Arizona : Safety by City
- Casa Grande
- Lake Havasu City
- Oro Valley
- Sierra Vista
If you’ve even hummed the tune 🎶London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down…🎶, you’re talking about Lake Havasu, Arizona.
The old version of the London Bridge was brought to Lake Havasu piece by piece and re-assembled.
It’s now a focal point of this lakefront community that is a hot destination for spring breakers and snowbirds.
The design of this city is fascinating and infuriating all at the same time.
There are few streetlights, making for great stargazing but incredibly dark streets, and hardly any sidewalks, helping lower pedestrian accidents but also forcing more cars on congested roads.
Despite all that, 1.5 million people visit annually to this desert Oasis.
You’ll need to enjoy the lake and outdoors if you want to have a good time in Lake Havasu, as there isn’t much else to do in the form of entertainment.
The lake spans 30 square miles and offers a plethora of activities above and below the water’s surface.
It’s an incredible place with a lot of oddities and interesting things to explore.
Warnings & Dangers in Lake Havasu City
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk in Lake Havasu. The crime rates are incredibly low and it's a party town where college students on spring break can enjoy it as much as a senior citizen visiting for half the year to avoid harsh northern winters. Once you figure out the unique aspects of this community, you'll be better prepared. We're going to walk you through all of them.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The public bus system in Lake Havasu is THEBRIDGE and offers $1.25 fares with discounts for students and seniors. You can get taxis and rideshares, but there's also a popular company called the 5 Dollar Holler with cheap shuttle rides to certain zones, though prices go up for other zones in the area. All options are low-risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Just two purse snatchings were reported in 2020, so there's a low risk. You should still practice basic safety measures, like keeping valuables tucked away in your hotel room and carrying as little cash as possible.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Extreme heat is the biggest concern, as average temperatures from June through September are well above triple digits and only cool down to the 80s at night. Flash flooding and severe thunderstorms are other concerns. An average of 20 severe thunderstorms hit Lake Havasu a year, and since the city is built for outdoor activities, those storms pose an instant danger to everyone outside. There's a medium risk and the city has a comprehensive safety plan to address each one. We'll go through some of that in a little bit.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
I had to check four different sources to confirm this was true, but there were only three robberies in Lake Havasu in 2020. There's a very low risk of being mugged.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, as several bigger targets are in this region, like Lake Vegas and Phoenix.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The Lake Havasu Police Department has a list of recent scams on its website, and right now the biggest scams are spoofed numbers targeting locals. A tourist has a low risk of being affected by these scams.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk for women if they're here for spring break or one of the other amazing events in the city. I say this because Spring Break brings a Mardi Gras-type spirit where "Riverbeads" are thrown out and women are encouraged to bear their chests to get the beads. You want to avoid this hype, as social media photos could impact you for years to come professionally and personally. Also, make sure you never take a drink you didn't see poured or ask for a beer that has a cap on it. Just be safe in this party city and make good life choices while having fun. Stay in groups of friends if you can.
TAP WATER RISK : MEDIUM
First, the water comes from the Colorado River Aquifer, which can be impacted by many contaminants from trash, sewage, fertilizers, and stormwater runoff. While the water is processed to the approved standards, the water utility says the water source is a "high risk", so the utility must adapt to potential unforeseen contamination. The 2020 water quality report states, in part, "This does not imply that the source water is contaminated nor does it mean that contamination is imminent. Rather, it simply states that land-use activities or hydrogeological conditions exist that make the source water susceptible to possible future contamination." Second, the water in the summer gets hot because the area is hot. It's very hard to get cold water to come from a tap. Water utilities clean the water, but they can't make it the right degree of "cold" for residents. If you want cold water, you'll need a refrigerator.
Safest Places to Visit in Lake Havasu City
The first stop is at London Bridge, where it is definitely more than your average bridge.
Only the Grand Canyon is more popular than the London Bridge in Arizona.
You can learn the full story of how the bridge from London ended up in a small Arizona town.
You can see the lights at night in colors to commemorate various holidays and seasons
There are bats to spy under the bridge along with thousands of swallows.
