When the going gets cold, most people head indoors, stir up a cup of hot cocoa, light a fire and pop in a DVD. But for some destinations, cold translates to “high season” and a popular time for travelers and wintertime activities. Although the warmer season may have more sun, these chilly destinations require a winter jacket year-round, and maybe an ice pick. For those who can’t wait until the days get shorter and the precipitation gets colder, get ready to strap on your crampons in search for the coldest degree on earth.
Vostok Station is a Russian research station in inland Princess Elizabeth Land, Antarctica, sitting at 11,444 feet above sea level. Located 800 miles from the South Pole, the coldest temperature recorded was -128.6º F on July 21, 1983. On average, the temperature lingers around -13º F.
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
This glacial lake and mountain-like ice structures attracts tourists from around the world to enjoy the park’s beauty. The glaciers are part of the third largest ice cap on Earth, and thanks to cooler temperatures, these glaciers are increasing in size, unlike many melting glaciers throughout the global warming globe.
Japan’s northernmost island homes harsh winters and bountiful snowfalls, with the temperature staying below freezing for half the year. The northern part of Japan is a haven for winter sports, known for skiing and snowboarding. A little further south in the Yamagata Prefecture, if the snow piles up on the slopes, it molds and clings to trees creating what the locals’ call, “juhyo” or “ice monsters.”
Snag, Yukon, Canada
Snag is a small village located off the Alaskan Highway, first settled during the Klondike Gold Rush, and still homes a small community. In February 1947, a record breaking -81.4º F was recorded, with a yearly average of 20º F.
Prospect Creek, Alaska
A once booming community due to the trans Alaskan pipeline, Prospect Creek now homes what seems to be more eagles and bears compared to humans. Located 643 feet above sea level, recorded breaking colds have reached as low as -80º F, with a yearly average of 15º F year round.
In 1933, the Germans settled to this chilly destination for a German research expedition. During their year-long expedition expedition, the recorded low temperature was -85º F, and the highest was 27º F.
Oymyakon, Siberia, Russia
Known as the “coldest permanently inhabited place on earth,” the region is too cold to support crops or much plant life. On February 6, 1933, a temperature of -90º F was recorded at Oymyakon’s weather station, the coldest recorded temperature in the world other than Vostok . The near 500-person community survives on fish, meat, and lots of warm clothes.
Elizabeth is a fitness professional, workshop presenter and freelance writer. She is an active traveler who treks the globe looking for interesting stories to write and places to photograph. Her most significant travel achievements include living and volunteering in Australia twice and studied yoga in India.