Louisiana : Safety by City
- Baton Rouge
- Bossier City
- Lake Charles
- New Iberia
- New Orleans
The small town of Bogalusa, Louisiana, has seen more than its fair share of struggles since being founded in the early 1900s as a sawmill city.
Today it’s part of a rural parish yet still just 90 minutes from the hustle and bustle of New Orleans.
Washington Parish, where Bogalusa is located, is considered the “toe” of boot-shaped Louisiana.
Here you’ll find dense forests, swamps, marshes, and a slower pace of life.
The lumber industry set up shop here, and the city was built around it, and through its first few decades was a focal point of civil rights injustices and battles.
Tourists here can learn about the town’s history through several museums.
When the sawmill industry died down, just 10,000 or so people were left here as of the 2020 census.
That’s not a big city by normal standards, but for rural Washington Parish, it’s one of the bigger cities you’ll find.
It’s also right near the border with Mississippi to the east and north.
Bogalusa was also greatly impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the people there will still tell stories of 100-mile-per-hour winds ravaging the town.
This area is popular for wilderness activities and escaping daily life’s rigors.
You can float down the river or hunt the day away while enjoying the unique climate of Louisiana.
Warnings & Dangers in Bogalusa
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, with Bogalusa being one of the most dangerous cities per capita for several years running. Since it's a small town, the per capita translation might make it seem more dangerous than it really is, but there's still an underbelly of crime you need to avoid.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You won't be able to rely on public transportation here, and you might catch a taxi or rideshare from time to time. However, having your own car is preferred - even necessary, at times.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with no pickpockets reported in 2021, and even vehicle burglaries are a lower percentage than in many other cities.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You'll need to keep an eye on the tropics from June through November. As the city saw with Hurricane Katrina, even when New Orleans takes the brunt of a storm, a hurricane can still come this far inland. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible all year long, while flash flooding is an ongoing risk, as the city is just 100 feet above sea level and filled with waterways.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate translates to three times the national average, but only one of those was against a person on the street in 2021. Much of the crime here is among people who know each other, but the bigger risk is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a lot of crime for a city this size, but terrorism isn't one of the crime concerns. It's too small and rural to offer appealing characteristics to terrorist groups.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Residents have reported scams involving scam calls or fake utility workers robbing homes, but tourists won't have a direct risk. You should always avoid any situation that seems too good to be true, and if you're looking to rent a home here during your stay, never allow yourself to be pressured to wire money.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women just need to use the same caution as anyone else. Even a high school football game turned into a shootout scene in late 2022, which scared a lot of families in the crossfire. Don't walk around at night, and don't wander around looking for something to do. Believe me, there's not much to do here anyway.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The City of Bogalusa Water System hasn't posted a Water Quality Report since 2020, which might be an oversight, but it's also a violation of the EPA. If there are water quality concerns, you'll find them on the city's website. You can also call the utility before your visit at (985)732-6228.
Safest Places to Visit in Bogalusa
There isn’t a tourism website for Bogalusa as it’s not really a tourist destination, but there is some information on LouisianaTravel.com and WashingtonParishTourism.com.
Festivals are the main reason people visit Bogalusa.
There’s a Christmas parade, a 4th of July celebration with the Paper Queen Ball, a Mardi Gras Parade, a Blues & Heritage Festival, and a Festival in the Park.
Bogalusa has an important role in the civil rights battles of the mid-1900s, and you can learn more about one of the most influential leaders in the city’s history by visiting hicksfoundation.org.
A construction project is underway to restore the Bob Hicks home and the 1906 Mill House.
The website can give visitors updates on what attractions and historical markers are available during any time frame.
There’s a museum in Bogalusa called “The Museum.”
I can tell you very little more than that.
Even the description of the museum on its website is “The Museum at Bogalusa allows you to grow your knowledge through an outstanding collection.
You’ll learn more than you ever thought possible and grow your mind in a miraculous way.
We are constantly keeping our offerings fresh through our special events, such as the Museum of Modern Art and temporary exhibitions.”
Perhaps it’s a work in progress, but it’s one of the few things to do here, so you can’t really get too picky.
Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge begins about 15 miles south of the city.
This is about as rural and inaccessible as a public area can get.
Most of the trails here are only accessible by boat.
You can see trail maps and get contact information at the NPS.gov website.
This is largely untouched federal land, which is an amazing experience, but if you aren’t an avid outdoor swamper, you could easily get turned around here.
White Sands Lake Day Beach is open seasonally and offers a sandy beach in the middle of the Louisiana forest.
Nearby, you can also rent a cabin through Berry Creek Cabins and get information about swamp tours.
Places to Avoid in Bogalusa
I’m not sure if, in all my years of travel safety research, I’ve found a city with less to do than Bogalusa.
If you don’t have a reason to visit here, you should probably find another city to explore.
Even nearby Franklinton has a few more things to see and do in the more accessible Bogue Chitto State Park.
Bogalusa is also a very poor city.
The poverty rate is nearly 30%, and the average household income isn’t much higher than the poverty rate.
This city struggles to survive while dealing with ongoing civil rights battles and tension between the government, police, and residents.
