Colorado : Safety by City
- Cañon City
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
- Grand Junction
Arvada, Colorado sits tucked between the Rocky Mountains to the west, downtown Denver just 10 minutes east, and Boulder 30 minutes north.
It’s a bedroom community for the greater Denver area and a good base camp for mountain or city adventures.
The Olde Town area is the biggest draw to this community, with unique dining and shopping treasures to be found in a historic atmosphere with the skyline of Denver in the distance.
It’s not just the best of both worlds, it’s the best of all worlds.
Arvada (pronounced: “Our-vah-duh” not “Arh-vay-duh”) is now recognized as the first gold strike in the Rocky Mountains, but the founder was too tempted by the promise of riches in California and left his discovery behind.
It is also the former site of a factory that produced the plutonium necessary for nuclear weapons, and some say the ground is radioactive to this day, even though numerous tests have been done saying the levels aren’t dangerous.
Testing is done by regulatory officials every five years to confirm the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is safe for visitors.
Arvada is just 90 minutes from Breckenridge, one of the most popular ski resort towns for people who live in Denver.
The popularity of this suburb has increased the population, with nearly 125,000 people calling Arvada home.
Warnings & Dangers in Arvada
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk here but a few hot spots of crime to talk through. If there are any complaints about Arvada, it's not the crime, it's the lack of things to do outside the Olde Town area.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The commuter rail line for the Denver metro area now goes to Arvada and there are three stops in town. You can get anywhere in the Denver area, including the airport. Taxis and rideshares are plentiful here. There's low risk with any option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Thefts are the one crime category above the national average. 16 pickpockets or purse snatching were reported in 2020. While that's still a low risk in a city this large, it's a reminder to keep an eye on your wallet here, especially in the busy Olde Town area. Half of the thefts reported came from car break-ins.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
The Denver area gets a little bit of everything. Snowstorms hit in the winter and can be intense. From spring through fall there's a wildfire risk, and Arvada being so close to the mountains, it would be one of the first suburbs impacted. I was actually at the Denver airport one year when a tornado was seen nearby. There's a medium risk because of all of this. Coloradans are very tough and you'll see t-shirts and hats touting "Colorado Strong." Part of the proceeds of these items goes to help people impacted by wildfires.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
There were 77 robberies and 6 of those were in public in 2020. It's still a low risk for a city with 125,000 people.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Denver is a big city and will always be considered a hard target for terrorists as it's also a major transportation hub across the U.S. With that risk comes a greater focus from Homeland Security, so it's not something to worry about. Just be aware and report any suspicious activity you see.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There are a lot of scams reported in Arvada, but they are focused on residents. One thing to be aware of is if a crisis happens, like a shooting death or wildfire impact, sometimes scammers try to make money off your good nature. Make sure any donations you make are going to a reliable source of support, not just some person on the street.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
There were 37 rapes in 2020, down 24% from the previous year. That's below the national average. There's no additional risk for women. There's a low risk, but when enjoying a night in Olde Town, be sure to see all of your drinks get poured and keep a napkin on top of it when you aren't drinking so nothing can be slipped into it.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The annual water report shows no violations reported and all categories of contaminants are under the legal levels. There's a low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Arvada
The most popular place to visit is Olde Town, which has a different vibe during the day than it does at night.
Colorado is a state of microbreweries, so you’ll find plenty of those.
There is also the first craft seltzer business located in Olde Town.
There are 30 restaurants here and plenty of unique boutique shopping.
There’s usually some kind of festival or performance going on here during the weekend, so check the calendar before you go.
There are three golf courses to choose from in Arvada, and the third-largest skate park in the country.
You can also play disc golf at several parks in town.
Arvada has huge outdoor spaces in and around it for those who want to get outdoors.
Coloradans are very active people, so cities are built around this outdoor lifestyle devotion.
Check out the Majestic View Nature Center for the outdoors in an environmentally-safe space.
This is a place so tranquil you don’t even want to speak above a whisper.
You truly get immersed in nature while learning about conservation.
Ralston Creek has a trail that leads you over a suspended cable bridge, marking the spot where gold was first found here in 1850.
This 12.5-mile trail ends at Arvada Blunn Reservoir.
Along the way, you’ll see different species of plants, flowers, and trees.
It’s also a popular place to bicycle.
Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuse is another great outdoor space to explore in Arvada.
Standley Lake is just outside the Arvada city limits but is where everyone goes to do some boating, fishing, kayaking, or swimming.
Places to Avoid in Arvada
Crime maps show the areas to the east and south are the most dangerous, but those are also the areas getting closer to downtown Denver and where several transportation lines meet.
It’s also where Olde Town is, the busiest part of the city.
There are only a handful of hotels in Arvada.
I believe I counted six, and they are all along the major highways to the east and south.
You won’t find a hotel deep in the city or on the west side (which leads to the foothills).
Now let’s talk about Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.
