Choosing the safest cities from a nuclear attack is no easy task. There are dozens of variables in play, and we simply can’t know what would happen in the event of a worst-case scenario. In fact, nowhere is completely safe if nukes start flying.
However, we do have a firm grasp of what the most unsafe areas might look like. I tried to find reasonable areas in between those zones where people might stand a fighting chance of survival.
I also wrote an extensive article called US Nuclear Target Map: Most Safe and Unsafe Areas that you may want to check out. If any of the cities listed here seem to fall into unsafe zones, keep in mind that this is not a perfect science. I tried to pick the safest cities in various regions around the country. I mean, we can’t all move to the tundra of Northern Alaska, right?
So with that being said, let’s get to the list.
1. Jackman, Maine
Maine is one of the areas of the US that is well-known to be a good bet for waiting out nuclear war. There are not many targets, and fallout does not appear to be that big of a threat since it is above the areas where it would likely drift.
There are only two military Navy bases in the state, both of them near the major city of Portland. Other safer cities are Mars Hill, Ashland, Fort Fairfield, and Van Buren since they are all far from them.
2. Spring Hill, Minnesota
Central Minnesota is known to be generally safe from nuclear-toting enemies because there isn’t as much to target in this state.
Some of the only spots in Minnesota that would be targeted would be the town of Proctor, due to the rail system there, Rochester, and Camp Ridley.
The other biggest threat for Minnesota is nuclear fallout from Missile fields in Minot, North Dakota since this spot would likely be heavily targeted.
Cities like Glenwood, Paynesville, Annandale, or Riverton, along with dozens of other cities, are also great centrally positioned cities of Minnesota that warrant consideration.
3. Baraga, Michigan
Michigan is probably fairly safe, thanks to the lack of any military sites.
Although Michigan does have industrial resources that could be targeted, the state’s greatest strength is that it isn’t a military target at all, with no nuclear weapons or even major symbolic targets.
So all living there should feel relatively safe and sound.
Many throughout the state are good choices to settle down in, like Crystal Falls, Newberry, Vanderbilt, and Stanton.
4. San Jacinto, Nevada
Military points of interest in Nevada include two Air Force strongholds near Las Vegas, and a Navy and Army base along the western side of the state.
5. Amery, Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a decent option thanks to its low amount of military-related structures. The entire state only has one Army base of interest, Fort McCoy, in the middle western area of the state.
Try cities like Solon Springs, De Pere, Cuba City, or Glenwood City, which are all spread far and wide to the far north, south, west, and east of the state. Hurley is an especially good choice of a city since it sits far from Fort McCoy and is still a perfectly pleasant place to live and settle down while potentially being out of the sights of major world powers.
6. Vale, Oregon
To start off, Oregon is quite possibly a relatively safe place to stay in case of nuclear war, especially in the eastern portion of the state in a city like Vale.
In Oregon, Portland would likely get hit due to it being a major port and having major dams. Along with that, Oregon also has an Air Force base near Klamath Falls.
On the plus side, the rest of Oregon has few military targets. The only other threats to Oregon will be if winds carry nuclear fallout from the South, from Bremerton, a submarine base, and Tacoma, a Boeing Aircraft in Washington State.
If choosing Oregon, the middle of the state, West of Bend, is a reasonable choice.
7. Alturas, California
Make sure to stay away from the coastline of California since this is the least safe area of the state, being more vulnerable to attacks.
Enemies would likely focus on hitting Long Beach since damaging that area would take out numerous key targets.
Otherwise, the other parts of California that are distanced far from the coastline and Long Beach are the best spots to live, especially northern California in a city like Alturas.
8. Point Hope, Alaska
If you can stand the extreme cold, Point Hope, Alaska is a great city of choice in case of nuclear war.
Of course, there may be several areas in the state that could be targeted. However, with all of Alaska’s land mass, there are plenty of areas that wouldn’t be worth targeting for our enemies.
Just make sure to do the due research for the military bases, the oil production locations, and the highest concentrations of minerals in Alaska before choosing where to live in this state. As long as a person lives far from these possible targets, probably on the western side, they’ll be safe from nuclear threat. But, as I said, be prepared to face frigid and inhospitable temperatures and weather!
9. Orofino, Idaho
Idaho can be a good option to choose for safely living away from nuclear threats, especially in the middle of the state. This is because Idaho only has one major airbase near Boise.
