Colorado : Safety by City
- Cañon City
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
- Grand Junction
What do Disneyland and Fort Collins, Colorado, have in common?
As it turns out, quite a lot!
The answer is… oh wait!
I got distracted by the stunning mountain views that line the background of Fort Collins.
All the cool kids here call it FoCo, so we’ll assume we’re cool and follow suit.
Downtown Fort Collins might look an awful lot like Main Street, USA, in Disneyland, but as it turns out, it’s the other way around.
The architect who worked side-by-side with Walt Disney grew up in Fort Collins, and when he was tasked with creating the quintessential American Main Street, he knew there was no place like home.
Harper Goff stated, “When I started working on Main Street, I had photographs of Fort Collins taken.
I showed them to Walt, and he liked them very much. Disneyland’s City Hall was copied from Fort Collins… so was the Bank building and some of the others.”
FoCo is one of the gems in Colorado.
It’s an outdoorsy town with plenty to do on water, land, and skis, but also has a comfortable urban feel to it with a laid-back vibe that beckons tourists.
The food scene is booming, with more restaurants per capita than you’ll find in most American cities.
The city is less than two hours north of Denver and 90 minutes from Boulder.
In a little more than an hour, you can also be in Rocky Mountain National Park.
There’s so much to do during all four seasons that a trip in the summer feels like visiting a whole different area than a trip in the winter.
Warnings & Dangers in Fort Collins
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here with crime rates that are historically low and so much to do, you'll want to take a few more days off work to explore it all.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Transfort is the public bus system here, and as of Fall 2022, it's free. Fare collections are suspended, and there's no indication when that will resume. Bicycles are a great way to get around, and plenty of rental, loan and share programs are available. Taxis and rideshares are also available, and plenty of rental cars are ready for you at DIA.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here, with just half a dozen pickpockets or purse snatchings reported in 2020. You definitely don't need a designed bag here. A backpack is a great way to carry around your stuff safely.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
You can't be a ski town without a lot of winter weather, so blizzards, ice storms, and snow storms are likely each winter. Spring through fall can bring tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash flooding. Flooding can be especially dangerous when it sweeps through an area previously hit by wildfires. In July of 2022, two people drowned after a flash flood came through a camping area just outside of FoCo. Wildfires are yet another concern. There's a great emergency management plan in place for all these risks, but you definitely need to know how to handle a variety of weather events here.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is another low risk. Violent crime is actually down in FoCo, especially compared to most other cities where violent crime is rising. That doesn't mean there is no risk. You should still avoid dangerous activities like walking around at night alone.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low-risk FoCo would be a direct target. Denver is a much larger city and a more likely potential target.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The city of Fort Collins lists several common scams on its website, but they are all focused on people who live there. The only scam a tourist should look out for is a home rental scam. This is when scammers post a fake rental listing on a website like Craigslist. They pressure people to wire money to reserve the home, but then the visitor arrives, and the home doesn't exist or belongs to someone else. Book your rentals through a local agency to avoid risking a scam.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women actually have a lower risk than men of being a victim of violent crime. There's a low risk here, but also a lot of ways to let your guard down with the great nightlife scene. Use all the proper precautions if you're enjoying the nightlife, and you should have no worries.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Annual Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. There's a low risk in the drinking water, and dozens of samples are done weekly to keep it that way.
Safest Places to Visit in Fort Collins
Visitftcollins.com is the official tourism website of the city, so you know the attractions and information here are safe for browsing and legitimate services with verified payment platforms.
Downtown Fort Collins is an expansive section of town with food, shopping, nightclubs, and wellness facilities.
Even the alleys, which can be a dangerous part of a city, have been reimagined to be safe spaces filled with art, sculpture, and light installations.
Downtown is also a creative district with plenty of performance art, live music, and interactive art classes.
Midtown FoCo is focused on shopping – and a lot of it!
You can find the popular national brands or exclusive “Made in Colorado” products.
This is also a great part of town to stock up on any outdoor clothes or recreational needs before heading to the mountains or nearby water experiences.
The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a family-friendly attraction with a variety of interactive exhibits for kids of all ages and enough excitement to enthrall adults.
Exhibits start from life in Colorado 13,000 years ago to the present day and into the future with a trip as far as the sun!
Outdoor adventures await, whether you’re looking for a ski session, fishing paradise, or whitewater rafting ride.
- Horsetooth Reservoir: The 6.5-mile-long lake on the west side of the city is great for any activity you can do on the water or plenty of hiking paths and bouldering options.
- Cache la Poudre River: This natural water park runs from the top of the Rocky Mountains, where it carves a canyon down through the Colorado wilderness and right through the heart of Fort Collins
- Rocky Mountain National Park: FoCo is just 35 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park. If you want to visit between May and October, you will need a reservation.
There are also plenty of tours available to see more places within your areas of interest.
There are food, beverage, historic, and ghost tours.
You can also rent a bicycle and play Bike Bingo by finding unique places along the many bicycling trails.
Places to Avoid in Fort Collins
There are higher crime rates in Old Town and some other neighborhoods, but there’s really not a place here too dangerous to visit.
You should stay in the areas designed for visitors and where the main attractions and amenities are located.
