When Zombie Apocalypse Comes, Head for the Rockies

According to a new study, the northern Rocky Mountains would provide one of the best temporary safe havens in the event of a zombie apocalypse. (Photo: Shutterstock).

If you don't have access to a bunker, survival shelter, or condo silo — and you'd rather not spend some quality time with your resident doomsday prepper — a new study from Cornell University has revealed that the Rocky Mountains could be the best place to ride out the zombie apocalypse. All you have to do is get there without dying.

The study, titled "The Statistical Mechanics of Zombies," came about after researchers decided to accurately model the spread of a viral infection in the United States. Inspired by the novel "World War Z" by Max Brooks, the team used fictional descriptions of zombies with actual data from viral outbreaks.

"We build up to a full-scale simulation of an outbreak in the United States, and discover that for 'realistic' parameters, we are largely doomed," the study's abstract says.

Alex Alemi, a graduate student at Cornell University, told Phys.org that zombies not only added a fun twist to the research, but also worked well as a model for other infectious diseases — albeit without all the brain cravings. He said the team came up with four physical states: human, infected, zombie,or dead zombie, all impacting a population of 300 million.

"[In most films or books], if there is a zombie outbreak, it is usually assumed to affect all areas at the same time, and some months after the outbreak, you're left with small pockets of survivors," Alemi told the site. "But in our attempt to model zombies somewhat realistically, it doesn't seem like this is how it would actually go down."

Instead, cities would fall first, with sparsely populated areas having more time to react and prepare.

"Given the dynamics of the disease, once the zombies invade more sparsely populated areas, the whole outbreak slows down — there are fewer humans to bite, so you start creating zombies at a slower rate," Alemi said. "I'd love to see a fictional account where most of New York City falls in a day, but upstate New York has a month or so to prepare."

For those wanting even more time to, say, build a zombie-proof log cabin, Alemi recommends making a run for the northern Rocky Mountains. The team estimated it would take several months after the start of the apocalypse for the undead to make it that far. Such a finding is on par with what Estately.com's "Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Rankings" discovered last year; ranking both Alaska and Wyoming as the best places to flee for the end of the world.

Or, you know, just find an island.