Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
When you think of Leavenworth, Kansas, two things probably come to mind – the military and prison.
You’d be right because the history of Leavenworth is deeply rooted in military service and justice.
While technically part of the Kansas City area, Leavenworth is sort of on its own in the northwest part of the metro area, riding the western edge of the Missouri River.
Leavenworth is split into two distinct sections – Leavenworth the city and Fort Leavenworth, a city within that city.
If you have ever received or sent a Hallmark Card, there’s a good chance it came from Leavenworth.
The company’s headquarters is in Kansas City and the factory that makes cards, wrapping paper, and some Craolya products are in Leavenworth.
This is the city that brought us the musical powerhouse Melissa Etheredge and many of her childhood influences are mentioned in her songs.
You can go on a walking tour through her albums and early life.
Leavenworth was the first city in Kansas and was a stop on the Underground Railroads.
There’s a museum paying tribute to the African Americans and supporters who helped make Kansas a free state.
Check out our article on Lawrence, Kansas to learn more about that.
Warnings & Dangers in Leavenworth
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Leavenworth has a large number of criminals, and those are the people outside of the prison walls. This is the most dangerous city in Kansas. Generally, I don't like those scare tactics of "MOST DANGEROUS CITY" unless it's warranted. It's warranted here. I re-did the crime calculations a second time to make sure I wasn't adding a "0" where it shouldn't be.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There isn't a public bus system here. There are three taxi companies, several rideshare services, and an e-scooter rental company called Bird Scooters. I'd use caution when waiting for a ride and, personally, I'd feel much safer here in my own car. I'll call it a low risk if you promise to pay attention to your surroundings at all times.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Five pickpockets or purse snatching were reported and two of the purse snatching were at $1000 value! This is exactly the opposite of what you should do - never carry anything valuable with you and leave the designer bags at home. There's a medium risk here with a one in 45 chance of being a theft victim.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Since Leavenworth is on the Missouri River, or the "Mighty Mo" as it's called (even Etheredge sang about it in one of her songs), there's a risk of flooding. Severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes and torrential rain can happen. Winter brings ice and snow storms. There's a medium risk because the potential exists all year long.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Nearly 20% of the robberies in Leavenworth were in public spaces, but half of the robberies were in homes. There's still a medium risk because those public robberies were on the streets or in parking garages.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here because of the strong military presence. The military has the "Intelligence Center of the Army" here. On top of that, this is the third-oldest military base in the country and the first base ever built west of the Mississippi River. With that risk, comes a whole lot of military and Homeland Security protection.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are a lot of scams here, but they are the garden variety that happens everywhere. You don't have to worry about a tourist-focused scam. There's a low risk of that. The bad news is that criminals here would rather just take your stuff by force instead of manipulation.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should definitely stay in groups or always stay in a busy public place. Avoid walking around at night alone. Use a lot of caution because of the high violent crime rates and the sexual assault rate that is 30% higher than the national average.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water is safe to use and comes with low risk. The water quality report from 2022 shows no violations. The water treated here is very hard, but the water company takes steps to make it softer. Hard(er) water isn't dangerous, it just might be harder to get your soap to lather or fully clean your dishes.
Safest Places to Visit in Leavenworth
A good number of attractions in the city are located on the campus of Fort Leavenworth.
It is open to visitors and the Army punctuates that visitors are welcome.
However, you still need to go through a background check.
That’s for domestic visitors.
It’s much more difficult for tourists who reside outside the United States to get in.
Anyone who is not an American citizen should call (913)684-3600 to ask about specifics.
Once you are on the base, you have so many things to see:
- Driving Tour: More than a dozen locations on a self-guided driving tour with audio messages at each stop.
- Mormon Battalion Driving Tour: Another “first” where a military group was named after the soldiers’ religion.
- Frontier Army Museum: See the origins of Kansas’s first city and this important military base.
- Buffalo Soldier Statue: A monument dedicated to the Buffalo Soldiers.
- U.S. Disciplinary Barracks Cemetery: Inmates who died without family or without a family who would acknowledge them are buried here, in addition to prisoners of war from Germany.
- Berlin Wall: A large piece of “Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!” is on display.
Back in Leavenworth, the First City Museum walks you through the roots of the city that started it all (at least, in Kansas).
There are some prison displays, but this is mostly about pioneers and life in the early years of Kansas.
Leavenworth Landing Park is the place that inspired Etheredge to sing “Down by the muddy water of mighty Mo.”
This is a quick trip, with just a 1/4 mile walkway, but it leads to the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum.
You can ride one of the most elegant carousels ever made and see an antique carousel.
Only the larger one is open for rides.
The Richard Allen Cultural Center is right next to a church that was disguised as a stop on the Underground Railroad as slaves risked their lives for freedom.
The center is housed in the former home of a Buffalo Soldier, giving even more importance to African American culture and its impact on Leavenworth.
Downtown Leavenworth is rich with historical architecture and unique shops.
From the river, go west on Shawnee Street until you hit 7th Street.
That whole area is the downtown corridor.
Weston Bend State Park is on the other side of the river in Missouri, but it’s just 15 minutes from Leavenworth.
The park runs along the river and there’s a trail overlooking the bluffs.
There are seven other trails to explore.
There are campsites here too.
It doesn’t look like there are fishing options here, but Leavenworth State Fishing Lake is about 30 minutes from downtown Leavenworth.
Places to Avoid in Leavenworth
The northeast section of town has the highest crime distribution, but anything east of 10th Street is going to be more dangerous than areas west of 10th Avenue.
That’s according to 2020 data.
