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
Carson City, the capital city of Nevada, is a charming and historic town nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
The city offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and outdoor adventures that make it a popular destination, especially as an addition to a trip to Reno or Lake Tahoe.
The city’s location is in the heart of Washoe Valley, with mountains building in each direction.
None is more impressive than the western edge that leads to the shores of Tahoe.
Whether you want to hike, get a history lesson, or hear ghost stories, it’s all available in Carson City as a great pivot point to other Nevada towns and attractions.
Carson City’s elevation spans from 4,700 feet on the valley floor to the 9,300-foot mountaintop of Snow Peak.
Carson City gets 266 days of sunshine each year.
Even though part of the movie Misery was filmed in Carson City, there’s nothing miserable about this town if you know what to look for and all the best safety advice.
Let’s dive into the Wild West town of Carson City.
Warnings & Dangers in Carson City
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here, but it feels like much more of a working town and a tourist town at first glance. It has a more "old school" vibe compared to Reno, but it's not nearly as Western-focused as the towns on the I-80 Cowboy Corridor.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Jump Around Carson (JAC) is the creative name of the public transportation system here. You can easily find taxis and rideshares. For the best opportunities to explore the region and Lake Tahoe, get a rental car. All options have a low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
From 2017 through 2021, about eight pickpockets or purse snatchings happened a year. That's a low risk, but still, one worth taking necessary steps to limit what you carry and keep your purse or wallet as concealed as possible.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
For as many sunshine-filled days as Northern Nevada gets, there are some medium-risk concerns to watch out for. As Carson City is in a valley, it can be hit hard by melting snow from the mountains. One look at social media sites in early 2023 can show you how intense it can be. Wildfires are another big risk here, and there's no official wildfire season. It can happen any time of year. The Washoe Zephyr is a wind that blows down off the mountains in summer afternoons and can range from annoying to intense. Even Mark Twain wrote about the zephyr winds, stating, "it is by no means a trifling matter.”
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Since 2011, no more than 20 robberies have happened in a year, which makes it - at worst - half the national average. That's a low risk, but not low enough to ever let your guard down.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, but with the state capital and political feuds, it's always worth staying vigilant and reporting suspicious activity.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Scams here are largely focused on locals, but the general guidance is to avoid any deal that seems too good to be true. Don't give in to pressure from panhandlers, and never wire money to secure a rental reservation.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This is another low risk, but it's worth keeping aware of your surroundings at all times. I've spent many days in Carson City for work or play as a single woman, and I've never felt uncomfortable. It does feel a little outdated in some places, but that's not a reason to be suspicious. It's just part of the "charm."
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Carson City Public Works posts regular updates about water quality testing and updates on any concerning levels of a potential contaminant. The only violation in 2022 was for manganese levels, and the report explains what the concern is and why it was a "secondary" violation.
Safest Places to Visit in Carson City
Visit Carson City is the name of the official tourism site, and offers a handheld tourism guide through the MOPO app.
You can also download the full or pocket-sized visitor’s guide without giving any personal information.
As a former Nevadan, I can tell you the Nevada State Museum will open your eyes to just how important this state was to America’s history, even before it became a state.
From pre-historic artifacts to railroads to mining to tourism, this interactive and immersive experience tells the tale of the Battle Born state going back millions of years.
Tours of the Nevada State Capitol Building are available, with more history lessons to be learned.
The government still runs out of the building first erected in 1870.
Trailblazing Nevada is the name of the museum in Battle Born Hall, which is free to guests and includes stories of those who paved the way for the Nevada we love today.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum is a fascinating place to visit for railroad and history.
The museum has exhibits about the history of railroads in Nevada, including historic locomotives, passenger cars, and other artifacts.
Visitors can take a train ride on one of the museum’s restored trains.
You can’t have a city this old without some ghoulish ghost stories.
From June through October, the Carson City Ghost Tours offer family-friendly guided walks through the most haunted parts of town.
The Stewart Indian School is a unique and fascinating cultural center that showcases the history and culture of the Great Basin tribes.
The former Native American boarding school has been turned into a cultural center, with exhibits about the school’s history and the culture of the Great Basin tribes.
If you follow the old Kit Carson trail, Until desert meets the hills,
Oh, you certainly will agree with me, It’s the land of a thousand thrills.
– “Home Means Nevada”, Official State Song
As a Battle Born Nevadan at heart, I can’t stop singing “Home Means Nevada” as I write this.
The aforementioned Kit Carson Trail is a 2.5-mile historic walk through town.
There are 50 landmarks, stunning homes, and fascinating stories along the way.
You can download the self-guided audio tour or choose to have a docent-led tour.
There are eight casinos in Carson City, and it’s worth noting that most local bars and grocery stores will have slot machines or video poker machines inside.
Art lovers should check out the Cultural Assets Map on the tourism website to find all the art displays, museums, and attractions around town.
If you’re trying to plan a trip around a festival, check out the Mark Twain Days held each spring.
Carson City is where Samuel Clemens wrote his first literary works under the pen name Mark Twain.
