Montana : Safety by City
- Big Sky
- Great Falls
- Miles City
- West Yellowstone
Bozeman, Montana, has exploded in search engines, travel plans, and relocation guides in the past few years.
As one of the fastest-growing towns in the state, it’s no wonder you’re researching it too.
This mountain town has the gritty feel of the Old West, the vibe of a college town as home to Montana State University, and an outdoor lover’s heaven.
It’s also getting more cosmopolitan as the population grows and trending mixes in with traditional Montana essence.
Bozeman is worth visiting and staying as long as you can because it’s hard to see it all at once.
With Yellowstone an hour away and the Custer Gallatin National Forest nearby, you still have ski resorts and local trails to explore.
Don’t forget the natural hot springs with waters alleged to have magical healing powers.
Bozeman does break the mold because even if you don’t like the outdoors, you can still come face to face with a grizzly bear (safely) or tour a local art gallery with your favorite glass of wine.
The nightlife is almost as wild as the wilderness and shopping comes in every range from boutiques to boot stores to big outdoor malls.
All that in a safe city with a growing number of businesses, hotels, and exploration points.
Warnings & Dangers in Bozeman
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with some concerning issues we'll discuss. There's so much to see and do as the city grows, but there are wilderness, wildlife, and worrisome crime trends to contend with. Common sense and safety awareness go a long way.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Check out the transportation section of the city's website to see the public transportation and rideshare programs available for commuters or visitors. Taxis and traditional rideshares are available and should be used if you'll be drinking. Rental cars are also available. There are tour companies that will provide rides to Yellowstone National Park.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
About five pickpockets or purse snatchings happen each year, with the majority being purse snatchings. Seven happened in 2021. The risk is low but still higher than in other Montana communities. Keep your purse small and secure when you're shopping or in the entertainment districts.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The risk is medium and even high at times. Avalanches, landslides, earthquakes, winter storms, severe weather, wildfires, flash flooding—it's all possible here. The Gallatin County Emergency Management website is a great resource for easy-to-read safety tips and most likely hazards.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The city hasn't seen more than 10 robberies in a year going back to 2011, and six happened in 2021. While the risk is low, it's still worth noting how quickly these incidents can escalate, so don't fight back against a robber.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The risk is low, but it's another topic you can read about on the emergency management website. Montana has been home to several domestic terrorists like the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. In March 2023, a series of racially-disparaging emails were sent to some university groups, prompting a hate crime investigation.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The biggest scam concern here surrounds rental housing. Preying on the high occupancy rate and desperate people needing a place to stay, scammers post fake listings and demand upfront payments via wire. Several people have lost money in this scam, and one person reported four scamming attempts. You should never have to wire money to rent a home or apartment. Check with the police and city social media sites for scam information before you visit.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women have a medium risk, and there's a concerning trend around sexual assault and date rape drugs. Don't let anyone buy you a drink you didn't see poured, and never leave a drink unattended. Stay with a friend or a group, don't go to private parties, and never leave a friend behind. If you notice another woman struggling, let a security guard know.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations, making the risk low. You should still check the city's social media sites or sign up for city notifications because busted pipes that lead to pressure loss could prompt a boil order, but that wouldn't show up in a water quality report.
Safest Places to Visit in Bozeman
The city’s tourism website is VisitBozeman.com, and downtownbozeman.org covers the entertainment district in the city’s core.
You can download a tourism guide, but you’ll have to give some personal information to get it.
You should know that with all the connections between Bozeman and Yellowstone National Park in the tourist guides, it’s still a good 90 minutes to two hours to the park, depending on which entrance you are using.
The beautiful drive is almost a tourist attraction in itself.
The Gallatin History Museum is a perfect place to start, as you’ll learn so much about the region that will make the rest of the trip that much more special.
Museum of the Rockies (MOR) is on the campus of Montana State University and features exhibits on Montana’s history, geology, and wildlife.
There’s a full-sized Montana T. Rex skeleton.
This stop is perfect if you’re heading to Yellowstone with the kids, as the Explore Yellowstone interactive exhibits help them learn about geysers, camping, and wildlife.
Bozeman is surrounded by mountains and trails that offer stunning views and a chance to experience nature.
Some popular hikes include the M Trail, Sacajawea Peak, and Hyalite Canyon.
Bozeman is home to Bridger Bowl and Big Sky, the “Biggest Skiing in America” Resort, is an hour away.
Both offer excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities.
Whether you believe the Bozeman Hot Springs really have healing power or just want to soak away the muscle aches from a day on the slopes or hiking trails, this is a great place to relax.
There are 12 pools of varying temperatures that have been relaxing tourists since 1879!
I promise that you don’t want to encounter a grizzly bear in the wild, but you’ll love the Montana Grizzly Encounter where you can see them close enough but safely behind barriers.
Custer Gallatin National Forest stretches in all directions around Bozeman, and it’s so big you’ll need one of seven maps to explore a specific part.
If you are going into the wild, bring bear spray with you and check each park’s website for bear advisories.
For example, there’s a mandatory “food storage order” in place in Custer Gallatin National Forest.
Just Google “Montana Bear Attack” to find out why.
Places to Avoid in Bozeman
Bozeman doesn’t have bad neighborhoods or dangerous parts of town.
However, there have been an increasing number of reports of sketchy or enraged people who randomly cause problems.
This could be connected to drug use, mental illness, or other health issues, so you should avoid anyone who seems to be starting trouble.
