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Best Places to Live + Play: Wilderness Towns
National Geographic Adventure announces this year's top 50 adventure towns, state-by-state.   Text by Dan Koeppel

Wilderness  |  Small Towns  |  Mountains  |  Waterfront  |  Cities  |  Las Vegas 

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Hot Spot: Homer, Alaska >>

Hot Spot: St. George, Utah >>

Cody, Wyoming
- Population: 9,217
- Median home price: $175,000
- The radius: Folks here may be a bit too gung-ho about "Buffalo Bill" Cody, but the kitsch is buffered by the class of Yellowstone National Park and Shoshone National Forest. Ride the bucking Class V Clarks Fork, then break out the ice pick and crampons when the waterfalls freeze.

Flagstaff, Arizona
- Population: 61,030
- Median home price: $364,000
- The radius: This eco-conscious burg is set between the vastness of Sedona's red rocks (an hour south) and the Grand Canyon (90 minutes north). Take the nine-mile (14-kilometer) trail up Mount Humphreys (the state's highest at 12,633 feet [6,951 meters]) for sneak peeks of the Big Ditch.

Valdosta, Georgia
- Population: 43,363
- Median home price: $122,900
- The radius: Genteel Valdosta is the unlikely launchpad for the Okefenokee Swamp: a 700-square-mile (1,813-square-kilometer) blackwater refuge of gators and solitary paddling. In town, amble the Azalea Trail (it's bursting in spring).

Medora, North Dakota
- Population: 100
- Median home price: $70,000
- The radius: This Badlands depot anchors the one-million-acre (less than half-a-million-hectare) Little Missouri National Grassland and the 96-mile (154-kilometer) hiking, horseback, and mountain bike Maah Daah Hey Trail. Medora is set in immaculate prairieland—it isn't uncommon to spot bison and wild horses from your window.

Rochester, Minnesota
- Population: 97,191
- Median home price: $129,900
- The radius: Home to the Mayo Clinic and IBM's largest U.S. facility, cosmopolitan Rochester leads to one of the last stretches of Minnesota's Big Woods. Tackle 150 miles (241 kilometers) of hiking and X-C trails in the two-million-acre (less than one million hectare) Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest.

Alexandria, Louisiana
- Population: 46,342
- Median home price: $65,200
- The radius: The week before Mardi Gras, Alexandrians jam to Cajun and zydeco at their own annual bacchanalia (this year's will be especially raucous: It's the city's bicentennial). The party continues in 604,000-acre (244,431-hectare) Kisatchie National Forest on a hundred-plus miles (151-plus kilometers) of cypress-lined trails.

Valentine, Nebraska
- Population: 2,820
- Median home price: $64,419
- The radius: An Old West outlaw hideout, Valentine is the portal to Nebraska's massive Sand Hills tall-grass prairies. Paddle the fast-moving Niobrara River past sandstone cliffs to 70-foot (21-meter) Smith Falls; camp riverside for a.m. bison and elk sightings.

Wilderness  |  Small Towns  |  Mountains  |  Waterfront  |  Cities  |  Las Vegas 

See All Towns >>

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