Oregon : Safety by City
- Baker City
- Coos Bay
- Hood River
- Klamath Falls
- La Grande
- Lincoln City
At the center of the Pacific Northwest’s transportation hub sits Hermiston, Oregon.
The pole position doesn’t end there – it’s also at the confluence of the mighty Columbia River and fertile farmlands, surrounded by the natural beauty of mountains and forests.
From the Lewis & Clark Expedition to the Old West to current interstate travelers, Hermiston has long been a stopover town.
In recent years, that has led to the growth of distribution, tech, and industry because of the prime location.
While the city is more functional than fashionable, a true outdoor paradise awaits in the surrounding region.
That includes the famous “Hat Rock” formation we’ll tell you about in a bit.
Hermiston is a diverse community, with more than half of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino.
You’ll find most publications come in English and Spanish.
Get ready for some of the best watermelon you’ve ever tasted, as Hermiston is known as the “Watermelon Capital of the World.”
Whether you’re just passing through or looking to stay a few days, we have everything you need to know for a safe, enjoyable trip.
Warnings & Dangers in Hermiston
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here with a few notes about theft we should discuss. It's also not the most exciting city to visit, but we've rounded up an itinerary for you.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Kayak Public Transit offers some fixed-route services, but you should review the maps before you decide if this is a go-to option. You'll find some taxis and rideshares, but don't expect an abundance. You'll need a way to get here and back to the airport, suggesting a rental car is the best bet.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
About seven pickpockets or purse snatching happen on average each year, with purse snatching 75% more likely. Statistically, it's a low risk, but it's also one of the higher numbers I've seen in a small Oregon town.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Medium risk here, with wildfires posing the biggest threat, especially during dry summer months. Stay informed about fire conditions and evacuation plans. Be prepared for occasional flooding and winter storms.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Robbery rates are 41% lower than the national average, and only a handful would be considered muggings. The highest robbery category is convenience stores.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's less of a concern about terrorism in the city than the major routes on the freeway fueling drug trade, human trafficking, or other sinister activities. The low risk should still come with situational awareness, prompting you to report anything suspicious you see.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
A scam in 2023 targeted the Latino population with a lure to "Get Rich Quick," but as long as you know to avoid deals that seem too good to be true, you'll have a low risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
While Hermiston is a central town in the region, it's also surrounded by open highways and rural areas. Keep an emergency kit in your car, and don't stop for hitchhikers or to help people on the side of the road. Common sense and proper planning keep the risk low.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Hermiston posts its annual water quality report on the city website, and in 2022 the landing page offers this message, "The drinking water produced by the city is safe and meets or exceeds all federal and state requirements." You can enjoy a low risk, but always check city alerts in case there's an issue, like after flooding.
Safest Places to Visit in Hermiston
Travel Hermiston is the name of the Chamber of Commerce tourism website.
Either it’s a work in progress as of this publication, or it’s more of a directory than a fancy website.
You can find what you need, but you’ll be clicking a lot of links.
I’ve gone through most of it to help you out with the main attractions.
Other cities nearby include Umatilla, McNary, Charlestown, and Stanfield.
The Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge along the Columbia River is home to a variety of plants and animals, including bald eagles, coyotes, and mule deer.
There are also several hiking trails in the refuge, as well as opportunities for fishing, hunting, and bird watching.
The Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge is in the other direction from Hermiston, near the town of Milton-Freewater.
The refuge is home to a number of wetlands, which provide habitat for a variety of birds, including ducks, geese, and swans.
More hiking trails, fishing, and hunting await.
The McNary Beach Recreation Area on the shores of McNary Reservoir.
The recreation area is a popular spot for swimming, boating, and fishing.
There are also several picnic areas and campsites in the recreation area.
At Hermiston Butte Park, hike scenic trails, enjoy panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscape, and have a picnic in this sprawling park.
Hat Rock State Park is named for the large rock formation that it is home to, named by famed explorers Lewis and Clark.
The rock withstood glacial activity and stands out among a relatively flat landscape.
You can see the rock and hike around it, but you can’t climb it.
Downtown Hermiston’s Main Street is fairly bland, with a handful of shops and restaurants.
This is also a designated historic district, making it worth a stroll.
Just north of town is the Hermiston Raceway, offering various racing activities from spring through fall.
A restaurant, bar, and snack options are on site.
Places to Avoid in Hermiston
When visiting Hermiston, it’s wisest to stick to the main roads and have a destination in mind.
With so many industrial areas, railroad beds, and a nearby correctional center, it’s not worth the “just having a look around” drive.
Stay off of private property and stay on the trail when exploring the wilderness areas.
Trails are provided for your safety and to prevent people from walking on fragile ecosystems.
