to Weather Atlas. That makes Vermont an ideal place if you love snow and snow-based activities like sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, all in a postcard-like setting.
Montana is known for bitterly cold winters, including one of the coldest winters on record in 2019, yet it’s only the sixth coldest state in the country. During February and March of 2019, Montanans endured temperatures that were almost 30 degrees below normal and had a stretch of 11 days and 24 nights when the temperature never climbed above zero, according to The Washington Post.
So, why isn’t Montana higher up on the list of coldest states? Even though the winters are bitterly cold, it can get quite warm during the summer months, reaching temperatures as hot as 88 degrees in the summer, according to Weather Atlas. In exchange for those weather extremes, Montana offers wide open spaces, beautiful landscapes, and, of course, national parks. (By the way, check out our RV Sidetrip: The Underground City of Havre, Montana.)
Wyoming is the fifth coldest state thanks in part to its landscape. It’s a landlocked state covered largely by the Rocky Mountain range that takes up about two-thirds of the state. The remaining one-third of the state is the Prairie Highlands — essentially plains at an elevated level. In general, the winters throughout Wyoming are cold and snowy, with lows falling well below zero degrees. In the summer, though, you can experience some heat and see temperatures as high as 95 degrees in the lowlands, according to Weather Atlas.
Most of Minnesota is prone to cold and icy winters, due, in part, to the state’s proximity to the freezing waters of Lake Superior. During the winter months, lows in the northern parts of Minnesota can get down to bone-chilling temperatures, as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summer, highs can get up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These extremes keep Minnesota sitting solidly as the fourth coldest state rather than first or second on the list. By the way, according to World Atlas, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Minnesota was -60 degrees Fahrenheit, back in 1996. Along with sub-zero temperatures, Minnesota winters are windy, snowy, and dark.
While Maine enjoys comfortable summers, with temperatures hovering around the 70-degree mark during the day, the winters are downright brutal, which makes Maine the third coldest state overall. Temperatures are usually somewhere between 0 and 32 degrees, and the sun can disappear for days at a time, according to World Atlas. In January, the sun only appears for 15 days out of the month. Depending on where you are in the state, you could get up to 75 inches of snow during the winter. A strong storm could dump as much as 10 inches in just one day.
The summer months are popular for tourists, especially because the climate is relatively temperate. Highs rarely get above the 80-degree mark and the coastline is breathtaking, making Maine a great vacation spot in June, July, and August.
2. North Dakota
North Dakota is 1,000 miles away from the nearest large body of water. This, combined with the geographic complexity of the state, makes North Dakota a place of extreme temperatures. In the winter, lows can dip to -4 degrees Fahrenheit. These low temperatures are frequently accompanied by blizzards and whiteout conditions, making winters in North Dakota dangerous and dark. In the summer, North Dakota can get hot. Average highs can get up to the 80s and you might even get a day or two at or above 100 degrees, according to World Atlas. If you want to visit North Dakota when it’s pleasant outside, make sure to go during the summer. By October, the temperatures will already be falling towards freezing.
While other states have unbearably cold winters, Alaska reigns supreme as the coldest state in the country. As the largest state, Alaska delivers a range of climates. Unsurprisingly, the extreme northern parts of the state are the coldest. This part of the state doesn’t have a huge population, which is good, considering temperatures in January tend to range from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The bright side, though, is that the extreme dark (this region only gets about only three hours of sunlight in January) and cold temperatures make conditions just right for viewing the northern lights. If you want to take a trip to Alaska, plan to go during the summer months, when temperatures are a lot more bearable. In July, you can expect temperatures as high as 90 degrees in the interior parts of the state. Head to the coast for more moderate temperatures.