Colorado is a winter wonderland and is well known for its abundant and varied snowfall. The state is blanketed in white every year as snow falls from November through April. During the winter, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado receive an average of 300 inches of snow, providing everything from sunny days perfect for skiing and snowboarding to foggy nights that paint scenes for spectacular postcards. But what is the snowiest place in Colorado? Let’s take a look!
Snow in Colorado
Visiting Colorado in the winter guarantees snowfall of some kind. However, depending on your location, you could see a drastically different amount. Those on the eastern side of the state, which is usually flatter terrain, will likely find themselves faced with 45 to 55 inches of snow at the most. On the other hand, the western side of the state tends to have higher elevations with nearly twice as much snowfall, with an average of 126.4 inches!
The most common types of snow in Colorado are powder, packed powder, and wind-packed snow. Powder is light and fluffy, providing excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions. Packed powder is denser than standard powder, creating an even playing field for experienced skiers or boarders who prefer to carve through moguls or jump off jumps. Wind-packed snow is often found on the leeward sides of hills. It’s usually dense enough to create an icy surface suitable for advanced skiers and riders only.
The Snowiest Place in Colorado: Wolf Creek Ski Area
With an average annual snowfall of 430 inches and an elevation of just over 10,000 feet, Wolf Creek is the snowiest place in Colorado. Wolf Creek is located in Southwestern Colorado, near the town of Pagosa Springs. It is also home to hundreds of bird and plant species, as well as animals like elk, black bears, and even the rare Canada lynx on occasion.
Due to its unique microclimate, Wolf Creek is prone to storms coming in from the south and west. This results in 16.7% of winter days with at least 6 inches of snow and 27% of winter months with 90 inches or more of snow. At an elevation of 10,300 feet along the San Juan mountains, Wolf Creek offers incredible views and excellent skiing conditions. The ski area spans 1,600 acres of terrain across four different mountain peaks with a variety of trails for all levels of skiers and snowboarders to enjoy.
Founded in the 1940s, Wolf Creek Ski Area has become one of Colorado’s most beloved ski destinations. The family-run operation is situated on the eastern slope of the San Juan Mountains and boasts some of the state’s best skiing conditions — especially for those looking to challenge their skills.
However, it wasn’t always that way. In the 1930s, skiing enthusiasts from San Luis Valley and Pagosa Springs came together to create a single tow rope. Since then, however, its popularity has grown steadily. Today adventurers have an array of lifts at their disposal for easy access to all types of terrain. From high-speed detachable quads and triple chairlifts to traditional rolling conveyors, the resort now features several different lifts to choose from.
The Biggest Snowfall in Wolf Creek Colorado
Wolf Creek is famous for having “the most snow in Colorado,” averaging around 430 inches of snow each year! However, this snowy wonderland has had years of even more snow over the years.
An astonishing 807 inches of snowfall fell during the season of 1978-1979 — a record for the most snow ever to fall in one season in the state. The following year, 1979-1980, another 730.5 inches of snow came to Wolf Creek. And legends also suggest that it experienced another massive snowfall during the early 1940s.
The Snowiest City in Colorado
While Wolf Creek Ski Area is easily the snowiest place in Colorado, it is not actually the snowiest city. That title belongs to the city of Crested Butte in western Colorado’s Gunnison County. Crested Butte is the snowiest city in Colorado and averages 216.6 inches over the course of 66 days. This results in approximately 18 feet of snow annually! The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) even reported that in January 1957, Crested Butte received a full 146.6 inches, which is the most snowfall the city has ever received in a single month.
Surrounded by the Gunnison National Forest of Colorado, Crested Butte is a picturesque mountain town with plenty to offer. Nature lovers can discover miles of trails throughout the nearby wilderness, while adventure seekers will find all sorts of activities like alpine climbing, paddle boarding, and skiing. The charming downtown is a lovely and picturesque area, filled with plenty of life and color with its many Victorian homes and storefronts.
Crested Butte was originally known for coal mining but has transformed into what is often called “Colorado’s last great ski town.” The city itself has around 1,640 residents, who can travel just five minutes by car to the mountain to enjoy the slopes and spectacular mountain scenery. There is also a great deal of wildlife in this area, from mountain lions to bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, deer, moose, cranes, and prairie chickens, to name a few.
During the winter, Crested Butte comes alive with snow-capped mountains, white-frosted forests, pristine meadows, and glittering lakes. Visitors to the town can take advantage of the plentiful snowfall to go on exciting adventures as well, such as sledding, tubing, or exploring snow caves.
Other Snowy Places in Colorado
Colorado is known for its beautiful snow-capped peaks and ample powder for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling — and not just in the Wolf Creek Ski Area or Crested Butte. For example, the city of Boulder was named the snowiest city in America during the 2019-2020 winter season. It received 151.2 inches as of April 16 that season! From Telluride to Vail and beyond, there are plenty of snowy places to explore throughout the state. In fact, Colorado is home to an astounding 28 ski resorts!
Vail is home to the largest ski resort in the state with around 190 inches of snow each year. In addition, the mountain town of Aspen receives around 178 inches of snow on average. Both towns have beautiful snow-covered peaks that provide a stunning backdrop for an array of recreational activities like snowshoeing, sledding, skiing, or lounging in an elegant resort by the fire.
Keystone averages around 201 inches of snowfall each year, and the Keystone Resort actually opens up in October, so you can start skiing early in the year. When not skiing or snowboarding on the stunning 3,000 acres of powder, a scenic sleigh ride is a great way to get into the festive spirit. For an extra rush, you can even try snow biking — a thrilling blend of downhill skiing and mountain biking.
Telluride is another stunning destination in the heart of the Rockies, with Telluride Ski Resort receiving around 276 inches of snow each year. Set along a box canyon with dramatic peaks rising up on all sides, its beauty and charm are unparalleled. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities to keep you busy — take your pick from skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, and more.
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the snowiest place in Colorado?
Wolf Creek is the snowiest place in Colorado with an average annual snowfall of 430 inches.
What is the snowiest city in Colorado?
The snowiest city in Colorado is Crested Butte, which averages 216.6 inches over the course of 66 days. That’s approximately 18 feet of snow each year!
What is the least snowy place in Colorado?
The least snowy city in Colorado is Grand Junction, which averages only 15.8 inches of snow each year.
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- MTCB, Available here: https://mtcb.colorado.gov/
- World Population Review, Available here: https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/average-snowfall-by-state