If you’re like us, you’re a really big fan of snow and
snowstorms and blizzards—most anything to do with snow. During the winter, you
check the weather report several times a day. The majority of your “favorite”
saved websites on your computer are weather-related (currently we have 10 such
“favorites” on our saved list—almost all of which are checked several times a
Like us, you’re mindset is summer is great but winter is
That’s why, when you’re looking at a map or driving around
in the summer or winter and you come across a place with the name “snow” in it,
your heart just about skips a beat.
Over the years during our travels all over the snow belt, we’ve
come across dozens of such places. Some of those locales live up to their name
and some, well, not so much.
When it comes to making the most out of the word snow, the
downhill ski industry has it figured out, with several resorts in the West
using “snow” in their names. There are such places as Snowbird and Snowbasin in
Utah, Snowmass in Colorado,
in California, Snow King in Jackson, WY,
and the list goes on.
But you know what, that marketing ploy is a given. Don’t you
expect a ski resort to somehow work snow into its name? Who is going to go
skiing at Bare Mountain Ski Resort?
Most of the places we ride have had their names long before
snowmobiling was ever thought of. In fact, we don’t know any
snowmobile-specific places that have been named for or by snowmobilers
(although locals usually have their own names for their favorite riding spots).
Although, that could be kind of fun. Like, how about Get Stuck Creek or Powder Mountain
or Boondocker Basin or Hell Hole. Maybe they wouldn’t
have “snow” in the name anywhere, but it would be fun to come up with a few of
our own names.
Anyway, back to the snow in named places.
Our interest in places with the name snow in them started
years ago while driving through Snowville,
UT, in a raging blizzard and
thinking, “yea, that name fits.”
But it was a drive through Christmas
Valley, OR, last winter on our way
back from snowmobiling in Klamath
County that we finally
decided to write some sort of story about snowy places. There was not one spec of
snow in Christmas
Valley and we were
thinking, how does a place get a name like that when it should at least have
With the creation of the Internet and the relative ease of
being able to do research, we started casually searching for other places with
snow in their name. Add to that the dozens of places we traveled through with
the name of snow in them, such as Snow Mountain in Oregon, Snowline, MT,
Wyoming’s Snowy Range and more.
We wanted some cold, hard facts so we got a little more
serious in our snow research, discovering many places with snow in their name are
less than deserving of the title. No offense, Snowville, UT,
but that includes you. Despite our blizzard experience years ago in Snowville,
weather records show the tiny northern Utah town (pop. 167) gets about 21.2
inches of snow every winter.
Then there’s Snow Creek in southern California which gets a minuscule 1.5 inches
of snow every year. Or Snowflake, AZ, which manages just 17.8 inches a winter.
On the flip side, though, some places are more than
deserving and do the name proud. How about the Snowy
Range in southeast Wyoming. Fox Park,
located in the southern part of the Snowies (as the locals call them) averages
180.2 inches of snow a winter at its 9,000-foot elevation.
While we think most ski resorts tend to exaggerate their
average snowfall figures (the common number seems to be 300 inches per winter),
we think Utah’s
Snowbird Ski Resort is pretty spot on when it comes to true snowfall totals.
Snowbird claims 500 inches of snow each winter. Official weather records show
Alta Ski Resort, just two miles up the road, averages over 512 inches a winter.
In fact, Alta has the greatest average annual snowfall for Utah and hold the winter snowfall record at
846.8 inches. So it’s very believable that Snowbird, which is just a few miles
from Salt Lake City, gets the snowfall it says it does—and does its name proud.
This next area doesn’t have snow in the title but it’s a
wintery kind of fun named place. It’s the Never Summer Wilderness in
We rode around this Wilderness last winter and gazed at its towering peaks,
some snow clad, some not (depended on which way the wind blew how much snow
there was). There are 17 peaks in the Never Summer Wilderness that rise above
12,000 feet. There is one snotel site in the Wilderness, sitting at 10,280
feet. Last winter didn’t produce an average snowfall in this part of Colorado so when the
snotel site showed the deepest the snow got was 65.2 inches that was probably off
from a normal year. The town of Grand Lake, which is just south and a little east of the Never
Summer Wilderness gets an average of 144 inches of snow at the weather
recording site, which sits at 8,700 feet. The law of averages tells you that
when it comes to mountains, the taller ones get more snow so if we could
assume, then you’d have to think that the Wilderness area is usually awash in
snow—snow that doesn’t melt over the course of the summer, at least at the
We could go on and on about specific locations in the West
with snow in the name because we did a fair amount of looking those places up.
