Montana : Safety by City
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Glendive is a southeastern Montana town just 40 minutes from North Dakota.
It’s part of the Badlands, a region known for its rocky yet stunning terrain, but it’s a good five hours from Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
At a time Montana is experiencing exponential population growth and a reinvigorated tourism base, Glendive is frozen in time, for better and worse (depending on what you want out of a Montana vacation).
Instead of snowcapped mountains, you get rocks whittled away by time and water to form natural amenities like hoodoos, fossil beds, and even some dinosaur remnants—10 species, to be exact.
Montana’s largest state park is on the eastern edge of the city, with the Hell Creek Formation bringing scientists and geologists from around the world.
If going into the wild isn’t your thing, there are plenty of museums that showcase the unearthed treasures of the pre-historic age.
The Yellowstone River brings adventures to the water with a new boat tourism business that takes away the hassle of renting a boat and allows you to enjoy the ride.
On top of that, there’s a charming downtown with unique shops and restaurants and a major interstate to get around the Badlands or toward the western Montana mountains.
Warnings & Dangers in Glendive
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk with average crime rates for a city this size and unique experience waiting around every corner and crust formation.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
There's no public transportation here, and taxis or rideshares will be available on a limited basis. A rental car is really your best bet when visiting Glendive and the Badlands.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is another low risk, with no pickpockets or purse snatchings reported in the past five years. The car break-in or accessory theft risk level is 20% for all thefts.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
The Dawson County Hazard Mitigation Plan includes the risks of severe storms, winter storms, landslides, flooding, and ice jams on the rivers.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Glendive has only seen four robberies since 2000, so it's another low risk.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
To take it straight from Dawson County Emergency Management, "The multiple energy storage and distribution facilities located throughout the county may be a potential target for terrorism, although a specific threat has not been identified. Terrorism and violence are an ongoing concern, but it is very unlikely an event will occur in the county."
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Scams are a low risk here but use caution booking rental homes. Be sure the landlord is legitimate, and never wire money to secure a reservation. If you use suggestions from the Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Bureau, you'll be making the safest choice.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Glendive might not be the most exciting town, but it's safe enough for women to enjoy a low risk. You'll still need basic safety standards and wilderness education, but overall there is very little room for concern. If you don't like "being in the middle of nowhere" alone, you might want to bring a buddy.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The city had a problem with water quality when an oil spill impacted the Yellowstone River, but that was cleaned up in six days. The latest official Water Quality Report posted is from 2019, so at least at that time, the water was safe with no violations.
Safest Places to Visit in Glendive
Visit Glendive, the official tourism site for the city and surrounding area.
The Guide to Glendive is one of the best tools, with a simple layout of hotels, restaurants, attractions, and travel information.
The Glendive Chamber of Commerce will detail events and businesses.
There’s also the Southeast Montana website that covers all the small towns of this unique region.
Makoshika means “bad land” in the Native American language of Lakota, so it makes sense that one of the biggest attractions here is Makoshika State Park.
Don’t miss the visitor’s center, where there’s a Triceratops skull and other unearthed fossils.
As you walk the trail, you might see more artifacts unveiled since the wear and tear of sand, water, and time expose more fossils.
Check out the Montana Dinosaur Trail map if you’re going to travel throughout the region or state.
There are 13 stops from Bynum to Ekalaka, and Glendive has two of them.
Museums in town include the Frontier Gateway Museum and the Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum.
Baisch’s Dinosaur Digs is a private ranch that offers guided hunts for fossils.
Dinodave Paleo Adventures also brings interactive fossil searching by sifting through sand and stone.
Art lovers can check out The Gallery or walk through the city looking for six murals, all Instagram-worthy shots.
A bronze statue trail is also open on Merrill Avenue.
Yellowstone River Adventures is one of the newest attractions in Glendive, giving water lovers a chance to book a boat tour to go rockhounding, bird watching, or just soak in the Badlands view.
Shore Pines OHV (off-highway vehicle) is another unique way to enjoy the southern Montana landscape.
With more than 2,200 acres to explore, you can ride four wheels or two or watch other people drive through the dirt.
Glendive has a surprising number of shopping options, with 71 stores listed on the Shop Glendive Map.
Montana is known as Big Sky Country, but could just as easily be “Wait Until You See Our Night Sky” Country.
If you drive 90 minutes south to Medicine Rocks State Park, you’ll be in an official Dark Sky Sanctuary.
Of course, it’s beautiful in the day, too, with rocks that resemble Swiss cheese where you can walk in the footsteps of Native American healers.
Check the schedule for night sky tours or guided walks.
