An Expanded Western Relocation Zone

by contributing author Joel M. Skousen, Author Strategic Relocation

I have often been asked to comment on Jim Rawles’ concept of the Redoubt for survival relocation.  Rawles’ criteria of distance from population threats, defendability, and agricultural suitability focus upon a fairly limited area of the Western US, centered around Idaho, and includes Western Montana and parts of Eastern Washington and Oregon.

In reality, it’s a fine area and certainly matches my core recommendations in Strategic Relocation for security, safety and livability, but it may be too limiting for most people. However, having consulted with people and designed high security residences for the last 40 years around North America, I realize all too well that most people have financial, distance from family, weather and other personal limitations that simply won’t allow for relocation to an area so far north and remote from their needs as the Redoubt.

Some people, for example, need access to an international airport hub, which doesn’t exist in the Redoubt.  Others need a drier, more sunny climate for health reasons or even more solar potential.  Others simply need something closer to the metro area that have to remain in due to job or family reasons. The attached map represents what I would recommend as an Expanded Secure Relocation Area.

I don’t use the term “redoubt” because of its military defense implications. Even though I believe in defensibility at the retreat level I don’t like to infer that some broader military resistance strategy is possible for most people. For individual families I prefer less confrontrational strategies of blending in, or getting out of the way, or concealment as the best form of defense for most people. The area I have outlined is what is generally referred to as the Intermountain West and includes the Great Basin—that high desert plain between the Cascade/Sierra Mountains of Washington, Oregon and California over to the middle of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico.

These two mountain ranges converge as the get further north and merge up in Canada.  They provide a pretty formidable barrier for those coming from the West Coast or the Midwest.  In addition the Great Basin has within its boundariers hundreds of miles of trackless desert and mountain areas that provide isolation by distance and hardship for anyone entering the area without vehicles, fuel and water.

Click on image for larger view...

Click on image for larger view…

That doesn’t mean everything within these bounders is equally safe, secure, or livable.  Obviously border areas near California or Denver are not as safe as those in the central areas more distant from population threats. A person must be careful to select specific locations that meet the survival criteria I and others have outlined in Strategic Relocation. The climate, for example, in this expanded area allows for a lot more use of solar in Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, and Northern Arizona.

And, even though much drier than the Northwest, snowfall does fill mountain reservoirs which provide a reliable flow of irrigation water if you pick the right area.  Sure, the high mountain deserts can’t provide for large masses of people, but we aren’t trying to save the whole world here, just those who have the forethought to relocate in advance of the coming world crises, be they war, economic or disease. This expanded security area centers around Salt Lake City, which is the only big metro area in the region and which has the full range of commercial facilities including an international airport (hub for Delta Airlines).

Most of the other smaller cities in the West have feeder flights into SLC. The Salt Lake Valley itself is not recommended for security even though it is safer than most other large metro areas, unless you have an addition retreat in or past the many secure areas which surround SLC.  Unlike Denver, where the high mountains are miles away from the unsafe city area, in Utah the Wasatch Front of the Rocky mountains come right down to the city’s edge and provide not only quick access to mountain retreat areas but a barrier to social unrest from the cities. This isn’t to say that you have to be anywhere near SLC or the center of the expanded secure area in order to find safety. I still highly recommend the Northern Idaho and Western Mountana areas of Rawles’ Redoubt.  But for people who have to remain in California or So. Arizona, it’s just too far for a retreat.

That is why I have included the forested higher elevations of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah for those needing to get out of So. California or Phoenix and reach their retreat in one day. I have excluded much of Eastern Wyoming, such as the mountains and valleys around Sheridan Wyoming simply because of the danger inherant in being downwind of the Yellowstone caldera.  It’s just too potent of a volcanic threat to areas east of Yellowstone park to recommend for retreats or full time residences.  I’ve only included about half the Colorado Rockies in Colorado to avoid being too close to Denver and Colorado Springs, which are major nuclear targets and contain high density urban threats.

