Oklahoma : Safety by City
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Straddling the southern shores of the Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, Grove, Oklahoma, is a charming town brimming with outdoor recreation, historical attractions, and family-friendly fun.
The “lake” is a reservoir of the Neosha River, and several water prongs fill the peninsulas around Grove.
The city has fewer than 7,000 full-time residents but draws in thousands of visitors each year.
Most activities here are centered on or around the lake, but you’ll find some history and entertainment to keep the crowds busy.
The restaurant scene is robust for a small Oklahoma city as well.
The lake has some famous connections, as both baseball slugger Micky Mantle and actor Will Rogers spent many years summering on this lake.
While the lake was once a power source that fueled the Oklahoma economy, it transitioned into a tourist town as well.
I lived in Oklahoma for a few years, and just about every weekend, I knew someone who was heading to Grand Lake.
Also known as the Four States Region, you have close access to Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas.
That opens the door to many more visitor experiences.
Warnings & Dangers in Grove
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in Grand Lake from a crime perspective, and still plenty of things to do. We do have some safety hazards - like severe weather - to discuss.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You'll need a car to get to Grand Lake. The local Pelivan service might suit some of your needs, but I'd take a close look before relying on that. Taxis and rideshares will be available sparingly. I just don't see a scenario where being without your own car would be wise.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Even though theft rates are 85% higher than the national average, the pickpocket and purse snatching rate is low. None were reported in 2022. Surprisingly, during the pandemic year of 2020, five pickpockets were reported - that's when crowds would have been much smaller. Anyway, while the risk is low, treat it like a medium risk due to the number of people who visit here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
When life centers on a lake, the weather becomes critical. That's on top of being located in a state prone to severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, intense lightning, and flash flooding. Winter can bring blizzards and ice storms. It's a solid medium risk here, but all serious weather issues come with plenty of advance warning.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is a low-risk, with no more than three robberies happening in a year looking back a full decade. Of course, that shouldn't make you let your guard down. Part of the reason crime rates are low is that people have smart personal safety habits.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Here's another low risk. This is a lake with 1,300 miles of shoreline and in a pretty remote area. Terrorism will be the least of your worries, but don't let that stop you from reporting any suspicious activity.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Be wary of rental scams, and you can learn the signs of these scams by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website. Any tourist town could face this issue. Scammers will post fake listings at low prices, and then when the renter arrives, the home is either owned by someone else or doesn't even exist. Stay informed of common scams in America to keep the risk low.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women love visiting Grand Lake because of its laid-back appeal with plenty of things to do, and that goes for mothers with small children. Solo travelers can also feel safe in this community.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
I can't find the most updated Consumer Confidence Report on the city's website. The latest one posted was from 2017. While all communities in America are held to high standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act, you can call 918-786-5171 if you want a copy of the report mailed to you. In general, there's a low risk with water quality in Oklahoma.
Safest Places to Visit in Grove
You can get information about Grove from the Grove Area Chamber of Commerce website or the Grand Lake Association website.
Follow the Grand Lake Visitor’s Center in Grove on Facebook @grandlakevisitorscenter.
Grove is one of several cities on the shore of Grand Lake.
Keep in mind the lake has 1,300 miles of shoreline.
Confirm anything you book is near Grove, or you could be in for a long drive or boat ride.
Swimming, boating, and fishing on Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees round out the top activities.
Grand Lake is one of the largest lakes in Oklahoma and is a popular spot for any kind of water activity.
You can also find gear rentals and tour guides in Grove.
There are a number of trails in the area that are perfect for hiking and biking.
The Honey Creek Trail is particularly popular, as it winds its way through a scenic forest.
Har-Ber Village Museum is a living history museum that is home to over 40 historical buildings, including a general store, a schoolhouse, and a blacksmith shop.
Visitors can tour the buildings, see demonstrations of traditional crafts, and learn about the history of the region.
Explore Lendonwood Gardens, an eight-acre botanical garden that is home to a variety of plants and flowers from around the world.
Visitors can stroll through the gardens, enjoy a picnic lunch, or attend one of the many events held in the gardens throughout the year.
Grand Lake State Park is split into different sections on Grand Lake.
The one closest to Grove is the Honey Creek Area.
This is also where the annual Pelican Festival is held.
Many resorts here have their own golf courses, which should be taken into consideration when booking a place to stay.
If you want better access and possibly even discounts, look for the golf course resorts.
Those 18 and older (21 and older in some instances) can enjoy one of several casinos around the lake.
These are tribal casinos, but you won’t notice the difference in the atmosphere or games.
It’s just like a Las Vegas casino.
There’s a place called Disney near Grove, but it’s not the Disney you’d think of at first.
It’s a city named after a former legislator.
This is an off-roading area that is more often referred to as Disney Island.