Several Lake Tahoe beaches and trails officially have a Carson City address, even though they are on the other side of the mountain.
I would urge anyone visiting here for the first time to at least take a quick trip over the pass to see Lake Tahoe.
It’s just breathtaking.
Places to Avoid in Carson City
Carson City has pockets of neighborhoods that might have more crime, but considering fewer than 7% of strangers are a victim of violent crime, there’s not really a reason to avoid a neighborhood.
Some people are surprised to find that Carson City has gangs, including a shooting that led to the arrest of 10 teenagers and young adults.
Others claim they aren’t “real gangs” since it’s not as prominent as in places like Los Angeles or Las Vegas.
Gang crime is still something to avoid, no matter what.
Carson City considers the 200 mule deer that live here part of the community, yet these animals can and will jump out in front of a car or even sometimes use a crosswalk.
Always be aware of the surrounding wildlife.
I once got stuck for 20 minutes waiting for a group of wild horses to finish eating grass while their rare ends rested on the roadway.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Carson City
- The Carson City Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement here. They have a Facebook page under that same name. Even though it’s a city, it’s run as a city-county government, which is why there isn’t a police department.
- Sign up for CodeRED notifications on the city’s website. This will get you alerts about severe weather in the area and other safety risks. You can also opt into e-notifications from the city and customize what alerts you want, like road conditions, transportation, or events.
- In addition to bears and wild horses, mule deer live in this area and can be spotted on streets and in the city year-round. Never feed wildlife, and take steps to protect your food. Bearproof containers are the best option.
- There are two types of wildland fires here. Some are controlled burns, meant to protect the habitat from a larger fire. Others are natural or man-made fires that get out of control. The emergency alerts will let you know when a controlled burn is happening, but Inciweb will have the latest fire conditions from those on the scene.
- Any casino visitor can ask for a security escort to their car free of charge. This is especially helpful if you’ve won a jackpot, as processing and payment are made right on the casino floor. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
- October 31 is Nevada’s birthday, and it’s a big event in Carson City. It’s celebrated on the last Friday in October. That whole weekend, there will be parades and celebrations that will lead to many roads being shut down. Hotels will likely be full. Book as early as you can.
- Before you head up the mountain in winter, check for chain restrictions on Mount Rose Highway, Kingsbury Grade, or Spooner Summit. You won’t be allowed up the mountain without chains. If you don’t know how to put them on, workers will be available at the base of the mountain to help, but they will charge you a fee.
- Follow @CarsonCityGovernment on social media to get updates on the community, like water main repairs, flooding, or street closures.
- Go through the Nevada Department of Wildlife if you want to get a hunting or fishing license. The hunting license will require additional education, but the fishing license is easy to get.
- Some of the lands around Carson City are tribal lands, and law enforcement defaults to tribal police. You can learn more about the locations of tribal land through the Nevada Indian Territory website.
So... How Safe Is Carson City Really?
The violent crime rate in Carson City is up 41% since 2011, but in that time, the size and population of the city increased.
Some of that percentage is to be expected.
About one car a week is stolen in Carson City, but over a five-year period between 2017 and 2021, 31% of all thefts were related to car break-ins or accessory thefts.
Catalytic converters are usually the top stolen car accessory since they have a good resale value on the black market.
Retail theft is a big problem in Carson City, following a nationwide trend.
While it seems that’s nothing to be concerned about, the Carson City Sheriff has a warning for anyone thinking of stepping in when they see shoplifting happen.
“Every case is a potential for turning into a disaster right there on the spot,” says Sheriff Ken Furlong.
He added that the most recent cases can’t even be blamed on tourists.
Local residents are causing the problem.
You also have the wildlife education needed here, like how to handle wild horses and bear sightings.
The mountain roads to the west are winding and narrow at times, requiring extra focus on the road and knowledge of current road conditions.
Overall, Carson City is a wonderful mix of nature, history, and politics, with Lake Tahoe right next door.
How Does Carson City Compare?
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- Visas - Anyone traveling from outside the U.S. will need a passport and visa or visa waiver to get through Customs and Border Patrol at the airport. There are various visas for America, including work, education, and tourism. Getting a tourism visa takes the longest, so don't delay.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar is accepted here. Find a currency exchange outside a casino to get lower rates, but you'll get the best value at your home bank. All casinos will require cash to be put in slot machines, on table games, or exchanged for chips at the casino cage. Tipping is appreciated here, so keep some extra one- and five-dollar bills for that.
- Weather - You get four distinct seasons here, but winter weather and temperatures can start as early as September and last into late spring. Bring layers of clothing, and even cowboy boots and hats are often seen here. You'll need good hiking boots that are already worn in to enjoy the trails. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats will help keep the sun out of your eyes and from damaging your skin.
- Airports - Reno Tahoe International Airport is just 30 minutes north, with an easy highway drive to get there.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance makes sense with so much winter weather and wildfire concerns that can cause delays, cancelations, and road closures.
Carson City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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