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
Boulder City, Nevada, is as much a suburb of Las Vegas as it the Gateway to Lake Mead.
In fact, it might not even exist if it weren’t for both the debauchery of early Vegas and the creation of Lake Mead.
Boulder City sprang on the map in 1931 as a place for workers on the Hoover Dam to stay close to the project site and away from the lures of “Sin City.”
The town was federally owned and controlled land, meaning common Las Vegas attractions like gambling weren’t allowed.
That rule still holds to this day, and Boulder City is widely known as the only city in the state where gambling is banned.
Don’t worry – there are still plenty of gambling establishments nearby, some seemingly blurring the line between the ban and legality.
NOTE: Panaca is another town where gambling is banned, but it’s not a formal municipality like Boulder City.
Alcohol is also banned in Panaca.
Boulder City is home to nearly 15,000 people, which grew steadily after the government released control in 1959.
Unless you have a reason to visit Boulder City, you’re likely using this town as a thoroughfare to get to Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Hoover Dam.
Don’t worry if someone here calls it the Boulder Dam.
A few old-timers refuse to accept the name “Hoover,” even though it’s now the official name.
After Mr. Hoover left office, the names “Boulder Canyon Dam” and “Boulder Dam” were frequently used when referring to the dam, allegedly because the new Secretary of the Interior did not like Mr. Hoover.
However, the name of the dam was never officially changed from “Hoover.” – U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Before you drive right on by this historic city, let’s dive into safe things to do while visiting the Las Vegas Valley and Lake Mead.
Warnings & Dangers in Boulder City
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here, with low crime rates that can still shock the community at every turn. This is a tight-knit town, despite all the tourists that come through.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The RTC bus system for greater Las Vegas goes as far as Boulder City but not all the way to the dam or Lake Mead. Hoover Dam bus tours are available, but some leave from Las Vegas. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find, and rental cars are available throughout the valley. There's a low risk with any option, but pros and cons to each based on your travel plans.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Just three purse snatchings have been reported since 2017, so the risk is low. There's still a higher potential, so limit what you bring to the bare necessities and never leave a purse or backpack unattended.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Extreme heat, flash flooding, summer thunderstorms, and wildfires are the biggest risks here. An occasional winter storm can cause chaos in a city not prepared for snow. Treat it with a medium risk to be prepared, or you could end up in the middle of the lake during a thunderstorm.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
On average, since 2017, the city sees 2–4 robberies a year. There's a low risk, but some parts of town to avoid that will reduce the risk even more. We'll dive into that in a little bit.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Boulder City is tucked between Las Vegas and Hoover Dam, two major potential targets for terrorists. An attack on the Hoover Dam would compromise water access to millions of people across several states. That medium risk is going to come with a high level of security. You can help by reporting anything suspicious, even if it's just an abandoned backpack.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Boulder City is outraged at the rise in senior scams happening to residents, but as a tourist, you also need to watch your back. It's tempting to use third-party websites to look for discounts, but using the main websites for attractions and hotels is the best way to get a deal and protect the money you'll spend.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women are safe in Boulder City, and nothing in the crime data suggest they are at a higher risk than men. You'll need to use all the basic safety steps, but whether you're traveling with kids, solo, or in a group, you can rest easy that Boulder City is about the safest place to visit in the valley.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows passing grades across the board. The water is considered "hard" due to the minerals in it from the mountains. You might notice some chalky residue from those same elements. Review the report to see more information about what's in the Boulder City water.
Safest Places to Visit in Boulder City
Visit Boulder City is the official tourism site for the region, including Lake Mead.
Visit Las Vegas will cover the entire Las Vegas area.
The railroad played a big part in Boulder City’s growth, as railroads were just as important transportation across the country as they were to get supplies for Hoover Dam’s construction.
The Boulder Railroad Museum showcases the history, including the role the city played in the Nevada Test Site.
Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum is the brainchild of a special effects makeup artist.
Costumes, props, and masks made by Devlin are on display in this place no horror movie fan should miss.