However, I found the Annual Police Report from 2021 which shows crime distribution among five different patrol areas, and in this case, the southeast side has higher violent crime numbers.
The higher property crime rates were in the central part of the city along the river, more to the northeast.
Avoid trying to go on a tour of one of the many prisons here.
They don’t offer tours and I’m not sure you’d want to see that anyway.
Don’t try to enter Fort Leavenworth without going to the main gate.
There are several entrances along major roadways that are clearly marked with a “NO VISITORS ALLOWED HERE” sign, but there isn’t always a guard or gate to stop you.
The main entrance is at Metropolitan Avenue and 4th Street/Sherman Avenue.
There aren’t any good fishing spots along the river in Leavenworth, at least not as far as my research can find.
There are some spots on private property, but you should never go on private property without the owner’s permission.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Leavenworth
- Leavenworth Police offer a “Citizen Services Program” website where you can do crime searches on an interactive map. There’s also a list of crimes posted every two weeks comparing 2022 crime data to 2021 crime data. These are great ways to track crime closer to your visit.
- There’s a Wal*Mart on 10th Avenue and that roadway has the most accidents of any other interaction in town. 31 accidents happened there in 2021. I can see why – the exit to 10th Avenue doesn’t have a light. You can only turn left or right and have to “beat the traffic” to get onto the road. Going to Eisenhower Road’s exit is smarter because you’ll have a traffic light at the intersection with 10th Street. 4th Street and Eisenhower is the second hot spot for traffic accidents with 26 happening there in 2021.
- If you lose anything while visiting Leavenworth, call the police department lost and found at (913)680-2593 to see if someone turned it in.
- You can report potholes on the road to the city through an online form or call (913)682-0650. Potholes can be really bad in the Midwest, especially after a rough winter. Don’t assume someone has already let the city know. I can tell you as a Midwesterner, we just get used to driving around them.
- If you are renting a home during your visit here, check out the Rental Property Registration section of the city’s website. You’ll see the rules homeowners need to follow to get a rental license. This will better help you spot scammers if someone is trying to post illegitimate property.
- If you are researching Leavenworth and see pictures of a cute downtown area and steep mountains in the background creating a picturesque scene, you’re looking at the wrong Leavenworth. There is a Leavenworth in Washington state. That one is 1,700 miles away from the one in Kansas. The mountains should be the dead giveaway you’re looking at the wrong place.
- The parking in downtown Leavenworth is free. The VisitLeavenworthKS.com site has a map of all the parking areas so you can plot your preferred spot before you go.
- For winter visitors, the snow gets plowed in order of importance, starting with “Snow Emergency” routes and ending with residential streets. If you are staying in a hotel, it is the hotel’s responsibility to plow the private lot. Don’t call the city to complain about that.
- Winter can bring ice storms or freezing fog. Ice and freezing fog can make road travel, even walking, darn near impossible. I once walked in an ice storm from my work to the end of the parking lot to see how the main road looked. An hour later, I was back with sore legs and the defeated feeling of only making it halfway across the lot before I gave up. If an ice storm comes during your visit, stock up ahead of time and wait it out.
- The Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office has an emergency notification system through AlertSense. You need to sign up for weather alerts, but it’s especially important from spring through fall when tornados can strike. While you’re there, you can also sign up for public safety and community alerts.
So... How Safe Is Leavenworth Really?
Even though Leavenworth is labeled the “Most Dangerous City in Kansas,” the police chief stated in the annual report for 2021 that progress is being made.
He said, in part, “The overall crime rate in the City of Leavenworth went down 14%.
Part 1 and Part 2 Crimes are both down significantly.
We continue to deal with the tragedy of Domestic Violence as our primary source of calls for service but they were down in 2021.”
20% of violent crimes happened against strangers, while 64% happened in private homes.
27% of robberies were in public spaces, but 50% of them were in private homes.
32% of thefts were auto-related, meaning car break-ins or car accessories were stolen.
The car theft rate is 35% higher than the national average.
It appears, looking at crime data and getting input from the police chief, that most of the crimes here are among people who know each other.
The “how safe is it really?” is a question that has a different answer for people moving here than for people visiting here.
You still need to be on guard and avoid any situation where it seems like trouble is brewing or you don’t feel comfortable.
Stay on the main roads.
Try to do as much as you can during the day and avoid walking around at night.
Lock your car each and every time you park and don’t leave personal stuff inside it.
There are risks here, but there are also a lot of “firsts” to see, so just use basic precautions to have a safer trip.
How Does Leavenworth Compare?
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- Visas - You will need to plan about four months ahead of time to get a U.S. Visa. Your passport will be your identification when visiting Kansas (or Missouri) and you'll only need your visa at the airport when you go through Customs.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the only currency you'll be able to use here. Carry as little cash as possible. You don't want to draw attention to yourself with a wad of cash sticking out of your wallet. In the winter, carry some cash in your jacket pocket to keep it out of sight.
- Weather - All four seasons happen here, with potential extreme temperatures in winter and summer. You should bring layers throughout the year because a random cold or warm spell can happen at any time. Summer will be humid and there will be a lot of bugs, especially as you get closer to the river. Bring bug spray and sunscreen. A citrus-scented perfume or cologne will help keep the mosquitos away.
- Airports - Kansas City International Airport is 25 minutes due east of Leavenworth on the Missouri side of the river. That's the closest and largest option for hundreds of miles.
- Travel Insurance - You will want travel insurance here because the weather is just so unpredictable. Even a sunny day can end with tornadoes or a snowstorm, and that's going to impact road and air travel.
Leavenworth Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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