Colorado : Safety by City
- Cañon City
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
- Grand Junction
Welcome to the snow-capped mountains and mile-high energy of Denver, Colorado.
Denver provides urban excitement with outdoor adventures just a few miles away in the Rocky Mountains.
Whether you’re using the city as a base camp for a mountain trip or staying in the city to enjoy the buzz, there’s something for everyone.
While the city of Denver is just shy of 716,000 people, the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area holds more than 3.5 million people.
If you can’t find something to do here that blows your mind, you are way too hard to please.
Denver itself is an urban core surrounded by a wide variety of suburbs.
You can find innovation, culture, creative dining, and unique shopping in the Mile-High City.
Some people think Denver is a mountain town, but those beautiful mountains that flank the west side of the city are about an hour away.
When you look east, you’ll see High Plains.
You don’t just hit the Colorado border and BOOM! there are mountains.
Be prepared for altitude change and take it slow at first to let your body acclimate.
You don’t want to waste a day with altitude sickness or need medical care.
Warnings & Dangers in Denver
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in the CITY of Denver. That doesn't hold true in the entire metro area, but Denver faces increased crime rates, with violent and property crimes nearly double the national average. It's not an unsafe place to visit, but it definitely requires good personal safety standards.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) provides public transportation via rail lines and buses. Taxis and rideshares are abundant, and you will have no trouble finding a rental car, since many people opt for their own ride to explore the mountains. Any option has a low risk, but be warned the routes along Colfax heading in and out of Aurora have seen some notable crime increases in the past few years.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There were more than 20,000 thefts in Denver in 2020, and I was shocked to see that just 61 of those were pickpockets or purse snatchings. That's technically a low risk, but I would suggest treating it as a medium risk. This is a busy urban core, and you should protect your belongings as you would in any major city.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Denver has a medium risk because of major storms that hit throughout the year. Of course, there's a lot of snow here from late fall to spring. That helps the ski resorts but can also cripple transportation during the brunt of the storm. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are also a risk from spring through late fall. I once went down the mountain into Denver when a tornado warning was issued during rush hour traffic. I had another friend at the rental car agency at the airport when a tornado struck. Wildfires are another major risk in this area throughout the year.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate is more than twice the national average, so we have to give this a medium risk. While you might not even notice this trend, it's important to realize the seriousness, because 49% of violent crimes happen against strangers.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here too. This is a major transportation and distribution hub, plus a highly dense population region. The Denver area has also seen its share of domestic terrorists in the form of mass shootings. This medium risk comes with increased security steps and protection from Homeland Security and local law enforcement.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
A tourist isn't going to be a direct target of a scam, but anyone who seems like a mark could be approached. Unfortunately, you have to avoid anyone who seems like they are being overly helpful or trying to pressure you into making a purchase.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
By the statistics, women actually have a lower risk than men of being a violent crime victim. The sexual assault rate is more than twice the national average. Use standard caution when you are drinking or walking around the city. Stick with a buddy and avoid going to a private place with someone you just met.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance with the tap water of Denver. No violations were reported either. If you are heading to the mountains, bring some bottled water with you in case of water quality issues in mountain towns.
Safest Places to Visit in Denver
Denver.org is the official tourism website, while Denvergov.org is the city’s official website.
Using the official tourism site is also ideal for cyber security.
You can avoid ending up on spoof or shady websites, especially if you want to purchase tickets ahead of time online.
There are simply too many safe and fun options in Downtown Denver, so we’ll give you more of an overview.
Denver has several different districts to explore, each bringing its own vibe.
- 16th Street Mall: At the heart of downtown, you’ll find more than a mile of places to explore, including shopping, events, and restaurants. You can start your day with a cup of coffee from a local cafe or end your day here at one of the bars. A free shuttle helps you get around this part of the city.
- Larimer Square: This is another entertainment district but notable for its rich architecture with a Victorian feel.
- LoDo Historic District: This is an extension of Larimer Square with history and unique shopping opportunities instead of name-brand stores.
- Capital Hill aka “Cap Hill”: This is the legislative core of the city, with plenty of parks nearby to soak in one of the 300 days of sunshine in Denver. TIP: Look for the Mile-High Marker on the steps of the state capital.
- Golden Triangle Creative District: This is the creative district with art on display inside, outside, and everywhere you look.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park might be the only theme park in the center of a major city.
While it’s not open year-round, you can get tickets from spring through late fall.
A family note – after 3:00 pm, no children under the age of 18 can be dropped off without an adult 21 years or older supervising.
The next time I go to Denver, I have Convergence Station on my “must-see” list.
This is an art museum with a side of psychedelic and funk.
It’s more of a science center than a museum, but the neon pathways and immersion of all senses will surely keep everyone entertained.
To me, it looks like a Neon Wonderland.
I’m happy to be Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
Shoppers should head to the Cherry Creek Shopping District, with the largest collection of stores in the Mountain West.
Spend some time acclimating to the altitude at a spa or browse Tiffany’s latest collections.
If you like tours, there are historical walking tours, beer walking tours, and brewery tours.
For the budget conscious, there are many free attractions in Denver:
- State Capital offers free tours.
- The U.S. Mint Money Museum offers free tours.
