Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
The Flint Hills of Kansas begins at the entrance to Junction City.
This small town has a big military presence and a nearby lake, offering seasonal activities for every tourist.
Nearby, Fort Riley is headquarters for nearly 8,000 soldiers and civilians, while Junction City is home to 23,000 people.
The bigger city of Topeka is an hour east and the nightlife of Kansas State University beckons in Manhattan just 25 minutes east.
Junction City got its name from the meeting of two rivers on the east side of the city.
Milford Lake is just north of the area and tourists have the option of staying in lakeside cabins at Acorns Resort.
Otherwise, there are more than a dozen hotels off I-70.
That’s a lot for a town so small.
The attractions here range from the deep Kansas history to dairy farms to water activities.
There are lakes, wetlands, and rivers to explore as well.
Don’t forget to try one of the popular BBQ restaurants while you’re here.
The hardest part will be choosing which one.
Warnings & Dangers in Junction City
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in Junction City just based on the 2020 crime data. Every category, aside from robbery, was much higher than the national average. Violent crime is the real concern, being at more than twice the state and national average. There are a certain group of people who refer to the city as "Junk Town."
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency (ATA Bus) has fixed routes in Junction City and throughout the region. The Transit app can help you plan your trip, but honestly - you'll want a car here. A taxi or rideshare could be available, but probably not as quickly as you'd like.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk of being pickpocketed as the city is very spread out and there aren't a lot of tight quarters. A bigger risk would be having your car broken into. Remember to lock the door and roll up the windows when parking.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This city is right in Tornado Alley, so the storms here can be very severe. Hail can fall the size of baseballs and intense lightning can make it dangerous to go outside. Sometimes, just the winds from a storm can do damage to buildings. Winter brings snow and ice storms. There's a medium risk throughout the year and you have to stay prepared for weather emergencies.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Given how high the violent crime rate is here, there's a surprisingly low risk of being robbed. There were just seven robberies in 2020. With the way crime data was calculated then, a robbery that was elevated to an aggravated assault would only be counted as an assault in the crime data. There were nearly 160 aggravated assaults in 2020.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
Since Fort Riley is so large and so close, we have to give this a medium risk. The army installation is a training ground for soldiers and national guard members. Any city with a military presence will get an escalated risk level, but also more protection from Homeland Security.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
One scam for tourists to look out for is gold being sold out of the trunk of cars or on the roadside. This gold is almost always fake and people don't figure it out until the gold irritates their skin or they go to pawn it. If someone tries to approach you in a parking lot, just wave them off. They offer what seems like a great deal on expensive gold, but you really end up overpaying for junk. With this kind of scam, there's a medium risk since it is happening a lot as of 2022.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
The sexual assault rate is two and a half times higher than the national average. There is no indication how many of those reports were domestic situations or random acts of violence, but it's enough to give women a medium risk when you consider that and the high violent crime rate. Use a lot of caution here.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows that all testing done had levels that met or exceeded the requirements. There has been a history of water contamination from Fort Riley throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 2022, a storm came through and damaged the water treatment facility. This left the town without water. Then the stores ran out of water, so people had to go to nearby cities. While technically there's a low risk, you should check right before your visit to see if there are any water concerns and if you want to pick up a couple of cases of bottled water for drinking, I wouldn't blame you.
Safest Places to Visit in Junction City
While Fort Riley is technically its own Census-Designated Place, you still want to put the attractions there on your to-do list.
Historic Fort Riley is home to the U.S. Cavalry Museum and Custer House, where General Custer lived for part of his life.
You can also see the building that was the first capital of Kansas.
Back in Junction City, the Geary County Historical Museum is a great place to learn about the history of the “Flint Hills” and the battles fought on this land.
There are four pieces of building history still standing here.
Milford Lake is the largest reservoir in Kansas.
The lake and surrounding land cover 18,000 acres.
Hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping are top attractions here.
There are nearly 250 campsites available and a handful of cabins.
At Acorns resort, you can still get outdoor enjoyment with a few more modern amenities.
There are rooms, cabins, and yurts available for rent, in addition to an RV park.
There’s a bar and grill with live entertainment and elk burgers as the top seller on the menu.
Hildebrand Dairy Farms is open for scheduled tours where you can see behind the scenes of a working farm.
Before you go, try out some of the products.
There are the traditional styles of milk, but how about Root Beer Milk or an Ice Cream Mix?
There’s also a store on-site with homemade and homegrown Kansas food items.
The C.L. Hoover Opera House is worth a social media photo just from the views on the outside, but check the schedule to see what shows are playing when you’re in town.
This historical building has quite a story behind it, being built in 1880.
I won’t ruin the rest of the “tragedy to triumph” story for you.