The historic district is home to the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum, with artifacts, interactive exhibits, and 3D displays of how the Hoover Dam was planned and built.
Are there really people buried within the confines of concrete?
Find out here!
TRAVEL TIP: Stop by the Lake Mead National Recreation Area information office in Boulder City instead of waiting until you get to the visitor’s center at the entrance to the area.
Novice hikers might find the Nature Discovery Trail and Rock Garden in Boulder City a better option than the remote trails of Lake Mead.
Build some confidence exploring Bootleg Canyon first.
Once you head east to Lake Mead National Recreation Area, you have two choices – turn into the federal land or take the highway to Hoover Dam.
TRAVEL TIP: Avid hikers might want to consider taking the Historic Railroad Hiking Trail to get to Hoover Dam.
The 2.2 miles trail takes you through the old railroad tunnels used to bring supplies to the dam.
You’ll get to avoid all the traffic backup on the highway as well.
Take a taxi back to your car if you’re too tired to walk the trail back.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area has so many fun things to do.
Take a boat tour of the lake and get as close as you safely can to the edge of Hoover Dam.
Rent a boat or kayak the waters.
Sit on the shoreline beaches or explore the “Lost City” of St. Thomas that was flooded when the dam was built but now is unearthed again due to low lake levels.
Several tours are available at the Hoover Dam.
Be sure only to buy tickets from the “Official Vendors.”
Places to Avoid in Boulder City
Boulder City doesn’t have bad parts of town or dangerous neighborhoods.
The police department is transparent about the higher crime areas.
As of early 2023, the police chief said the highest call volume came from Circle K on Canyon Boulevard, the Boulder Public Library’s main branch on Arapahoe Avenue, and the Millennium Harvest House hotel on 28th Street.
Most of the concerns weren’t violent crimes but increases in theft, drugs, and nuisance behavior.
The Millennium was dealing with problems like room break-ins from lost but still activated key cards.
The hotel has a new rental policy that should alleviate those concerns with the help of enhanced police presence.
The library had a problem with drugs being dealt or used in the restrooms.
The Park-n-Ride at Table Mesa was once a theft hot spot, but those numbers have been reduced since police targeted the area.
In addition to all of that information, Boulder Police are dealing with a homelessness issue.
Ten percent of the city is homeless camps (an issue being addressed), but 30% of the crime in the city comes from people in those camps, according to police.
It should be very reassuring that even in a town with below-average crime rates, Boulder City Police are aggressively cracking down on crime.
At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, one of the more popular trails has been Arizona Hot Springs.
Because people didn’t listen to the safety advice and the trail became too dangerous, there are now seasonal restrictions on trail access.
In 2017, 37 incidents were reported on the trail where three people died, and 13 people had to be transported to emergency care.
“People are miscalculating their ability to hike these strenuous trails in the summer, and it’s not only endangering their lives, it’s endangering the lives of other visitors and rescue crews,” said Patrick Gubbins, deputy superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
No trail access is allowed here from May 15 through September 30, which is a real shame because this is an amazing hike.
“Hiking is very popular in the fall, and we plan to re-open the areas when temperatures are cooler,” said Gubbins.
“Visitors can still access the popular hot springs via the much cooler route along the Colorado River.”
Safety Tips for Traveling to Boulder City
- Boulder City does have its own police department, which only Henderson and North Las Vegas can say in the Las Vegas Valley. The rest of the towns are under the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (Metro), which covers all of Clark County. You can follow them on social media, but be sure you’re on the Boulder City NEVADA site. Don’t confuse it with the city of Boulder in Colorado.
- To tour the dam, you need to get on the Dam Access Road. Otherwise, you’ll ride over the dam on the interstate. There is a walkway on the interstate bridge where pedestrians are separated from traffic. You can access that from one of the parking areas.
- Always lock your car doors when you’re visiting anywhere in Boulder City, but it’s especially important at trailheads. Thieves know you’ll be gone a while and take advantage of the situation. Don’t leave any items in your vehicle. Load up the trunk with stuff before you go. River Mountain Trail and Gold Strike Trail were hit by thieves in early 2023.