I’ve placed the borders of the secure zone clear into the Cascade and Sierra Mountains of the three most Western states even though they may be too close to the urban areas of Washington, Oregon and California—but that depends on how close you are to the major mountain passes that channel people through the mountains.

You can find good retreat areas in those border areas if you carefully select areas not visible from or easily accessible from the highway passes.  This exemplifies why I emphasize more specific location criteria in Strategic Relocation rather than everyone trying to find the mythical “safe area,” which supposedly allows them to buy a home in a suburban area and feel safe.

It’s never that simple.  Safety is only relative—even in this general secure zone—so you must take care in selecting the homesite, as well as take precautions to secure your home, as I detail in my larger work, The Secure Home ( In summary, this expanded area gives you a lot more options both for full time residences near major commercial centers, and for reatreats and survival farms in rural areas—in what we survival experts consider the safest general area in the United States. This is also a good area for ultimate retreats for those who will develop their preparedness strategic first in other areas of the US to the East—which are all covered in great detail in Strategic Relocation (

What I mean is that if you need to stay in the East or Midwest, you should always think about “where do I go from here” if my initial retreat strategic fails or is overwelmed with refugees?  In general, social unrest flows in the US will go from the overly populated East and Northeast to the midwest. There will also be flows outward from LA, SF, and Seattle to the more rural areas but will generall stay within the area confined between the Coast and the mountains.  Few will dare flee into the hostile desserts of California and Nevada.

If you have the financial resources to develop a staged strategic of relocation (suburban safe home, farm retreat and short-term mountain retreat) that’s always better than putting “all your eggs in one basket.”  But, in the final analysis, don’t despair if the task seems daunting or beyond your financial reach.  While you should stretch and save to achieve your preparedness goals, we all have limits and can only do so much.  We do what we can and can then depend on God’s help to make up the difference.  Be sure and seek inspiration in any relocation choice you make.  These major decisions in life should not be made by human criteria alone.

bio: Joel Skousen is the author of Strategic Relocation—North American Guide to Safe Places, and The Secure Home ( as well as the publisher of the World Affairs Brief ( a weekly news analysis service that attempts to explain each week’s happenings in light of the hidden agendas of government that the mainstream media refuses to reveal.  Mr. Skousen believes that understanding these agendas and the threat they present to our liberty is essential to our preparations for the future.


  1. Rider of Rohan says:

    The area around SLC is definitely great prepper territory as people on the whole are some of the more prepared in the US. Also, folks there tend to be hard-working, helpful, and welcoming.

    My problem is that I’m in Texas, and need a location closer to that state. I’m looking at:
    1. Eastern Oklahoma/Western Arkansas Ouachita Mountain area centered around Mena
    2. Ouachita Mountain area in Arkansas centered around Glenwood

    Any suggestions on these sites, anyone?

    • Kevin A says:

      I would avoid the area around Glenwood if your not related to anyone there.

      • Rider of Rohan says:

        Glenwood is not that far from Hot Springs and is in a tourist area between De Gray Lake and Lake Greeson, lots of canoeing on the Caddo River centered in the area. Why would you avoid it unless related to someone?

        • Ozarkana says:

          Y’all are more than welcome to come to the Arkansas hills. You might have trouble finding some places that are not listed on any map, though. Our little homestead is called “Chigger’s Choice”; and, the property at the end of the road is called “Deer Tick Woods”. Skunk Hollow, Snake Creek, Buzzard Ridge, and Chicken Hill are pretty self explanatory. We’ll let you figure out for yourself how Bear Poop Road got it’s name.

          Some of the more rural communities in Arkansas might be called “cliques” if everyone could figure out how to spell it; but, mostly, it is just called “us 4 and no more”.

          When you meet someone, you ask them who their momma is. If you ask them who their daddy is, you will just get a fight started. By the time it’s all over with, someone is going to be missing a couple more teeth, someone is going to be missing visitation weekend with their kids; and, the rest of the family is going to be mad because the XBox 360 had to be pawned for bail money, again.

  2. JP in MT says:

    Now this is what I call being “more inclusive”!