The bridge takes you to the Island Mall area, which is a small grouping of restaurants and stores.
There aren’t big shopping centers in this area, but there are unique souvenir shops and a Walmart if you need basic items.
The lake offers 400 miles of shoreline with some spectacular white or brown sandy beaches.
You’ll feel like you’re at the ocean but won’t have to worry about sharks.
Some of the popular beach spots are:
- London Bridge Beach
- Lake Havasu State Park
- Rotary Community Park
Underneath London Bridge is the Bridgewater Channel, where you can dream about owning a boat for hours as the vessels pass by.
If you get the urge to rent a boat or take a boat excursion.
As you are planning your trip to Lake Havasu, it’s worth noting there are houseboat rentals available as well.
Check out the map of the lake marinas and launch spots from the visitor center to find your perfect boating slide of paradise.
Anglers will love the fishing options at the lake.
There’s bass, panfish, and catfish to be caught.
The biggest fish ever caught in the lake is a 6.3-pound reader sunfish.
Think you can top that?
Sick of the water?
Let’s go hiking!
You can scramble through a slot canyon at “The Crack” or get away from people at Mockingbird Wash (there’s also a campsite there called Solitude Cove.
Ripley’s Run is another trail if you like scrambling rocks.
For those who just want to walk the shoreline, there’s a trail for that as well.
See if you can spot all 28 miniature lighthouses on your walk.
Getting hot outside, let’s see what we can do inside
- Havasu Landing Resort and Casino is a great place to cool off and maybe win some cool cash.
- Shopping districts flank both sides of the London Bridge. The Shops at Lake Havasu offer some bigger brand-name stores and a movie theatre.
- There are four breweries and/or distilleries in Lake Havasu to sample some of the local suds.
Places to Avoid in Lake Havasu City
Before we go through the rest of the safety information, I want you to know I am a self-professed “Desert Rat.”
(That’s what people who love the desert call themselves, unfortunately.)
I’m happier in 115°(F) weather than 40°(F) weather.
So I’m not some northern person complaining or advising about the heat I don’t understand.
I know the heat of the desert and I’ve done enough wrong to be able to advise on what to do right in the climate.
Avoid hiking in the heat of the day all year round, and in the summer, unless you are an experienced hiker, you should re-think going hiking at all.
By 9 am, it will already be 90°(F) and hit 100°(F) before noon.
The sunrises in Lake Havasu in the summer at around 5:30 am, so an early morning hike should be your only option.
There’s a great hiking guide at VisitArizona.com that walks you through what to take when you hike Arizona’s extreme climate.
Now let’s talk about crime maps.
They show that most crimes happen in the most tourist-driven areas, which is no surprise.
Keep in mind this area had three robberies in 2020, so if two of them happen downtown, it’s going to show a “high-crime” area even though we know there’s a really low risk.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Lake Havasu City
- No matter how old you are, talk to your doctor about the prescription drugs you take and how extreme heat could impact your body. Older people are also most susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
- Drink at least a gallon of water a day with electrolytes mixed in. I’ve lived in Arizona and Florida, and the best way I can describe extreme heat is in Florida you feel like you are melting (and you sweat a lot) and in Arizona, you feel like you are in an oven baking (and sweat very little because it’s so dry a lot of sweat evaporates). Drinking water ahead of time staves off dehydration. By the time you are craving a bottle of water, it’s too late. If you are drinking alcohol, have a glass of water between each beverage.
- The official Lake Havasu emergency plan recommends an SPF of 15 when outdoors. I’m going to politely disagree with that and ramp it up to an SPF of 45. No matter how good you think you look with a tan, that intense sun can burn within a half-hour if you aren’t protected. Don’t forget your lips, ears, and the back of your neck. Sunburned ears are a whole different kind of pain.
- If you want to learn boating skills, you can do so ahead of time through the Arizona Department of Fish and Game. There’s an online course offered. It touches on lifejacket rules, carbon monoxide detection, boat capsizing practices, and more. It’s also offered in Spanish. You can also hire a “Designated Captain” for the day if you don’t want the responsibility of enforcing boat safety while on vacation.
