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24 Hidden Treasures: 2006 vacation log home hotspots

The biggest decision in taking a step toward building a log home is in deciding the location that best suits you and your family. But discovering an area that is not overpriced or overpopulated is a difficult task. Keeping these factors in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 24 vacation spots in the United States, […]
by Ronda Mollica
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The biggest decision in taking a step toward building a log home is in deciding the location that best suits you and your family. But discovering an area that is not overpriced or overpopulated is a difficult task. Keeping these factors in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 24 vacation spots in the United States, chosen for their unique amenities, their affordability, and their undiscovered charms. They’re listed alphabetically by state.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing rustic chalet set against a snow-covered backdrop thousands of miles away or a lazy weekend get-away to your cottage in the Smoky Mountains, our list has something for everyone.

1. Wasilla, Alaska

www.wasillachamber.org
The Alaska of Seward’s day is far from the hidden vacation gem it is today. Located on Alaska’s main rail line between Anchorage and Fairbanks and banked by the Talkeetna and Chugach Mountain Ranges, Wasilla is home to the Iditarod dog-sled race headquarters and additional attractions you would look hard to find elsewhere. Bear viewing, berry-picking on Hatcher Pass, and visiting a caribou farm are just a few exclusive activities to add to more traditional pastimes like snowmobiling, ice fishing, and ice skating. This area is ideal for big-game hunters and extreme adventurers who can cover the cost of a remote vacation home (particularly to those with small planes or seaplanes who can get to even more remote areas.)
Average lot price: $75,000 for 5 acres, lake access, private road
Average vacation home resale price: $332,000

2. Gold Canyon, Arizona

www.goldcanyon.net
Gold Canyon rests only 50 minutes from Phoenix, but its rural wilderness is more than a contrast. The area is symbolic of the cowboy lifestyle with working ranches, horseback riding, and hiking. Set at the foot of Superstition Mountains, the area’s pastoral rusticity makes its five golf courses some of the most popular in the country. It’s fast becoming a snowbird retreat for Upper Midwesterners just discovering its retirement charm.
Average lot price: $189,900 for 2.49 acres, mountain view
Average vacation home resale price: $229,000

3. Alpine County, California

Known as the California Alps, Alpine County is ideal for those seeking a more remote venue for a log home. It has the smallest population of all counties in California with two people per square mile. Alpine County’s lack of civilization, however, does not detract from the beauty and amenities the area offers. From hiking and camping, to enjoying either the Bear Valley Ski area or Kirkwood Ski & Summer resort, this region in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains will not remain undiscovered for long. (The one drawback for vacationers, especially those thinking about retirement: For now, some amenities, such as hospitals and grocery stores, are still fairly spread out across the county.)
Average lot price: $199,000 for .48 acre, riverfront
Average vacation home resale price: $349,000

4. Salida, Colorado

www.salidachamber.org
Further north of Taos in the upper Arkansas Valley lies Salida — home of the Royal Gorge Bridge, the highest suspension bridge in the world. Visitors do not have to go to extremes to appreciate spectacular views. Three mountain ranges surround this area (known as the Banana Belt for its warm climate). After hiking, whitewater rafting, or gold panning, a soak in one of Salida’s hot springs provides a balance of thrills and well-deserved relaxation. With Colorado skiing to the north and Southwestern art to the south — and within easy driving distance — vacation home hunters are finding this to be an ideal locale.
Average lot price: $75,000 for 2 acres, mountain view
Average vacation home resale price: $250,000

5. Summit County, Colorado

summitnet.com
Skiing fanatics who have always dreamed of vacationing on the Vail slopes but balked at the expense, consider a 30-minute drive east. In Summit County you’ll find the same extreme snowboarding, skiing, and winter sports with the added bonus of easy transportation to Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail. Summer in the Colorado Rockies offers a peaceful alternative to the busy winter season with fewer tourists and bountiful activities like camping, hiking, fishing and mountain biking
Average lot price: $29,900 for 5.16 acres, mountain view
Average vacation home resale price: $479,000

6. Blairsville, Georgia

www.blairsvillechamber.com
If sweeping Georgian plantations, festivals, and southern hospitality are alluring, Blairsville may be the location to consider for your next vacation. Go horseback riding on the Appalachian Trail or hike the many trails of the Chattahoochee Forest, where state parks, archaeological areas, and waterfalls abound. The history and charm is a welcome setting for a cozy cabin.
Average lot price: $35,500 for 1 acre, wooded
Average vacation home resale price: 249,000

7. Hayden Lake, Idaho

www.haydenchamber.org
Golfers take note: Hayden Lake, located in the panhandle of North Idaho, is home to 21 golf courses within a 30-minute drive. In fact, this area, steeped in Coeur d’Alene Native American history, boasts skiing, the Silverwood theme park, and more than 40 miles of sandy beaches, ensuring that every family member will find an escape to enjoy.
Average lot price: $139,900 for .26 acre, lakefront
Average vacation home resale price: $374,000

