Nevada : Safety by City
- Battle Mountain
- Blue Diamond
- Boulder City
- Burning Man in Black Rock City
- Carson City
- Incline Village
- Las Vegas
- Moapa Valley
- Mount Charleston
- North Las Vegas
- Virginia City
- West Wendover
An introduction to Battle Mountain, Nevada, plays like a broken record of the I-80 cities of the Cowboy Corridor of northern Nevada.
It’s a mining and ranch economy with a (literal) rich history built around the miners and railroad.
However, Battle Mountain has its own tune.
The name comes from a battle between Indigenous People and emigrants who found copper in the mountains.
Well, that’s one version.
As one historian said, “This is Nevada; where you never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
If you’re a history buff (and admittedly, I am), you’ll see more in the surrounding mountains than just the empty desert.
First, that’s all public land for you to explore.
However, there’s another historic milestone that happened here involving the ill-fated Donner Party (which history also refers to as the Donner-Reed Party).
Near present-day Battle Mountain, James Reed was banished for killing a man.
He was forced to leave his family behind and ride ahead to Sacramento.
This ended up being a stroke of good luck for Reed, as he managed to make it over what is now known as Donner Pass while the Donner Party ended up trapped by the snow.
Reed even attempted one of the many rescue efforts to find the party.
When all was said and done, the Reed Family all survived the journey.
His wife wrote in her diary words that resonate to this day, “Never take no cutoffs and hurry along as fast as you can.”
The trails around Lander County tell these stories through gravesites and history lessons, but you really have to know what you’re looking for.
Warnings & Dangers in Battle Mountain
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, but I'll be honest in saying that there are far greatest risks in the desert than in the dark of night in Battle Mountain.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You're not going to find public transportation here, and taxis or rideshare will be hard to come by. You need your own vehicle, preferably one that can handle the rugged roads of the rural desert.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
No pickpockets were reported in 2022, and there's a low risk of it happening anyway in such a rural town.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Winter storms and bitterly cold temperatures are the biggest issues from October through April, and spring brings the beginning of the wildfire season. Flooding is an ongoing risk, which might not make sense in a desert. However, the melting snow from the mountains will look for the lowest place, and the valleys of Lander County are just that. Severe thunderstorms can pop up quickly, but tornadoes are highly unlikely. This is also an area filled with high winds as the air slides off the mountains.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
This is another low-risk, but it's also not an area where you want to get on the wrong side of someone. People here are rugged, tough, and don't take any flack. You don't need to show off valuables here, as your cowboy hat and boots are the most universal thing you can showcase in a place like Battle Mountain.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
This is a low risk. It's hard even to get Battle Mountain to show up on a map without zooming in five times. An attack here would hurt more cattle and birds than people.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The scam risk is low, but if you're stopping for gas, you should always check the gas pump for skimming devices. The FTC can give you details on how to spot them.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The only advice I have for women here is not to go hiking or exploring the mountains alone. That advice goes for men, too.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
You should check with the hotel where you're staying to ask for a water quality test because the groundwater here is dependent on local businesses doing their own testing. There aren't ongoing risks with the water, but keep bottled with you anyway since you're in the middle of a massive desert.
Safest Places to Visit in Battle Mountain
Travel Nevada has some information about Battle Mountain.
Lander County Tourism covers Battle Mountain, Austin, and Kingston (plus some really cool ghost towns).
The best “off the grid” website I’ve found to get places to visit in Battle Mountain is the Cowboy Corridor website.
Start at the Battle Mountain Cookhouse Museum to learn the history of the land.
A new mining exhibit is planned, and it’s also along the California Trail that the emigrants took on their search for “Manifest Destiny.”
Grab a map while you’re there of the historic walking tour of Battle Mountain.
Nearly two dozen historic homes and buildings are along the path.
You can also ask at the museum or contact the tourism bureau to see which mines are still offering scheduled tours of their operation.
The International Human Powered Vehicle Association holds an annual event here to break the bicycling speed record.
This location is perfect due to the straightness and decline of the highway that allows cyclists to gather speed before they are timed.
90 miles per hour is the current record.
Carter’s Monument is a stone wall dedicated by a local man in 1879 to honor the emigrants who traversed this treacherous land.
NOTE: The land is still treacherous, and get details directions from the Chamber of Commerce in town.
Don’t attempt this without a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Head to Mill Creek Canyon to see proof that the desert isn’t all rocks and sand.
The canyons of this region offer shade and water for beautiful wildflowers and unique species in and above the water.
Lewis Canyon is another option, with abandoned buildings of an old mining town mixing in with the outdoor opportunities.
Hikers, bicyclists, and off-roaders should ask about all the trails available through Emigrant Pass.
If you can make it to Austin, it’s worth the 90-mile drive to see this “Living Ghost Town.”
It was once a hotbed of mining activity and now is home to just 200 people, while turquoise is still mined in the mountains.
It’s a quaint and ghostly mountain town.
Places to Avoid in Battle Mountain
Dangerous parts of town are the least of your concerns here.
While standard safety precautions are wise, you really need to get educated on desert survival and wilderness safety.
