Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
La Crosse, Kansas, is known as the “Barbed Wire Capital of the World.”
It is also extremely close to the middle of nowhere.
Jokes, of course, but La Crosse is in rural western Kansas, surrounded by small town after small town.
The city is named after the larger La Crosse, Wisconsin.
The population of La Crosse, Kansas could fit into La Crosse, Wisconsin, 42 times over.
The cities have little in common aside from the name.
There is one hotel in La Crosse.
The nearest cities with more hotels are:
- Hays: 30 minutes north
- Great Bend: 45 minutes southeast
- Salina: 1:45 east
- Dodge City: 1:30 southwest
- Colorado Springs: 5 hours west
Boondocking is popular in La Crosse, which means camping without any modern amenities like water and power connections.
It’s also camping outside of a designated campsite but on public lands.
La Crosse has a population of 1,300 people and is located in Rush County, where the Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement.
Trying to research this city is generally going to bring up a video of a tornado or two.
This city hasn’t had the best luck with severe weather over the years.
This city is a great stop on a trip through some of the small Kansas towns, but it’s not going to give you more than a day or two of entertainment on its own.
Warnings & Dangers in La Crosse
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here. We have to use crime data from the county since there isn't a city police department, but that data holds up well since La Crosse is half of the county's population anyway.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You're going to need a car here. Or a horse. Or a bicycle. There aren't going to be buses or taxis. Even if you could get a taxi to take you around the area, it would be one heck of a cab fare.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk of being pickpocketed unless you are visiting during the Rush County Fair. Then the risk might go up slightly. Of the 52 thefts in the county, half of them were car break-ins. Be sure to lock up the car or RV at night and don't leave anything lying around outside your camping tent.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here and not many places to seek shelter if a storm does happen. Spring brings thunderstorms and potential tornadoes. Winter brings the risk of snow, sleet, and hail.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
There was one robbery reported in 2020 and that was a highway robbery, meaning it happened in public. I guess the question is, "Are you feeling lucky?" It's just a good reminder to always practice safety measures, even when visiting an extraordinarily small town.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
I could hardly find this city on the map, I'm sure elaborate terror cells wouldn't be able to or care about the Barbed Wire Museum. If there's one benefit of a wide-open state, it's safe from terrorism.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There are no reported scams that are any different than common nationwide scams. You can feel safe here with a low risk of being scammed.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women shouldn't have any risk while visiting here. There were two sexual assaults in the county in 2020. You do have to be okay with being in a remote, rural area. That might make some women feel uneasy, especially if traveling alone.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The Consumer Confidence report from 2022 shows no violations in the water tests done and the water is safe to use.
Safest Places to Visit in La Crosse
You may have never given any thought to the barbed wire that corrals livestock and draws boundary lines.
The Barbed Wire Museum shows you the history, development, and even battles that took place over barbed wire.
Barbed wire has been nicknamed “The Devil’s Rope” by those who feel it is too painful when cattle run into the wire.
I bring that up because there is a “Devil’s Rope Museum” in McLean, Texas, so don’t get the two confused.
You’d be surprised how many patents there are for barbed wire.
The Nekoma State Bank went belly up in the 1980s, but the historic bank still stands for tourists to view.
The Rush County Historical Society had to raise money to renovate the building.
Don’t even think about it – all the money and the safe were taken out.
The Rush County Historical Museum is located in La Crosse and preserves many artifacts of the pioneers’ westward search for a better life.
As remote as this area is now, it’s hard to imagine men, women, and children in the 1800s staring out at this vast land with confidence that supplies would be ahead – somewhere.
The Post Rock Museum showcases the use of rocks as fence posts.
I’m not sure how to make that sentence more exciting for tourists, but it is cool to think this was one of the rare regions where rocks could be used as posts, being more tolerant of the weather extremes across Kansas.
Nearby, the Holy Cross Shrine is a beautiful church standing in the remote Kansas prairie.
While this is a Catholic Church, all denominations are welcome.
Services are no longer held here, but it’s worth visiting just to see the grand architecture.
Fort Larned National Historic Site is about 30 minutes from La Crosse.
Those who defended the fort were known as the “Guardians of the Santa Fe Trail.”
This is a historical site that was renovated to replicate life on the plants in the 1860s.
You can walk through the sleeping quarters, canteen, blacksmith shop, and weapon storage room.
Places to Avoid in La Crosse
You can travel freely through the streets of La Crosse without worrying about a bad neighborhood or dangerous part of town.
You should definitely avoid going onto private property (aka trespassing).
It might look like there is empty land here, but all the land is owned by someone.