Places to Avoid in Glendive
Glendive is really small, so you won’t end up in a bad part of town.
You might end up lost outside of town, which CAN BE bad, but you won’t end up in a dangerous place.
It’s important to understand the difference between eastern and western Montana, as this is a remote, rural, vast space.
While the whole state is a natural treasure, in the western part, you’ll get to drive between places like Big Sky, Bozeman, and Billings.
Here you’ll just have an interstate and back roads.
It can be isolating, even if you’re looking to get away from it all.
When winter weather hits, there’s a chance the roads and interstate will be closed until they can be cleared.
You’d be stuck.
One of the biggest mistakes people make, according to the Hazard Mitigation Plan, is trying to drive in winter weather when it’s too dangerous.
This puts the life of the driver and the emergency crews at risk.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Glendive
- Glendive does have its own police department, with the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office providing coverage for the unincorporated areas. Follow both on social media to get the most updated safety information during your visit.
- Sign up for emergency alerts through the Dawson County website. You’ll get weather alerts, road closures, and other important safety information.
- This area can be dry and dusty, especially if you’re near an OHV area. Bring a mask or a cloth to cover your face if you’re prone to allergies.
- Download the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks app to get everything you need to know about outdoor adventures like fishing and hunting, plus details of required licenses. You should also follow the FWP Region 7 group on Facebook @MontanaFWP.R7.
- When you’re on state or federal land, don’t take any artifacts from the site. If you have questions about this rule, ask a ranger, and don’t try to hide your find. The park asks everyone to respect the heritage and cultural sites. If you see someone vandalizing or taking fossils, call 1-800-637-9152 to report it.
- You only need a reservation for Makoshika State Park if you’ll be camping, but you will need to pay a fee to get into the park. There are one-day, seven-day, and annual pass options. The park is pet-friendly as long as they are kept on a leash.
- If you’ll be staying at a rental property, you can ask the landlord for a water quality test. The owner might ask you to pay the price of the testing, but clean water should come as an expectation of any lodging.
- Watch out for deer on the road when you’re driving, especially at night. It’s staggering to think that 17,000 deer-vehicle collisions happen each year in this state! I grew up in a place where deer were commonly jumping out at me, and you start to feel like a NASCAR driver dodging other cars. You can get seriously hurt when you hit a deer, but it could also happen in a remote area where you don’t have mobile service.
- Always take a NOAA radio with you into the wilderness to get weather updates. You can’t rely on mobile phone service, but your provider should have a map that shows coverage areas. Learning how to use a GPS mapping system will also help you stay on the trails when your cellular map connection goes.
- The Yellowstone River can be dangerous, with swift rapids, dangerous undercurrents, and debris. Talk with a local outfitter to see the best activities on or near the water, as swimming is generally not a safe idea.
So... How Safe Is Glendive Really?
22 violent crimes might not seem like a lot, but in 2021 that number set a record going back to 2000.
While that technically puts the violent crime rate at 12% higher than the national average, that figure is tallied by figuring out crimes per 100,000 people.
With a population under 5,000, Glendive’s numbers could be easily skewed in either direction.
In 2021, just one of those crimes was against a stranger.
Over the past five years, 20-25% of thefts have been related to car break-ins or car accessory thefts.
That’s more likely due to cars being left unlocked or with the keys inside, a fact that trends nationwide and baffles me each time.
However, I lock my car in my own garage for the utmost safety.
Personal safety steps and common sense go a long way here, but wilderness and weather safety education are important to keep the trip safe.
There’s a lot of wide open space here and very few opportunities to call for help if you get stuck or hurt.
For those who want to explore wide open spaces with minimal tourist traffic, Glendive is a great option.
How Does Glendive Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
You'll need a U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver paired with your passport that isn't within six months of expiring. The tourist visa takes the longest, so start the process early.
Only the U.S. Dollar can be used, and book as much as you can in advance to save needing cash, or to repeatedly pull out your wallet. Exchange currency before you get to this small town as well.
You'll want comfortable, layered clothing to handle outdoor weather of all kinds. While summer days are warm, nights are cold. Bring insulated and waterproof clothing for winter activities. You'll need sturdy, ankle-supporting hiking or snow boots. A hat, sunscreen, and lotions for dry skin will be helpful.
There's a small airport in Glendive, but it will only take you to Billings on Cape Air. That drive would be three hours. You can also get to Bismark, North Dakota, in three hours, where there's a commercial airport with bigger city options.
This area is too remote and prone to severe weather and road closures to risk losing money on your flight investment.
Glendive Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Montana - Safety by City