I hate to dissuade people from visiting a city that needs tourism dollars, but there’s a lot of work to be done in Bogalusa before it can be a tourist draw.
Even the four tourism links on the city’s website have three dead links and one link to the Washington Parish Tourism bureau, which mostly focuses on Franklinton.
If you are going to explore the national wildlife refuge, please go with a guide if you aren’t experienced.
Boating in swamps and rural areas with no mobile phone service is very dangerous.
Add in the severe weather risks, and it’s much safer to go to the state park than the wildlife refuge unless you have experienced this type of environment before.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Bogalusa
- If you notice anything suspicious in Bogalusa, call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-434-8007. Don’t be picky about what you report. Anything that seems off or potentially dangerous should be reported, as crime rates are growing here.
- You can also call Crime Stoppers to report a crime and potentially be eligible for a reward while remaining anonymous. That number is (504)822-1111. You can also text your tip to 274637.
- Follow Bogalusa Police on Facebook @bogalusapd to get updates on criminal activity or safety events during your visit. You can also download the Bogalusa Police Department app on Android and iOS.
- Hunters and anglers should report any poaching they see to Operation Game Thief at 1-800-442-2511. Do not approach someone on your own in the wild.
- When you are outdoors, wear bright orange so hunters can see you. You’ll need a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Hatcheries license if you are hunting.
- Alligators exist in this part of Louisiana, and you should assume any freshwater has an alligator. The animals aren’t aggressive toward humans but attack anything that gets a little too close to them. You can review alligator safety on the Department of Wildlife and Hatcheries website.
- Following the Washington Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness on Facebook @WPOHSEP. Here you’ll get severe weather information and safety updates during severe weather. You should also carry a battery-powered weather radio with you in the woods. Be sure you get it programmed correctly before you leave the populated areas. Usually, the fire department can help with this.
- You’ll need to wear bug spray here and bring it with you, as you’ll need to reapply it often. Since the area is so humid, it makes a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. At a minimum, mosquito bites are annoying. Even worse, mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus. A citrus-based perfume or cologne can also help ward off big bites.
- To find out about events happening at local parks, follow @bogalusaparksrecreationandculture on Facebook. Cassidy Park is the central gathering spot in the city, but any link to the amenities doesn’t work. You can find information on that Facebook page.
- Do not drive on a flooded roadway. Flash flooding can turn roads into rivers; even if you are brave enough to attempt a crossing, you can still be swept away by water. Follow the saying, “Turn Around. Don’t Drown.”
So... How Safe Is Bogalusa Really?
I really try to keep emotion out of my reporting, as I don’t want to give a subjective view of any city.
However, Bogalusa’s research has genuinely made me sad.
This is a city that, up until 2019, didn’t have more than four homicides in a year but had 16 in 2020.
A recent mass shooting outside a football game took away the one positive community gathering spot on a Friday night for a team of hardworking and talented football players and cheerleaders.
A 15-year-old was also killed.
In late 2022, the city’s mayor-elect called for the police chief to resign due to a civil rights lawsuit about a man who died in police custody.
The man was seen on surveillance camera sitting on the ground after being tased and begging for help.
According to the complaint, he was left there for five minutes with no help until the ambulance arrived.
He later died.
That kind of disconnect between law enforcement and citizens creates ongoing crime problems and a lack of willingness for witnesses to come forward.
Poverty also fuels crime, and a scan of the police department’s Facebook page over the past year shows an uncomfortable amount of drugs and guns confiscated.
“One thing about Bogalusans is that when the going gets tough, we join forces together.
Right now is a time that we need to be strong, and we need to talk to our detectives, and we need to send a message to these people – hoodlums – I don’t know what the right word is for it.
We need the public’s assistance on this matter,” said outgoing Bogalusa Mayor Wendy O’Quin Perrette.
When you’re visiting Bogalusa, you should realize you’re in a dangerous place.
While just 7% of violent crimes are against strangers, it’s telling when even a football game has to be moved to a “safe territory” for high school kids to complete the season.
A violent crime task force is now in place, and that police app was designed specifically to get more tips to come into law enforcement.
How Does Bogalusa Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
- Visas - The U.S. State Department issues all Visas for travel to the United States. There are several versions, whether it's for travel, work, or school, so be sure you select the right one. You can use the Visa Wizard module on the department's website to help get you started correctly.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and certainly don't want anyone to see you carrying cash here. Keep money well hidden, and don't keep it all in one place.
- Weather - While most of the year is either warm or hot - with oppressive humidity - there can be bitterly cold weather and freeze warnings in the winter. Check the forecast through the emergency management website or one of the local New Orleans stations to pack the right clothing. This isn't a dressy area, so pack comfortable and casual clothing. Don't bring name-brand bags or fancy jewelry here. You'll risk making yourself a target.
- Airports - The New Orleans airport is the largest option nearby, but you'll be on the road for about 90 minutes to get there.
- Travel Insurance - You'll likely want travel insurance for your flight, car rental, and health - especially if you're doing wilderness activities. America doesn't have any free health care, and if you aren't covered by insurance, you'll pay high out-of-pocket costs.
Bogalusa Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Louisiana - Safety by City