The land provides a livelihood for ranchers and farmers, so don’t go onto their property without express permission.
There are two gas stations in La Crosse, two in Rush Center, and one in McCracken.
You have to go to Hayes to have more gas options.
Be sure to keep your tank filled up at every opportunity.
You don’t want to risk running out of fuel.
One of the options in La Crosse is Casey’s, and if I can make a recommendation – their breakfast pizza is amazing.
Safety Tips for Traveling to La Crosse
- You’ll likely have spotty mobile services in this region, so bring a map with you. Be sure to keep your phone in airplane mode when you are without service so it doesn’t drain the battery.
- KanDrive.org is the statewide mapping system provided by the Department of Transportation. This website can show you the most recent traffic accidents, road closures, construction projects, and weather hazards. Check this map as you travel and have Wifi to see what potential delays are on the road ahead. Looking at the map as I write this, I see a construction site in the heart of La Crosse that would impact your trip.
- You’ll need a fishing license from the Kansas Department of Wildlife if you want to fish, even if it’s just catch and release. Check out the list of rules and permits on the website before deciding which one to purchase.
- If you have an emergency, 911 will work in this rural area and all calls will go to the Rush County Communications Center. If you have specific questions for the sheriff’s office, call the non-emergency number, which is (785)222-2578.
- For any La Crosse-specific questions, you can call (785)222-2511 or email email@example.com. I’m not sure how often the city responds to emails, so calling might be the best way to get a hold of someone.
- If you are injured, there is a hospital in La Crosse. The Rush County Memorial Hospital is on the west side of the city. The emergency room is open 24 hours a day.
- The museums in La Crosse are open from May 1 through Labor Day. You can still visit the exterior of the museums in the off-season. There’s a good chance whenever you visit there won’t be huge crowds. While the crime rates here are low, you should still use a lot of caution when visiting an area that is so remote.
- Rush County Emergency Management claims to have emergency notifications through a system called TextCaster. The link provided on the website doesn’t work and I can’t find another way to get to the system. Be sure you have a good weather app, like The Weather Channel, to set up emergency alerts that follow you as you travel. The weather here is nothing to mess with.
- You should also bring a battery-powered weather radio with you. The Emergency Management office can help program it for free. If power lines and cell towers are down, this might be the only lifeline you have to get emergency information.
- If you happen to be on the road when there is a severe thunderstorm that becomes tornado-warned, don’t stay in your car or go under a highway overpass. Those are two of the most dangerous places to be. If you spot a tornado, get out of your car and find the lowest ditch you can. Lie flat and cover your head with your hands.
So... How Safe Is La Crosse Really?
La Crosse and Rush County are very safe.
Until 2022, there hasn’t been a homicide here in years.
The case that did happen involved a local man who was killed and had his car stolen.
The suspects were caught.
Here’s the raw crime data from 2020 for Rush County:
- Violent Crime: 8
- Rape: 2
- Robbery: 1
- Theft: 52
Two of the violent crimes were against strangers, and half of the thefts were car break-ins.
It can be scary to be in a crowded city with high crime rates, but it can equally be as uncomfortable to be in a wide-open region without a lot of people to witness a crime.
This means you still need all the basic safety steps as you would in a big city here.
Respect the small-town lifestyle and never ask “How can you live like this?”
For some people, this land has been passed down through generations and they love the “everyone knows everyone” friendliness of a small town.
Enjoy the region for what it is, and learn the history of how the pioneers made their way through this desolate region to help shape the Americans we know today.
How Does La Crosse Compare?
|Belize City (Belize)
|La Paz (Bolivia)
You can apply for a U.S. Visa but start a few months ahead of time. There are several steps to complete, including an in-person interview. Once you get through Customs at the airport or when you cross a border, you won't need to show it to get into the small Kansas towns.
The U.S. Dollar is the only form of currency accepted throughout the state. You should stash away some emergency cash in a safe place in case you run into a cash-only business.
La Crosse gets an average of 17 inches of snow each winter, so there won't be snow on the ground all the time. It can get bitterly cold, so you still need to layer up. Bring some extra blankets in the car in case you break down. Spring and fall can fluctuate in temperature even from morning to afternoon, so dress in layers. Summer will be warm and humid, but it's less humid here than in the far eastern part of the state. You'll also want bug spray.
The closest commercial airport is in Wichita, about two and a half hours east. Colorado Springs is about five hours west.
Definitely get travel and road insurance for a trip to this region. Make sure you know what coverage you have for incidents involving weather, livestock, and debris.
La Crosse Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kansas - Safety by City