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The Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid: The Winning 25

From Boulder to Juneau to Bozeman, see which cities made the cut for the best place to raise an outdoor kid, and why.
1. Boulder, CO
Pop: 94,673 Median home: $328,400 Overall score: 85

33
Teens work summer jobs as junior rangers in city’s mountain parks

27

Named America’s "Smartest" and "Most Livable" town by Forbes; 105 miles of bike paths

25

Yes, we live here, but Boulder wins on its merits. Longs Peak and the Indian Peaks Wilderness (120 square miles of elk, trout, wildflowers, and glaciers) are less than an hour away.

2. Jackson, WY
Pop: 9,631 Median home: $495,000 Overall score: 77

26  
Family climbing days led by world-famous Exum Mountain Guides

27

Outdoor companies like Cloudveil born here; ACT scores 10% above national avg.

24 

Cheek-to-jowl with the Tetons, Yellowstone, and a bajillion elk, bison, and bears; a half-day or less to Wind Rivers and Idaho’s empty Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

3. Durango, CO
Pop: 13,922 Median home: $290,000 Overall score: 72

29  
Trail Trekkers hiking program for kids, plus free fly-fishing lessons

22 

Tax-supported open space and trails; 70,000-sq.-ft. rec center with climbing wall

21 

Surrounded by San Juans and uncrowded 14ers; Animas River runs through town (A+ fly-fishing and rafting); short drives to Mesa Verde, CDT, Arches, Moab, the Weminuche

4. Flagstaff, AZ
Pop: 52,894 Median home: $289,548 Overall score: 69

23  
Sixth-graders spend a week studying ecology near Humphreys Peak

21 

Home to N. Arizona University, USGS satellite office, and emerging green-job sector

25

Gateway to Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon, and Arizona’s only 12,000-foot peaks; 1 hour to sweet Sedona hiking/biking; located in world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest

5. Juneau, AK
Pop: 30,711 Median home: $320,630 Overall score: 68

27  
Highest percentage of Boy Scouts in the West (13%, ages 10-17)

18 

Lowest state/local taxes in the country; $2,000 pipeline rebate in ’08; 5 outdoor shops

23

An unrivaled cornucopia: Glacier Bay National Park (ice, bears), Tongass National Forest (trees, bears), and Admiralty Island (fish, bears) total nearly 40 million acres

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