Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
Alma, Kansas, could also be named “Smallma” because it’s such a small town just 40 minutes west of Topeka.
The city has fewer than 1,000 people but a big brand name – if you like cheese.
This is the home of Alma Cheese, bringing curds of all flavors to the people of Kansas and the Midwest since 1947.
I’d be surprised if I can get through this article without ordering the “Flint Hills Feast.”
Speaking of the Flint Hills, Alma is at the center of this unique ecosystem that is named for the bedrock and soil mixture that was deposited in the Ice Age.
This leaves tallgrass prairie for as far as the eye can see.
There are a lot of unique things here, from a cafe with no menu to a place where you can buy your own buffalo.
You won’t find the traditional hotels unless you go down the highway to Manhattan or Junction City, but there is a bed and breakfast inn here and some Airbnbs, all of which come with very high ratings.
Even one reviewer stated, “Alma, the town, seemed bustling and had numerous businesses that we supported while there.”
The Wabaunsee County Fairgrounds are in Alma, as well as the Historical Society for the county.
Don’t be surprised if the smell of cinnamon fills the air downtown because the Alma Bakery & Sweet Shoppe is right next door.
Alma is just three miles off the major I-70 interstate and is a nice breath of fresh air for weary travelers.
Warnings & Dangers in Alma
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Alma is one of those cities that is too small to have its own police department, so the Wabaunsee County Sheriff's Office provides law enforcement. That means we'll have to use crime data from the county, which is still a very low risk.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You'll need a car to visit Alma as there's no bus system and taxis or rideshares will be hard to come by. Even if you can get an Uber, it might be someone coming from Topeka, which would cost much more. This is a rural area, but there's still a low risk due to how close Alma is to the interstate.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of being pickpocketed. There were no reports of this type of crime in 2020, but there were 20 car break-ins. Never let a small town make you feel so safe that you forget basic personal protection rules.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here. The winter can bring snow, ice, and sleet. Spring comes with beautiful blooms but also severe thunderstorms and tornados. There's also a risk of grass fires.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk as just one robbery was reported in the county in 2020, but it was a robbery in public. The majority of violent crimes are between people who know each other, so travelers shouldn't worry about that.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Alma isn't going to be a hard target and it's far away enough from large cities that it wouldn't feel a ripple effect if there was a physical, chemical, or cyber attack.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are the typical phone or email scams, but nothing that would target a tourist. A man was recently arrested in Alma for performing illegal autopsies and charging families for his work. That might be the oddest scam I've ever heard of.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk for women here and plenty of calories to eat and burn between the homemade food and outdoor adventures. One of the Airbnb rentals even offers yoga classes on-site.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and all tests were within required limits, so the tap water here has a low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Alma
Alma is just about the center point of the Native Stone Scenic Byway.
When the land a region rests on is very rocky, you put that rock to good use!
The Byway highlights natural and man-made stone fences, buildings, and homes.
In Alma, visit the Alma Cheese Factory and Shop.
You can select from a wide variety of flavored cheeked curds to blocks of cheese, like Bacon Jack Cheddar and Longhorn Mild Cheddar.
The store offers other brands of Kansas-made products.
One of those products is Grandma Hoerner’s, which is on the outskirts of town.
Grandma Horner’s makes salsa, seasoning, fruit spreads, and pie filling.
Caramel Maple Pumpkin Pie filling, anyone?
How about some Pineapple Jalapeño Jelly?
You can really knock out some great birthday and holiday shopping here.
Since you’re full now, let’s go to the Shamrock Cafe.
Don’t worry, there’s no menu and nothing to drink.
The Shamrock Cafe is 15 minutes northwest of Alma and it’s nothing more than two old chairs, a rusty table held up by bricks, and sweeping views of the Flint Hills.
For VIP service at the cafe, come at sunrise or sunset.
When you visit the Wabaunsee County Historical Museum, ask about the recently discovered cellar underneath the building.
You can also see artifacts from the early days of the city.
You can also try out Lazy T Ranch Adventures near Manhattan.
Here you can be a cowboy for a day or two and learn all the ways to rope cattle.
Reservations are required and it’s ideal for larger groups.
Places to Avoid in Alma
There aren’t bad parts of Alma, or the county for that matter, so don’t worry about turning into a bad part of town.
