Idaho : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Idaho - state review
Right in the heart of Idaho’s Treasure Valley is Boise, a city with urban amenities that prides itself on outdoor adventures.
The Boise River flows through the center of town, and this community has grown by more than 35,000 people in the past decade.
The low cost of living and Californians seeking an escape from taxes has fueled the population growth yet somehow escaped rising crime rates other growing communities face.
The biggest challenge Idahoans face is keeping Idaho “as is” without trying to bring “Californication” here.
Even the tourism bureau touts that Boise is “A city you’d want to have a beer with.”
Boise is also home to a dense Basque community, with the Basque Block being a friendly place to try a different culture.
You can also enjoy aspects of the Wild West with an underground music scene that is hitting the mainstream with the popular Treefort Music Fest.
Other neighborhoods include:
- Meridian Village: Major shopping area where Boise meets the city of Meridian.
- Garden City: Arts, culture, and craft beer along the river.
- North End: Suburban area with charm and close to the outdoor adventures northeast of the city.
- East End: Boise is a laid-back town, but this is the luxurious side of town with a stunning botanical garden.
- Southeast Boise: College area where Boise State is located with high-tech business in the area too.
- Boise Bench: The best views in the region.
- Downtown: Basque, history, elegance, and charm in the city’s core along the river.
Be sure you pronounce it “Boy-SEE” and “Boy-zee.”
The locals will likely correct you if you say it wrong, but it’s a great way to avoid sticking out as a tourist.
Warnings & Dangers in Boise
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with lower-than-average crime rates across the board and a wide variety of things to do. Be sure to review the ratings we did for the cities of Meridian, Nampa, and Caldwell to the west of the city.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Valley Regional Transit is the bus system around the city. You can download the SPOT app to get real-time bus tracking information. You can buy an all-day pass for $2.50, which is a smart investment. Boise isn't a very walkable town if you want to see all the neighborhoods. Taxis and rideshares are available, but a rental car would be the best option if you can swing it.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Four pickpockets were reported in 2021, so there's a low risk here. Use extra caution during busy times like the rodeo or music festival.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Wildfires are the biggest risk here, along with flooding. Severe thunderstorms are possible, but tornadoes aren't very common here. Winters can get extremely lower temperatures. Because of the ongoing risk of wildfires, there's a medium risk here.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, with the robbery rate being almost 75% less than the national average. 60% of people in Idaho legally own guns, so you might see more guns on people when you visit, but the risk of gun violence isn't nearly as high as in other U.S. cities facing rising violence.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Mountain Home Air Force Base is 40 miles southeast of Boise, which is really the only hard target here. Idaho gets a reputation for having white supremacy groups, but that's mostly on the northern end of the state. There is a concern about homegrown terrorists that Homeland Security closely monitors in Idaho.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The typical scams are reported here, and none target tourists directly, but the city does have a scam section on its website with a "Scam of the Week," so you can keep track of the newest scams happening here.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Sexual assault, including incest, has reached staggering new levels in the past decade. The sexual assault rate is nearly twice the national average. Use caution when meeting anyone new and avoid walking around alone at night. Many of the offenses involve people who know each other in some way.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water utility and city make it very hard to find the 2021 Consumer Confidence Report that details water quality, but once you do, you'll see there were no violations. The city hasn't had a water quality violation since 2019.
Safest Places to Visit in Boise
Don’t let the name Freak Alley scare you off.
This is an outdoor mural gallery and the largest of its kind in the Northwest.
Even if you’ve seen it before, this is a living work of art, so more murals and artwork are always being added.
Bring your camera because you’ll have plenty of Instagram-worthy moments.
For indoor art, the Boise Art Museum (aka “The Bam”) is a great place to visit.
Be sure to book your tickets in advance and put the phones away as no photos can be taken during a visit to the museum.
Downtown Boise is a great place to stroll in the morning, afternoon, or nightlife.
There are more than 100 restaurants with a variety of culinary experiences.
From nightclubs where you can dance til you drop to intimate live music venues, Boise has a great nightlife fueled by the college crowd.
The Baque Block brings a culture from the other side of the world to the American West.
There’s a museum and cultural center so you can learn more about the history and pilgrimage of the Basque people to Idaho.
Around the neighborhood are unique stores and eateries to explore Basque food.
You can also take a language class while you are there to learn important phrases.
The Discover Museum and the Children’s Museum of Idaho are two separate family-friendly locations with interactive exhibits and educational opportunities around every corner.
Want to work some live animals into your family adventure?
Zoo Bosie is the place to be!
From seeing a giant anteater to feeding bugs to a sloth you’re holding in your arms, there are so many great things to see and do here.
Check the schedule for yoga at the zoo with the animals.
Boise holds many adventures outdoors during every season.
Bogus Basin should be on your itinerary whether you want to ski, mountain bike, or do sunrise yoga at the summit.
You can also ride the Glade Running Mountain Coaster – a roller coaster that weaves its way through the wilderness, even going upside down.
The Boise River is perfect for rafting, and at Whitewater Park, you can even ride the waves.
Kayakers and river surfers enjoy this urban water adventure.