If a person appears disoriented or sporadic, especially if they are yelling or trying to instigate a fight, just walk away.
Call the police.
Read through the Facebook page of the police department to get a better grasp of how many people they face each week with some kind of “odd or threatening behavior.”
Never underestimate the winters here.
Especially if you’re going to be enjoying the nightlife, the alcohol haze can give you a false sense of being warm when frostbite is settling in.
Sometimes it just takes 5-10 minutes to get frostbitten.
Signs include numbness, skin discoloration, tingling in fingers, and pain.
Never use hot water to warm up cold hands.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Bozeman
- Bozeman has its own police department, and you can find it on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using @bozemanplolice.
- Download the Safe Cats app if you’re going to be visiting or staying on campus. It offers a slew of safety features, including real-time tracking in the Friend Walk feature, the number to call for a security escort, and a simple way to report a crime or offer a crime tip.
- Bozeman Police have a call log dashboard that looks like the same format as the COVID dashboards we’ve been using. You’ll get the most updated information about calls for help from the previous day, two days, week, or month. The results are displayed on an interactive map.
- The police department also issues quarterly crime reports, which is a standout feature compared to hundreds of other departments I’ve reviewed.
- The city’s website offers a bike route map, which shows all the places where bike lanes or paths have been built. As the city is growing, this map will change with time. Bicycles are a popular way to get around, but always lock your bike each time you park.
- Bozeman has a dedicated phone line to report potholes, and your call could help keep an eye on these dangerous road problems. The number is (406)582-3208. Don’t assume someone else has already reported it. This city wasn’t designed to get the influx of cars, and the winters take a toll on the roads. Every little bit helps.
- Read the Bozeman Guide to Winter Parking on the city’s website to find out if and when you need to move your car. In the spirit of the utmost safety, always move a car off the road, even if you’re in a permitted spot. The clearer the streets are from cars, the better the snow plows can get around.
- Look at the Gallatin County Risks in the emergency management website section to see the latest and most prominent natural disaster risks in the region. While you’re there, go to the Gallatin Community Notification System Toolbox to sign up for emergency alerts.
- Use the Incidweb website to track wildfires burning in Montana and across the west. It’s important to know if a wildfire is burning nearby, but even far away wildfires can cause air quality issues in Bozeman. If you’re heading to Yellowstone from Bozeman, you can also check routes along the way.
- Bozeman has one request to all visitors—Be Good to Bozeman. That’s an initiative for anyone who sets foot in the town to respect the community, the history, the wildlife, and the way of life. You should review the 11 ways you can Be Good to Bozeman, as it will help everyone have a safer and better experience. You can also pick up a visitor volunteer packet when you get to town.
So... How Safe Is Bozeman Really?
Bozeman consistently ranks as one of the safest communities in the state, and that’s with the escalated population growth.
Violent crime rates are 20% lower than the national average, and nearly half of all those crimes happen in private homes.
26% of violent crimes happened against a stranger in 2021.
Two shootings have been reported in the parking lot of the local Walmart between the summer of 2022 and the end of the year, which doesn’t make it a dangerous spot but just something to know and make your own decision.
Bozeman had twice as many thefts in 2010 than it did in 2021, and there were 16,000 more people living there.
So as the population went up, theft went down.
It’s now comfortably below the national average.
Across Montana, one thing that can be avoided is the drug problem.
New data in March 2023 shows fentanyl seizures are up 11,000% (not a typo) since 2019.
“This is happening in Montana.
This stuff is here.
This is not a Los Angeles problem.
This is not a big city problem.
This is not a New York problem.
This is happening right here in Montana,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said.
Speaking of drugs, the date rape drug is showing up in too many headlines, and that’s on top of a sexual assault rate three times the national average and a stack of unprosecuted rape cases at the Gallatin County Attorney’s Office dating back to 2008.
This is not a place where you should let your guard (or drink) down and don’t trust anyone you don’t know.
Stay in groups and never leave anyone behind.
If you suspect someone has been drugged, notify the police immediately.
Bozeman is also a victim of its success in some ways, as the increase in population has caused housing prices and cost of living rates to soar.
Homelessness has increased by 35% since 2019, and many of those people actually have full-time jobs.
It’s just that the salary increases didn’t happen when the cost of housing went up so quickly.
With a 2% vacancy rate in Bozeman, there aren’t a lot of choices.
Overall, Bozeman is a great place to visit and remains one of the safest, but you needed to know the blemishes to have the safest experience possible.
How Does Bozeman Compare?
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- Visas - International visitors need a passport and visa or visa waiver to enter the country, and that's the same if you cross the border or fly into Montana. The passport can't be within six months of expiring, and compare that date to your departure back home, so you don't have travel troubles on the back end.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Montana State University recommends using First Security Bank, but whoever you choose, don't use an ATM for safety and security. In fact, your home bank will offer the best value and lowest fees.
- Weather - Even in the hottest part of summer, the lows will be in the 40s, so you'll want warm layers throughout the year. Winters can be windy and bitterly cold, so pack a lot of options and layer appropriately to pull sweat away and keep your body warm. Winter accessories are a must for your hands and your head. Winter or hiking boots will help a lot.
- Airports - Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is just 11 miles northwest of the city, with plenty of flights to major hubs across the country.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great idea to keep your travel investment protected against sudden storms, delays, or emergencies.
Bozeman Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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