Idaho : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Idaho - state review
Caldwell, Idaho is a fast-growing city about 30 minutes west of Boise that is still holding on to its rural charm while dealing with its own growing pains.
This area is known as the Treasure Valley.
60,000 people now call Caldwell home and that’s up 23% in just the past decade.
While it’s a suburb of the bigger Boise, it still has plenty of amenities to keep tourists busy in the Caldwell city limits and surrounding wilderness areas to the north and west.
Idaho as a whole has been experiencing a “Californication”, where people from California move to enjoy lower taxes and better scenery while working from home.
You might find prices are higher there than you’d expect because of this.
Caldwell gets a bad reputation for being crime, drug, and gang-ridden.
While there were definitely some moments in the city’s history that validate part of that claim, the latest crime numbers are rather intriguing to a data nerd like me.
The 2020 crime numbers were all over the place compared to the trends of the previous five years.
Some went way up while others went way down.
Warnings & Dangers in Caldwell
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk, and I've got good data to back up that it's not the crime-ridden wild West of Idaho. In fact, even the higher crime rates of the past five years are still below the national average. It might not be the fanciest town and it might have its fair share of crime, but nothing that should stop anyone from visiting.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
There's no public transportation like a bus system. You can get a rideshare or taxi, but maybe not as on-demand as you'd like. Having a car is almost a must here. There's a medium risk when driving because this growing area wasn't ready for the influx of people and it can take up to an hour to get to Boise during the rush hour. Caldwell is also ranked as one of the meanest cities for drivers, according to an AAA study. Even as I write this, there was a man killed in a road rage incident in Caldwell just last week. Be careful on the roads here and stay calm.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were just two purse snatching reported in 2020 but get this - each was a loss value of nearly $1500. This is the reason we strongly urge you to never carry around valuables in your purse or wallet. Only bring one credit card and your ID. Caldwell residents don't care about fancy name-brand purses either. Pack light and unluxurious when visiting here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
The risk of natural disasters in Caldwell is very low.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of being mugged. There were just five robberies in 2020 and that's even higher than the year before, a non-pandemic year. On average since 2011, there are no more than 11 robberies a year here. Just one of the robberies in 2020 was in a public place.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Canyon County Emergency Management identifies the following as hazard risks in this area; dam failure, drought, earthquakes, floods, landslides, severe/extreme weather, and wildfires. You're going to get a little bit of a risk from everything in Caldwell. While on an average day there's a low risk, it's good to plan ahead for the big events that are more likely to happen, like winter storms, extreme heat, and wildfires.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of a tourist being scammed here. The biggest scams reported are phone call spoofing scams and fraud at stores where customers steal stuff.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The sexual assault rate is lower than the national average, with 11 assaults reported in 2020. There's not really a risk that is greater for women, but this is a rural area with a lot of rugged lifestyles. I'm a girly girl and I'd probably tone it down if I visited Caldwell, but that would only make me more likely to get weird looks, not make me any less safe.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The superintendent of the Caldwell water utility wrote, "I'm pleased to report that our drinking water is safe and meets federal and state requirements" as an introduction to the annual water quality report. Feel free to use the water with low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Caldwell
Caldwell kinda feels like a summer (winter, spring, fall) camp for adults or families.
There’s a lot to do outdoors here, probably more than you can fit into a weeklong vacation, but there are also indoor attractions as well.
Some of you might be surprised this is a pretty great wine country.
Places like Hells Canyon Winery and Ste. Capelle are kept busy year-round with visitors and nobody complains that the wine isn’t as good as Napa.
You can get stunning views of the mountains or the Snake River from most wineries.
Some places do recommend or require reservations, so plan ahead.
The Terrance Drive-In Theatre is an old-school way to have a romantic date night or a family night.
You can even bring your dog as long as it is on a leash.
Adult tickets are $10 and children are $3.
They don’t charge by car, only by the number of people.
A drive through the Sgteunenberg Residential Historic District is a great way to see more than 300 historical homes and one of the largest historic neighborhoods in Idaho.
The Van Slyke Agricultural Museum is a blast from the past dating back to Civil War buildings and artifacts through the agricultural birth and boom of Idaho.
You can even learn a lot about train history here and how food was kept cold before refrigeration was invented.
Lake Lowell Park is nearby in Nampa and the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge is right next door.
Between the two, you can hunt, fish, boat, hike, see wildlife, picnic, and just about anything else you can legally think of outdoors.
Placess to Avoid in Caldwell
Crime maps show the area south of I-84 south to Linden has the highest crime rate, but that’s also one of the busiest parts of the city.
In general, you’re going to find more crime along interstates and downtown areas in most cities.
