The 20 Coldest States in the U.S.

It's not everywhere that you can walk on a lake—but you can in Alaska.
It's not everywhere that you can walk on a lake—but you can in Alaska. / Dagny Willis/Moment/Getty Images

Frigid weather may not have as broad an appeal as, say, a crisp autumn day or a balmy summer one. That said, it does have certain redeeming qualities. Snow sports are a lot easier when there’s actual snow on the ground, for example, and curling up with a book and a steaming mug of tea is indisputably cozier when it’s cold outside.

If those are your top activities, maybe you’d want to consider moving to one of the coldest states in the nation. Extreme Weather Watch used data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to find the overall average temperature of each U.S. state from 1991 through 2020. World Population Review then plotted the points from coldest to hottest on a handy chart.

Unsurprisingly, Alaska took the "coldest state" crown with an average temperature of just 28.1° F—a solid 13 degrees frostier than runner-up North Dakota at 41.1° F. The gap between first and second place is far and away the largest on the entire graph. The averages for the rest of the top 20 fall between 41.8° F (Minnesota) and 49.5° F (Nebraska).

There weren’t exactly any shockers on the list; every state is situated in the upper half of the country. More interesting, perhaps, is the differences between neighbors. North Dakota is nearly five degrees colder than South Dakota, and Vermont is a single degree colder than New Hampshire. Washington edged out Oregon by just 0.6 degrees. 

Is your state one of America’s chilliest? Find out below, and see where all 50 states fall on World Population Review’s chart here.

1. Alaska // 28.1° F
2. North Dakota // 41.1° F
3. Minnesota // 41.8° F
4. Maine // 41.9° F
5. Wyoming // 42.3° F
6. Montana // 42.6° F
7. Vermont // 43.2° F
8. Idaho // 44° F
9. Wisconsin // 44° F
10. New Hampshire // 44.2° F
11. Michigan // 45.3° F
12. South Dakota // 45.8° F
13. New York // 46.1° F
14. Colorado // 46.3° F
15. Washington // 47.4° F
16. Oregon // 48° F
17. Iowa // 48.4°
18. Massachusetts // 48.9° F
19. Utah // 49.3° F
20. Nebraska // 49.5° F

[h/t World Population Review]