That being said, living far from Boise and in the middle of the state is the best course of action if Idaho seems like an inviting spot otherwise. The centrally located cities, including Challis, Salmon, and Grangeville, are also some safe places to settle in Idaho since they have some distance between themselves and Boise.
North Idaho, extending up into Washington State, is also a potentially favorable area to reside.
10. Denver, Colorado
Denver, a hub for traveling throughout the United States with its sophisticated airport, isn’t without some risks of its own when it comes to nuclear targeting.
The target in question near Denver is Cheyenne Mountain. This is because of the NORAD installation and USNORTHCOM headquarters in the mountain.
NORAD stands for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and USNORTHCOM stands for the United States Northern Command headquarters.
Surprisingly, many experts believe these installations might not be as big of a target as you might think for various reasons. Also, any other cities in Colorado that are located far from the Cheyenne Mountains are also great choices.
11. Philip, South Dakota
Many parts of South Dakota are possibly fairly safe from nuclear threats. Of course, there are some who would advise against moving to any part of Dakota or any midwestern states because these particular states often have missile silos that could very well be targeted.
That all being said, try to live in the western or eastern parts of South Dakota or even in the various national forests within the state since they are probably some of the least likely spots to be targeted.
South Dakota still has some underground Minute Men missiles that were never used during the Cold War and may be targeted at some point in the future, so choose a city far from the Badlands of South Dakota.
12. Monango, North Dakota
Much of the above facts about South Dakota are also true for the state of North Dakota too.
Although some parts of this state have nuke targets, like the cities of Minor, Grand Forks, and Bismarck, this doesn’t mean that the western and southern parts of North Dakota aren’t relatively safe options. Try choosing better, less likely-to-be-targeted cities like Richardton, Killdeer, Rawson, and Ellendale.
13. Valentine, Nebraska
There are some areas of concern in Nebraska due to the military spots of interest. These include the Offutt Air Force Base, and Camp Ashland, along with multiple U.S. Army Reserves that are all clustered close together.
Try not to live near this cluster and instead choose to live in cities like Valentine, Gordon, Benkelmen, and McCook. These cities are in the northeastern and southwestern parts of the state, far from possible military-focused targets.
14. Oakley, Kansas
Some military spots in Kansas include the Forbes Field under the Air Force, McConnell Air Force Base for the Air Force, the Fort Leavenworth Army base, the Fort Riley Army base, and finally, the U.S. Army Disciplinary Barracks.
To get away from those potential hazards, living in cities like St. Francis, Goodland, or Sharon Springs is ideal.
15. Danfield, Virginia
The western and southern parts of Virginia are not ideal, but not terrible either for survivalists and those looking ahead to the future.
Virginia is noticeably lower on this list since it’s pretty close to Washington, D.C., so it definitely isn’t as safe as some other lower-priority states.
The state of Virginia also has some notable military bases, most of them clustered to the north and south-eastern points. To be as safe as possible, try to keep to the south and west of Virginia, like in the cities of Bluefield, Salem, or Galax.
16. Sidney, Montana
Sidney is one of many good cities to settle down in in the state of Montana, along with many more. In fact, the whole of Montana may seem completely safe.
However, there is a large nuclear plant located in the center of Montana. Of course, most states throughout the country actually have one or two possible targets like this, but they sit lower on the targeting list than other states.
All of that being said, just try to stay in the center of Montana and instead choose the eastern areas in cities like Sidney, Wibaux, Baker, Ekalaka, or Broadus.
Places to Avoid
Countries with nuclear resources are likely to target U.S. areas with high population counts, so cities and states like New York City, Washington D.C., Dallas-Fort Worth, Jacksonville and Miami in Florida, Los Angeles and San Francisco in California, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, and Honolulu are all unwise choices for nuclear safe zones. All of these specific cities have high populations of at least 50 million people or more.
There are over 90 working nuclear power plants within the United States that are targets too. Some of those include the southern coast of New Jersey, Beaver Valley in Pennsylvania, Braidwood in Illinois, and Palo Verde in Arizona.
Additionally, some military bases in the United States are also high on the targeting list and worth actively avoiding.
To help visualize the safest and least safe areas of the US, I created this relief map. Read more about it in this article.
For further help and guidance with this topic, check out the video below:
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!