8. The Maine Highlands

usa.visitmaine.com
Mount Katahdin soars over this pristine region where the outdoors offers an abundance of opportunity to become one with nature. Enjoy moose-watching or ice fishing on a trek through the northwoods, or get an aerial view of the peaceful region by chartering a scenic seaplane flight. The area is truly a remote paradise for vacationers wishing to get-away from it all.
Average lot price: $39,900 for 14.5 acres, mountain view
Average vacation home resale price: $169,000

9. Marquette County, Michigan

www.marquette.org
“Unique” is an understatement for the upper peninsula of Michigan. Sited on the shores of Lake Superior, Marquette County is a nautical delight with six lighthouses, dozens of waterfalls, and an underwater preserve where visitors can explore shipwrecks in the summer. A view of the Northern Lights from Sugarloaf Mountain overlook during winter may offer insight on why this area is becoming an extremely popular destination spot. Hunting, snowmobiling, Great Lakes fishing, and skiing are all within easy reach, and those just looking to enjoy nature may find deer, bear, wolf, and the occasional moose in their backyard.
Average lot price: $29,000 for a waterfront lot
Average vacation home resale price: $239,000

10. Paradise Valley, Montana

ynp-lodging.com
The epitome of “Big Sky” country, Paradise Valley sits between the Absaroka and Gallatin mountain ranges. Yellowstone River runs through the middle of the valley and is a magnet for fly-fisherman, who flock to world famous Spring Creeks and Knolls Fly shop (known as the “best little fly shop and fly fishing school”). Combining the scenery with attractions like Yellowstone National Park, the Petrified Forest, and Lewis and Clark Caverns reveals that the area’s name does not do justice to the idyllic surroundings, peaceful wildlife, and friendly people. And it’s tough to beat watching the incredible sunsets from your porch.
Average lot price: $175,000 for 4.4 acres, mountain view
Average vacation home resale price: $675,000

11. Incline Village, Nevada

www.laketahoechamber.com
The northeast shore of Lake Tahoe offers some of the most enchanting views and exhilarating activities in the world. With year-long sports like snow-skiing, kayaking, and mountain biking and festivals like the Northern Lights winter festival and Shakespeare festival, the opportunities for indulging in long-time hobbies or for discovering new passions are virtually endless. Because it’s Tahoe, it may be too pricey for some; for budding vacation-home builders who can afford the land, it’s an opportunity to create a log home dream that can stay in the family for generations.
Average lot price: $385,000 for .234 acre, forested sloped lot
Average vacation home resale price: $479,000

12. Taos and Red River, New Mexico

www.taoschamber.com
Taos vistas have been used as backdrops for Hollywood films since the 1940s; not so publicized is the surrounding area. The Enchanted Circle, which encompasses Taos, is an 86-mile trip through the southern Rocky Mountains. Some features on the journey are the Taos Ski Valley towered over by Wheeler Peak; Taos Pueblo and Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the second highest suspension bridge in the U.S.; and Red River resort with Western Swiss Chalet architecture. The area is fast becoming a “natural element home” haven for folks in Colorado, California, and even Arizona; vacationers are snapping up land and building unique wood homes that combine styles including Adirondack, Western, and Mission.
Average lot price: $90,000
Average vacation home resale price: $299,000

13. The Catskills, New York

www.catskillguide.com
Two hours from the bustling streets of Manhattan lies the home of the famous Woodstock Festival of 1969. The music, arts, and crafts of the Catskills still draw thousands of visitors and are joined by additional attractions such as the Kingston Trolley Museum, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center, and the world’s largest kaleidoscope. Fly-fishing and hiking are favorite past-times and if you enjoy skiing, several ski areas in the region will more than satisfy your need for the slopes. Though the Catskills occasionally seems a little crowded, there’s still plenty of space for vacationers willing to look hard.
Average lot price: $56,900 for 2.14 acres, mountain view
Average vacation home resale price: $225,000

14. Cherokee County, North Carolina

www.main.nc.us/cherokee
Mountain views are often a requisite for couples or families considering a vacation log home. North Carolina’s westernmost county in the Smoky Mountains encompasses panoramic views, cool streams, and crisp air. The region is ideal for horseback riding, camping, and hiking and resides within an easy commute of four major urban areas, making it a prime spot for a hideaway retreat.
Average lot price: $49,000 for 1.72 acres, forested creek
Average vacation home resale price: $195,900

15. Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

www.800poconos.com
From whitewater rafting on the Lehigh River to sleigh rides and skiing in the winter, the Pocono Mountain region in northern Pennsylvania offers plentiful amenities and gorgeous scenery every season. Seven ski areas, 150 lakes, 18 waterfalls, 170 river miles and Lake Wallenpaupack — a 5,600-acre lake with 52 miles of uninterrupted shoreline — make this area a prime spot for water lovers.
Average lot price: $6,500 for lot in subdivision w/clubhouse
Average vacation home resale price: $179,900

