Kansas : Safety by City
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- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
Smack dab in the center of Kansas, you can take a virtual adventure into space and go underground into a salt mine, all in one city.
That city is Hutchinson, Kansas.
The city is nicknamed “Salt City” because of the rich salt mining history-turned-tourist-attraction, but you’ll hear people there refer to it as Hutch.
The city is home to 40,000 people and is just an hour northwest of Wichita and more than three hours west of Kansas City.
Before you are done reading this story, you’ll have a new appreciation for salt.
Especially if you are a movie buff.
Here’s why – salt mines make great preservation material for delicate items.
Things like set pieces from the Star Wars franchise, the entire collection of MASH television shows, and silent movies on film from the 1920s.
There are hundreds of priceless Hollywood moments stored 60 stories below the surface of the Hutchinson earth.
The salt in those mines is so abundant that it could take care of salting slick winter roads across America for 250,000 thousand years or so.
The depth of the mine is so impressive that you could fit the tallest building in Kansas in the mine three times over.
Now the bad news – you’re going to have to take my word for it because there aren’t tours of Ben Hur or the Wizard of Oz sets.
You can tour the mines, but Hollywood, even underground, is in its own VIP room.
Warnings & Dangers in Hutchinson
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Hutchinson police get salty about their crime numbers. They didn't provide any data for 2021 and in 2020 only 5 months of crime data were reported. So, we got creative with the numbers. We took the number of crimes in each category and divided it by five, for the 5 months of crime reporting. The result of that equation was then multiplied by 12 to get a yearly average. It's not a perfect science, but it's the best with the limited information Hutchinson Police offers its residents and visitors. Because of the incomplete data, we have to give the city a medium overall risk to err on the side of caution.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Hutchinson is in Reno County and Reno County Area Transit (RCAT) provides public bus transportation here on fixed routes throughout the city. There is a direct route to the bigger city of Wichita and special busses that run snow routes in the winter. Taxis and rideshares are also available. Having your own car is going to be a big plus here.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
The theft risk here is medium, with a one in 39 chance of being a victim. That's almost twice the national average. However, that does include everything from shoplifting to petty theft to car break-ins. Pickpocketing is generally not the biggest crime in the theft category, but take all the necessary precautions as you would in a big city.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Search for "Hutchinson Kansas Tornado" on YouTube and you'll see why there is a medium risk in this city. We'd give it that ranking for the tornado threat alone, but there are also the accompanying severe thunderstorms, wicked winds, frequent lightning, torrential rain, and hail that come with those systems. Winter can bring snowstorms, ice storms, and sleet.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The robbery rate is almost three times less than the national average here, so you should feel safe that there's a low risk. That doesn't mean letting your guard down. Keep in mind the date we have is a rough estimate from 2020, so it's as outdated as it is rounded up to a yearly average.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, as it's a small city without too many things that would make a sweet target for terrorists. Even if they wanted to target the Hollywood stash, it's hard to figure out how to attack something so deep in the earth.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
As long as you know the Reno County Sheriff's Department will never call you and demand payment to avoid jail time, you should have a low risk while visiting here. There aren't any known scams targeting tourists.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The sexual assault rate is a little concerning, with 10 rapes happening in the five months reported, making an average of 24 per year. That's two per month. However, if you use common sense and avoid the common risks like walking around at night alone, you should have a low risk while you're here.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There were no violations in 2021 according to the Annual Water Quality Report and there are no water health effect notices or warnings. You can enjoy a low risk when using tap water in Hutchinson.
Safest Places to Visit in Hutchinson
Strataca is an underground salt museum that is open to tourists.
The tour lasts two hours and takes you 650 feet below earth on a 90-second elevator ride.
There are two levels of ticket options.
One is the regular salt mine tour and the add-on is a salt safari to more rarely seen portions of the mine.
Strataca is closed on Mondays.
Back on earth, you can take a look into outer space at the Cosmosphere.
There are five attractions to enjoy here if you buy the All-Access Mission Pass to this space museum.
The museum here holds the largest collection of Russian and the United States space artifacts anywhere, even more than the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.
If you visit both the mine and the space museum, you can get $5 off admission to one of the locations.
The Hutchison Zoo might seem boring at first glance after those two attractions, but even this place has some unique twists.
In addition to traditional zoo animals, there’s a dinosaur dig area where you can look for fossils.
You can also get a unique view of the prairie dogs through clear plastic bubbles that pop up in their enclosure.
For a more wilderness-type experience, head to the Dillon Nature Center.
There’s a playground for kids exploring all five senses, and a lake for fishing and canoeing.
The zoo might have all the animals, but the Dillion Nature Center has all the cool plants and flowers.
It’s also free, with donations accepted.
Sand Hills State Park is the real wilderness area of Reno County.
This 1,100-acre park has trails for people and horses while offering views of wildlife, sand dunes, ponds, grassland, and prairie.
You can also camp here.
