Nebraska : Safety by City
- Grand Island
- La Vista
- Nebraska City
- North Platte
- South Sioux City
In a small corner of rural northwest Nebraska sits the small town of Chadron.
You have to zoom in really close on the map to find it, but once you do find it, treasures await.
This is as much cowboy country as it is a historic fur trading stop with outdoor wonders that boggle the mind for those who assume all of Nebraska is flat.
It’s in an area of Dawes County known as the Pine Ridge region, south of the Black Hills and west of the Sandhills.
You can explore the Nebraska National Forest, Pine Ridge National Recreation Area, and Chadron State Park.
South Dakota and Wyoming are just a short distance away.
You’ll also find tribal lands here, as vast expanses of the region are dedicated to preserving and supporting the Indigenous People.
Tribes have their own laws and law enforcement but work in tandem with local, state, and federal law enforcement officials often.
Chadron State College brings some culture and vitality to the community, offering its own tourist attractions and experiences that don’t required leave the city limits.
Visitors will find a handful of hotels here, but by far the most options compared to any city within 50–100 miles in each direction.
There are more campsites than hotel rooms, but that’s what most people are looking for when they visit this unique region.
Warnings & Dangers in Chadron
OVERALL RISK : LOW
The risk is low, but the town itself doesn't offer a lot of amenities outside the standard restaurants and grocery stores. You'll venture outside the city limits to get the real feel of the region. You'll need to know weather safety, wilderness smarts, and survival skills to keep the risk low.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Chadron offers a public transit system that is still and by appointment only but does go to the state park and Rapid City. There are two rental car agencies in town, which we'd recommend using to get maximum enjoyment.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The risk is low, but there was one reported in 2021. The theft rating is 450% lower than it was in 2013, so the low risk keeps getting lower
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
You should plan for any season in all seasons, with the only exception being no snow in winter. However, snow can last into late spring. The Plains get a wide mix of weather, from dangerous storms that spawn tornadoes to winter blizzards that shut down all roads. Wildfires and dangerous winds are common when certain conditions are present. Flooding, drought, and extreme temperatures are also possible. Don't take the weather risk lightly here.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The city has seen anywhere from zero to two robberies a year going back a decade, so this is a low risk. One of the biggest headlines from 2022 was an armed robbery of a store where the suspects got away with cash, cigarettes, and booze.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
This is another low risk as it's just such a rural region. While America deals with a gun crime crisis, you can't rule out the risk of a mass shooting incident, but even that's a low risk in such a small town.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The risk is low for a tourist as most scams reported here target trusting residents. It would be helpful if you spot a scam during your research or visit to report it to the Chadron Police Department.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Here's another low risk, with most crimes involving women being domestic in nature. It's a dusty, remote town, which can either be appealing or appalling, so if you want something a little more "on the map," check out options like North Platte or Scottsbluff.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Chadron has an extensive list of documents that explain the groundwater and private well processes for getting clean water to residents and guests. The risk is low, but you should review the conservation and testing results before your visit to get the latest information.
Safest Places to Visit in Chadron
Visit Nebraska is the state tourism website with a section on Chadron.
While you’re there, look at the cities of Crawford, Gordon, Alliance, Mitchell, and Gering, which are all small towns “nearby” (as nearby as things get in rural Nebraska).
The Nebraska Outdoors website and app are great for learning about the state parks, and the Chamber of Commerce for Chadron has a website with more hyper-local tourism info.
Once you’re in Chadron, there’s a visitor’s center to give you updated safety and attraction details.
You can also visit DiscoverWNebraska.com to get information about Dawes County.
In small towns, I always recommend starting with the history museums to figure out why a city or country was so important.
I especially like museums, such as the Dawes County Historical Museum, that are more than four walls and artifacts.
This is a small town with historic buildings and people in period costumes guiding you through or answering questions.
The Museum of Fur Trade is another must-see, with one of the popular sod houses that once filled this erratic range to protect from wildlife and elements with an Indian Heirloom Garden.
More than 6,000 artifacts, including authentic furs, are on display.
Fur Trade Days are held each July as a community-wide festival.
NOTE: The museum states on its website that it is “sitting on the route to Yellowstone National Park.”
That might be true, but Yellowstone is another 630 miles away.
Several state and national parks are nearby, including:
- Chadron State Park
- Nebraska National Forest
- Fort Robinson State Park
- Oglala National Grassland
- Wind Cave National Park (one hour north in South Dakota with cave tours year-round)
Download a walking tour of Historic Chadron to learn the history of the city, and don’t miss the glossary on the map, as it helps understand the different aspects of architecture throughout the decades.
You’ll also pass by some great Instagram moments in the Chadron Art Alley.
