It’s not every year that the winter weather gets so serious the word “bomb” starts being thrown around.
When you’re shivering in your best parka, stomping not just snow but ice out of your boots, and finding that even your warmest set of gloves won’t keep your fingers from going numb, it’s easy to feel a little bit, well, over this whole winter thing. (Especially now that Christmas and Hanukkah are over.)
But while you’re gripping your favorite mug of hot tea or cocoa as if your life depended on it and swearing off ever going outside again, take heart: there are, most likely, some people who have it worse than you do.
Of course, everyone knows that Alaska is one of the coldest states in the nation, and you probably know not to arrive in Chicago without your winter gear.
But in case you’re curious, here’s a list of some more of the coldest places on earth — to help your corner of the globe feel just a little bit warmer by comparison.
A List of the Coldest Places on Earth
So, what are some of the coldest places on earth — not just in the USA?
Glad you asked.
1. Oymyakon, Russia
According to The Weather Channel, this remote Russian village is the coldest place in the world. And considering it sees an average winter temperature of -58 degrees Fahrenheit, I don’t doubt it. (And as a Floridian who shivers at 58 degrees above zero, I can’t imagine who might intentionally decide to live there!)
As if that temperature weren’t brutal enough, the town has an even crazier all-time low record: during the winter of 1924, the mercury dropped all the way to negative 96 F. Did you even know that was possible outside of a laboratory experiment?
When you’re talking about the top coldest places on earth, you’re talking about Antarctica — although it would be a bit of a stretch to call it the coldest country, per se. Aside from those brave few who reside in its dozens of scientific bases for a few months at a time, it’s not exactly civilized. There is not, and never has been, an indigenous Antarctic population.
And it’s no surprise, either: this frozen block of ice at the south of the globe routinely gets below -50F — and that’s just the average. It’s safe to say this is the coldest place on earth not just during winter, but all year round.
Coldest Places on Earth to Visit
Knowing far-off lands are frozen solid is one thing, but what about places you could actually pay a visit to fairly easily?
Here are a few sub-zero spots right here on the North American continent.
3. Snag, Yukon, Canada
A ghost town located down a dirt road off the Alaska highway in the far west reaches of Canada’s Yukon territory, Snag achieved the record-low temperature for continental North America back in February of 1947: -84.1 F.
More intriguingly still, it’s potentially the site of an as-yet unresolved mystery. On January 26, 2950, an Air Force plane from Alaska to Montana disappeared without a trace, carrying 36 passengers and eight crewmembers. It was in the vicinity of Snag when the last radio contact was made, but no wreckage or remains have ever been located.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll find them… if you’re brave enough to withstand the bitter windchill, that is.
Coldest Place in the United States
It might surprise you, but lots of the coldest places on earth are actually right here on U.S. soil.
So which are America’s coldest states and cities?
4. Fairbanks, Alaska
Nestled deep in the state’s interior, Fairbanks is a thriving metropolis by Alaskan standards. It’s home to more than 32,000 hardy souls and is also the site of a major state University.
And to be fair, it’s definitely livable for some of the year. Alaska’s well-known for it’s shining, glorious summers. But those hours of midnight sun are more than made up for during the months-long winter darkness, when temperatures cold enough to instantly freeze hot water are not uncommon.
Still, it’s a great spot to catch the famous aurora borealis, and a trip up the Alaskan Highway is on many RVers’ bucket lists! Just make sure you make that trek in the warm season if you do go. Traveling it in winter would be incredibly dangerous, if not out and out impossible.
5. Helena National Forest
Sure, you know Montana’s cold in the winter — but you might not know exactly how cold.
Rogers Pass, the prime route between the major Montana cities of Great Falls and Missoula, is rumored to be the spot that’s seen the coldest U.S. temperatures outside of Alaska. Case in point: in 1954, a low temperature of -70 degrees F was recorded.
Coldest and Snowiest States
Of course, this list is just the tip of the iceberg (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) when it comes to America’s coldest destinations. Other frigid, snowbound states include Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, and New Hampshire.
If you’re crazy — I mean, um, brave — enough to venture into these places during the winter, always be sure to be extra careful on the road. Ice and snow can make for unsafe driving conditions, and no winter landscape is worth risking your life over!
You’ll also want to ensure you’ve made the proper preparations to keep your rig in good, working order despite the freezing climes. (Hint: it takes more than just RV antifreeze, although you’ll certainly need that, too!) Here are a few of our best posts on cold-weather camping and RVing, from preparing your vehicle to figuring out what to pack.
- 5 Reasons we Love Winter RVing
- Common Winter RV Problems and How to Fix Them
- Packing your RV for Winter
- Yes, You *Can* Rent an RV During the Winter! Here are Some of our Favorite Destinations
- Where Can I Park This Thing? RV Parking Tips for Winter Storage and Travel
- Maximizing RV Kitchen Space for your Favorite Winter Recipes
And finally, if you’re anything like me and this whole list has you shivering even harder… don’t forget, there’s a whole world of warm destinations waiting to help you thaw out from the long, dark winter!
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