- Hammond’s Candy Factory offers free tours.
- The Original Selfie Museum does have admission prices, but all proceeds go to help Ukraine.
Places to Avoid in Denver
The key to staying in the safe(r) parts of Denver is staying in tourist areas and crowded venues.
There’s a great Denver Post Neighborhood Comparison website that shows updated rankings of neighborhoods and safety levels for violent and property crimes.
The area along Colfax heading into Aurora is a high-crime area and has seen increased crime levels in 2021 and 2022.
The Aurora Mall is one shopping place I’d recommend avoiding, especially since Denver proper has so many great shopping options.
If you are visiting from September 1 through May 31, you’ll have chain requirements on your rental vehicle.
While the rental agency should have all this information handy, you should also check to ensure they provide the equipment or if you’ll need to make an additional purchase.
Full information is available on the Colorado Department of Transportation website.
Avoid landing in Denver and heading straight to the mountains if you can because of the altitude sickness risk.
Talk to your doctor before you leave about the best ways to acclimate and keep your body hydrated while you’re there.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Denver
- Car break-ins are a big problem in Denver, with 51% of all thefts being related to car burglaries or accessory thefts. Talk to your rental agent about catalytic converter protection, and never leave your car unlocked with the windows rolled down.
- You can find out about crime trends closer to your visit by using the Denver Community Crime Map. While this map doesn’t show official crime counts, it does show all reported incidents. It’s interactive, so you can personalize the search request to get the most important information for you.
- Denver uses photo enforcement for red light runners, speeders, and those not giving the right of way to pedestrians or bicyclists. You should always assume you are on camera and use safe driving techniques.
- If you have information about a crime that isn’t urgent, you can call Crime Stoppers to provide information anonymously. That number is (720)913-7867.
- For questions about safety while visiting Denver, the police department has an information desk to call during business hours. That number is (720)913-6010.
- You have two ways to sign up for emergency notifications in Denver, and we recommend signing up for both. Reverse 911 allows you to get notifications about crimes happening near you during your visit. Wireless Emergency Alerts give you critical weather information as storms or wildfires develop.
- Denver has metered street parking with meters powered by the sun’s solar energy. You can use the PayByPhone app to avoid having to put coins into the meter and pay remotely if you’ve gone over your allotted time. Parking garages are available, and each one will have its own payment structure. Always park as close as you can to a stairway or elevator and in plain sight of a security camera.
- Denver is a walkable city, and several programs are underway to improve the pedestrian experience. You can also rent bicycles if you’d rather get around that way. Always lock your bike when you leave it, and never ride a bicycle if you have been drinking. As a pedestrian, you must always use crosswalks. Don’t cross the street in the middle of traffic, no matter how many other people are doing it.
- Practice good eco-friendly steps like recycling and collecting all your litter before you leave an area. Denver is a very environmentally conscious city.
- Marijuana is legal in Colorado, and while that might sound appealing, there are strict rules. You can’t just walk down the street using marijuana. It is only for use in private places where the landlord approves of the use and every person in the room is 21 years of age or older.
So... How Safe Is Denver Really?
Using the great tools provided by the Denver Police Department, we can see that crime across the board is up almost 10% as of October 1, 2022.
The pristine appeal of the city shouldn’t override the inherent risks you’ll find in any major city.
You shouldn’t feel unsafe visiting Denver, but you should keep situation awareness and avoid walking around at night alone.
38% of robberies happen in public spaces, while 40% of violent crime is against strangers.
There are nearly 30 car break-ins on average per day here.
Locking your car is a very simple step to keep you safe, as thieves will always go for the easiest target.
Denver also has a visible homeless problem, and business leaders are working with the city to counteract the safety concerns that can create.
“It’s that person talking to themselves …. They might not have any contact with me whatsoever, but when you walk past them or when they walk past you, it might make you feel uncomfortable.
And that’s how people feel unsafe,” Beth Moyski of the Downtown Denver Partnership, a business advocacy group, said during a panel discussion.
If severe weather is in the forecast, stick close to Denver and don’t go into the mountains.
The weather can be extreme here, and even a simple thunderstorm can ignite a wildfire.
If you look at YouTube videos of Colorado Wildfires, you’ll see just how massive they can be.
How Does Denver Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
- Visas - Travelers from outside the United States will need a Visa and a Passport to get through Customs at the airport. You might be from a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program. Check the U.S. State Department website for all the details. Don't wait - this process can take several months, and you can't travel without it.
- Currency - Currency exchange for the U.S. Dollar can be done at the airport or many banks in the Denver area. Avoid using public ATMs; you can get by without cash if you have a credit card.
- Weather - Denver has beautiful weather in all seasons, but you want to keep an eye on winter weather as early as September and as late as May, especially if you are heading to the mountains from Denver. Summers will be hot and dry. Bring sunscreen and bug spray.
- Airports - Denver International Airport is on the northeast side of the city. It's a large airport and a major hub for almost all airlines, so you won't have trouble finding a flight.
- Travel Insurance - You should get travel insurance that protects your flights against weather delays or cancellations. You can also look into supplemental health insurance for adventurous activities if you'll be spending time in the mountains.
Denver Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Colorado - Safety by City