The snowiest towns in Montana are the stuff of winter legends. So where does the most snow actually fall?

Some Montana towns turn into outdoor playgrounds when the snow hits. Snowfall is the bread and butter for economic health in many small Montana towns. (Big towns too, but they generally don't make the 'snowiest' list.)

There is a big difference between the snowiest towns and the snowiest places in Montana. Ski resorts and mountain tops clock in much more snow than towns that I list here, so it's a LITTLE subjective. I wanted to highlight actual towns, with residents, chambers of commerce, etc. Big Sky Resort touts 400 inches of snowfall annually, which is far more than our Snowiest Town pick...but it's a resort, not a town.

NOTE: I found it very curious how difficult it was to get accurate and consistent data for such a simple question. You'd think it would be incredibly easy since it's not an arbitrary number... snowfall is snowfall, right? Be careful...I found drastically incorrect information from usually reliable local publications. It's best to triple-check with the data geeks themselves, so that's exactly what I did here.

photo - Michelle Wolfe
photo - Michelle Wolfe
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It should come as no surprise that Cooke City checks in as the Snowiest Town in Montana, with an average annual snowfall of about 195 to 200 inches. It's also famous for being one of the coolest places in America because of its location...on the Beartooth Highway and as an entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It's one small town that has a lot going for it, including all that snow.

VisitMT.com says it best: "Cooke City is one of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park. It is perhaps most famous for the road that connects Cooke City with Red Lodge. Called "the most scenic drive in America," the Beartooth Pass on U.S. Highway 212 has dramatic switchbacks traversing the spectacular Beartooth Range. Surrounded by national forest, wilderness and Yellowstone National Park, the area is an outdoor recreationist's dream."

The Cooke City Chamber of Commerce official website is quite helpful for planning a visit or learning more about the town. With so much recreation surrounding Cooke City, they do a really nice job of promoting the fun stuff and being clear about the weather challenges and road conditions.

Cooke City - Soda Butte Lodge webcam
Cooke City - Soda Butte Lodge webcam
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Towns like Red Lodge get a healthy amount of snowfall too. With Red Lodge Mountain in close proximity, the TOWN of Red Lodge averages about 128 inches of snow per year. (The ski area gets anywhere from 140 to 190 inches per year.)

West Yellowstone averages anywhere from 130 to 160 inches of snowfall per year. When searching specifically for West Yellowstone, you'll find drastically different answers for annual snowfall. The number of years counted in the average and the snow measuring locations matter.

If you really like to keep tabs on Montana snowfall, one of the best resources is the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. Their site is filled with data on SNOWTEL sites, current levels, and expectedly, avalanche activity.

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