Letter Re: Advice on Retreat Locales in Southern Idaho

Mr. Rawles,
I bought your book “Patriots” a few years back and just came across your web site in the last month. I loved the book (and have lent it to a few friends), and I am trying to get through the extensive information in the archives on the site. Today I ordered your other book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.

Anyway, I currently live between Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah. My wife and I have been of a preparedness mindset for at least seven years and are blessed to be completely out of debt. We have a good supply of food, water, tangible assets, defensive options, a garden & fruit trees, heating/cooking fuel fall out shelter, etc… I am a very active Latter-Day Saint (LDS) but you ought to know that 90-95% of LDS people have little or no food storage in spite of 150 years of being told to do it. (I am in charge of preparedness in my ward but for many it still falls on deaf ears).

I have become convinced from people like Joel Skousen and yourself that having a self sufficient, retreat property as you describe is absolutely critical, and I truly believe that TEOTWAWKI may very well happen sooner than we think. Your recommendation of Idaho rings true and I feel like that would be a good viable option. I am not prepared to go and live full time there, but like in your novel, I would hope to be in tune and be able to get out of suburbia at the first sign of trouble.

My biggest concern is distance and limited access routes. In addition to a survival retreat I want to be able to use it for family recreation in the mean time. (By the way I am in my 40s, married with four teenage and pre-teen children). I will be contacting a few realtors and going up to Idaho over the next couple of months to look around. I am serious about doing something this spring! I have a group of close friends who share my concern and would probably join us.

Would you be willing to share your thoughts on specific areas in central and southern Idaho. (Perhaps you already do that in your book?) Do you see any problems or benefits with southeastern Idaho? My thoughts are that the northern Idaho areas near Moscow, Coeur d’ Alene, et cetera are just such a long drive to be able to get to with any regularity from Salt Lake City. Any suggestions or help would be gladly appreciated. Thank you in advance. Best Regards, – Thomas B.

JWR Replies: Idaho is my top-ranked state for retreat potential. Parts of southeastern and east-central Idaho are fine for retreat locales. Just be sure to pick properties with plentiful water. (Either spring water or a reliable shallow well.) You will probably feel very comfortable there, since about half of the population of southern Idaho are LDS Church members. In particular, I most highly recommend three areas:

1.) The Montpelier area, in the extreme southeast corner of Idaho. This is a dry land farming region–much like the Palouse Hills of north-central Idaho, albeit on a smaller scale, and with slightly less predictable summer rains. OBTW, one of my preferred storage food companies, Walton Feed, is located in Montpelier. Around Montpelier there seem to be a lot of houses that were built to Mormon family proportions that are still available at reasonable prices.

2.) The Star Valley, which straddles the Idaho-Wyoming state line. If you are looking in that area, then it might as well be on the Wyoming side of the valley, since there is no personal income tax in Wyoming.

3.) The Salmon region. Last Fall we traveled there on behalf of a consulting client. While we we there, we visited numerous parcels all the way from Challis to north of the town of Salmon that have water, abundant wild game, and contiguous state or USFS land. We particularly like the properties in the side canyons, like this one. If you want a truly remote retreat, then look down the River of No Return Road, near the little hamlet of Shoup. (Which by the way has one of America’s last gas stations with all hand pumps.) This entire region is off-grid, so all of you neighbors will be on photovoltaics. It is at low elevation, so the snow only sticks about one month of each year. It is also crawling with deer and elk. You certainly won’t starve there!

For my detailed recommendations on retreat locales in Idaho, see my book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation. BTW, the book includes all of my top picks in Idaho–which are not included in my Retreat Areas web page.