North Dakota : Safety by City
- Devils Lake
- Fort Ransom
- Grand Forks
- Valley City
- West Fargo
Grand Forks, North Dakota, sits along the Red River in the Red River Valley in the eastern section of the state.
It’s also just three hours south of Winnipeg in Canada.
One of its prominent features is the Grand Forks Air Force Base, strategically located just west of the city.
This military installation plays a vital role in national defense and has a rich history dating back to World War II.
Today, it continues to be a key asset in maintaining global security.
Grand Forks is also home to the University of North Dakota, a renowned institution that has been a center of education and research for over a century.
The university’s contributions to various fields, including aviation, aerospace, and medicine, have earned it a reputation for excellence.
Just across the meandering Red River lies East Grand Forks, Minnesota, creating a dynamic cross-state connection.
Here, visitors can explore a range of attractions, from parks and recreational areas to dining establishments offering a taste of the North Star State.
Grand Forks gets its name due to the “fork” in the river.
Visiting here gives you a forkful of indoor and outdoor opportunities in every season.
Warnings & Dangers in Grand Forks
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in Grand Forks, with more things to do than you might expect for such a remote city.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Cities Area Transit (CAT) is the public transportation system for the bi-state area. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find, especially near the downtown entertainment district. Rental cars are available but book early as there won't be as many as you'd find in a larger city.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
The theft rate in Grand Forks is surprisingly high, but pickpockets and purse snatchings aren't fueling those numbers. In fact, just one pickpocket was reported in 2022. Despite that, I'm giving this a medium risk due to the theft rate in general.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is another medium risk with disruptive or dangerous weather possible throughout the year. Winter can bring dangerously cold weather with treacherous roads during and after snow storms and blizzards.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Robbery rates are low here and even lower for those worried about being mugged. Don't let your guard down, but you won't have to overthink this one.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
With Grand Forks Air Force Base nearby, there will always be an extra layer of concern about terrorism. However, the risk comes with a lot of extra security. The risk is low, but you should always be aware of anything that seems suspicious and report it immediately.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Scams here are more focused on residents, but you can keep it low by reviewing the police department website for current scams and learning how to spot the top signs of fraud attempts.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
North Dakota as a whole has seen an increase in rapes over the past few years. While it's not enough risk to warrant elevated status, it is worth telling you to keep your guard up, especially when it comes to meeting new people. The police department offers several safety guides and how to report such crimes and resources available on its website.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The risk is low based on the 2022 Water Quality Report. No violations were reported, and all standards met or exceeded the requirements.
Safest Places to Visit in Grand Forks
“Visit Grand Forks” is the name of the tourism website.
You can download a tourist guide for free and without giving personal information.
There is a whole section for Canadian tourists on the site as well.
The North Dakota Museum of Art is a treasure trove of contemporary and regional art.
Wander through its impressive collection, featuring works by renowned artists and thought-provoking exhibitions that rotate throughout the year.
Delve into Grand Forks’ history by visiting the Myra Museum, where you can step back in time to the pioneer days of the region.
This historical gem showcases artifacts, vintage buildings, and exhibits that tell the story of early settlers.
Stroll through downtown Grand Forks, where you’ll find a vibrant atmosphere filled with boutique shops, charming dining spots, and local art galleries.
Don’t forget to check out the historic architecture that adds character to this bustling district.
To satisfy your cultural cravings, the Empire Arts Center is a hub for the performing arts.
Catch a live show or a concert, and immerse yourself in the city’s artistic scene.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the Greenway is a must-visit.
This picturesque park along the Red River offers scenic trails, picnic spots, and even opportunities for kayaking and canoeing, making it a serene escape from the urban hustle and bustle.
Sports enthusiasts can catch a game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, home to the University of North Dakota hockey team.
The electric atmosphere during games is an experience in itself.
If you’re a nature lover, the Japanese Gardens in Sertoma Park provide a peaceful retreat.
These meticulously landscaped gardens offer a serene escape and are especially beautiful in the spring and summer.
For a taste of the local dining scene, explore the culinary delights of Grand Forks.
With a variety of restaurants offering everything from North Dakota classics to international cuisine, your taste buds are in for a treat.
Embark on a journey of discovery at the Grand Forks County Historical Society, where you can explore artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that shed light on the area’s rich history.
Spend a day at the North Dakota State Mill and Elevator, where you can learn about the wheat milling process and the vital role it played in the region’s agricultural history.
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a round of golf at the King’s Walk Golf Course, an 18-hole championship course with stunning views of the Red River.
Wrap up your Grand Forks adventure with a leisurely drive along the scenic Red River National Scenic Byway, taking in the breathtaking landscapes and natural beauty of the region.
You can visit Red River State Recreation on the other side of the river in Minnesota.
It’s a four-season outdoor destination in East Grand Forks.
Places to Avoid in Grand Forks
You won’t find neighborhoods in Grand Forks that are too dangerous to visit, even if you get a little turned around when driving.
