The Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded in Colorado Will Send Shivers Down Your Spine

Sand Wash Basin in Colorado - Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded in Colorado
© Nadja Rider/Shutterstock.com

Written by Lev Baker

Published: February 22, 2023

Share on:

Advertisement


It’s no secret that Colorado is known for its freezing winters. You may be surprised to find out just how cold it can get, though. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Colorado occurred on February 1, 1985, in Maybell. On that day, the temperature dropped to an incredible -61 degrees Fahrenheit, even colder than Antarctica’s average winter temperature!

Chances are you’ve never heard of this tiny, remote town in Northwest Colorado. Despite that, it holds the state record for the coldest temperature. Here’s a closer look at what happened in Maybell that day and why it’s considered one of the coldest places in the United States.

Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded

Sand Wash Basin in Colorado - Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded in Colorado

The coldest temperature ever recorded in Colorado was at Maybell in 1985. Pictured here is Sand Wash, less than 20 miles away from Maybell.

©Nadja Rider/Shutterstock.com

In Colorado, the coldest temperature recorded was -61 degrees Fahrenheit, which is chilling enough to give anyone the shivers! This record-breaking chill took place on February 1st, 1985, in Maybell. That particular day was undoubtedly chilly, but it’s not just this occurrence that should have Colorado natives feeling a chill. Even today, with the advent of global warming and rising temperatures, Colorado can still experience some downright frigid winters. 

There are some arguments about what contributed to the -61°F record-breaking chill in Colorado. Still, many experts agree that a combination of northerly winds, low humidity, and snow cover likely played their part. This combination made it possible for the temperature recorded on this fateful day in Maybell, Colorado, to reach that extreme. 

Average Temperature in Colorado

Salida

While the coldest temperature recorded in Colorado was -67° F, average winter temperature in the state is around 37°F.

©iStock.com/SeanXu

The average temperature in Colorado is around 37°F during winter, with occasional warm spells and cold snaps. But as evidenced by Maybell’s record-breaking temperature, the coldest days can be much colder than average. This isn’t something most Coloradans experience every day, but it’s certainly something to be aware of!

During the coldest months of each year, days often reach temperatures in the negative range. In fact, most parts of Colorado have seen an average winter low of -25°F.

The average temperature in Colorado varies significantly throughout the year. During the summer, average temperatures are typically between the mid-60s and upper 70s Fahrenheit. In contrast, winter temperatures often dip below freezing, with an average low of 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

In January and February, the coldest months of the year, temperatures typically hover around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The average low with an average low of 0 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures can dip even lower on rare occasions.

The average temperatures in Colorado don’t get too extreme. It still pays to be prepared for unexpected cold snaps, though, like the one that hit Maybell in 1985.

Average Temperature in Maybell

Farmland Near Maybell in Colorado

During winter, Maybell is generally colder than other parts of Colorado. Pictured is farm land along the Yampa River, near Maybell, on a much warmer day.

©vagabond54/Shutterstock.com

The small town of Maybell, Colorado, is no stranger to cold weather. So what is it that makes Maybell so cold? Located in Northwest Colorado, this tiny town is typically several degrees colder than the rest of the state. This means it’s not uncommon for Maybell to experience temperatures near -20°F during the winter months. What sets Maybell apart from other parts of Colorado is its altitude and geographic location.

At an elevation of 6,700 feet, Maybell is one of the highest towns in the state. This high altitude makes it more susceptible to strong winds, low humidity, and cold temperatures. Additionally, Maybell is shielded from the moderating influences of other towns by mountain ranges to the east and west.

The average temperatures in the area often dip below freezing during the winter months. The most recent figures show that January and February are typically the coldest months of the year in Maybell, with an average high temperature of just 1°F and an average low of -16°F.

On February 1st, 1985, Maybell experienced the coldest temperature ever recorded in Colorado, dropping to -61°F. It’s implausible that temperatures like this will be seen again soon in Maybell or any other state. However, it’s still important to be prepared for cold weather and dress appropriately when venturing outdoors during the winter months. 

Maybell

Maybell is a small town located in the northeast corner of Colorado, close to the Wyoming border. With fewer than 80 people, Maybell is known for its rural charm and laid-back atmosphere. While the area has few tourist attractions, it is home to incredible views of unspoiled mountain ranges and beautiful forests.

The town is also home to some interesting historical sites, including the old Maybell Hotel, which dates back to 1882. The hotel was initially built by a group of ranchers who needed a place to stay while they rounded up cattle in the nearby hills.

Despite its small size, Maybell has become famous over the years due to its record-breaking cold temperatures. The town is now known as “the coldest place in Colorado” and reminds all Coloradans that you can never be too prepared for winter weather.

When temperatures reach such extreme lows, it’s important to take extra precautions to ensure you’re staying warm and safe. If temperatures outside dip below -10°F, limiting your time outdoors as much as possible is essential. Additionally, you should layer up with warm clothing and cover your head, ears, hands, and feet. Finally, ensure all windows and doors are properly sealed to keep your home warm during the coldest months of the year, and have your heating system serviced regularly.

Winter Wildlife in Colorado

Colorado is home to various wildlife, ranging from small rodents like mice and squirrels to larger mammals like deer and elk. The diverse landscape in the state provides a habitat for many species of birds and reptiles, including hawks, eagles, snakes, and lizards.

In the winter, some hardy animals can still be seen inhabiting the valleys and hillsides while hibernating or hunting for food. Animals like deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are well-adapted to cold weather and can often roam around for sustenance during the colder months.

The extreme cold temperatures in Colorado can be especially dangerous for many animals as they struggle to find food and shelter in the winter. However, there are a few species that thrive in harsh environments. These “cold-weather survivors” include black bears, coyotes, snowshoe hares, and snow geese.

These animals have adapted to the cold by developing thick fur and dense fat layers to protect them from the cold. They also have evolved to hibernate in the winter months, remaining dormant for long periods and conserving energy until warmer weather returns.

Arctic foxes, snowshoe hares, and ptarmigan are just a few animals with thick fur and heavy insulation needed to thrive in sub-freezing temperatures like those seen in Maybell.

Small Rodents

Several voles sharing a nest

Colorado is home to several small rodents, such as voles.

©Maximillian cabinet/Shutterstock.com

As well as larger mammals, Colorado is also home to many small rodents like mice, voles, and squirrels. These animals are usually found in wooded areas or near streams, where they can hide from predators and find food sources. 

During the colder months, these little critters often look for warm places to hunker down, such as inside logs or beneath piles of leaves.

Deer and Elk

American elk in snow

Due to their thick fur coats, elk can survive even sub-zero temperatures.

©Bradley Wakoff/Shutterstock.com

Though they may not be as well adapted to cold temperatures as small rodents, deer and elk can still be seen living in Colorado during the winter months. These animals typically migrate to lower elevations when the weather turns cold, where they can find food sources like grasses or shrubs that are easier to access beneath a blanket of snow.

Deer and elk are well insulated with thick fur coats, which helps them stay warm even in sub-zero temperatures. As long as they can find a food source and some shelter from the elements, deer and elk can survive in the coldest parts of Colorado.

Though temperatures in Maybell and other parts of Colorado can reach extreme lows, the wildlife in these areas is well-adapted to the cold weather – just as we have learned to adapt with our insulated houses, electricity, and fire. Small rodents, deer, elk, arctic foxes, and other cold-weather survivors can be seen living in the state during even the chilliest months of the year.

Up Next…


Share this post on:
About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.