Also, remember how I said earlier you can’t climb Hat Rock?
There’s a fence surrounding it that will prevent you.
Since the state owns the land, you could face state charges if you trespass.
Any area along the rivers in this region will be prone to flooding.
Don’t drive through flooded roads or enter floodwaters.
The swift rivers can carry you away in just six inches of moving water.
If you want to visit a local farm, check with the Chamber of Commerce for the options during your visit.
You can’t just stop by any farm for a tour.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Hermiston
- Hermiston does have its own police department. Follow them on Facebook @hermistonpolice for updates. You can also call (541) 567-5519 if you have specific safety questions.
- The police department posts annual reports about the activities, safety challenges, and successes from the previous year. This is a great way to get crime data but also context along with it.
- Review the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan for Umatilla County on the city’s website. You can learn about all the potential risks. Fair warning, the document provides a “worst-case scenario,” but the likelihood of a major disaster isn’t as pressing. Aside from earthquakes, you’ll get plenty of notice about an approaching issue like wildlife or winter storm.
- Since Hermiston is near the Washington state line, you can use the Trip Check websites and app for both states to check road conditions, weather alerts, real-time traffic, and live cameras.
- You can take a video tour of Hermiston on the front page of the city’s website. This will help you get a better look at where you’ll visit.
- Without a lot of indoor things to do in Hermiston, you’ll need a rainy-day plan. Check out the Hermiston Parks & Recreation calendar for local events, like escape rooms or educational courses for adults and kids.
- Anglers need a license from the state of Oregon before fishing in any of the rivers or lakes. Check for reciprocity agreements with Washington, as the Columbia River straddles both states.
- If you’re visiting in late August, look for the date of the Melon Fest, which celebrates everything watermelon. This also means the town will likely be sold out and crowded.
- Since Hermiston gets a wide range of weather conditions, the roads can be torn up – especially with so much transient traffic coming through. Spring and fall are the best times for road construction, so plan for delays. Check the city’s Facebook page @cityofhermiston for updates.
- Check the air quality daily, especially if wildfires are burning nearby. Even smoke from a long distance can impact air quality. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has several ways you can check conditions. I personally use an app called IQ Air since I’m sensitive to airborne allergens.
So... How Safe Is Hermiston Really?
The more I research Oregon, the more I wonder why theft rates are so high – and Hermiston even drew an audible “Wow” from me.
What I’m going to tell you next is why context matters – the numbers were shocking (89% higher than the national average) at first.
Then, you realize that tens of thousands of people drive through this town every year, and the crime rate becomes more understandable.
Plus, with all the factories and distribution centers, there’s a greater lure for a thief – like the Amazon warehouse.
The violent crime rate, even considering all the people passing through, is very low – 14% lower than the state average and 25% lower than the national average.
After that, cut the rate in half because that’s how many violent crimes happen in private homes.
Then, consider that just 25% of those crimes happen against strangers.
Going back to thefts, nearly 40% are due to shoplifting, which only impacts a visitor in the sense that people around you are capable of theft.
One in five thefts is related to car break-ins, which is an easy fix – lock your car door when you park and don’t leave anything in plain sight.
I’d also recommend using extra caution at gas stations, especially the ones right off the highway.
With so much transient traffic, you might get panhandled or have someone eye your vehicle to see if they can snatch a purse when you’re not looking.
Lock your car even when pumping gas.
The weather can be a safety issue, but only if you’re not prepared.
I hope you have some tools now to help you enjoy your trip to Hermiston, Oregon.
How Does Hermiston Compare?
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You'll need a visa or visa waiver to get through Customs or Border Patrol at the airport or port of entry. A valid passport that isn't within six months of expiring is also required.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here. Credit cards offer the best fraud protection, but check to see if your bank charges a foreign currency fee. I'd recommend getting cash at the airport or in a larger city, as you're unlikely to find anything but an ATM here to get cash - the fees could be high.
This part of Oregon can get hotter summers than you might expect and colder winters than you might like. It's important to check the forecast before you go but pack waterproof outer layers and a variety of shirts and shorts to adapt to any temperature swing. Bug spray will be needed for outdoor adventures.
Portland International Airport is about three hours west, with an easy drive on I-84. Make sure you look for PDX, because there's a Portland International Jetport 3,000 miles away in Maine. Seattle's airport is a four-hour drive through some pretty gnarly mountains - winter weather could impact your ability to get there. You can get to Spokane in about two and a half hours, but most of the flights there would take you to Seattle or Portland anyway.
If traveling anywhere that weather could interfere with your plans, travel insurance is highly recommended. Check rental car coverage for towing, roadside assistance, and uninsured motorist coverage.
Hermiston Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month
Oregon - Safety by City