Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
Great Bend, Kansas, much like South Bend, Indiana, gets its name from a bend in a nearby river.
Here the Arkansas River makes its curve to the south.
Great Bend is an agricultural community with a rich oil history, a story told at the Kansas Oil & Gas Hall of Fame.
You can also reach for the stars here at a planetarium while getting some amazing starry skies above the plains.
This city is a great middle ground between Wichita, two hours to the east, and Dodge City 90 minutes to the southwest.
Most of the cities in Kansas I’ve covered have little or big nuances that make them stand out or be special.
Great Bend is more of a traditional small town, with a few tourist attractions, affordable food and hotels, and close to outdoor parks.
That’s about as exciting as it’s going to get.
What you do get in a place like Great Bend is an unmatched community spirit.
What it lacks in rows of museums it makes up for with community events, farmer’s markets, and family dinners where everyone is considered family.
Warnings & Dangers in Great Bend
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk here. Great Bend is one of the most dangerous cities in Kansas when you just look at the crime data. While the majority of crimes are among people who know each other, there are some pretty violent and dangerous people here. Crime trends have been on the decline, but it's still high enough in just about every category that you should visit here with caution.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
There's an on-demand bus and shuttle system here, but it's more for elderly people to go to the doctor and less for tourists to get around town. You might be able to scramble a taxi or rideshare, but having your own car is going to be ideal, if not necessary.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
There was one pickpocket in 2020, but since it was a pandemic year and this is a rural community, I went back into the data a few years. The city averages about 4 pickpockets or purse snatching a year since 2017. While there isn't an overwhelming pickpocket risk, there is a high theft rate overall, so we're giving this a medium risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
You are going to get all the Kansas risks here - thunderstorms, tornadoes, wind storms, snowstorms, ice storms, flooding, and extreme temperatures. There's a medium risk because it happens all year long and you'll need to be educated on storm safety for the season of your visit.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
There's a low risk of being robbed, with three robberies in 2020 and 2017 having the highest robberies in recent years at nine robberies total. However, crime data is calculated on a "worst crime" basis. That means if a robbery turns into a fight, the charge becomes aggravated assault, and that assault charge is the one reported to the FBI. The aggravated assault rate in Great Bend is 70% higher than the national average. Due to the high violent crime numbers, we're going with a medium risk here too.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low risk. This is a remote area two hours from any city considered medium-sized. There are no hard targets here and farmland as far as the eye can see.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There have been telephone scams going around the past few years, but those are targeted as residents of the city. There's a low risk a tourist will be a victim of a scam here. This is a place where thieves are more likely to just take your stuff instead of trying to swindle it out of you.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
Women should use extra caution and avoid visiting there alone if possible. It's best to not be out at night without a buddy. The sexual assault rate is two and a half times the national average. There's also a lot of violent crime. According to crime data from the past few years, women have only a slightly higher risk of being crime victims.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Consumer Confidence Water Quality Report shows one violation in 2021 related to a lack of reporting on one category. The other testing done shows the water meets or exceeds requirements. You can feel comfortable that there's low risk when using tap water.
Safest Places to Visit in Great Bend
The downtown area is around the corner of Broadway Avenue and Main Street.
You’ll find unique shops and cafes here.
Check out the bronze sculptures throughout the area for some Instagram-worthy moments.
It’s wonderful that a small town like Great Bend has its own zoo.
The Brit Spaugh Park and Zoo are open throughout the year and the zoo is a free attraction.
There’s a raptor rehabilitation program in addition to reptiles, mammals, and animal experts to guide you along.
In Brit Spaugh Park, there is also the Wetlands Water Park, open seasonally.
There’s a large pool, several slides, and a water playground even adults can’t resist.
There are lockers on-site and lifeguards on duty.
For a couple of history lessons, start at the Barton County Historical Museum to learn about the early days of Great Bend and how settlers adapted to the unique landscapes.
Then head over to the newly-renovated Kansas Oil and Gas Museum to learn about the once-booming oil business in Great Bend, with special sections dedicated to renewable energy for the future.
Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is about 15 minutes away.
This 20-thousand-acre preserve is ripe for hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
Bird watching is especially bountiful here.
There are dikes throughout the water so you can walk among the fishing and birds safely.
The SRCA Dragstrip hosted the first ever NHRA national event and sits on the site of a former B-52 factory used during World War II.
Races are held from May through October.
The Rosewood Winery sits about 20 miles west of Great Bend.
You can tour the winery and do a wine tasting.
There is also a furniture store, greenhouse, and gardens to explore here.
For a truly unique experience to take with you, grab a jar of “Cowboy Candy.”
Places to Avoid in Great Bend
Crime data distribution maps show the southwest part of the city has the highest violent crime rates, and that’s mostly a residential area with a Wal-Mart nearby.
Property crime is spread throughout the area, but the west and northwest sides of town are the lowest risk areas.
This is a place where you shouldn’t be acting tough (even if you are) or get into verbal altercations that can quickly escalate.
If you see a tense situation developing, just leave wherever you are and call the police.
Great Bend was once a city producing B-52 bombers during World War II and then was rich in the oil and gas business.
