The best and worst winter states for outdoor recreation

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — has ranked the best and worst winter states in the U.S. for outdoor recreation. The rankings were created through research and analysis from multiple data sources covering climate, public land and geographical features. Each category given a defined weight in the ranking data.

“We set out to rank winter states in the U.S. by how friendly each was for outdoor activities, using objective data and criteria,” said Matt Rowan, co-founder of “Generally speaking, more access to public land, water and mountains means more outdoor opportunities, and weather is always a factor when you’re outdoors.”

Winter states were ranked based on annual snowfall, square miles of water, public land acreage, number of clear days annually and whether each was a mountain state. Only states with an average winter temperature below freezing, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, were included on the list.

The top-3 winter states for outdoor recreation (from best to worst) were Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. The bottom-3 winter states for outdoor activities (starting with the worst) were Vermont, Rhode Island and Indiana.

The top-6 states in the rankings were all mountain states in the western region of the U.S. and share borders with each other (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montana and Idaho). The top ranked state after mountain states was Alaska.

For a written description of each state and more information, visit

About the winter state rankings:
To be included in the list, states must have an average winter temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. A total of 25 U.S. states fit this criteria.

Data was sourced from the National Climatic Data Center of the United States (NCDC), the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Land Management.

The following categories were used to rank each state, with weight of each category included:

  • Average annual snowfall (10 percent)
  • Square miles of water (20 percent)
  • Average annual clear day ranking by state (20 percent)
  • Public land acreage ranking (30 percent)
  • Mountain states (20 percent weight, all or nothing)

SOURCE: Go All Outdoors press release

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith is a Wisconsin native currently living in Illinois with her husband, Eric, and two dogs, Maggie and Grace. She enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking and, of course, camping in cabins and park models.

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