Oklahoma : Safety by City
- Broken Arrow
- Broken Bow
- El Reno
- Elk City
- Midwest City
- Oklahoma City
Elk City, Oklahoma, is a charming town steeped in history and Route 66 heritage.
Tucked in the western part of the state about an hour east of Texas, Elk City offers visitors a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved landmarks and museums, along with ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and family fun.
Elk City’s history dates back to the early 1900s when the Choctaw Townsite and Improvement Company established the town in 1901.
The town’s name was derived from the abundance of elk that once roamed the area.
With the arrival of Route 66, Elk City became a bustling hub for travelers and businesses, further shaping its unique character.
Route 66 history keeps this town alive, along with its perfect rest stop location along the busy I-40 interstate.
I’d also recommend checking for local events before your trip, as the rodeo, watermelon festival, and holiday celebrations make it a worthy stop throughout the year.
Whether you’re just driving through or stopping for a few days, you’ll find plenty of ways to stay busy in safe spaces and even a national grassland nearby if you want to get out into the wilderness.
Warnings & Dangers in Elk City
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in Elk City with crime rates that are below average and a wonderful number of things to do in a town this small.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You won't find a public transportation system here, and taxis or rideshares will be found sparingly. A rental car is your best choice, especially since you need to get here and get to an airport when your trip is over.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
At most, the city sees just one pickpocket or purse snatching a year (on average, based on the past five years of data), so the risk is low. The shoplifting rate is high, so it's still wise to consider that people capable of theft are around you.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is a medium risk because Elk City can get wicked weather throughout the year. Tornadoes are the biggest Oklahoma risk, as it's known as being in Tornado Alley. Severe thunderstorms can pack winds as strong as tornadoes and produce gorilla hail, in addition to lightning, flash flooding, and blinding rain. Winter can bring snow or ice, which makes driving on the interstate challenging.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The city averages 2–4 robberies a year going back to 2013; during that time, just three robberies were muggings. That's a low risk.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here as Elk City is remote and not near any major metropolitan areas. You should still report anything suspicious you see.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The biggest scams here happen after a big storm when scammers pretend to be raising money for a charity. You should review the city and county social media sites to see trending scams. The risk is low, but staying informed keeps it that way.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
As a woman, I've driven this stretch of road solo. It can be a little uncomfortable being so far away from help if something goes awry, but planning ahead with a spare tire, battery charger, and emergency supply kit helps. The risk is low, but it's also worth keeping up the same personal safety steps as you would in a big city.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. A new report is issued by the end of June each calendar year. You can feel safe using the water here.
Safest Places to Visit in Elk City
You’ll be thrilled with the number of things to do here, but you’ll also need to be a fan or at least have an interest in Route 66 to enjoy it.
The official tourism site is VisitElkCity.com.
You can also download a copy of the visitor’s guide online without having to give any personal information.
The National Route 66 & Transportation Museum is a must-visit for any fan of Route 66.
It houses an extensive collection of memorabilia from the “Mother Road,” including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and signs.
Visitors can also learn about the history of transportation in Oklahoma.
The Old Town Museum Complex includes three museums that tell the story of Elk City and western Oklahoma.
The Old Town Museum is a replica of a Victorian-era home furnished with period antiques.
The Beutler Brothers Rodeo Collection showcases artifacts from the rodeo’s history.
The Farm and Ranch Museum features exhibits on agriculture and ranching in the region.
This is an oil country and Parker Drilling Rig #114 and this historic oil rig is the last surviving example of its kind.
It was built in 1903 and was used to drill for oil in western Oklahoma.
Visitors can climb up the rig and get a close look at the machinery.
Experience early Oklahoma farm life at the Farm and Ranch Museum.
You can also see a blacksmith creating unique items during your visit.
Racing fans should check the schedule at Elk City Motorsports Park.
A variety of events are hosted here, including USRA Modifieds, IMCA Modifieds, and Stock Cars.
Ackley Park is the central hub of activity and events and also includes the Centennial Carousel, where guests can take a ride.
For a more remote outdoor experience, head to Elk City Lake.
Fishing, hiking, and camping are popular activities.
Places to Avoid in Elk City
Not only is Elk City small, but it’s also relatively compact.
That means there’s not really a way to avoid a particular part of town, even if it is too dangerous.
Luckily, that’s not an issue here.
