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Outdoors

Winter Wonderlands: The 10 Snowiest States

By Daily Passport Team
Read time: 5 minutes

Nobody loves shoveling the sidewalk, scraping off the car or navigating slippery roads. But the pros of snow arguably outweigh the bad: The pristine natural beauty of a snow-covered landscape, the hushed magic of a delicate flurry, the cozy promise of a snow day, pastimes like skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and, of course, holiday fun. Love a snowy landscape? Looking to avoid the fluffy-and-slushy stuff altogether? Plan accordingly with this list of the 10 U.S. snowiest states that get the most snowfall annually.

10. Wisconsin – 45.79

Empty benches on dock overlooking Wisconsin lake at sunset
Credit: Dave Hoefler/ Unsplash

The Badger State ranks 10th on the list of America’s snowiest states, with an average annual snowfall of 45.79 inches. Snowfall in Wisconsin varies considerably from north to south, with the southern region accumulating around 30 inches annually. In contrast, the state’s northern region has reported upwards of 100 inches of snow per year. Referred to as “Up North” by Wisconsin residents, the northern half of the state is home to both the Gogebic Range and Lake Superior, both of which contribute to the large amounts of annual snowfall. As a result, winter sports such as skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing are integral to Wisconsin’s winter culture, as a way to make the most of the snowy region.

9. Wyoming – 51″

Mountains and lake in Wyoming
Credit: sterlinglanier Lanier/ Unsplash

Although snow usually falls in Wyoming from November until May, the accumulation is spread unevenly throughout the state, thanks to Wyoming’s varying topography. Certain state locales, such as the Big Horn Basin, record as little as 15 to 20 inches of snow per year. Other parts of the state are on the opposite end of the snow spectrum — one ranger station in Yellowstone National Park sees an annual snowfall average of 262 inches. Although the plains region records a low amount of snowfall when compared to Wyoming’s mountainous regions, it still averages out to be quite a snowy state.

8. Massachusetts – 51.05″

Snowy Boston street lined with brick buildings
Credit: Marcio Silva/ iStock

For such a small state, Massachusetts often receives an inordinate amount of snowfall. The winter of 2014-2015 was record-setting, with a whopping 108 inches recorded over the season. In the city of Boston, which is known for its narrow cobblestone roadways, six-foot-high walls of snow lined every street and sidewalk. Much of the snowfall was a result of nor’easters, which are storms with strong winds and heavy precipitation that form along the Atlantic seaboard.

7. New York – 55.32″

View of Manhattan, New York skyline from Central Park in winter
Credit: johnandersonphoto/ iStock

Although New York City can be subject to nor’easters, like the infamous Blizzard of ‘96, most of the state’s annual snowfall occurs upstate. With lakeshore access to two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario), upstate New York experiences heavy lake-effect snow. These storms occur when arctic air passes over lake water and is warmed and moistened, resulting in heavy snowfall. In November 2014, two consecutive lake-effect storms dropped nine feet of snow on Buffalo, New York, over the course of just three days.

6. Michigan – 60.66″

Snow-covered lakefront landscape in Michigan
Credit: Dean Pennala/ Shutterstock

Michigan’s highest snowfall occurs in the northern part of the state. As the Upper Peninsula has access to three different Great Lakes, it’s no surprise that is where the heaviest snowfall is recorded, due to lake-effect storms. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parts of the U.P. receive over 180 inches of snow annually. As a result, it is not uncommon to use a snowmobile as a primary mode of transportation here during the winter.

5. Alaska – 64.46″

Snow-covered trees in Alaska
Credit: Anita Warren-Hampson/ Shutterstock

Due to its extreme northern location, Alaska may be thought of as the snowiest state in the U.S. Surprisingly, however, it doesn’t have the highest average annual snowfall. That’s because Alaska is a massive state with a highly variable climate, with coastal areas being more temperate, and inland regions being subject to cold, snowy winters. Still, Alaska is no stranger to jaw-dropping snowstorms, like when 78 inches of snow fell in 24 hours in 1963. Perhaps this is one reason why residents have learned to enjoy the winter, favoring activities such as dog sledding and snowmobiling throughout the cold season.

4. Colorado – 67.3″

Person cross-country skiing through Colorado mountains
Credit: Chris Holder/ Unsplash

Colorado is one of those rare places that is both especially snowy and sunny, which is why winter enthusiasts flock to the state. Colorado’s plentiful mountain ranges receive more than 120 inches of snow a year, while the state also boasts an average of 240 sunny days. With popular ski resorts such as Telluride, Aspen, and Vail to choose from, Colorado is a skier’s paradise, and most people who visit in the winter are in search of fresh powder. If you’re not a fan of the white stuff, however, the capital city of Denver often experiences less snowfall than other parts of the state, with an average of 56.5 inches of snow per year and nearly 300 days of sunshine.

3. New Hampshire – 71.44″

Covered bridge in New Hampshire amid snowy landscape
Credit: AdinaWhite/ Shutterstock

The snowy state of New Hampshire is a state famous for its long winters. When combined with its access to mountains — including Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast — it’s a popular place for skiing and other snow-based activities. The winter of 2014-2015 was a banner year for skiers, as Concord received 90 inches of snow, 30 more inches than average. And in 2007-2008, the state capital received a record 119 inches. Due to its heavy snowfall, skiers can ski Mount Washington throughout the spring and, sometimes, into the summer.

2. Maine – 77.28″

Snowy landscape with homes and river in Maine
Credit: Ann Stryzhekin/ Shutterstock

Maine is the country’s second-snowiest state, and over the past decade, its precipitation events have gradually increased. Coastal Maine typically receives less snow than the interior parts of the state and is often subject to freezing rain and sleet in the winters. Similar to Massachusetts, however, the coast of Maine is subject to nor’easters, and these cold-weather storms can dump a foot or more of snow in 24 hours. The northernmost tip of the state often receives the most snow, reporting 125 inches annually.

1. Vermont – 89.25″

Vermont mountain landscape at sunset, seen from above
Credit: Adam Wilding/ Shutterstock

Another New England state tops the list for states that get the most snow. Although Vermont is a popular destination in any season, the state, which is home to the Green Mountains, is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts who love to spend time in the snow. Average snowfall registers from 80 to 100 inches in the winter months, which means there are plenty of opportunities to ski, snowshoe, and snowmobile throughout the state. Vermont often receives heavy snowstorms from the northwest, as well as lake-effect snow from Lake Champlain.

Featured image credit: Karsten Winegeart/ Unsplash

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