  3. worrisome says:

    I am right on the western border line of his area………the issue really is water, water, water………abundant and redundant resources of same. Decent soil is next, after that, you can pretty much build & buy whatever else you think you need. Must keep an eye on the EPA water regs and BLM/FED land expansions.

    • Good point there, worrisome, about the feds. Even Congress is getting upset w/EPA.

      • Worrisome says:

        Mari, Rider of Rohan is a good resource on federal over reach he seems to be well read on a lot of it.

  4. Kevin A says:

    Well I made it into redoubt thanks to Joel. Only by a mile or 2 but I made it. Thanks Joel I saved a lot of money reading this story. I chose our site 10 yrs ago because we are close enough to Albuquerque to work and far enough away that I can leave my drive way and drive 200 miles without seeing a house or business. Water is out there but hard enough to find that most people will avoid the area. I’m not too worried about a tank battle with all the use of helicopters and drones now days I don’t see land based vehicles being much of a problem.

    • Tanks have bigger artillery. I suppose copters and drones could still strafe with .50 cal or drop bombs, including other kinds than explosives.

  5. OldTexas says:

    I read about Mr. Skousen’s “The Secure Home” on M.D. Creekmore’s website several years ago. I ordered the book from Mr. Skousen’s website. It is an amazing eye opener of ALL THINGS relevant to location, topographic considerations, climate, access, agricultural, water, etc. Then he gets into the exquisite details of construction from a tactical perspective. It is filled with architectural details, cross sectional diagrams of construction techniques, and sources of supply for specialty items. Nothing is left out. Utilities, ventilation, energy sources are all addressed.

    For example, do you know how to build a wall that offers ballistic protection with common materials universally available. This wall looks ” normal” inside and out, thus not screaming “bunker”. It is easy for do-it-yourselfers. I will not disclose the product of his labor on ballistic defense. But you will be surprised at the elegant simplicity of the technique.

    I do not have his book on strategic relocation, but I can vouch for the The Secure Home on it’s scope and thoroughness.

    I am only a customer of his books, not affiliated or linked to the author in any manner.

    While I maybe in central Texas, too close to urban sprawl, the old family ranch land I live on seems to meet most of the criteria on strategic location of the home site. For me, to up and move 1000 miles west is not an option.

  6. back in 2009 we spent some time in Kingman Arizona, while my wife was seeking some specialized medical services. I would avoid that general area completely. There is very very limited water, no jobs, and crappy soil, if indeed you can call it soil. The area closer to Flagstaff is much better.

  7. Big Bear says:

    Living in Montana, at the northernmost shadow of the Rockies within spitting distance of Glacier Nat’l Park and the Canadian border, I’ve got mixed emotions about this article. On the plus side: it’s good to know the author sees the positive aspects of these areas as opposed to others ……….. on the negative side: some things don’t need to be advertised as it might result in increased population in our area!

    We’ve been here 30+ years and moved here specifically to get away from the cities and masses of people. Montana’s population is still less than 1 million (don’t believe the census numbers) and the state is huge. Lots of water, game, forests and land that is just right for living off the grid and being as much of a hermit as you want to be. Lots of cold weather too so be sure you can take 6-7 months of cold, snowy, icy life. The gray days of winter can get bothersome unless you embrace them and get outside. Prices are not low and shopping is a real pain as there are not a lot of stores. Bring your own money as you’re not going to make big salaries here. Thank goodness for Amazon! If you decide to live the “Montana Dream” be aware that it includes living in a place where nature can and will kill you if you make mistakes. Of course I suppose that can be said about just about anyplace. Check out the stats for the Bitterroot Valley and areas just west of the Rockies ……….. you’ll be surprised at the temps and snow levels. We call those areas the “banana belt”. Many years ago they were the winter homes for most all of the local Indian tribes. I wouldn’t ever think of leaving here cause there’s no place better!

  8. SoCalPrepper says:

    This is really helpful. I’ve recently gotten the harebrained idea of getting something together in Pahrump, Nevada. I went to some gun training out there and love the town, and it is within 4 hours of where I live, and I can afford the land. they have some water problems, but my solution would be to drill the well about 100 ft deeper than I needed to. If TSHTF really, there are nearby hotsprings that could be used as a water source.