One of our favorite websites is www.topozone.com. Go to www.topozone.com
and start searching for places with “snow” in them and you’ll get dozens and
dozens of results. We entered snow mountain, snowy peak, snow creek, snowy
creek, snowy lake, snowy mountain, snow peak, snow river and just plain ‘ol
snow and came back with more than a hundred results. You could probably spend
hours (we already did) if you were to continue on with more snow names, i.e.,
snow canyon, snow valley, etc.
Just an interesting side note to the www.topozone.com website. When we entered
all those snow-related names, we didn’t get a single return in the state of Colorado. We’re sure
there are snow-named places, but we couldn’t find any, except of course
Snowmass. Then, when we entered Snow Mountain, there were six such named places in California alone.
Here are a few snow-named areas in more detail, some of
which live up to the lofty expectations of having snow in their name and some
which don’t. And there is no rhyme or reason to the places we picked. If we
were to do it again, we might come up with a completely different list.
Remember, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of snow-named places.
Snow Mountain, Oregon
Annual Snowfall 100
of Burns, OR, just about on the Grant/Harney county line. The snowfall for Snow Mountain
is merely a quasi guess on our part. There is a snotel site on Snow Mountain
but it sits at 6,220 feet, nearly 1,000 feet from the mountain’s summit.
Interestingly enough, on Sept. 11, 2007 the snotel site read 7 inches of snow.
The deepest snow reading from last winter was 36.2 inches. The closest official
snow readings we could find was Seneca (elevation 4,660 feet), which averages
57.1 inches of snow. It’s about 25 miles away from Snow Mountain
as the bird flies. We think 100 inches is a pretty good guess for snow
Annual Snowfall 40-55
Location Exit 9
off Interstate 15 in Montana.
Snowline is just north of the Monida Pass, which crosses the Continental Divide between Spencer, ID, and Lima, MT.
Lima’s (elevation 6,270
feet) annual snowfall is 51.5 inches while at Monida (6,790 feet) the snowfall
is 37.9 inches.
Location Northern Utah, near the Utah/Idaho border
northern edge of the White Mountains in eastcentral Arizona. Jordan Flake purchased the land
where present day Snowflake is and the town received its name from a visitor to
the area, Erastus Snow, who, according to the town’s chamber of commerce
suggested the “colorful name as a humorous suggestion.”
Location In the Uhlen Valley
off Interstate 80 west of Truckee and north of Crater Lake
Snowball Ranch, Nevada
Location In the Antelope Range
just about smack dab in the middle of the state of Nevada.
Snowshoe Lake, Alaska
Location North of
the Glenn Highway, west
of Tazlina Lake
and the town of Glennallen.
Snow Creek Upper, California
1.5 inches (yea, 1 point 5)
Location West of
the Salton Sea in the Lower Borrego Valley
in Southern California, just southeast of
Ocotillo Wells, which gets 1.8 inches of precipitation a year and has less than
five days when it rains.
Snoqualmie Pass, Washington
Location East of Seattle on Interstate 90.
Yea, we kind of cheated on this but three of the four key letters—sno—are in
the name so that works for us. Besides, this place gets a lot of snow and
deserves a little recognition.
Snowy Range, Wyoming
Location Southeast Wyoming. This information differs a little from
what was mentioned in the main story but we’re using other information we’ve
gleaned over the years from riding in the Snowies and also taking into account
that Fox Park is about 9,000 feet and you can ride up to 11,000 feet in these
mountains, where the snow piles up even deeper.
Christmas Valley, Oregon
is another no-snow named spot, but hey, Christmas Valley
conjures of images of snow. However, when we drove through this tiny town (pop.
979) last February there was not a lick of snow in sight except way off in the
distance (mountains to the south).
Snow Creek, Idaho
Northeast of Mesa Falls, within a couple of miles of the Yellowstone National Park boundary.