There is a special area dedicated to off-roading and rock crawling.
Places to Avoid in Grove
The first thing is to avoid getting Locust Grove and Grove mixed up.
They are two different cities about an hour apart.
There’s also a Lone Grove.
You are looking for just “Grove.”
You don’t need to worry about bad parts of town here or dangerous neighborhoods.
The community is very safe.
The second thing to avoid is private property.
Whether it’s a resort that you’re not staying in or a gated community, people pay big bucks for the luxury accommodations here.
That also goes for docking a boat at a private landing.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Grove
- Grove does have its own police department. You can find them on Facebook by searching for “Grove Oklahoma Police Department.” The phone number is (918) 786-6121.
- Sign up for CodeRED notifications. These are alerts about public safety, severe weather, or other natural disasters. It’s critical you receive watches and warnings as they come out.
- Grand Lake is well known for its fishing, but you need a license to catch anything. You can get that online through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Grove Chamber of Commerce also offers a fishing guide.
- The Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) oversees the lake and all activities on it. You should review the GRDA Lake Rules before you visit. There’s a lot you need to know about boating rules, flotation device requirements, and off-roading.
- If you plan to visit Disney (Oklahoma), it’s nothing like the luxurious amenities in Grove. It’s outdoor-focused, with a handful of stores that sell supplies to enjoy outdoor activities. You can rent ATVs and golf carts here. Before you partake in off-roading, please learn the laws about helmets and safety.
- Sign up for email notifications from the city. This is a great way to learn about everything from road construction projects to local events.
- The Oklahoma Water Resources Board has a list of High Hazard Dams, meaning a breach of the dam could be disastrous. The Grand Lake Dam is one of those. You can read the safety report and disaster plan if that makes you a little nervous.
- If you look up Grand Lake’s September 2023 storm, you can see photos of the damage done. Straight-line winds made a mess, knocking trees into homes and flipping boats. It’s yet another reminder of how dangerous storms can be here and why it’s important to have a safe place to go when storms pop up.
- Cell phone service can be spotty here, so if you are on the lake or in the wilderness, please bring a NOAA weather radio with you. This will help you get emergency alerts as they are issued.
- A new theme park is scheduled to be built about 30 miles from Grove in Vinita. The American Heartland Theme Park and Resort would be a game changer for this region. It could also mean a lot of construction for those visiting before it opens in 2026. You can always check road conditions and real-time traffic using OKTraffic.org.
So... How Safe Is Grove Really?
Grove is especially safe considering how big of a tourist area it is.
Crime rates are low before you figure in the thousands of people who visit each year.
Petty theft ranks at twice the national average, but that number is calculated on the number of residents vs the number of crimes.
It doesn’t take into account the visitors.
On top of that, nearly half of all thefts are shoplifting.
One in five thefts is attributed to car break-ins.
I expected that number to be higher, but considering how many parking areas are behind gates and security at the numerous resorts, it makes sense.
The biggest threat in Grove and at Grand Lake is the lake itself.
More specifically, how safe you choose to be on the lake.
If you search news stories for Grand Lake, you’ll see too many mentions of drownings, people falling off boats, and being rescued – one even involved a girl tubing when a boat’s propeller struck her.
You can’t ignore the weather risks here, even if you have a day planned on the lake – a severe storm watch should cancel those plans.
Storms can build fast and furiously here.
You don’t want to be caught in the middle of this massive lake with lightning in the area.
Grand Lake is one of Oklahoma’s biggest attractions and a surprisingly wonderful place to visit.
People from all walks of life can find something to do here.
Hopefully, you’re now prepared to be a bit safer when you do.
How Does Grove Compare?
|Hong Kong (China)
To access the country, international travelers are required to obtain a visa or a visa waiver. The U.S. State Department website contains detailed information about visa waiver eligibility. You should also have a passport that isn't within six months of expiring.
Only the U.S. Dollar can be used in Oklahoma and the whole country, for that matter. You should plan to use a credit or debit card for as many purchases as possible - this isn't a place where it's easy to exchange currency on the go. Your home bank has the lowest fees or a local branch of a bank where you're already a member.
Pack casual, comfortable clothing to enjoy the lake life here. You can rent most of the outdoor gear you'll need, but bring water shoes, sunscreen, and bug spray. If you're a winter visitor, layer up. It can get cold, but some days are also mild. The weather is quite temperamental here and can change from day to day, especially in spring and fall.
It's about 90 minutes from Tulsa International Airport, which is the best option for this region. You can drive about two and a half hours to get to Kansas City International if you'd like.
For vacations to places prone to weather-related travel issues, travel insurance is always a smart choice. Don't forget about medical coverage as well if your health plan isn't valid in the US. It's also wise to verify rental car insurance will protect you fully in case of any accidents.
Grove Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Oklahoma - Safety by City