- Research a trail before you set out to hike. Trails here range from short and simple to strenuous and scrambling. Full trail descriptions are available from the city and the national park service.
- Bring paper maps with you, as your GPS mobile mapping might not work here. GPS can also be wrong at times. Paper maps are the best way to keep track of your trail progress.
- Check the weather conditions before you drive the highways here, taking special note of wind warnings and advisories. As the roads wind and curve through canyons, the winds can be powerful enough to blow semi-trucks off the road or make it hard to keep your car in your lane.
- Storms in the summer develop quickly, thanks to the monsoonal flow. Never underestimate storm clouds in the distance. They develop faster than you’d expect. Storms can create a lot of dangerous lightning, which isn’t safe for anyone outside. Lightning can also spark wildfires.
- If you’re driving into the Las Vegas Valley from Boulder City, you’ll go down a big hill to get there. Law enforcement loves to run radar on speeding cars here. Stick to the speed limit and stay in the right lane if people want to go faster than you. You can wave when they get pulled over, and you drive by. The same goes for drivers coming into Boulder City from the interstate.
- Sign up for alerts on the Boulder City local website. You’ll get specific information about road closures, flooding, or other critical situations. Also, follow NWS Las Vegas to get updated weather information. When visiting the hiking trails, bring a NOAA weather radio with you.
- Use Nevada 511 to track road conditions throughout the area. You can see live cameras, avoid construction zones, and get real-time traffic updates.
So... How Safe Is Boulder City Really?
Boulder City’s 2022 crime data somewhat flies in the face of the previous year’s data.
With just nine violent crimes in 2022, that’s a 300% decrease from 2021 and a number that hasn’t been that low since 2008.
On either account, the violent crime rate is still at least half the national average.
On top of that, the crime risks here aren’t generally targeted at tourists.
It’s also not a widespread problem of crime.
“We have very few offenders committing the majority of the crimes in Boulder,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said.
“They really cause great havoc in the community.”
Even theft rates were half the national average in 2022, and that’s with a 12% increase from 2020.
Car break-ins and car accessory thefts make up 30% of all thefts, but 2/3 of that is car accessory thefts.
This means items like the pricey catalytic convertor.
You can ask your rental car company what protection they have in place against these thefts.
Sometimes it’s as simple as having a number etched on it or a catalytic converter cage.
Boulder City is also making the streets safer with new initiatives that could change the “right turn on red” laws at major intersections and similar adjustments to keep people from running red lights or improperly using turn lanes.
The places that tourists will visit in Boulder City are safe for all.
Safety on the roads and in the recreation area is largely dependent upon your own safety practices and preparation.
How Does Boulder City Compare?
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- Visas - The same rules apply here as with any other destination for international tourists. You'll need a passport with a visa or visa waiver. There are plenty of "what if's" involved, so check the U.S. State Department website to start the process using the Visa Wizard module.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. The international terminal will offer currency exchange at a location called Travelex. You can also use local banks if you're a member, but otherwise, take care of that at home to get the lowest fees. Use a credit card for as much as you can to get the best fraud prevention.
- Weather - Most of the year will be mild to warm to hot, but winters can be surprisingly cold. Always check the 10-day forecast before you go. Layers of clothing will be helpful, but sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are a must-have. You'll also want worn-in hiking boots and water shoes if you're spending time on the trails or lake.
- Airports - Harry Reid International Airport is about 30 minutes from Boulder City, but check the traffic conditions because it could be 2–3 times that long in rush hour or on holiday weekends. LAS does have an international terminal, which isn't connected to the main terminal. Confirm which one you'll need before you go. Some domestic flights do use Terminal 3 (the "International" Terminal).
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance just makes sense for such a larger tourist attraction. Even being a major airport, delays can happen. On the rare chance there's snow, the airport won't be able to operate for a time. Wildfires and sudden summer thunderstorms can also cause delays or cancelations.
Boulder City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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