Idaho : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Idaho - state review
Tucked in the panhandle of northern Idaho, Coeur d’Alene sits on a beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains in an area with a lot to do but doesn’t feel too “touristy”.
Pronounced “Core Dee-lane”, this city is named after the Native American tribe that once inhabited the area and still has a reservation south of the area.
Northern Idaho is a series of beautiful cities with small-town charm up and down every highway you find.
There’s an abundance of activities any time of year, from world-class skiing to some of the best lake water you can find for boating and swimming.
The city is only 30 minutes from the larger Spokane, Washington, to the west, and Missoula, Montana is two and half hours southeast.
You’re in a mountain oasis here with friendly locals and tourists from all over the world.
You’ve got the Coeur d’Alene mountains on the east and Lake Couer d’Alene on the south side of the city.
Oh, and did I mention the casino?
You don’t even have to pick between Idaho or Las Vegas with the casino action here.
When researching the city, you’ll find references to CDA, which is how many locals refer to it in writing or verbally.
Warnings & Dangers in Coeur d’Alene
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk in Coeur d'Alene, especially when you consider the sheer amount of things to do. We'll go through some of the risks, but there's nothing that would stop you from booking a trip today.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There are local rides offered on-demand by Citylink. You can call 1-877-941-RIDE to get more information. It is especially helpful to get to the casino, which is outside of CDA. Taxis are also available. It really helps to have your own car here and rental cars are available. All options are low-risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with no pickpockets reported in 2020. I've lived in this area before and explored it extensively. The only concern I would caution is that you end up carrying more than you want because of all the outdoor activities and it's easy to set down a bag and get in the water or leave a purse on the ground at the casino. You really have to be diligent here to not be an easy target.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with wildfires being the biggest concern. There are going to be major winter storms every year, but that's just part of this area and not a disaster in itself. Up in the mountains, there will be avalanche risks if you go off the beaten path. Any wildfire burning nearby will elevate the risk to medium or high.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's low risk with just eight robberies reported in 2020 and only one was in a public place. You can feel safe from the risk here, but at night it's always smart to stay in well-lit areas and don't wander down streets or into unknown parts of town.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk in this part of Idaho. Some white supremacist groups in the area don't really hide their personal opinions or goals. This also isn't too far from the Ruby Ridge standoff in the early 90s either. If there is any terror risk here, it's domestic terrorist groups.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of being scammed, but always be wary of rental scams if you aren't booking through a hotel website. Make sure any condo or rental home is being advertised with the permission of the owner and has a rental license. Never wire cash ahead of time to reserve a rental home.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
The only thing that really stands out to me in the crime numbers is the high rate of sexual assaults. There were 66 in 2020 and that's the highest number in a decade. It's also four times the national average. Due to this factor alone, I have to call it a medium risk just to make women painfully aware of this ongoing crime and take all steps to stay safe while visiting.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
As of the latest annual water quality report in 2020, the city has no issues with tap water and it meets or exceeds all requirements. You can call (208)769-1422 for more information.
Safest Places to Visit in Coeur d’Alene
There is just so much to do in Coeur d’Alene and the surrounding area that it’s hard to sum it all up in one article.
We’ll break it down by activity location.
On Lake Coeur d’Alene you can rent a boat, go fishing, or take a boat cruise.
There are SUPs and kayaks for rent and plenty of nestled locations along the shoreline to get away from the crowds.
Just be sure to avoid private property along the lake.
Sanders Beach is a popular spot for sunbathing and swimming.
It’s also walkable from downtown.
Other outdoor indulgences include rafting down a river with trips that run for a few hours or a couple of days.
You can ski at one of a handful of resorts like Schweitzer and Mt Spokane to the north and Lookout Pass to the east.
In Downtown CDA you can walk around the cute shops and restaurants or take a stroll by the water on Front Street.
There’s also a carousel and park near the water.
The restaurants there range from quick burgers to fancy steak dinners.
The Coeur d’Alene resort generally has entertainment booked throughout the year and there’s a really cool boat ride of Christmas lights in December.
The Coeur d’Alene Casino is about 30 minutes south of the city in its own remote area on the Indian Reservation.
There is a hotel, plenty of restaurants, and slot/table games.
For those who prefer a game of golf, you have plenty of public golf courses all over the region and surrounding region.
Places to Avoid in Coeur d’Alene
What’s really interesting about CDA is the highest crime rates are not in the busy downtown area or along the water.
It’s just north of that area.
Harrison Avenue to Katheeln Avenue from north to south and Government Way and Ramsey Road form the east and west boundaries from the higher crime areas.
That said, there isn’t a bad part of town to avoid.
There just are some areas that might be sketchy.
The neighborhoods around the area aren’t well lit, so it can feel ominous driving down some of the streets at night.
This isn’t a very diverse area with 86% of the population being Caucasian.
There is a healthy Native American influence on the area, but other than that you won’t find a lot of multi-cultural events.
Speaking of events, this was my one pet peeve about CDA when I lived there.