16. Franklin, Tennessee

www.visitwilliamson.com
Located only a few miles south of Nashville, this quaint countryside town offers main-street charm, southern cooking, and plenty of history for Civil War buffs. The Natchez Trace Parkway, one of the most scenic routes in the nation, is a must-see during an antiquing spree at the nearby Village of Leiper’s Fork.
Average lot price:$52,000 for 8.8. acres, rolling woodlands
Average vacation home resale price: $184,900

17. Gillespie County, Texas

www.fredericksburg-texas.com
The aroma of fresh lavender fields, herb farms, and wildflowers which dot the “Hill Country” of West Central Texas (combined with more than 150 boutiques, art galleries, antique shops and wineries) make Gillespie County seem surreal. But this region, rich in German heritage, is far from imaginary. One week, however, of rock climbing at the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, touring the county’s Butterfly Haus, and tasting the various flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables from area fruit stands and orchards may leave you considering a permanent place in this paradise.
Average lot price: $53,000 for 3.6 acres, gated community
Average vacation home resale price: $485,000

18. Cedar City, UT

www.utah.com/cedarcity
In one of the further southwest reaches is a region steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. From the Parowan Gap Indian Rock Art Museum, to the world-renowned Shakespearean Festival, to the stunning Cedar Breaks National Monument, Cedar City and its surroundings are a captivating setting for developing traditions of your own with a log home. The historic downtown shopping district with mom-and-pop stores and the Brian Head ski resort are additional resources for creating collections and forming memories that could last for as many generations as those in the area have.
Average lot price: $45,000 for 1.29 acres, mountain view
Average vacation home resale price: $425,000.

19. Midway, UT

www.homesteadresort.com
Imagine a European spa vacation without the cross-Atlantic trip. That is precisely what Midway provides. Known as “UT’s Little Switzerland,” Midway is home to the Zermatt European Resort and Spa and the Wasatch Mountains-based Homestead Resort, which offers golf, fitness centers, and an Aveda concept spa. Most significantly, it’s home to a 55-foot limestone cavern filled with water that remains at 90 to 96 degrees year-round and is used for swimming, snorkeling, and mineral baths — all at a very reasonable price.
Average lot price: $34,000 for .5 acres, on golf course
Average vacation home resale price: $158,000.

20. Mad River Valley, Vermont

www.madrivervalley.com
Have you ever wanted to experience the quaint New England lifestyle, drive under covered bridges in the fall, and snuggle up by a warm fire on snowy evenings? Look no further than Mad River Valley. Hiking, golf, and biking are available in the summer; the valley turns into a wonderland in winter with snowshoe skiing, snowmobiling, and skiing in abundance. The colorful change of seasons and quiet white winters make the area a perfect location for enjoying a log cabin year-round.
Average lot price: $85,000 for 2.40 acres, wooded with views
Average vacation home resale price: $160,000.

21. Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

www.visitsmithmountainlake.com
Wine connoisseurs take note: Smith Mountain Lake hosts a highly anticipated wine festival in September that draws visitors from all over the state. Nestled amid the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia, this up-and-coming area organizes festivals for almost every month of the year. If the numerous wineries won’t quench your thirst, the 22,000-acre lake holds plenty of room for water sports from jet-skiing and sailing to boating and fishing.
Average lot price: $53,900 for a lake lot
Average vacation home resale price: $249,000

22. Black River Falls, Wisconsin

www.blackrivercountry.net/attractions
Only two hours from the Twin Cities, Black River Falls is quickly becoming a vacation home destination for families. Children will never forget an experience at the Cranberry Discovery Center complete with ice cream parlor and taste test kitchen; or picking their own fresh fruit on over 40 acres at Cains Orchard. Country and general stores, numerous campgrounds, and canoeing on the Black River are only a taste of the variety of activities and attractions. A wealth of nearby rivers and lakes make for excellent fishing and boating, and September trips through the countryside feature incredible fall colors.
Average lot price: $29,900 for 1.5 acres, creek
Average vacation home resale price: $225,000

23. St. Croix Valley, Wisconsin

www.saintcroixriver.com
Visions of Victorian homes, antiquing, and river-town charm become realities in this western Wisconsin retreat, located close to the Mississippi River. It’s home to several small main-street towns along the St. Croix River that offer enticements for every interest. Festivals are held every season and include the Hudson Hot Air Balloon festival in the middle of winter. Whether you find yourself trout fishing and golfing in the summer or skiing, shopping, and dining in winter, the St. Croix Valley will exceed your expectations all year long.
Average lot price: $61,900 for 4.49 acres, woods
Average vacation home resale price: $199,900

24. Big Horn, Wyoming

www.bighornmountains.com
The legends of the American West reside in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, where rodeos, buffalo, and even covered-wagon trail rides capture the frontier spirit. If your inner cowboy or cowgirl longs for wide open spaces, authentic cattle drives, and breathtaking scenery, the Big Horn Mountains offer it all and more with cowboy schools, sightseeing, and horseback riding.
Average lot price: $115,000 for 8 acres, mountain view
Average vacation home resale price: $379,000

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