How Safe Is La Grande for Travel?

Updated On December 27, 2023
La Grande, United States
Safety Index:
84
* Based on Research & Crime Data

La Grande, nestled against the majestic Blue Mountains, isn’t just a city; it’s a storybook valley teeming with history, outdoor adventure, and small-town charm.

Founded in 1862, it was once a bustling crossroads for pioneers on the Oregon Trail, and its legacy lives on in charming brick buildings and a palpable pioneer spirit.

Visiting La Grande is like stepping into a postcard.

Main Street buzzes with friendly locals, independent shops, and cafes serving up craft brews and delicious pastries.

It’s a small town of 13,000 people, but it has amenities you’d expect in larger towns.

But the real magic lies beyond the city limits.

The Grande Ronde Valley, nicknamed “The Valley of Peace” by Native Americans, unfolds like a vibrant emerald carpet framed by snow-capped peaks.

La Grande (“Luh-grand”)appears to seamlessly blend almost everything you want in an Oregon getaway (aside from the coast).

Eastern Oregon University gives the sophisticated town a youthful vibe.

The mountains and river provide outdoor adventures, from tame hikes to adventurous rock climbing to paddling the river.

History lives and breathes through the city’s architecture and museums.

You should know that there are rural towns and then there are remote towns like La Grande.

You’re at least 250 miles from Portland or Seattle and surrounded by thousands of acres of national forests on all sides.

Even getting to Boise, Idaho, takes two and a half hours.

However, when you truly want to unplug and get away to a place that doesn’t have tourist crowds, like along the Columbia River or coastline, you’re in for quite an adventure.

Warnings & Dangers in La Grande

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

There's a low risk in La Grande, and you'll get that same sentiment by reading social media reviews. The remoteness might not be for everyone, but it's not a boring small town by any means.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Northeast Oregon has a public transportation system called "The Shuttle." Visit the website (ccno.org) and choose Union County to see the routes available. Taxis and rideshares are available, especially since this is a college town. Services might be less available than in bigger cities, but you still have that option. Of course, you need to get to La Grande, so a rental car might be your best option.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

About two pickpockets and purse snatchings happen each year, which makes it a low risk. It's important to keep your guard up because other theft categories are much higher.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW

While major events are rare, be prepared for winter blizzards and occasional snowmelt flooding. Wildfires pose a risk during dry summer months, especially in surrounding forests. Spring and fall bring gusty winds and the potential for thunderstorms, though tornadoes are uncommon. The risk is low unless a major storm is brewing or wildfires are burning.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

This is another low risk, with fewer than four robberies reported each year for the past decade. You'll still need common sense and situational awareness, but this is one of the smallest concerns to have in La Grande.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

Yet another low risk, as this rural town has nothing that would make it attractive to international terrorists. Now, domestic terrorism and mass shootings can happen in any city. That's why it's important to report suspicious activity.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

The most recent scam is one that happened nationwide. Someone calls a random person and says they'll be arrested if they don't pay a certain amount of money. That's not how arrests work in America, so don't fall for it - though locals are most targeted.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Yet another low risk here. Women should just use the same precautions as they would in any new town. Also, be familiar with wilderness and highway safety.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The city is facing a huge challenge in updating water quality systems to comply with the Safe Water Drinking Act. Since this is required of all water providers, you can rest assured the water here is safe to drink. The latest water quality report from 2022 shows no violations.

Safest Places to Visit in La Grande

Nothing of concern stands out in La Grande’s crime data.

The violent crime rate is 17% lower than the state average and 28% lower than the national average.

Beyond that, 65% of violent crimes happen in private homes.

Just 9% happen against strangers looking back at five years of data.

Thefts are 30% higher than the national average, but part of that is due to the margin of error when calculating for such a small town.

I don’t want to negate the theft risk – because Oregon has a real problem with this category of crime.

Half of all thefts fall into a category called “Other.”

Those are thefts that don’t fall into one of the determined categories and could include things like equipment stolen from a yard or a campsite cooler being taken.

22% of all thefts are related to car break-ins, and about two cars a month get stolen here.

Those are all significantly lower than in most other cities I have researched in Oregon.

Then you have the natural and wilderness dangers.

The safety of that one is up to you.

For example, visiting a national forest is about as “wilderness” as you can get.

There are few amenities, small crowds, and many hazards that could take days to get a rescue team to help you.

It always helps to check in with a forest ranger before you go on a long hike or a mountain climb.

I think you’ll really like what La Grande has to offer, especially if you love the great outdoors.

Places to Avoid in La Grande

Nothing of concern stands out in La Grande’s crime data.

The violent crime rate is 17% lower than the state average and 28% lower than the national average.

Beyond that, 65% of violent crimes happen in private homes.

Just 9% happen against strangers looking back at five years of data.

Thefts are 30% higher than the national average, but part of that is due to the margin of error when calculating for such a small town.

I don’t want to negate the theft risk – because Oregon has a real problem with this category of crime.

Half of all thefts fall into a category called “Other.”

Those are thefts that don’t fall into one of the determined categories and could include things like equipment stolen from a yard or a campsite cooler being taken.

22% of all thefts are related to car break-ins, and about two cars a month get stolen here.

Those are all significantly lower than in most other cities I have researched in Oregon.

Then you have the natural and wilderness dangers.

The safety of that one is up to you.

For example, visiting a national forest is about as “wilderness” as you can get.

There are few amenities, small crowds, and many hazards that could take days to get a rescue team to help you.

It always helps to check in with a forest ranger before you go on a long hike or a mountain climb.

I think you’ll really like what La Grande has to offer, especially if you love the great outdoors.

