Colorado, known as the home of the Rocky Mountains, is one of the most mountainous states in the country. It also straddles both the Colorado Plateau and the Great Plains, and has a diverse climate. Colorado has only been a state since 1876. Since then, it’s grown to a population of nearly 6 million people, many of whom live in or near Denver. Bordered by Utah to the west and New Mexico to the south, Colorado’s southwestern corner is one-fourth of the “four corners” region. But, where can you find the coldest place in Colorado?
Keep reading to learn all there is to know about the climate of Colorado, particularly the winter weather. We’ll find out where the coldest place in the state is, as well as where the coldest temperature ever recorded was. Then, we’ll discover more about the history of Colorado’s coldest place, as well as what kind of wildlife lives there. We’ll finish up by exploring what kinds of fun you can get up to in the coldest place in Colorado.
The Coldest Place in Colorado
With an average maximum temperature of just 34.8 degrees Fahrenheit, Fraser is the coldest place in Colorado. Located due west of Boulder, Fraser lies about 1.5 hours northwest of Denver. Helped in part by its elevated position in the Rocky Mountains, Fraser is consistently colder than the rest of the state. Colorado is home to the Great Plains in the east, while the Colorado Plateau and Rocky Mountains dominate in the west. Temperatures are highly variable, with generally warm summers and cold, dry winters. The upper Rocky Mountains see a large amount of snow, while lower elevations may be exposed to windy blizzards.
The Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded in Colorado
According to Colorado State University, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Colorado is -61 degrees F. This incredibly low temperature was recorded in the small town of Maybell in February of 1985. Indeed, several places in Colorado, including the town of Fraser, have experienced drastically low temperatures though the years.
Typically, the coldest month of the year is January, with an average minimum temperature of 16 degrees F. If you’re looking for warm temperatures, you might want to visit in July or August, when the state is at its hottest. Even then, Colorado’s average temperatures are just 73 and 72 degrees F.
The coldest place in Colorado got its start in fits and jumps. Prior to colonization, Native Americans lived and hunted in the area for thousands of years. In 1871, a man named George Eastom layed out what would eventually become Fraser. Though, at that time, the town site was actually known as Eastom. Later, in 1895, The McQueary family homesteaded the area. They built the now historic 4 Bar 4 Ranch, which eventually became an important stop for the Georgetown Stagecoach Line. Eventually, in the early twentieth century, Fraser became home to both a railroad stop and a sawmill.
For many years, the town considered itself the official “Icebox of the Nation”. Many residents still maintain this identity, though the official title belongs to a Minnesota town. Today, Fraser has a population of around 1,500 people. Despite its long history, the coldest place in Colorado wasn’t incorporated until 1953.
The Wildlife of Fraser
North-central Colorado is characterized by a diverse ecosystem that ranges from valley bottoms to mountain ridges. Fraser is located at just over 8,000 feet elevation, on the flat valley floor between peaks like Sheep Mountain, Mount Epworth, and Mount Jasper. It’s largely surrounded by the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. In and around town, you may encounter raccoons, chipmunks, porcupines, foxes, and even mice and bats. There are also several varieties of songbird and predatory bird in the valley, in addition to the usual host of ravens, crows, and robins.
Venturing just out of town into the mountains, visitors are likely to see mule deer, and elk. Mountain lions and black bear also make the occasional appearance at higher elevations—and sometimes at lower elevations. The kind of wildlife you can expect to see depends on the time of year you visit the coldest place in Colorado.
Things to Do in Fraser
Fraser is full of historical and outdoor sites. Visitors interested in history won’t want to miss the Cozens Ranch Museum. The museum preserves and displays a taste of what life was like for travelers and ranchers living and working in the area in the nineteenth century. Winter visitors can check out the Fraser Tubing Hill, which offers fun for the whole family. Further, if you’ve always wanted to try hot air ballooning, now’s your chance with Grand Adventure Balloon Tours, located right in Fraser.
One of the most popular destinations in Fraser is Winter Park Resort, which offers skiing, tubing, and all manner of winter sport fun. Located just to the south of the coldest place in Colorado, Winter Park Resort is a major draw for visitors, particularly in the winter. If all of that isn’t enough for you, you can always take a scenic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ann Cantelow/Shutterstock.com
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- Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/place/Colorado-state/Climate
- Colorado State University, Available here: https://climate.colostate.edu/records.html
- , Available here: https://www.denverpost.com/2006/07/13/fraser-may-lose-cool/
- , Available here: https://www.frasercolorado.com/
- , Available here: http://www.historicfraser.org/bio
- , Available here: https://stories.grandcountyhistory.org/article/fraser#:~:text=The%20origin%20of%20Fraser%20was,originally%20Frazier%2C%20after%20Reuben%20Frazier.