Avoid going right from the airport to Fort Collins to the tallest mountain you can find.
The elevation in FoCo is around 5000 feet, and you need to give your body time to acclimate if you aren’t from a high elevation area.
With peaks in the mountains topping 14,000′ altitude sickness can quickly set in.
Spend a day in Fort Collins to get used to the lower levels of oxygen and then go exploring.
If you are worried about altitude sickness, talk to your doctor before you go to see if a Diamox prescription is right for you.
This medication can help with the side effects.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Fort Collins
- Fort Collins Police offer an interactive community crime map where you can see the most recent crimes. This helps see crime trends happening closer to your visit. Be sure to check for robberies, thefts, assaults, and car thefts near your hotel location.
- You might hear about the District One Substation. This is in Old Town, one of the historically more crime-ridden neighborhoods, and it’s right across from the justice center. Feel free to stop by and ask any safety questions you have at the start of your visit if you’ll be spending time in Old Town.
- The non-emergency number for the police department is (970)419-FCPD. You can call this number if you’ve been in an accident without severe injury. If your accident happened on a highway, then it would be Colorado State Patrol. Troopers there can be reached by calling (970)224-3027.
- While public art is popular in FoCo, graffiti is not allowed. Graffiti means that someone who didn’t have permission defaced a piece of property. Public Art is when an artist is commissioned to create it by the city. If you see graffiti, you can report it to the Graffiti Hotline at (970)416-2400 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fort Collins has cameras to catch red light runners and speeders. You wouldn’t be pulled over for an infraction, but you will be mailed a ticket about 30 days later. Stick to the speed limit and stop for lights when they turn yellow.
- Sign up for NOCO Alerts through the city’s website. These will give you all the information you need about approaching weather, road closures, dangerous events, or places to seek shelter when needed. You can also sign up for county-wide alerts through leta911.org.
- COTrip.com is the website any Colorado traveler needs to use. You can see live cameras of the road ahead and read any alerts happening at that time. The site will tell you when chains are required on roadways or when certain areas are closed due to heavy snowfall or avalanche risks.
- Some people are surprised to feel the cold water of of the Poudre River. I saw this same thing happen when I lived at Lake Tahoe. When a water source is supplied by melting snow thousands of feet in elevation above, it’s going to be very cold. It can be dangerously cold at times. You can learn more safety advice from the Play it Safe on the Poudre group.
- When visiting Horsetooth Reservoir, there is now a safe zone just for paddlecraft. This comes after too many close calls with boats and paddlers on the water. Go to the far northwestern side of the reservoir at Santanka Bay to find the paddle-friendly location.
- Take all flash flood watches and warning seriously and avoid river and lake areas. The water comes down through the canyon fast, melting snow sometimes along the way, and can lead to walls of water littered with debris and rocks.
So... How Safe Is Fort Collins Really?
From what a tourist is likely to see, Fort Collins is relatively safe.
It has picturesque views around every corner.
Marijuana is legal in Colorado, which means it’s legal in Fort Collins.
That doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all.
You can only use it in private places where everyone is over the age of 21.
Public use is not allowed.
There’s also an ongoing illegal drug problem in Fort Collins, but most American cities are fighting the same battle.
If you need a prescription filled, be sure to use a registered pharmacy, like Walgreens or CVS.
Don’t take any medications from someone you meet on the streets.
FoCo is also dealing with an ongoing homeless problem, so you’ll likely see homeless camps and be panhandled.
You are under no obligation to give money, and it’s better to donate to a homeless shelter than to a homeless person.
Every city is going to have a certain amount of crime, and Fort Collins deals with it while still being ranked as one of the best places to live in the country.
Using common sense and good situational awareness goes a long way here.
Don’t keep personal items in your car, and always lock the door.
Never leave your car running to warm up on a cold day.
The weather risks are worth researching because even if you know how to drive in the snow – this is an expert-level snow-driving experience.
The mountain highways are winding with steep drop-offs.
Keep your eyes on the road and stop only at designed scenic vistas (of which there are PLENTY!).
How Does Fort Collins Compare?
|New York City
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
A U.S. Travel or Work Visa is required to get through Customs, but first, check if you're from a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. You can find that on the State Department's website. You'll also need a passport as a legal ID in America.
Only the U.S. Dollar (USD) is accepted as currency here, but credit card purchases can be made anywhere, and there is little need to carry cash. You shouldn't have any problems finding a bank to exchange the currency if needed.
You'll want to dress for each season with insulated outwear on top of proper layers of clothing - especially if you are skiing. Ski equipment can be rented here, and there are plenty of places to purchase additional warm clothing if necessary. Spring snow is abundant here, so don't start bringing t-shirts and shorts until summer. You'll want sunscreen as the elevation can cause the skin to burn faster.
Denver International Airport is 90 minutes south. It's a major transportation hub, so the time you spend driving, you'll more than make up for it with direct flights. You can also get a shuttle to and from Fort Collins, but you have to schedule that ahead of time.
Travel insurance is a smart plan, especially when visiting a place with so much to do outdoors. You want to protect your valuables, your flight investment, and your health.
Fort Collins Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Colorado - Safety by City