If the marathon is happening, or it’s Ironman weekend, or any other BIG event, the whole city shuts down.
Parking is hard to find and once you’re at the event you are stuck there unless you want to sit in traffic or go the long way around.
Check the event calendar during your visit to see if there’s a big event happening the weekend you plan to visit.
Don’t ask the average person about white supremacists in the area.
Everyone knows there are very few people who are involved with those types of organizations and it doesn’t reflect Idahoans as a whole.
Also, don’t ask where the potatoes are.
That annoys people in Idaho too.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Coeur d’Alene
- If you want to go hunting or fishing you need to contact Idaho Fish and Game to get a license. Your home license won’t do. This goes for 14 years and older. Many other states might start licenses at 16, but here it’s a younger start age because just about everyone wants to fish.
- If you are bicycling while visiting here, it’s strongly advised to wear a helmet unless you are under 18. Then it’s required by law. Any child not wearing a helmet will find their parents face the penalty for the infraction, so talk to your children about helmet safety.
- When walking around the CDA area, keep your wallet in the front pocket instead of the back one to avoid tempting pickpocketers. You can also put it inside a coat in the winter. Women should consider putting their purse strap over their arm or body before putting on the coat too, making it hard to snatch a purse.
- I saw more hitchhikers on this stretch of I-15 than in any other state that I’ve lived in, and I’ve lived in 10. It should go without saying, but don’t pick up hitchhikers here.
- If you are visiting here in the winter in a car, load up on safety equipment. Even when you aren’t in the mountains this is a very hilly area. You should have chains for your tires, an AWD or 4WD vehicle, extra water/blankets in the car in case of a breakdown or traffic delay, and extra windshield wiper fluid. Bringing strips of carpet is also a good idea to help give traction if you get stuck in a snowbank.
- Check out the CDA Crime Maps on the police department’s website before you visit. The recovery from the pandemic has impacted a lot and that means places of higher or lower crime could change easily. The interactive map allows you to search by certain dates, types of crime, and distance from a location.
- There isn’t a commercial airline in Coeur d’Alene, so you’ll be driving to Spokane for a flight most likely. Be sure you monitor winter weather and if a storm is approaching, go to Spokane early and avoid being stuck on the freeway in a storm. The same goes for wildfire season.
- Sign up for Alert Kootenai notification of weather, traffic, crime, and civil emergencies. This is from the Sheriff’s Department of Kootenai (“Coot-in-ay”) County.
- If a taxi cab comes to your home rental or hotel room and says you called for a cab, but you didn’t, do NOT take a ride (even if you want one). This is part of a brand new scam reported by the CDA Police. There are a variety of ways this goes, but the overall message is only to get in a cab you actually called.
- A large land area in this region, including the CDA Casino, is on Tribal land. Tribal lands have their own law enforcement. Any crimes reported on that land should go to Tribal Police at (208)686-2099. When there’s an emergency, you should still call 911 no matter where you are.
So... How Safe Is Coeur d’Alene Really?
The areas where tourists are encouraged and excited to visit are relatively safe.
Many of the crimes that happen in this area are domestic in nature.
Here’s how the risk breaks down by the numbers:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 261
- Rape: 1 in 827
- Robbery: 1 in 6828
- Theft: 1 in 78
Looking a bit closer at those numbers I can tell you 40% of the thefts were car break-ins, so be extra cautious about locking the car, rolling up windows, and leaving nothing in plain sight.
That goes for even at the ski resorts.
66% of the violent crimes happened in private homes.
19% of the crimes were against strangers.
That means locals are more likely to be involved in a violent crime than a tourist.
There are natural hazards as well like the wildlife in the area.
You can see bears, moose, wolves, and a plethora of other animals.
Most people are surprised at how dangerous a moose can be.
If you ever see a moose with head down and ears back it means:
- You are way too close and
- That moose is going to charge you.
They are not the docile creatures you think they are.
How Does Coeur d’Alene Compare?
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- Visas - You only need a Visa when you are about to leave the airport and arrive on American soil. You should plan to start the Visa process at least six months out. You can't get through Border Patrol or Homeland Security without it.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar is used here and many of the attractions like boat rentals and skiing can be purchased in advance. Unless you are heading to the casino, there's little need for cash here.
- Weather - Plan for extreme weather in all seasons and weather conditions changing the higher in elevation you go. It might not be snowing in downtown CDA but dumping snow at inches per hour in the mountains. In the summer it's a dry heat, but the sun is up until almost 10 pm so you have long days of sunlight at a higher elevation that require sunscreen if you don't want a deep burn.
- Airports - You really only have the choice of buying/renting a private plane to land in CDA or going to Spokane. There's really only the Spokane airport option unless you want to drive five hours to Seattle (over a major mountain pass) or seven hours south to Boise. You can do the two-hour drive to Missoula, but Spokane's airport is bigger.
- Travel Insurance - Get travel insurance that covers flight delays, lost baggage, and extreme weather if you can. It will help you rest easy knowing your fun trip to CDA is protected.
Coeur d’Alene Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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