Safety Tips for Traveling to La Grande

  1. La Grande does have its own police department. To make sure you find the right page, the handle is @La-Grande-Police-Department-100068977127231. The phone number is (541) 963-1017 if you have specific questions. It’s always good to have law enforcement numbers programmed into your phone.
  2. The city and county use Everbridge to send out emergency notifications. Sign up through the city’s website under the “Emergency Notifications” section. You won’t get spam – just safety information or incoming weather risks.
  3. In addition to those alerts, sign up for the “Notify Me” alerts throughout the city. These will include specific information about road closures, water main breaks, or potential evacuation routes in case of a wildfire. While there are many categories to choose from, the “Citywide Urgent Alerts” is the only one you need.
  4. Oregon is dealing with a homelessness problem, and that issue extends to La Grande. You might see homeless camps (a bunch of tents) or see panhandlers on the street. You are under no obligation to give anyone money, and it’s better to donate to a shelter if you are inclined.
  5. Downtown La Grande has a two-hour parking limit in most spots, and you’ll have to move or finish your plans during that time. Otherwise, look for unlimited parking in nearby parking lots or garages. You might pay by the hour or by the day. Don’t park on campus unless you have a parking pass or you are in a public lot.
  6. Anglers need a fishing license from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. You can buy a license for a day up to a year but check the prices and requirements online before you firm up fishing plans. Even if you are going on a guided fishing tour, you’ll still need a license.
  7. If you’re planning to visit the National Forests and other public lands in the state or Pacific Northwest, spending $80 on an interagency pass is a great way to save money.
  8. Check the air quality and wildfire conditions before you go into the wilderness. Even distant wildfires can send smoke choking the valley or higher elevations. You should also know if there’s a high fire danger on a given day and what burn restrictions are in place because of that.
  9. Trip Check is the website to check road conditions, real-time traffic, and construction zones in the state. Washington also has a Trip Check website. If you’re going into the wilderness, please download maps before you go. Avenza Maps is one popular program that can help you stay on track without cellular or Wi-Fi access. Google Maps also has this feature, but you’ll need to download the maps while you do have service.
  10. Wolves are common in this area, but you don’t need to be afraid of them. They rarely interact with humans and want nothing to do with you. The only reason a wolf might become a threat is if you attempt to bait it with food or if you’re near livestock it is targeting.

So... How Safe Is La Grande Really?

Nothing of concern stands out in La Grande’s crime data.

The violent crime rate is 17% lower than the state average and 28% lower than the national average.

Beyond that, 65% of violent crimes happen in private homes.

Just 9% happen against strangers looking back at five years of data.

Thefts are 30% higher than the national average, but part of that is due to the margin of error when calculating for such a small town.

I don’t want to negate the theft risk – because Oregon has a real problem with this category of crime.

Half of all thefts fall into a category called “Other.”

Those are thefts that don’t fall into one of the determined categories and could include things like equipment stolen from a yard or a campsite cooler being taken.

22% of all thefts are related to car break-ins, and about two cars a month get stolen here.

Those are all significantly lower than in most other cities I have researched in Oregon.

Then you have the natural and wilderness dangers.

The safety of that one is up to you.

For example, visiting a national forest is about as “wilderness” as you can get.

There are few amenities, small crowds, and many hazards that could take days to get a rescue team to help you.

It always helps to check in with a forest ranger before you go on a long hike or a mountain climb.

I think you’ll really like what La Grande has to offer, especially if you love the great outdoors.

How Does La Grande Compare?

CitySafety Index
La Grande84
New York City67
Detroit56
San Diego67
Miami55
Honolulu65
Chicago65
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Toronto (Canada)81
Melbourne (Australia)80
Montreal (Canada)81
Sydney (Australia)80
Santiago de Chile (Chile)71

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

A visa is required for all international visitors, though some of you might qualify for a visa waiver. You can start that inquiry on the U.S. State Department website. If you're attending college here, you'll need a student visa.

Currency

Currency

Only the U.S. Dollar is accepted across the country. Exchange currency at the airport before you get to this remote small town. Your home bank will actually have the lowest rates.

Weather

Weather

Unlike the coastal area, which gets a pretty consistent flow of weather, this part of Oregon gets four robust seasons. Pack for the season but always bring a waterproof outer layer. You'll want hiking boots and outdoor clothing that can withstand intense activities. Bring bug spray and sunscreen. Most equipment for skiing or paddling can be rented here.

Airports

Airports

Whether you want to fly out of Portland, Seattle, Spokane, or Boise, you're looking at a two-and-a-half-hour (Boise) to five-hour (Seattle) road trip. The airport in La Grande is a public airport, but it doesn't have commercial flights.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance covers so much that it's worth the investment. For more rigorous activities, consider adventure insurance, which helps pay for the costs of an emergency while in the wilderness.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

La Grande Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -1° C
Feb 2° C
Mar 5° C
Apr 9° C
May 13° C
Jun 17° C
Jul 21° C
Aug 21° C
Sep 16° C
Oct 10° C
Nov 4° C
Dec -1° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
36111520243030251783
Low
°C
-5-3-1269121172-1-4
High
°F
374352596875868677634637
Low
°F
232730364348545245363025

Oregon - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Astoria85
Baker City77
Bayshore78
Beaverton84
Bend87
Coos Bay52
Corvallis73
Eugene52
Gresham70
Hermiston79
Hillsboro73
Hood River82
Klamath Falls67
La Grande84
Lincoln City78
Medford67
Portland69
Roseburg75
Salem81
Seaside74

Where to Next?

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