Downtown Junction City is usually bustling with activities on weekends, so check the city schedule.
There are several unique shops and restaurants down there too.
Places to Avoid in Junction City
The central and northeastern parts of the city are the most dangerous when you look at the crime maps.
While you shouldn’t avoid visiting here because of the crime rates, you should really just use extra caution as if you were in a big city when you visit.
You should avoid discussing politics or military actions while visiting this city.
There are a lot of military members and family members of active soldiers here.
Read the room and respect the space.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to your opinions, you just shouldn’t assume everyone else is entitled to hear them.
Stay on the main roads here and avoid walking around at night.
It’s those simple safety steps that can make your trip better in Junction City.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Junction City
- If you want to visit Historic Fort Riley, you’ll need a military pass unless you have an active Military ID. Check the rules and regulations on the Fort Riley website to see how that process works. You won’t be allowed into Fort Riley without a pass and a background check. Sign up for your tour at least 24 hours in advance so the vetting process can be completed. You cannot talk your way into Fort Riley.
- The Junction City Police Department has a form on its website where you can report non-urgent crime information, like graffiti, drug crimes, or suspicious activity. You can also upload pictures or videos through that form.
- There is a “Notify Me” center on the Junction City website. Be sure to sign up for police, public works, and fire department alerts at a minimum. This will keep you up to date on emergency events, like water quality issues, during your visit.
- You should also choose a reliable weather app and make sure you enable emergency weather notifications. Storms here can quickly go from a watch to a warning, and you’ll need to stay on top of any developing storm as it can shut down roads or make going outdoors too dangerous.
- You’ll need a fishing license from the Kansas Department of Wildlife if you want to fish in the lakes or rivers here. There are some special permits for certain fish, so check the list on the website before you make a purchase. You can also call 1-833-587-2164 to get more information.
- Before traveling around the county, check out kandrive.org for all the department of transportation alerts. This covers everything from paving projects to road closures to weather events. Even as I look at Junction City in mid-2022, I see four construction projects that could impact tourists’ travels.
- If you are driving here in the winter, get an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle. Pack extra blankets and bring a bright red garment to use as a warning flag if you get stuck in a snow bank.
- The far northern end of Milford Lake is a wetlands area that is partially open to tourists for wildlife viewing and hiking throughout the year. Part of this area is also a hunting ground during the hunting season, so be sure to check with the park rangers before you go exploring. You don’t want a hunter to mistake you for a deer or elk.
- Be careful driving, even on residential streets, in early spring because big potholes can pop up after rough winters. There is a “See, Click, Fix” option on the city’s website where you can report potholes or other nuisances like downed trees after a storm.
- If you really have concerns about water quality, the water plant does offer tours for individuals or groups. Just call (785)762-5855 to schedule a tour and you can see what goes into keeping the water of Junction City and Fort Riley clean.
So... How Safe Is Junction City Really?
It doesn’t look too safe on the surface, but all the context I can get from looking at comments online is that the town is boring and there’s “nothing to do.”
The risks from 2020 break down like this:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 119 risk
- Theft: 1 in 60 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 3,276
The average national violent crime rate is 399 crimes per 100,000 people.
In Junction City, the violent crime rate is 837 crimes per 100,000 people.
Here’s the thing – 76% of the violent crimes happened in private homes.
20% of the crimes happened in public spaces.
27% of the thefts were car break-ins with an average theft of almost $900.
You can’t afford to become lackadaisical about locking your car door or clearing out personal belongings at the end of a long day.
This is a city where living here seems to be more dangerous than visiting here.
Don’t let your guard down and you should enjoy the things to do in Junction City.
There is plenty to do for a tourist, but I can see how living here the attractions would get old.
How Does Junction City Compare?
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You should give yourself four months' leeway to apply for your U.S. Visa. There are many steps to the process, so you should study each one to make sure there are no delays. Once you are in the U.S. you won't need your visa to travel between cities. You only need it at the airport. Domestic travelers should make sure their driver's license has been upgraded to Real ID status if they want to visit Fort Riley.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and I didn't come across any location that was cash only, so keep the cash to a minimum when you are walking around. Using a credit card for purchases offers better theft protection anyway.
Winters are going to be cold, so you want several layers of warmth and water resistance. Spring and fall can get snow or can be in the 70s. That's the beauty of the Midwest - if you don't like the weather you can wait a few hours and it will change. Summers are going to be hot and humid, with lots of bugs flying around. Bring light clothing and bug spray. Don't forget sunscreen too.
Topeka Regional Airport is about an hour's drive east and Kansas City's airport is two hours east. Wichita's airport is two hours south.
Travel insurance is a smart investment in a region that is so prone to severe and extensive weather.
Junction City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kansas - Safety by City