Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
When Clark Griswold bellied up to the bar in 1983’s iconic movie National Lampoon’s Vacation and demanded “Hey knucklehead, set us up with four red eyes, will ya?”, he was in Dodge City, Kansas.
While that line of ordering drinks didn’t work out so well for Clark, Dodge City is the epitome of the Old West.
The city is also the setting for the TV series “Gunsmoke.”
If you’ve heard the phrase “Get out of Dodge!”, this is the Dodge to get out of.
However, before you go – stay a while.
There’s a lot more to do here than just the Old Western city, so plan to stay a spell and feel free to wear your cowboy hat and badge.
Dodge City was founded as a watering hole for thirsty soldiers at nearby Fort Dodge, a site you can still tour.
There’s a new casino resort with an entertainment complex.
Every August the city is filled to the brim with people attending Dodge City Days, a throwback to the history and culture of the Wild West complete with a rodeo.
Many of the tours here can be done self-guided or on a tour, including a trip to Fort Dodge, which is 10 minutes away.
There’s also a racetrack and farmer’s markets open throughout the year.
Dodge City even has its own zoo.
One of the benefits of a Dodge City vacation is that the attractions are flexible enough to be family-friendly, romantic getaways, or a wild weekend getaway.
Warnings & Dangers in Dodge City
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
While there are only reenactments of shootouts these days, the violent crime rate is a bit higher than the national average. You should visit here with appropriate caution any tourist hub would require. Because of some recent crime trends, and the percentage of crimes that happen against strangers, we're giving this a medium risk.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk and plenty of options to get around Dodge City. Rental cars are widely available, as are taxis. There is a city bus system and a tourist trolley. Uber and Lyft also provide services here.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
With four pickpockets or purse snatching reported in 2020, about 1/3 of the thefts were related to car break-ins. We're going to give this a medium risk, more for the potential for theft and not just based on the numbers. You really need to carry only what you need and carry as small of a purse and empty of a wallet as possible.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk because hazards exist throughout the year. Dodge City isn't quite as humid as the eastern part of Kansas, but it still gets thunderstorms and tornado potential. Dodge City is also known as one of the windiest cities in the country. Winter can bring the bitter cold with the sting of the wind chill, as well as snow, ice, and sleet.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Eight robberies were reported in 2020, which isn't a high risk. One note - when a robbery escalates to an assault, it's reported as only an assault. There were 349 assaults or battery cases in 2020 and 35 of those crimes were against strangers. In 2022, there was a trend of teenagers doing a social media challenge that required violence and criminal activity against others. Because of all the circumstances surrounding this category, there's medium risk.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with a small population and rural area. Terrorists are prone to hit larger targets with a large population.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The biggest scam recently is targeting business owners and not tourists. There's always a concern about a rental scam if you choose to stay outside of a chain hotel. You should always ask for proof of a rental license and never have to wire money or purchase gift cards to secure a room.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
The sexual assault rate here is almost twice the national average. It's a solid reminder to use caution when you're out by yourself or enjoying the nightlife here. Always stay in pairs and never go to a private place with someone you have just met. There's a medium risk because of the potential.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
For several years now, Dodge City has had water quality that meets or exceeds the required standards. The 2021 Annual Water Quality Report shows no violations.
Safest Places to Visit in Dodge City
You’ll see several attractions here with the name “Boot Hill.”
That moniker comes from the number of people who died and were buried here – with their boots on.
You can spin that however you want to the little kids that ask.
The Boot Hill Resort & Casino is one of the newest attractions in town.
It’s also far on the west side of town and away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist corridor.
One bonus of staying here is a shuttle service to the airport and museum.
Boot Hill Museum is an iconic place in Dodge City.
This is so much more than a traditional museum.
During the summer, there are gunfight reenactments and other shows outside the museum.
Inside you can learn about the history of Dodge City, have some fresh sarsaparilla (similar to root beer), attend a dinner show, and have home-cooked meals.
The museum is open throughout the year, but summer is when there are more performances.
Right next to the museum in downtown Fort Dodge, called “Dodge City Main Street.”
This is a great place to grab a snack or just sit and people-watch to rest your feet.
Don’t miss some of the unique stores and foods available here.
Farmer’s Markets are held here on Saturdays and the last Friday night of every month comes to live with live entertainment.
You can get a two-fer at the Gunfighters Wax Museum, which is connected to the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame.
The wax museum has pictures of all your favorite and despised Western warriors.
Here you can have the ongoing discussion of – “Was Wyatt Earp a good guy? Or a bad guy?”
Stop by the Dodge City Visitor’s Center to pick up a map for a self-guided historical walking tour.
It’s called the “Dodge City Trail of Fame.”
Make sure your camera is charged as there are a lot of photo ops along the way.
Fort Dodge offers a self-guided walking tour, but it’s important to note there are retired Kansas veterans living in the buildings.
There is a museum in the library and tourists are welcome to visit the fort as long as the sun is shining.
The Wright Park Zoo is home to more than 160 animals, including black bears, Longhorn cattle, cougars, and monkeys.
The zoo is open year-round, barring extreme weather.
It’s also a free attraction, so save some money and tell the bears that I said “Hello!”
There are so many more attractions to explore.
You can go to VisitDodgeCity.org to get a more abundant list of things to do, how to get around, and itineraries for everything from motorcyclists to pet-friendly stops.
Places to Avoid in Dodge City
The highest crime area is in the tourist section, which isn’t surprising.
With the close quarters of visitors and so many distractions, there are bound to be more crimes of opportunity.
There isn’t a neighborhood or part of town that’s too dangerous to visit, and you certainly don’t need to “Get Outta Dodge” to find a place to stay.