Industry declines left the city struggling and now reliant on agriculture.
These are thick-skinned, proud, hard-working people.
Don’t go looking for trouble and you probably won’t find it.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Great Bend
- Through the Great Bend city website, you can sign up for notifications that are important for safety and education during your visit. There are dozens of options to select from, but I’d recommend choosing burn ban notices, street closing, road work, “important city info”, public works, and public safety.
- You’ll need an additional app to track the weather risks in the region. Wichita is the television market for this area, so you can download one of the station apps and enable weather alerts. It’s a smart idea to have a weather radio here too, in case a storm knocks down power lines and cell towers.
- While hunting is allowed in parts of this area, especially in the wetlands, there’s a bit of a process Kansas makes hunters go through before getting a license. Review the Department of Wildlife website for the rules and order your license there. You’ll need to log into the hunting portal if you’re going to the wetlands. Poaching is a crime in Kansas, so don’t try to get around the rules. If you see a poacher, report it by calling 1-877-426-3843.
- You’ll need a fishing license too, with certain permits depending on the kind of fish you want to catch. The Department of Wildlife website is a great resource to find the best fishing holes, lake and river levels, and any fish warnings.
- You should call the 24-hour weather hotline at the Cheyenne Bottom Wetlands before visiting. That number is (620)793-7730. When the wetlands are muddy it’s much more dangerous to visit and there are specific rules about where you can and can’t walk – so please review the safety guidelines online before you go.
- The Great Bend Police Department releases some crime data every couple of days on its Facebook page. You must go to Facebook because the information isn’t available on the website.
- If you have non-emergency information about a crime, you can call the Great Bend Police Department at (620)793-4120 or call Crime Stoppers at (620)792-1300. You can remain anonymous and if you report something through Crime Stoppers that leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a reward.
- For those visiting during winter, you should follow the city’s social media sites for snow plowing rules and street restrictions. When winter weather is severe, police will not respond to accidents unless there is an injury or alcohol-related accident. You should just exchange information with the other driver and report the accident to the police when the weather clears up.
- This area has been hit by several tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that produced flooding over the past few years. People here are used to storms, so there’s a tendency for them to go outside when the tornado sirens sound to “get a look” at the storm. Don’t be one of those people. If a tornado warning is issued, go to a safe place inside a building and away from windows. If there isn’t a basement, go to the most interior room you can find. Many people choose to hide in the bathtub with pillows or cushions over their bodies.
- Kansas has a lot of scenic byways to view, and in the Great Bend region, you’ll find the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway. Be sure to stock your car up for the road trip, especially if you’re visiting during a very cold or extremely hot season. You’ll need a gallon of water for each person, a blanket for each person, and a red garment to use as a flag if you get stuck. Keep your mobile device charged and a tire pressure gauge will be helpful each time you stop for gas.
So... How Safe Is Great Bend Really?
I’m just going to be blunt – there’s some crazy, violent crime here, generally between two people who know each other.
In 2021, a Great Bend woman was killed in her home, which was then set on fire, reportedly by another woman who was later arrested after fighting with the arresting officers.
In another case from March of 2022, a Great Bend man and a woman were arrested for the murder of a man in La Crosse, and then stealing his car.
There is a one in 175 chance of being a victim of a violent crime here.
The national violent crime rate is 399 per 100,000 people.
In Great Bend, it’s 570 per 100,000 people.
In all fairness, the smaller a town’s population, the more skewed data can appear.
A few crimes in one category equals a much higher percentage.
For example, if there were 10 fewer violent crimes in 2020, then the risk would be 12% lower.
It’s not perfect math, but it’s the only way the FBI could figure out how to get all the cities on the same playing field.
You shouldn’t let any of this dissuade you from visiting.
There are parts of Kansas City that are very dangerous, but people still visit the city.
You just need to use extra caution here and be mindful of where you park, walk and hang out.
How Does Great Bend Compare?
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You'll need to plan several months ahead of time to go through the U.S. Visa process. It will cost $160 for tourist visas. Customs at the airport will check the visa and then once you leave the airport, put the visa away in a safe spot. You can travel freely in Kansas without showing it. Your passport will be your legal ID.
The U.S. Dollar is the only form of currency that will be accepted. You can pay in cash, with a credit card, or through mobile payment apps (at some locations). Only carry the cash you need for a day and keep the rest locked in a safe place (with your Visa!).
Midwestern weather can fluctuate throughout the year, so bring layers of jeans, leggings, shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets. In winter, bring full cold weather gear. There won't be snow on the ground all the time, but there could be wicked winter storms. Summer is generally warm to hot with high humidity. You'll want good walking shoes, bug spray, and sunscreen.
There is not a commercial airport in Great Bend, so you'll need to drive two hours to Wichita's Dwight D. Eisenhower International Airport. Kansas City International Airport is a four-hour drive away and Oklahoma City's Will Rogers Airport is four and a half hours away.
Getting travel insurance for your flight and rental car is smart. There are weather risks that could cause delays or cancellations. You also want to make sure you have roadside assistance in a remote area such as this.
Great Bend Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kansas - Safety by City