You want to avoid looking downtown for a parking garage because there isn’t one.
The city struggles with not having enough street parking for events, so people end up walking a long distance to get downtown.
That’s just one of the growing pains in Caldwell.
Whatever you do, don’t talk about how much better things are “back home.”
Especially if “back home” is California.
While Idahoans are friendly, they don’t want anyone coming to the state and changing their way of life.
They are done hearing about how great things are anywhere else.
This is also a very conservative area, so if you aren’t conservative, don’t start a political discussion.
Avoid trying to drive to Boise during the morning or evening rush hour, or it could take you twice as long.
Plan to travel very early in the morning or after dinnertime for a faster commute.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Caldwell
- There is a lot to keep up with as far as events in Caldwell, so download the Explore Caldwell app for free. This will get you direct access to the local attractions and you can purchase tickets through the app.
- About 30% of all thefts over the past five years in Caldwell have been from car break-ins. Especially with limited parking downtown, you should try to find a lot that has an attendant. If you can’t, park in a crowded area, so thieves are less likely to target your car.
- According to a crash report detailed report from the state of Idaho in 2019, a driver has a one in 58 chance of being involved in a car accident in Canyon County. Aggressive driving was to blame for half of the accidents. Stay calm, be patient, and keep your middle finger down. No dirty looks either, okay?
- Hunting and fishing are two popular sports in the area, but you need a license for each. You can get that online from the Idaho Department of Fish & Game. While you are there, be sure to read about the rules and regulations of each, as they might differ from the rules you are used to at home.
- If you are going into the wilderness, be sure to bring bug spray and re-apply as needed. Also, do a full-body scan when you are done to make sure you don’t have any ticks burrowed into your skin.
- For anglers, there’s a lot of fishing to be done here, but there are areas around Lake Lowell that are seasonally closed for a variety of reasons. Check the website of the park to see what is open or closed during your visit. The Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge is open year-round during daylight hours.
- You cannot use a drone on any parkland, so leave the device at home. There are stiff penalties for violating the federal law and it can also be dangerous to the wildlife in the area. You can take pictures or videos as long as it’s from a safe distance.
- There is a gang problem in Caldwell even though it seems like a place unlikely to have gangs. In 2019, 15 gang members were arrested in the city and charged with drug crimes. You can generally spot a gang area by graffiti. You should leave any area where you see that graffiti and report it to the police so they can clean it up.
- When visiting in the winter, don’t warm up your car while it’s unlocked. Not only are you setting yourself up for the car to be stolen, but it’s also against the law. It does seem like a car getting stolen is punishment enough for a bad decision, but I guess law enforcement feels differently.
- Since the start of 2021, Idaho has had a very strict distracted driving law. You cannot even hold a mobile phone in your hand while driving or face a ticket/fine. You can use voice control on a mobile device while driving and only touch it once to start or stop the voice control.
So... How Safe Is Caldwell Really?
Caldwell has seen worse days, but it’s getting better.
There was bad gang and drug activity in the early 2000s and that reputation has haunted it to this day.
However, looking at the last five years, their numbers are either steady or going down.
Caldwell was also a city whose crime statistics went all wonky in 2020 due to the pandemic.
- Violent Crime 2019: 200 incidents
- Violent Crime 2020: 99 incidents
- Theft 2019: 700 incidents
- Theft 2020: 239 incidents
2020 also brought the first two homicides since 2015.
72% of the violent crimes that happened in 2020 were in private residences, so there’s not a big risk for a tourist of that happening.
Pickpockets and purse snatching were around two incidents per year, no matter how high the theft rate and car break-ins stayed around 30% of the total number of thefts.
Caldwell is a fine place to visit, but it’s not the nicest, cleanest, or most pristine city in the Treasure Valley area.
How Does Caldwell Compare?
- Visas - You only need to show the Visa when you arrive at the airport for your final stop in the United States. After that, you'll need your passport for proof of ID.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. It's a good idea to just bring one credit card for purchases and avoid carrying cash. Let your credit card company know you'll be traveling and set spending limits per day to avoid fraud charges.
- Weather - You need to dress for extreme weather in any season. Winters will require full winter gear with layers and a thick coat, snow boots, gloves, and don't forget a hat. Summers are dry and hot. Wear light-colored clothing that can get dusty because there's a lot of wind and dust here.
- Airports - The Boise airport is less than 30 miles away but it's going to take about an hour to get there. There isn't a bigger option that's worth the drive it would take to get there. For example, the Salt Lake City airport is a five-hour drive.
- Travel Insurance - It's great to have travel insurance when visiting a place with so many adventures to help with accidents or unexpected issues along the way.
Caldwell Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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