Since Elk City gets a lot of semi-truck traffic due to its location on a major interstate, be patient when vehicles are making wide turns or parking in the middle lane.
Always give the right of way to farm equipment on the roads too.
Also, given the remote nature of this region, if there are severe storms in the forecast, stick close to home.
You don’t want to get caught on a lake or in the grasslands as a thunderstorm bears down.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Elk City
- Elk City does have its own police department. You can follow them on Facebook @elkcitypolice. Call (580) 225-1212 with specific safety questions.
- The Beckham County Sheriff has an app to download with safety information, contact options, and crime tip reporting. The sheriff’s office covers the unincorporated parts of the region outside of Elk City.
- Neither the city nor the county here offers emergency alerts for weather information, which is disappointing. However, all modern mobile devices are required to have Weather Emergency Alerts (WEA) activations. You should confirm this is enabled on your phone AND that location tracking is allowed.
- If you’ll be in remote areas while visiting Elk City, bring a NOAA weather radio with you. When you’re out of mobile range, this radio will still get you emergency information. The radio does need to be programmed before you use it.
- Hunting, fishing, and boating all require licenses in Oklahoma. You can review the rules and prices on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website. A fishing license will be the easiest to get.
- About 30 miles west of Elk City, the time zone changes. Elk City is in the Central Time Zone, but between Erick and Sayre, the time zone changes to Mountain Time for all those heading west. That means you’ll go back an hour for westbound travelers, and you’ll gain an hour for those heading east.
- Elk City and the surrounding roads are prone to high winds that can make driving difficult or dangerous. Especially being this close to the interstate, you should know how to navigate around semi-trucks safely – they are particularly vulnerable during high winds.
- While driving on the roads, especially at night and during sunrise/sunset, watch out for deer on the road or roadside. These animals can quickly jump in front of a vehicle and cause an accident.
- Use the OK Traffic website to check road conditions across the state. If you’re heading to Texas from here, use Drive Texas’ website and app.
- I-40 is a major interstate across the country, and that means there’s a lot of transient traffic that comes through this small town. When visiting a gas station, use extra precautions and go as far as to lock your car even when you’re pumping gas. Always use the closest pump to the front doors, as those are least likely to have card skimmers.
So... How Safe Is Elk City Really?
One of the challenges with calculating data for a small town is that all rates are determined on a “per 100,000 basis.”
That’s to even the playing field.
However, in small towns, a few crimes, in one way or another, can look like a greater problem than it is.
However, with Elk City, that risk doesn’t even come into play because the crime rates are all below the national and state averages.
Violent crime is at least cut in half in Elk City when compared to the averages.
In 2022, no violent crimes happened against strangers, and even going back five years, just 2% of violent crimes involved strangers.
That’s yet another comforting statistic for those visiting Elk City.
The city has had just three homicides going back to 2012.
Theft rates are 30% lower than the national average, with shoplifting accounting for 41% over the past five years.
There’s about a one in 103 chance of being a victim of theft.
Lower that risk by doing basic things – locking car doors, taking valuables out of your car, and carrying only what you need as you visit sites.
Headlines here range from a string of car break-ins in a baseball field parking lot to a biker brawl that led to arrests.
Minding your own business and using common sense will go a long way.
How Does Elk City Compare?
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For international visitors, obtaining a visa or a visa waiver is a prerequisite for entry into the country. The U.S. State Department's website offers a comprehensive guide to check your eligibility for a visa waiver. Your passport should be valid and not within six months of expiring.
The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the currency of the land, and don't expect to exchange currency in this small, remote town. Credit cards offer better fraud protection anyway. If you do want to bring cash, take care of that at home. Your home bank will give you the lowest rates, and Oklahoma's airports don't have foreign currency exchange stations.
Enid has a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. The average high temperature in July is 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average low temperature in January is 19 degrees Fahrenheit. Pack layers and always check the weather forecast before you zip up your suitcase - volatile temperatures should be expected, especially in spring and fall. Bring bug spray and sunscreen for the warmer months.
You can get to the Amarillo airport in two hours and Oklahoma City's airport in 90 minutes. We strongly recommend OKC because it's closer and larger.
For getaways to destinations prone to weather disturbances, travel insurance is always advisable. Since you'll likely be driving to Elk City, it's important to have insurance on your rental car to cover uninsured motorists, roadside assistance needs, and crash coverage.
Elk City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Oklahoma - Safety by City