That said, some of the neighborhoods just north or south of downtown can have some shady characters.
With a broad stroke, the north end of town is safer than the south.
If you want quiet at your hotel, stay away from 3rd Street downtown, as that’s where the bulk of the nightlife is in Grand Forks.
It can get loud well into the overnight hours.
Avoid trying to get onto the Grand Forks Air Force Base if you aren’t a member of the military.
Tours are available from March and October on a limited basis.
At least one month’s notice is required.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Grand Forks
- Grand Forks does have its own police department. You can follow them on Facebook @GrandForksPD. For specific questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (701) 787-8000.
- Sign up for CodeRED notifications through the emergency management department website. It’s critically important to stay aware of approaching weather storms in any season. As a backup, follow them on Facebook @GrandForksEmerMgmt.
- The police department consistently puts out annual reports summarizing the strengths and struggles of the previous year. I’ve seen a lot of police departments stop doing this during and after the pandemic, but not Grand Forks. Read through the different categories to see trends and troubles.
- The police department’s website has a crime prevention section that details everything from safety tips to how local areas are designed with safety in mind. You can also read a whole section on identity theft protection and steps to take immediately after.
- Juvenile crime and calls for service have increased 71% since 2013. This is a trend we’re seeing nationwide. I think it’s important to know this because I’ve always felt a certain degree of safety when a group of kids were around. They never seemed to pose a risk. Now, the juvenile crime increase means the kids can’t be held in jail for minor crimes and won’t generally face harsh circumstances.
- Grand Forks sees an average of five DUI arrests per week. That’s a high number for a town of 60,000 people. If you are going to be drinking, please call a sober driver through a rideshare or taxi service.
- Speaking of drinking and driving charges – if you have one in your past, don’t consider entering Canada until you’ve reviewed the process on the Canada Border Services Agency. You’ll need to get special approval to get into Canada.
- Parking is free in downtown Grand Forks, but you’ll need to confirm you’re parking in a place that fits your schedule. Some spots are 15 minutes, while others are two hours. Look for unlimited-time parking lots, which could vary by which floor of the garage you are using.
- Use North Dakota 511 to check road conditions around Grand Forks and the state. You can view live cameras, see real-time traffic, and check construction zones. For those heading to Minnesota, use Minnesota 511.
- Angers need a fishing license from the North Dakota Department of Fish & Game. This rule applies to anyone over the age of 15. You’ll need a non-resident license if you’re not from North Dakota.
So... How Safe Is Grand Forks Really?
Grand Forks might be the safest high-crime city I’ve researched before.
Let me explain that a bit.
I start with the violent crime data, crunching each category from homicide, then aggravated assault, sexual assault, and robbery.
Violent crime is 30% lower than the national average.
Some categories have low numbers.
For example, robberies went up 46% in 2022.
That seems like a lot.
In reality, it was 13 robberies to 19 robberies.
That’s still less than half the national average.
The city averages zero to three homicides a year going back to 2013.
Less than 15% of violent crime victims are strangers.
That checks off one box of low risk for being the victim of a violent crime when you visit Grand Forks.
Then, I got to property crime.
The city has experienced high theft rates also going back to 2013.
In fact, it’s 57% higher than the national average.
About 40% of those happen in private homes.
23% of those are related to car break-ins or car accessory thefts, with almost all being car break-ins.
In addition, an average of two cars a week are stolen in Grand Forks.
All this tells us that visiting Grand Forks is safe, but you better watch your stuff.
Don’t leave cars unlocked or valuable items inside.
Avoid leaving a car running to warm it up in the winter unless you are with the car.
I suppose it’s better to have a high property crime rate than a high violent crime rate, but it’s just the juxtaposition that stood out compared to many other cities I’ve researched nationwide.
How Does Grand Forks Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
International travelers need a visa or visa waiver, plus a passport that isn't within six months of expiring. You can see which visa is right for you by starting with the Visa Wizard on the U.S. State Department website.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. If you're driving in from Canada, Pembina has several currency exchange options between the border and Grand Forks. You can use ATMs to get cash or visit a bank where you are already a customer. Otherwise, use a credit card for as many transactions as you can. You'll get the best fraud protection that way.
From December through February, the average low temperature is in single digits or below zero (F). October through April will bring lows near freezing. Pack a lot of insulated, comfortable, and waterproof layers. Bring snow boots. June through August have mild weather with highs in the 70s and 80s (F). Nights will still get into the 50s. Please use bug spray when outdoors during the warmer months.
Grand Forks International Airport offers daily flights to and from Minneapolis. It's a small airport, but really the only option unless you want to drive nearly five hours to the Twin Cities.
When traveling somewhere with unpredictable weather that could disrupt your plans, purchasing travel insurance is always a good idea. Also, consider travel health insurance if your existing policy doesn't cover you in the US. Review your rental car insurance to confirm you're protected if there's an accident.
Grand Forks Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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North Dakota - Safety by City