I get the sense there’s a reason you don’t find a lot of the “main” attractions online, and you are encouraged to go to the Chamber of Commerce to get maps.
They want to make sure you REALLY want to take this adventure and know the risks.
This is wild, remote, “middle of nowhere” land.
Rescues could be hours or days away.
A wrong move on a dirt road could leave you with several flat tires.
Getting lost and running out of water means you’re doomed to dehydration unless you know how to survive.
For example, there are hot springs in this area.
These aren’t fancy spas.
They are literally metal tubs with a pipe of hot springs water pouring in.
You should never put your head underwater in a hot spring.
Why? Brain-eating amoeba.
There are also red spider mites that are hard to see but pack a powerful sting as they pierce the skin and lay eggs.
You can review the Nevada Department of Wildlife website to learn how to spot these nasty critters before you’ve been bitten.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Battle Mountain
- Lander County Sheriff’s Office has an interactive crime map where you can see the most recent criminal activity in the county. It also covers stolen vehicles and arrests made.
- You cannot rely on mobile maps for navigation here. You should have a GPS system and paper maps as a backup. If you get lost, you could wrong miles in the wrong direction trying to navigate your way back without help.
- Grab some of those leftover COVID masks to prevent the dirt and dust of this area from getting into your mouth and nose.
- Check Inciweb for wildlife activity before you go to any mountain area. If there is a storm in the distance, it can easily spark a wildfire, and the winds can make fires erratic.
- As much as this is a desert, you still have to worry about flooding. The heavy snowpack from the mountains melts and flows into the rivers, which can lead to extended periods of flooding and flash flooding.
- Hunters and anglers need a license, even when visiting rural public lands. The Nevada Department of Wildlife can help get you started.
- If someone talks about the “Islands in the Sky,” which are the mountains that rise about 6,000 feet in the Toiyabe Range. They are above the desert heat and covered in green much of the year due to the additional precipitation that never makes it to the valley floor.
- Know the “Dirt Road Code” provided by the Travel Nevada team. This explains how to prepare your vehicle for dirt roads and guides you to release tire pressure and add it back in at the right times.
- There’s enough public land here to last a lifetime, so stay off of private property. Even something as simple as leaving a gate open could mean a rancher loses cattle—their livelihood.
- Prostitution is legal in Lander County, and there’s still at least one brothel operating here. The signs aren’t always clear that a location is a brothel. The brothels have safety regulations set by the state government, but it’s still wise to steer clear of these locations.
So... How Safe Is Battle Mountain Really?
Lander County is so large (or the population is so small) that there’s one person per square mile on average.
While the crime rates for the county show an above-average rating, the data gets wonky with such a small population.
The “per 100,000 people” crime data shows the violent crime rate is 56% higher than the national average.
However, raw data shows that means there were 40 violent crimes in 2022.
Even more shocking?
Crime data shows the violent crime rate was up 90% year-to-year between 2022 and 2021.
That means it went from 21 to 40 in raw numbers.
2021 was also a fluke of the past five years, with the five-year average being 45 violent crimes per year.
None of the violent crimes in 2022 was against a stranger.
Thirty-six cases of theft were reported in 2022, with just 13% being car break-ins.
Most were in the “other” category, which could be anything from camping gear to cattle.
A safe experience in Battle Mountain is largely dependent on you.
How are you preparing for trips into the open desert?
Is your car stocked with emergency supplies and extra water?
Do you know what to do if you see a rattlesnake?
Can you drive on dirt or gravel roads and get yourself unstuck if needed?
Of all the things to stay about Battle Mountain, it’s this—Battle Mountain is worth a stop.
Maybe for a few hours, maybe overnight.
Either way, it’s certain to show you a side of Nevada you just can’t find in Las Vegas and Reno.
As you drive the Cowboy Corridor, you might only be able to pick one between Elko, Winnemucca, and Battle Mountain to visit.
I’m not going to tell you my favorite, but we have a summary of each city on this website for you to decide for yourself.
How Does Battle Mountain Compare?
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- Visas - International visitors need a passport and visa. Some visitors could be from a country that's part of the Visa Waiver program. Check your eligibility using the Visa Wizard on the U.S. State Department website. Do not try to apply for the "fastest" visa, as that will start you back at the beginning of the process. Only apply for the visa designated for your travel purpose (work, school, tourism).
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency here. Normally we recommend using fraud protection-backed credit cards, but if you want to play the slots of table games here, you'll need cash. Casinos are going to charge you high fees to get the cash, but they'll bend over backward to get your money into their casino games.
- Weather - The raw elements of the high desert are here. Wear comfortable clothing that you can get dirty. Dust and wind are common on their own but can mix with winter storms and severe thunderstorms. You need thick-soled hiking boots or snow boots for the wilderness and don't forget a hat and sunglasses. The sun is intense at any time of the year.
- Airports - Elko's Regional Airport is just an hour away, but that can only get you as far as Salt Lake City with one flight a day. Reno Tahoe International Airport is about three hours away.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is as important for the flight as the road here, and if you're going into the wilderness, you should consider some kind of adventure insurance. Healthcare is going to cost a lot out of pocket if you don't have coverage here.
Battle Mountain Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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