I’m not telling you to not go there, I want to be clear about that.
This is the site of the former Rocky Flats Plant that made the plutonium for nuclear weapons.
There were three accidents in the history of the plant, none more recently than in the 1970s.
The plant is no longer there and the exact outline of the plant is off-limits.
However, the land around it was turned into a refuge.
Some locals refuse to go there, convinced there’s radioactive material in the land.
Some tests have been inconclusive, while others show no risk for people visiting the land and it is checked every 5 years.
It’s up to you to decide if you want to visit this land, but I wanted to make sure you had the most recent factual information.
I can’t imagine the government would allow a giant open space to visitors if there was any danger due to liability, but you might meet locals who tell you to avoid the area at all costs.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Arvada
- There are several places to park in Olde Town. There is a free parking garage but you must register your car before you can park there. That is done through passportparking.com. Some other spaces have time limits and you must move your car 500 feet away to start the clock over again.
- Arvada bans the act of “Auto Puffing”, which is when you leave a car running to warm it up. Not only can your car get stolen that way, but it can also can you a $100 fine. The only exception is people who have keyfobs and can let the car warm up while locked.
- Smoking and vaping are not allowed in public places or within 25 feet of the entrance to a business. Arvada is pretty strict about this and offenders will be asked to move and if they refuse the police will be called.
- Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, BUT there are strict rules about its usage. The watered-down version is you can’t use any marijuana products, not even gummites, in public. You must do it in a private residence where the owner is okay with you doing so.
- Arvada is also a “mile-high” city and while the elevation isn’t extreme, for people who live close to sea level there might be some altitude sickness effects. Generally, a headache and shortness of breath are the first signs. Drink plenty of water as you acclimate and don’t overexert yourself the first day. Let your body get used to the altitude.
- The police department offers a community crime map where you can see the crimes happening in the area. You search for the date range, type of crime, and specific location, and you’ll find the statistics. It’s easy to use and helpful when planning a place to stay.
- Arvada gets an average of 60 inches of snow a year. If you are visiting in the winter, assume there will be snow on the ground or snow coming. Make sure to bring a couple of pairs of waterproof boots and plenty of winter attire. In this area, cold and snow don’t keep people inside.
- If you are getting a rental car, ask for an AWD or 4WD vehicle, even in the summer. If you go into the mountains you might find some non-paved roads to explore and having better control of the vehicle will expand the places you can see.
- Colorado has hundreds of wildfires a year and they can come dangerously close to city edges. The fires can deeply impact air quality and flight paths. If there is a wildfire burning near Arvada before your trip, I would recommend seriously reconsidering. I spent two weeks in Colorado Springs helping with local news coverage during a major wildfire, and it’s heartbreaking to see the impact these fires have on a community. At one point, I saw a major storm on the horizon hoping it would bring much-needed rain when the General Manager of the TV station said “No, that’s just another massive wildfire to the west.” It’s just a humbling experience and you don’t want to be a tourist in the middle of a tragedy.
- Bicycling is very popular in Arvada and across the Denver area. In Colorado, bicycles are expected to obey the rules of the road just like a car. That means you have to stop at stoplights and can’t roll through a stop sign. It might be best to make use of the city’s 150+ miles of trails off the streets designed for pedestrians and bicyclists.
So... How Safe Is Arvada Really?
Violent crime is lower than the Colorado average, but property crimes are higher.
Here’s how the risks break down:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 555 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 1615 risk
- Theft: 1 in 43 risk
With half of the thefts happening to vehicles, be sure to lock all the doors and keep all personal belongings out of the car.
Even a GPS stand could suggest to a thief that a GPS is in the car.
Arvada has had a recent rash of crimes that made headlines, including in the summer of 2021 when a police officer was killed by a man with a semi-automatic shotgun.
A man who tried to help catch the shooter was mistaken as the shooter and was killed by police.
In 2007, there was a shooting at a youth mission center that left two people dead.
Big headline stories like these make Arvada seem like a dangerous community, but those were really random crimes and aren’t indicative of real safety in the community.
However, it’s always good to be prepared by locating the nearest exit when you are visiting a business.
How Does Arvada Compare?
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The Visa process gets handled at your point of entry into the country. You don't need additional processing between cities.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. You can charge most things on a credit or debit card, so there's not a lot of need for cash. It's also safer to not have a large amount of cash that can be seen in your wallet.
You get all the seasons here to the extreme. Winter is very snowy, spring is vibrant with wildflowers and waterfalls, summers get warm but not intolerable, and fall brings beautiful foliage. You should dress weather appropriate throughout the year, with a special focus on winter gear. For summer, bring good hiking boots so you can explore the foothills or mountains.
Denver International is the best option here. It is clear on the other side of town, so in traffic, it could take up to an hour to get there. You can also use the light rail system to get there.
Definitely plan for travel insurance for any potential delays or weather issues that impact your original travel plans.
Arvada Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Colorado - Safety by City