It’s a great place to see the stars at night without any light pollution from the city.
Places to Avoid in Hutchinson
The more congested areas have higher crime rates, which makes logical sense.
The city center and the historic district east of there are the highest crime incidents neighborhoods.
The west side of the city is safer than the east side when you look at the crime distribution map alone.
Don’t go trying to find the secret tunnels to get to the underground storage of Hollywood.
Even the crew of Ocean’s Eleven couldn’t break into this vault of priceless products.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Hutchinson
- The non-emergency number for the police department is (620)694-2816. It’s smart to put that number in your phone contact list now in case you need it. You can call this number to ask about safety tips closer to your visit.
- Kandrive.org is a website that shows you everything you could possibly want to know about road conditions in Kansas. You can select different layers on the interactive map, like planned construction, highway camera live views, and traffic incidents.
- The Hutchinson Police Department shows a lot of wanted suspects on their Facebook page (@HutchPD) and if you spot someone and report it, you could be eligible for a reward. Download the P3Tips App or call 1-800-222-TIPS(8477).
- Campers should download the CampIt Kansas app to reserve a campground and get all the safety guidance from the park pros. You can see available campsites, learn about the amenities at each campsite, and pay for your stay through this app.
- I am someone who is claustrophobic and afraid of pitch darkness. The people who run the salt mine tell me the cave has plenty of headroom and breathing room, and even the darkest parts of the cave are still lit by many flashlights. I’ll be honest, I’m still not sure that’s enough to get me to visit the cave, no matter how cool it is, but you can talk to your doctor about getting some anxiety medicine if you really want to see it.
- For anyone who wants to fish or hunt in Kansas, you’ll need a license from the Kansas Department of Wildlife. A non-resident license is $10 and a five-day pass is $27.50. There is an additional permit for anyone who wants to fish for trout, bass, or paddlefish.
- Stay weather aware when visiting Hutch. The Reno County Emergency Management Agency has a Facebook page (@RENOEMA) and updates it quite often. For local weather, there’s also the option to download news and weather apps from the Wichita stations. If you’re spending a lot of time outdoors or in the wilderness, a NOAA weather radio is a smart investment. As long as you have batteries, you’ll never lose the signal, even if mobile and power lines go down.
- The city of Hutchinson uses Everbridge to send out emergency alerts to residents. You can sign up for this too by using the address of your hotel. This will provide you with text messages or emails about road closures, weather emergencies, gas leaks, and the like.
- The Kansas State Fair is held in Hutch every September. If you are visiting for the fair or just happen to be here at that time, the hotel rooms are going to fill up quickly. Book as early as possible and be prepared for prices to be higher than normal.
- When it snows here, not all the streets are plowed. Only the main roads will be cleared and you can see the priority streets on the Snow Removal section of the city’s website. The city does guarantee you’ll be no more than four blocks from a plowed street.
So... How Safe Is Hutchinson Really?
When we can’t provide exact data, like with Hutch, we have to use the best reasoning and averaging skills to make an educated guess.
By doing the math I explained earlier, the city has a violent crime rate lower than the state average but higher than the national average and a property crime rate higher than the state and national average.
We also don’t have data on what crimes were domestic issues and which were random acts of violence.
I reviewed the past year of Facebook posts by the police department and the main crimes reported were shoplifting.
You can see how much community engagement in policing there is here with the posts that say “THANK YOU FACEBOOK” updated from the original “Can You Identify This Person?” post.
There are also a good number of drug crimes reported.
It’s important to park the car with the doors locked and windows rolled up.
Leave nothing in plain sight.
Thieves will randomly walk through a parking lot and test the door handles, going for unlocked cars first.
Having an anti-theft device on the steering wheel can also dissuade thieves.
If you practice these kinds of good personal safety steps, you should enjoy your time in and below Hutchinson, Kansas.
How Does Hutchinson Compare?
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- Visas - You'll only need to show your visa when you enter the United States and go through Customs. After that, lock the visa in a safe place until your departure. You will need a passport as proof of ID if you are traveling internationally.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the currency of Kansas and all the cities. You should be able to purchase a lot of the major attractions online before your trip. The fewer times you have to pull out your wallet here, the safer you'll be. When you're in the mine, there are lockers provided so you can explore without having to worry about your stuff.
- Weather - Kansas gets all four seasons, sometimes to the extreme. It can still snow in spring or fall. It can still get cold in the summer or warm in the winter. Packing layers of clothing is the best practice for Hutchinson. Winter will be cold, so bring a thick coat and winter accessories. The summers here are more humid than on the western edge of the state, so just know you'll be sweating a lot. You'll also need bug spray.
- Airports - From Hutch, it's about an hour to Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. If you are flying in or out of Kansas City International Airport, plan for a three-and-a-half-hour drive.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great idea for the time you'll spend in the air and on the road. Severe weather can quickly spin up here, causing delays on anything with wings or wheels.
Hutchinson Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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