Arizona has a population of nearly 8 million people, and a land area of over 110,000 square miles. Phoenix is both the most populous city and the state capital. Arizona’s southern border hugs Mexico, while its northeast point makes up one quarter of the “Four Corners” area. The state is home to vast, arid deserts, as well as Grand Canyon National Park. Winters are known to be particularly gentle, but does it ever snow in Arizona? And just where is the coldest place in Arizona?
Finding the coldest place in a state known for its lack of cold weather is an interesting task. But we forged ahead to discover what winters look like in Arizona and the coldest ever recorded temperature in the state. We’ll cover the coldest place in the state, and whether or not you need to bring your winter clothes along to visit. To finish up, we’ll compare the five coldest places in Arizona with one another.
The Coldest Place in Arizona
Ranked by maximum average temperature, Tucson is the coldest place in Arizona. Tucson’s average maximum temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Located in the south-central part of the state, Tucson also gets more rain than any other city in Arizona (12 inches annually on average). As part of the Desert Southwest, Arizona’s climate is classified as semi-arid to arid. While days are hot, nights cool off significantly, particularly in the mountains that dot the state.
December is typically ranked as Arizona’s coldest month, with a minimum average temperature of just 37 degrees. June sees the hottest temperatures in the state, with a maximum average temperature of 100 degrees. Due to the urban heat effect, temperatures in large metropolitan areas tend to be higher than those in surrounding natural lands.
The Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded in Arizona
Arizona is a land of both extreme heat and extreme cold. In fact, the coldest temperature ever recorded was an astounding -40 degrees F! This frigid temperature was recorded at the Lake Hawley National Weather Service station on January 7, 1971.
Lake Hawley sits in the extreme east-central part of the state, within the Fort Apache Reservation. Surrounded by campgrounds and cabins, Hawley Lake is a popular destination for fishing and water recreation. Visitors enjoy a serene experience on the water, surrounded by rolling mountains and evergreen trees.
The History of Tucson
The coldest place in Arizona, Tucson, is the second largest city in the state. But it wasn’t always that big. The traditionally recognized founding date for the current city is August 20, 1776. During that time, and for many thousands of years previously, Native Americans lived and farmed the land. Initially colonized by Spanish missionaries, Tucson didn’t become a part of the United States until 1854, as a part of the Gadsden Purchase. Tucson officially became a city in 1877, which makes it the oldest city in the state.
After incorporation, Tucson served as a stop on the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line, which placed it smack in the middle of frontier life. The city soon became notorious for gunfights, stagecoach robberies, and violence. Despite this, the population continued to increase. Today, Tucson is a thriving metropolis with over one million residents.
What Kinds of Wildlife Can You See Around Tucson?
Tucson might be the coldest place in Arizona, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in cold-blooded creatures. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, and lizards abound in the desert lands surrounding the city. Southern Arizona is even home to Gila monsters, javelina (a type of feral pig), and giant desert dwelling tarantulas. Tucson itself is home to the Tucson Wildlife Center, a rescue organization dedicated to helping wild animals in need of rescue and medical care. The center treats everything from rabbits and raptors to owls and mountain lions.
Things to Do in Tucson
The city of Tucson has plenty of activities to choose from. A few of the most popular attractions include the Pima Air and Space Museum, the San Xavier del Bac Mission, and the Reid Park Zoo. There’s also the Tucson Botanical Gardens and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, for those looking to learn a little more about the local ecology. Nearby camping and hiking opportunities include Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.
If you’re looking for even more museums in the area, don’t miss out on the International Wildlife Museum, or the Tucson Desert Art and Four Corners Gallery. Finally, there’s the Airplane Boneyard—a gigantic graveyard of decommissioned planes. Tucson truly has something to offer for everyone!
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- , Available here: https://www.crownscience.org/places/arizona-us
- , Available here: https://www.weather.gov/fgz/Cold
- , Available here: https://azclimate.asu.edu/climate/
- , Available here: https://www.visittucson.org/plan-your-visit/about-tucson/history/#:~:text=In%201877%2C%20Tucson%20was%20incorporated,settlers%20that%20were%20already%20living