Idaho : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Idaho - state review
There are a lot of cities with the name “Falls” in them across Idaho, and here we’re going to talk about Idaho Falls.
There’s a good chance if you are visiting Idaho Falls, it’s on the way to or from Yellowstone National Park, which is just about an hour away.
It’s easy with the lure of Yellowstone to move quickly through Idaho Falls, but you’d be missing a lot if you treat it like a pitstop instead of an adventure all its own.
The downtown area is filled with historic buildings and artifacts so abundant there’s even a scavenger hunt to play when visiting.
The namesake river and its associated falls go right through the city and it’s a great experience to walk the river during any season.
There’s a safe riverwalk to guide you along.
While there’s plenty of wildlife in the surrounding areas, there’s also a zoo there where you’ll never end up running from an angry moose.
(Yes, that’s a thing and we’ll talk about that in a bit.)
With a rugged exterior and a lot of outdoor amenities, we mustn’t miss the incredible growing arts scene in Idaho Falls as well.
There are just a lot of ways to fall in love with “The Falls.”
Warnings & Dangers in Idaho Falls
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here. Even though some of the crime numbers are actually higher than the state average, there's interesting information when we dig into that. As a tourist, you should have low overall concerns about crime.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There is a public transit system called the Downtowner that is like a mixture of a shuttle bus and a rideshare program. As of mid-2022, the program was expected to launch "soon." There is no other bus system in the city and you'll have to get a taxi or rideshare to get around, which aren't all that abundant here. Having your own car is ideal in Idaho Falls.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were four pickpockets reported in 2020, each with a loss of less than $120. While there's a low risk in Idaho Falls, these are great examples of not carrying too much around in your wallet in case you are a rare victim.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You've got a medium risk here between the bitter cold and snowy winters, wildfires, earthquakes, and flash flooding. It's important your research the terrain and weather emergencies here before you go so you are prepared in case of an evacuation.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
A third of the robberies that happened in 2020 were in public places. There were only 18 robberies total. There is a low risk of a mugging happening here, but if it does, it's best to not fight back as many people in Idaho are legally armed. It's not worth risking your life for your belongings.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here with the Idaho National Laboratory being just north of Idaho Falls. This is where nuclear research for everything from energy to national security is researched and tested and has been known as "The Site" since the 1940s.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The biggest scams here are the utility scams that target customers, not tourists. There's a low risk of a tourist scam, but if you are suspicious at all about a rental home or a specific situation you come across, report it to the police.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The sexual assault rate is higher than the national average but almost double, but that's really the only sticking point I see that would give a woman a higher risk here. As long as you use caution when drinking and avoid going anywhere private with strangers, you should have a low risk. It's also wise to avoid walking around town at night by yourself.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There is a low risk as the water quality tested in 2020 meets or exceeds all requirements. New water quality reports come out by June 1 of each year, so it's a good idea to review the report before you go.
Safest Places to Visit in Idaho Falls
You certainly can’t come to Idaho Falls without visiting the actual falls along the Snake River in the center of town.
Stop by the Japanese Friendship Garden on your stroll.
No reservations or admission are required for the garden visit.
Downtown Idaho Falls isn’t as rustic and charming as some other downtowns, but there is plenty to find if you get a copy of the scavenger hunt map.
You can use that map for discounted admission to the Museum of Idaho where there’s a lot more history to learn.
The Idaho Falls Zoo is known as the “Best Little Zoo in the West.”
The exhibits are laid out by continent with interactive exhibits and live animals to see.
There is also a children’s zoo on site where you can interact with animals like a Nigerian Dwarf Goat or Sardinian Donkey.
Another great place for the whole family is the ARTitorium, which is an interactive and educational showcase of art.
This art comes in all forms, including a digital motion wall where you design yourself into a human kaleidoscope.
There are hands-on exhibits and screen adventures to create stop motion graphics or compose your own symphony.
If you want to visit the Idaho National Laboratory, call ahead first.
In-person tours were allowed before the pandemic but were shut down when the pandemic hit.
They moved to virtual tours only since the pandemic.
At some point, those tours are expected to return but haven’t as of mid-2022.
It would be a great experience to see the world’s first nuclear power plant.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about tours.
Places to Avoid in Idaho Falls
The area in the center of town from I-15 to the Yellowstone Highway is shown on crime maps to have the highest rate of incidents.
This is also one of the busiest parts of the city, so that’s not really a surprise.
There are a lot of shoplifting arrests in Idaho Falls. In fact, 70% of the 704 thefts were shoplifting-related.
You should report any shoplifting you see but avoid confronting the person directly.
Idaho is known to have really nice people who are a little wary of strangers.
That only got more complicated when a bunch of people from California moved to Idaho during the pandemic to enjoy the outdoor life with the revelation they can now work from anywhere.