You should stick to the main roads and avoid cutting through neighborhoods – for your safety and the respect of the people who live there.
The Dodge City Gift Shop has a lot of specialty items and souvenirs, including a Cow Pie of fudge.
There are also toy guns for sale, similar to the guns of the Old West.
With the number of gun crimes happening in Kansas and nationwide, it might be a good idea to choose another item for children to pique their imagination.
It’s just a suggestion to think about, not a stance on gun rights.
Normally I wouldn’t touch on the controversial topic of guns, but I want to dive a little deeper into the recent violent crime trend reported in May of 2022.
This stems from a “Challenge List” of things to complete, all of which are illegal.
The Dodge City Police detailed some of the crimes reported or seen on the list, “Many tasks involve committing crimes such as a battery, disorderly conduct, criminal damage to property, theft, lewd/lascivious behavior, reckless driving, drug possession, minor in possession/consumption of alcohol, criminal trespass, kidnapping, hosting minors consuming alcohol, conspiracy to commit, interference with law enforcement, promoting obscenity to minors and various dangerous traffic violations that could easily take a life or end yours.”
One of the victims was jogging when a truck full of people came and she was hit by something.
Turns out, eggs were thrown at her and she was able to get the license plate number.
The Dodge City Police issued this warning, “To our innocent citizens, be advised that most of these criminal acts are to be done to unsuspecting strangers just like the 26-year-old woman out jogging.
Please be aware of your surroundings and stay safe out there.”
Safety Tips for Traveling to Dodge City
- You have several ways to report a non-emergency crime in Dodge City to stop scoundrels like that. You can call (620)225-8126 and ask to remain anonymous. Text the information to 847411 (TIP411) or use the email form on the police department’s website. You can also message the Dodge City Police Department on Facebook or stop by the police station.
- If you are bringing a child with you and renting a car, you can stop by the police department to get a child safety seat check and make sure the seat is properly secured in the car. The police department has its own Seatbelt Safety Officer.
- Nearly 64% of Dodge City residents are Hispanic/Latino, so on the city and police department’s websites you’ll find information in Spanish. 57% of people here speak a language other than English at home, so if you know conversational Spanish, that could be helpful.
- Check the city’s website for important news alerts. In the summer of 2022, there was an urgent water conservation request. There are several steps to a water watch, so the more people conserve, the less likely it will become a dire situation.
- There are a couple of sign-ups you can do for safety in Dodge City. First, the CodeRED system offers emergency weather notifications before, during, and after storms. The city also has a notification system where you can get information about street closures, civil emergencies, and construction projects.
- Hunting is a popular activity in and around Dodge City. You do need to complete a safety course to get a license, so don’t wait until the last minute. There is also a fishing license required from the state of Kansas. You can’t use your license from your home city or state.
- There are gangs in Dodge City, which might surprise some of you. It’s important to be aware of this when driving around and in public places. Recently, a 15-year-old boy was beaten in a public park and police say it was gang-related.
- When it snows here, the city has designated routes that get plowed first. Then the plows move to the secondary streets. The state is responsible for cleaning state highways. The hotels are responsible for hiring contractors to clear the parking lots. There might be times when the snow or ice is too dangerous for police to attend to minor accidents.
- Kandrive.org is the state’s Department of Transportation website showing all the road conditions, construction projects, and traffic accidents. It’s updated 24/7 and it is a great resource for road trippers.
- Liberty Garden is on the list of places to see in Dodge City, but it’s a somber place of remembrance for the victims of 9/11. There’s a piece of each disaster site from that day located here. Please be respectful of the garden and the other people visiting here.
So... How Safe Is Dodge City Really?
The violent crime rate is certainly nowhere near as high as it was in the late 1800s, but it’s still a city with a slightly higher than average violent crime rate.
There hasn’t been a homicide since 2018 and before that, it was 2015.
In the past decade, the average for assault and battery crimes is around 386 per year.
I’ve looked at hundreds of crime data reports in the past six months, and I can tell you one thing that stands out in Dodge City – Half of the violent crimes happened in private homes while the other half happened in public places.
It’s very rare that so many of the crimes aren’t domestic in nature.
Also, 30% of the violent crimes were against strangers.
That’s another high percentage – generally, that number is closer to 5-10% of all violent crimes.
The theft rate dropped 64% from 2020 to 2021, which is surprising there weren’t fewer thefts during the year that was the height of the pandemic.
24% of thefts were car break-ins.
Dodge City is a really fun place to visit, but you do have to pay attention to your surroundings and use city-slicker crime prevention tactics.
How Does Dodge City Compare?
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- Visas - Just because it's the Wild West, doesn't mean you can get here without a U.S. Visa if you're traveling from out of the country. You will show your visa at Customs and then use your passport for ID throughout Kansas travel sites.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and most attractions accept credit cards, so you don't need a lot of cash. Be sure to keep your receipts so you can destroy them before throwing them away. Too many people come through here to risk a receipt with credit card information getting into the wrong hands.
- Weather - It's going to be cold in the winter, with a coat, gloves, and hat being necessary if you're spending time outdoors. Spring and fall bring a fluctuation of temperatures, even throughout the same day, so bring a mix of t-shirts and sweatshirts or a jacket. In summer, you can dress in tank tops and shorts, but bring a hoodie in case there is a cold spell. Bring bug spray and sunscreen too.
- Airports - There is a small commercial airport in Dodge City (DDC) with connections only to Denver (DEN, formerly DIA). The next closest airport is in Wichita, which is a two-and-a-half-hour drive.
- Travel Insurance - Wyatt Earp would never have gotten travel insurance, but he was a renegade. You'll want to get your own travel insurance and make sure you're clear about what weather events are covered.
Dodge City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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