You do need to stay off private property.
Mill Creek runs just south of Alma, so ask locally about the best fishing spots that are open to the public.
You don’t need to worry about avoiding Alma because it’s such a small town.
In all four directions, there’s something fun to do.
Topeka to the east, Wamego to the north, Junction City or Manhattan to the west, and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve to the south.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Alma
- The land here is too rocky to grow crops, so the farmers here deal with cattle. There’s also a lot of natural wildlife in the area. If you see any poachers, report them to Operation Game Thief. Call 1-877-426-3843 or fill out the form on the county website. You can make an anonymous report.
- When you call 911 here, you’ll be sent to the Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Office. If you are calling from a mobile phone, you need to specifically state where you are since they cannot track mobile devices. Never hang up once you’ve reached 911 until an emergency crew arrives.
- You can report any crime to the Wabaunsee Crime Stoppers at 1-877-765-3303 or through an online form. With such a large region and few deputies, it helps to have eyes from community members and travelers helping.
- Sign up for IRIS Enrollment emergency notifications provided by the county Emergency Management Office. You can select which notifications you want to receive. You can call the Emergency Management works at (785) 765-2662 if you have any questions.
- Visitors during the springtime should know this is the burn season. This is when controlled sections of the tallgrass prairie are burned for preservation and protection against invasive species. Air quality concerns are always a top priority and the website ksfire.org has all the burning maps and air quality information.
- When driving the scenic byway, don’t stop on the side of the road to take pictures. Wait for the areas where there are designated sections to pull over. Semi-trucks and farm equipment use these same roads, and there are enough rolling hills that parking even close to the side of the road could be dangerous.
- To keep up with road conditions, visit kandrive.org. This is an interactive map of every highway and road in the state. You can see where there is construction work, an accident impacting travel, or weather-related road issues.
- If you want to hunt while you’re in Kansas, you need to have a license or you could be accused of poaching. There are a lot of rules and permits to get to be licensed in Kansas, so start the process early. Fishing requires a license too.
- While you’re visiting the tallgrass prairie, don’t take any of the grass or wildflowers you see. Even in parks, you have to leave no trace behind of your presence. Take all the pictures you want, but don’t try to sneak out flowers.
- You can fly with cheese if you purchase some at the Alma Creamery. There are no TSA rules that prohibit it unless it’s a spreadable cheese. You can also order the cheese to be delivered to you at home if you don’t want to travel with it. Be sure to ask which cheeses can be stored in a car and which need refrigeration.
So... How Safe Is Alma Really?
It’s really hard to find any crime through a news search in Alma, aside from the fake mortician.
This whole county is safe, but not exempt from crime.
There were 21 violent crimes in 2020 in Wabaunsee County, and more than 90% of them were in private homes.
Even the one robbery that happened ended with the robber empty-handed.
There were 67 thefts in 2020, but that could be anything from a stolen bike to a missing farm tool.
You do still need to lock your car and roll up the windows when you park and don’t leave personal items in the car.
It’s important to know the crime rates of the surrounding cities before you travel because Alma and Wabaunsee County are uncommonly safe.
Even nearby Topeka ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the entire country.
How Does Alma Compare?
- Visas - You will need to start the U.S. Visa process about four months ahead of time. There are forms to fill out, an in-person interview, and a check of all your social media sites going back five years. You will need your visa at the airport to gain entry into the U.S., but once you're off the plane you can travel the plains without having to show proof of ID. Your passport will be used for things like hotel check-ins and alcohol purchases.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar (USD) in Alma and the entire state of Kansas. Be sure to bring some emergency cash in case the small towns don't have credit card readers or you find a farm stand that is cash-only.
- Weather - The tallgrass prairie can be picture perfect, but there are extreme temperatures possible in the winter and summer. You'll need a winter coat, gloves, and boots through early spring. Summer will be warm and humid. There will also be a lot of bugs, so bring bug spray. It's smart to bring layers of clothing throughout the year because even some late summer mornings can get chilly.
- Airports - The Topeka airport is the closest airport - about 40 minutes east. The much larger airport in Kansas City is two hours east.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance will give you great peace of mind while flying and driving in this area. Be sure to know what kind of incidental road coverage you have in case of a flat tire or breakdown.
Alma Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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