Places to Avoid in Chadron
While the town has no dangerous neighborhoods, you should always respect private property in populated and rural areas.
Nebraskans are nice people, but they don’t like trespassing, as the crops, equipment, and animals on their farm are as important as your laptop and work files (or whatever is critical to your career).
As much as you can, try to eat, shop, and get groceries at local establishments.
These small towns feed off the tourists, which have been hit or miss since the pandemic.
When you spend money at a local business, you help the economy and get some of the most expert advice for your next adventure stop.
It’s well-known in Nebraska that the best cut of meat is medium-rare, and if you order one more well-done, you’ll get silently (or even publicly) judged.
They’ll still cook the meat any way you like, but you might be a talking-to about how much better a medium well steak tastes and the long (slow-talking) list of reasons why.
Take it from me as I got scolded for ordering a medium steak in North Platte.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Chadron
- Chadron does have its own police department, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find updated information on social media. The only pages I’ve found involve dogs up for adoption and just had a few posts. You can call the department to ask any specific questions at (308)432-0510. The department’s website also has a list of contacts you can email.
- Dawes County does have a social media page on Facebook @dawescounty which does include some information for Chadron.
- You can get local news from Nebraska News Channel, which covers the entire state. Download the news app to stay up-to-date on safety and crime information during your visits. The website will also include local events.
- Sign up for CodeRED emergency alerts to get information about severe weather as it approaches. You can never trust the beautiful blue skies of Nebraska, as storms can quickly form. Don’t assume spring means winter is over, either. In early April 2023, Chadron was hit by a snowstorm that dropped 18 inches of snow!
- The city also has an alerts section on its website that is more focused on road closures, parking bans, and street issues. This is really important during winter since snow emergencies mean street parking is banned, and you could get towed.
- Download the 511 Nebraska app to check road conditions during your visit. I use this app almost daily. You can see live cameras, snow plow cameras, road conditions, traffic accidents, and construction zones in each region.
- The city’s website also has a community guide that is geared toward current and new residents but has a bunch of great information for visitors as well.
- Camping, fishing, and hunting generally require a reservation (for camping) and a license (for the other two). All that information is available on the Nebraska Outdoors website and app. Don’t try to do any of those activities on the sly.
- Use the Nebraska Wildfire Risk website to check conditions during your visit. Some places might be more likely than others to be impacted by a wildfire, which can start from something as simple as a cigarette tossed out a car window.
- Don’t miss the opportunities at the college, and the public is welcome to visit certain places. You don’t need approval to be on campus. The Elanor Barbour Cook Museum, Dr. Louis Veath Planetarium, and Nebraska’s largest Herbarium are located here.
So... How Safe Is Chadron Really?
Chadron is a place where so little crime happens that it’s hard even to find news reports about it unless it’s a sensational headline.
In 2021, the first murder in 12 years happened in Chadron as the result of a domestic dispute.
With little presence on social media, few news outlets covering the day-to-day crime, and the remote nature of the town, it’s hard to get a real sense of safety here.
The crime rates tell a very safe story, which is better than hyperbole and exaggerations anyway.
Even in a community where crime rates figured out to “per 100,000,” as comparison charts require, this is still a safe town.
Both violent crime and thefts are half the national average.
The police chief does offer this statement on its website, “The working relationship between our department and the community is the strongest it ever has been and continues to grow stronger every year.
A good relationship with the community is imperative for public safety.
It is the most effective way to stop crime now and to prevent it in the future.”
As long as you stay weather aware, have proper supplies in your car for rural road adventures, use common sense, and have a way to receive emergency alerts, you’ll find Chadron a very safe place to visit.
How Does Chadron Compare?
- Visas - All international guests have the same requirements regardless of what part of the country they plan to visit. A visa or visa waiver paired with a passport will be asked for at Customs when you arrive in the country. You can cross state lines in America without having to go through another checkpoint.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted. Keep a hidden stash of cash for places that don't accept credit cards but only carry about $40 on you at all times. Exchange your currency before you get here, as this small town is unlikely to have that service.
- Weather - You should plan for any season in all seasons, with layers of clothing. Wear comfortable but rugged shoes with ankle protection. Winter layers will be necessary, and summers can be extremely hot, so sunscreen and light, loose fabrics are helpful.
- Airports - Chadron's airport has a flight to Denver through Southern Airways Express. Rapid City's regional airport is the closest traditional commercial option, and that's two hours on the road. You can get to the North Platte airport in less than four hours. If you insist on a major airport, Denver is about five hours away, but don't attempt that route during a winter storm.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance becomes so important in rural places where severe or winter weather can cancel flights and close highways. There's also a risk of being stuck for a few extra days. If you don't have health insurance in the United States, get a supplemental plan in case of an accident.
Chadron Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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