The “Californication” of Idaho has gobbled up real estate, sent prices soaring, and added more traffic to the road (with those terrible California driving habits).
Avoid talking to any locals about this as it might set them off on a diatribe of why they don’t want any more people moving here.
This is also a state with a strong conservative base and very religious people.
You’ll see the pristine white Mormon church on the horizon.
Follow basic rules of etiquette, don’t talk politics or religion with people as it could lead to a heated argument and who wants that on vacation??
Safety Tips for Traveling to Idaho Falls
- Sign up for emergency alerts from the Idaho Falls Police Department by going to the AlertSense section of its website. The app is free and you’ll get notifications about things like criminal activity impacting the public, weather emergencies, or major accidents causing road closures.
- You can fish anywhere with access to the Snake River in Idaho Falls, but if the strong currents of the river are intimidating or scary to you, try out one of the local fishing ponds. Ryder Park has two fully stocked fish ponds and it’s a great place to teach kids how to fish safely.
- If you plan to fish or hunt in Idaho Falls or the surrounding areas, you are going to need a license from Idaho Fish & Game. Those can be purchased online. Anyone over 14 years of age needs an Idaho license. The one from your home state or country won’t do.
- If you are visiting in a cooler month and you carry a crossbody purse, a little safety hack is to put your purse on under your coat. Then it’s harder for thieves to see once the coat is on your body.
- This is a tourist area with a lot of people coming and going. Don’t leave laptops or any mobile devices out of sight for even a few seconds to go get a drink refill at a fast-food restaurant. If you are working on a laptop, buy a security cord to lock it to the table or take it with you.
- Idaho Falls Police are dedicated to cleaning up graffiti within 48 hours of the first sighting. You can report graffiti to the non-emergency number at (208) 529-1200. Citizens volunteer to help with the cleanup and are ready to go in teams as needed.
- Idaho Falls isn’t a very walkable town. You will most likely be walking longer distances and also have to go on that riverwalk. Wear smart, comfortable shoes and leave behind any fancy shoes.
- The FEMA app is a great way to keep track of weather emergencies when traveling. By downloading the free app, you can choose five locations for emergency notifications. With wildfires and flooding common in Idaho Falls and surrounding areas, you need to always be prepared for an emergency.
- Speaking of floods, follow the basic rule of “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”, which means to never drive across a flooded road, even if you think the water isn’t very deep. The majority of drowning deaths in floods come from people who drove through a flooded road and got carried away.
- In 2021 and 2022, there have been a rash of small earthquakes across central and eastern Idaho. If you feel the ground shaking, DO NOT run inside if you are outside. If you are inside, get under a sturdy table or door frame.
So... How Safe Is Idaho Falls Really?
It doesn’t look all that safe when you look at the crime numbers, but let’s break that down a little bit.
The violent crime risk is one in 329 by the statistics alone.
52 of those crimes were against strangers, so that’s just 16%.
Almost 50% of the violent crimes happened in homes, which wouldn’t impact a tourist unless you were visiting family or attending a party at a house.
The theft rate is lower than the national average just by the statistics with a risk of one in 99 for the average person.
However, when we take away all the shoplifting reports, the risk goes down to one in 334.
The city hasn’t had more than two homicides in a year since 2012.
This is an open carry state, so you might see more people with guns than in some other places, but most of the time it’s completely legal.
Risks do come from the great outdoors as well, with bitterly cold temperatures in the winter and scorching heat in the summer.
It’s a dry climate, so some people forget to bring enough water to keep the body hydrated.
Of all the wildlife in Idaho, moose are the least intimidating to tourists but also among the most dangerous.
If you get too close to a moose, it will charge and could try to stomp you to death.
If you are a person who generally practices good personal safety habits, you should have no risk and all rewards visiting Idaho Falls.
How Does Idaho Falls Compare?
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- Visas - You only need to show the Visa when you arrive at the final destination in the United States. You'll do this on the way out of the airport before you get to baggage claim.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here for currency. Don't carry around a lot of cash and try to keep some cash separate from your wallet just in case you get pickpocketed.
- Weather - You need insulated winter clothing and loose, cooling clothing in the summer. The fall and spring can have wide temperature swings from day to night, so pack layers. You should also bring sunscreen and lotion. You will be surprised how quickly your skin dries out in an arid climate.
- Airports - There is an airport in Idaho Falls and it's one of the bigger airports outside of Boise. You can drive to Boise or Salt Lake City for a bigger airport, but that's going to be 3-4 hours on the road.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance for the many adventures on and off the road in Idaho Fall, Idaho. Make sure you know what the insurance does or doesn't cover if it comes to a wildfire evacuation.
Idaho Falls Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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