It’s actually a U.S. holiday while I’m writing this and I’m looking at the live camera of the waves and a line of river surfers waiting to experience the fun.
You can also rent a tube or raft at Barber Park, and a shuttle service will return you to base camp when you’re done.
To really get away from it all, head to the 2.5 million acres of land, mountains, and streams in Boise National Forest.
It’s a two and half hour drive through beautiful mountain communities.
Places to Avoid in Boise
There isn’t that traditional “bad part of town,” but the crime rates get lower the closer you get to Meridian.
Use caution if you are out partying, and make sure you don’t drink beyond your ability to make smart decisions.
Always travel with a friend and don’t leave anyone behind.
Avoid going into the Idaho wilderness without the appropriate gear for the particular season.
It’s very dry in Idaho, so you won’t notice yourself sweating as much because it evaporates quickly.
Keep yourself hydrated because, by the time you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Boise sits at 2700 feet above sea level, but the mountains nearby reach peaks of 10,000 feet.
Be sure to adjust slowly to the elevation change because most people will notice a difference in breathing and heart rate around 5,000 to 6,000 feet.
You can also avoid bringing all your ski gear if you’d like, because there are plenty of places to rent gear.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Boise
- The Boise Police Department is transparent with crime information. You can review incidents by neighborhoods, years, or types of crime. Checking these statistics before you arrive is a great way to see what crimes are trending.
- BPD also has its own podcast, which is a great way to learn about community safety efforts before you visit, and you’ll also get to know the officers on the streets. Recent topics of BPD Beat include Downtown Patrol and LGBTQ+ Liaison.
- Sign up for CodeRED emergency alerts through the city’s website. This will get you critical information about weather events, criminal activity, road closures, and any safety hazards during your trip.
- E-Scooters are available in Downtown Boise if you need a little help getting around or want to save your leg muscles for the mountains. You can ride the scooters on the road, sidewalk, or bike lanes. There’s also a 250-mile greenbelt to explore.
- ParkMobile is the app for parking downtown. You can see open spots, pay for parking or add more time to your meter. The first 20 minutes of metered parking downtown is free.
- Review the 2022 Floater Guide on the Ada County website before you raft the river. There is a lot of great safety information and maps showing float locations for pickups and rental limits.
- The Boise River is never closed, but the water might look warmer than it really is, even in summer. Check the temperature and determine if you want to wear a wet suit. I can even see the people in this live stream wearing wet suits in early September.
- Download the “Rainout Line” app so you can monitor the river and other outdoor venues. Closures and restrictions will be listed throughout the day, so check before you go.
- Anyone 14 or older must have a fishing license through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. You can purchase one online or stop by a Fish and Game field office, Walmart, the Bass Pro Shop, or just about any fishing supply store. For young anglers just hitting their groove, head to Park Center Pond.
- Bookmark the Idaho Fire Map and review it often before and during your visit. This will show all the active wildlife in the state with bullet points from the fire lines with the latest information. Even if a fire isn’t burning nearby, a far-away fire can still wreak havoc on air quality. You’ll also need to know of any road and trail closures due to fires or spot a prescribed burn that isn’t a cause for concern.
So... How Safe Is Boise Really?
Boise was already considered one of the safer cities in one of the safest states before the 2021 Crime Data was released, but that information shows the risks are going even lower.
Now, this doesn’t mean there isn’t any crime.
There were still 374 aggravated assaults, two murders, and 262 cars stolen.
The main point is that violent and property crime rates continue to decrease.
The one category that has law enforcement and social services teaming up is the growing sexual assault rates.
Rape was up 17%, while sexual assault with an object was up 20%.
This could be due to more attacks, but there could also be more people reporting the assaults than before.
35% of the thefts in Boise are related to car break-ins, and you’d be surprised at how many of those happened because cars were left unlocked.
Lock your car, roll up the windows, and don’t leave valuable items where thieves can see them.
Even a GPS holder can suggest there’s a GPS system inside.
Drug crimes were another category that went up with a nearly 28% increase in drug violations.
As a fair warning, DUIs were also up with an average of two DUI arrests each day.
Boise is a hidden gem in the Treasure Valley, and you’ll enjoy visiting there with the basic safety protocol.
How Does Boise Compare?
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- Visas - A U.S. Travel or Work visa is required, along with a passport, to get through Customs if you are arriving from outside the country. Be sure to tuck away the visa somewhere safe during your trip, as you can travel freely throughout Idaho without having to show it.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, and you should exchange your currency before you arrive to get the best value. Most attractions here offer online ticket purchases, which is a safe way to avoid pulling out your wallet.
- Weather - Winters will require full outerwear with snow and hiking boots. It can get very cold, and you have to protect any exposed area of your skin. Spring and fall are perfect jeans and hoodie weather. During the summers, you'll be comfy in khakis and a t-shirt.
- Airports - The Boise Airport is about 15 minutes from downtown. It's the closest and largest airport in the region, although it's not a huge airport by any means. It is your best option unless you want to drive five hours to Salt Lake City.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance for your trip, rental car, and outdoor adventures are all smart ideas. Accidents in the wilderness can lead to costly rescues, and you don't want to leave anything to chance.
Boise Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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