    They’re in an ok zone for gardening as well, and the growing season can be extended with row covers / greenhouses…it isn’t QUITE inside those lines, but pretty close.

  9. In a few weeks we will be the owners of a place in that map. Living on the edge of it currently, but it’s still amazing.

  10. Maybe one day I’ll visit the redoubt, for now I’m stuck in Kentuck.

  11. If you read ENE News, you will see that west coast usa is subject to Fukushima winds and waves

  12. The Apache’s chose the Chiricahua mountains for reason ……….water , landscape that is confusing as hell for an invader . The US Army went around in circles and actually got lost there , while the Apache’s just melted away .

  13. D in MN says:

    I am happy where I am. One must look for the most amount of natural resources in the area for food, wood resources, wild plant food and animals for food; good soil to grow crops; plenty of water, and considerable distance from big cities. Besides all these things I have, land and taxes are dirt cheap.

    A comment on Tolik’s post, The Chiricahua Apache in those Chiricahua mountains were not safe there as they were found out in 1876 and were forced to march and be numbered in the reservation system..except a few fled into the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico to a safe place they called Pa-Gotzin-Kay. There in Mexico, they and Cochise’s grandson Chief Nino Cochise thrived for 45+ years in an impenetrable fortress and all left voluntarily to blend in with the rest of society in the 20’s. I was friends with Nino when I lived in Arizona, and Mary Miller (aka frybread Mary), whose grandparents lived at Pa-Gotzin-Kay in Mexico.

  14. scott paul says:

    Cant agree more. We have a place in the mountains at 5K elevation with pine forests, trout streams and some farmable land. It is on the southern boundary you describe. Far enough from major population centers to be difficult to get to on foot, and pleasant enough in either winter or summer to be easily survivable under the toughest conditions.

  15. Encourager says:

    Thanks. Great article. I have been interested in the Bitteroot Valley area for a while. Need to do more research.

    • JP in MT says:

      The main problem with the Bitteroot Valley is the cost. Many new people have moved into the area with money and land/housing costs are higher than the local economy can support. They also have a tendency to be “left-leaning” (read “tree huggers’). Not all by way too many.

      If you are coming to Montana, don’t bring your “big city” debt. “People move to Montana for the life style, then find they can’t eat the scenery.”

  16. Big Bear says:

    How True!!!

    An additional note about the mapped areas. Be aware (and do your due diligence) about the Hanford Nuclear Waste facility in eastern Washington State. Not a good place to be close to!!!! Nasty!!!

    Whatever area you are looking at always check out proximity to nuclear facilities and the dominate wind patterns.

  17. I find it interesting that you don’t include anything on the western slopes of the cascades… where we are in SW Washington state we are pretty well isolated from the masses, have unlimited water supplies and great volcanic soil for growing. Interested to hear why you didn’t include this area… thanks

  18. ThaddeusPSondgrass says:

    My wife and I bailed out of southern California 8 years ago and haven’t looked back. Miss our friends, but NOT the crush of humanity. There are seven counties that make up SoCal itself with a population of at least 27 million people. Yes, it is hard to get anywhere in the traffic. distance means nothing, traffic or how far you have to travel is measured in time. More traffic, more time. Big brush fires? Traffic diverted, more time. Big brush fires on holiday weekends? Major traffic snafus, it will be hours before you get anywhere, provided you don’t run out of gas, water or money.
    I firmly believe that without water at your main location, you are hopelessly screwed long term. If you don’t have your own well, or access to one that is manual and not run with electrical power from the grid, you have a huge problem. There are many places in this expanded area that are good candidates for full time living. We aren’t bugging out of our current location, we will be staying in. Nuclear war? OK, we are vaporized, but that’s better than slowly dying from radiation poisoning. Yellowstone Caldera explodes? Hell freezes over? The Chinese invade? All certainly are plausible but not viable “threats” at this point in time. (in my subjective opinion is all-viable being the operative adjective)

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