- Know your swimming level and water adaptability before you go in the water or on a boat. Just search for “Havasu Drownings” and too many sad stories come up, one involving a woman who was just in seven feet of water, another involving a 6’2 athletic 16-year old who got caught in the propeller of a boat while swimming in high winds.
- If you don’t want to deal with big crowds, don’t come to Lake Havasu from late February through mid-April, as that’s when Spring Break happens. While you might think Florida is more of a place for college students to go, the city boasts that it is “the West’s biggest Spring Break party.” As I mentioned earlier, there will be women flashing their chests to get beads, and you might not want kids exposed to that kind of activity.
- Outside of the main area, Lake Havasu has no stoplights. There are a lot of four-way stop signs. The developer of the city didn’t want the lights to take away from the star-lit nights. This can cause traffic confusion and road rage. Adding on top of that, the city was also designed with very curvy roads to provide the best views of the lake, not accommodate traffic.
- This isn’t a very walkable town. The downtown, bridge, and beach areas have sidewalks, but outside of that, the community has very few, if any, sidewalks. Another head-scratching decision by the builders of the town.
- If you’re a stickler for directions, Lake Havasu locals don’t talk in terms of north, south, east, west. They prefer to say up vs. down. So they might say “Go up McCulloch to get to the bridge.” Maybe just stick with your GPS.
- When the thunderstorms roll through in the spring and summer, they can be very intense with heavy rain and gusty winds. This can lead to street flooding. Don’t even drive through a flooded road, even if it’s just a few inches. You’ll see signs warning “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” in Arizona, and that’s a warning for flash flooding. Also, have a weather app handy throughout the day to look for developing storms. I once had to hide under a rock ledge during a sudden thunderstorm for an hour to avoid lightning or rushing water coming through my hiking spot.
So... How Safe Is Lake Havasu City Really?
Let’s go through the crime statistics to see just how safe this community is.
Here are your chances of being a victim of a crime:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 544
- Theft: 1 in 91
- Robbery: 1 in 19,048
- Rape: 1 in 2155
The real danger is going to come from the environment.
The abundance of outdoor activities should only be enjoyed based on your ability to handle lake water with a potentially strong current from winds, heat that could reach up to 120°(F), and hiking that could reach elevations of 5000 feet.
Start slow with your adventure, and keep hydrated.
Know the signs of heatstroke, which include muscle spasms, vomiting, extraordinary headaches, and body chills.
If you plan properly, this could be the safest and most exciting vacation you’ll ever take.
How Does Lake Havasu City Compare?
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- Visas - Once you've completed the Visa process at the airport or border crossing, you won't need any additional ID to get into Lake Havasu. Boat rentals and other activities will require a legal ID, so keep it handy.
- Currency - You'll use the US Dollar here and that's the only acceptable form of payment. Most activities can be booked in advance or paid for by credit card. There's little reason to carry cash here.
- Weather - The winters are very pleasant, but not very long. In December and January you'll see highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s, so bring a jacket (but you'll still need that sunscreen!) You'll get the 70s and 80s for highs for March and April, with lows in the 50s. May gets into the upper 90s and leads into four solid months of average temperatures well above 100°, and actually closer to 110°(F). Lows will be in the 80s during that time. October and November finally give a respite from the heat with highs in the 70s and 80s, and lows in the 60s. Pack plenty of sunscreen, good hiking boots, several changes of clothing if you won't have access to a washer and dryer, and several hats to protect your scalp from sunburn.
- Airports - Harry Reid International Airport (formerly McCarran Airport) in Las Vegas is two and a half hours away. Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport is just under four hours away. Los Angeles International is a five-hour drive. If you've got a private plan, after you pick me up, you can land at the Lake Havasu Airport. However, no commercial flights are available there.
- Travel Insurance - With weather conditions that can rapidly change and the drive to get to Lake Havasu, several things can go wrong, so it's best to secure your trip with travel insurance.
Lake Havasu City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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