Nevada : Safety by City
- Battle Mountain
- Blue Diamond
- Boulder City
- Burning Man in Black Rock City
- Carson City
- Incline Village
- Las Vegas
- Moapa Valley
- Mount Charleston
- North Las Vegas
- Virginia City
- West Wendover
Moapa Valley, Nevada, sits between Las Vegas and the Utah State Line in what looks like a barren desert at first glance.
It’s the second glance that blows you away, and that’s what we’re going to discuss.
The town is along the Muddy River, which was a pleasant surprise by Mormon settlers.
The route between Salt Lake City and Moapa became a popular second option for those heading west to avoid the Sierra Nevada mountains, where the ill-fated Donner Party had been stuck.
The area we now call Moapa (“MOE-app-uh”) Valley didn’t always have Lake Mead nearby.
That massive lake was created when the Hoover Dam was built.
The resulting lake flooded archeological sites and the town of St. Thomas.
The history of that is preserved at The Lost City Museum in Moapa Valley.
Moapa Valley is also on the edge of Valley of Fire State Park, a place where white, red, and brown rocks swirl into hypnotizing patterns, and bright red rocks look foreboding before you realize how fascinating they really are.
The town is also near the I-15, which can take you all the way to San Diego near the Mexican border or the Canadian border by way of Salt Lake City.
If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Las Vegas, you can choose Mt. Charleston or Red Rock Canyon on the west side of the valley but don’t overlook this eastern paradise too.
Warnings & Dangers in Moapa Valley
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Crime is low in this section of Clark County, with just 6,200 residents living here. The low risk is contingent upon wilderness training and safety steps.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You'll need a car to get this far outside of Las Vegas, but some tour companies will offer bus tours to Moapa Valley, Lake Mead, or Valley of Fire. Taxis and rideshares can be found sparingly here.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
You should be more worried about your car being broken into than your wallet getting stolen, but practice good safety steps for each. Don't leave a backpack lying around or keep valuables in plain sight at a campground. The risk is low, but the potential is there.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Flooding is a major risk in this area. A simple search of Moapa Valley Flooding will show you how quickly roads become rivers here. Severe thunderstorms fueled by the summer monsoon can spark wildfires or kick up nasty winds. Dust storms are possible too. Winter weather is rare in the valley, but the mountains do get snow usually once or twice a year.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
This is another low risk given the small population here, but we don't have exact crime data since the mugging risk would come from all of Clark County. That would include Las Vegas.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Moapa Valley is 85 miles as the crow flies from one of the most protected government operations in the country—Area 51. Las Vegas is also going to be considered a potential target. With that risk comes a flood of security (most that you won't even see). The risk of Moapa Valley being a target is low.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
This is another low risk as the scams here are targeted at residents and are a garden variety. You can always check the Metro police department's social media sites to see what scams are trending.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women have a low risk here, but again, those safety skills and wilderness training are imperative. You can visit more controlled and paved environments if you want to play it safe, but there are off-road adventures if you have expert outdoor skills. My best advice is don't go alone. If you get hurt, there might not be help coming for days.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
You can review the Moapa Valley Water District website for the latest Water Quality Report. The tap water here does have low levels of arsenic in it due to the mineral makeup of the land and the arid climate. The risk is low, but during any flood event, stick to bottled water until you are assured the drinking water supply wasn't compromised.
Safest Places to Visit in Moapa Valley
The Moapa Valley Chamber of Commerce has a free visitor and relocation guide, and you don’t have to give any personal information to get that.
The Travel Nevada website also has some information about Moapa Valley.
Mesquite is the border town with Utah, and you can use the Visit Mesquite website to learn about the information there.
I stayed there for a Mother’s Day weekend several years ago, and it’s a surprisingly cool town.
Moapa Valley is an incorporated town that includes Logandale and Overton.
The latter cities were once separate but became part of the newly formed Moapa Valley in the 80s.
It’s also important to know that Moapa Valley is the name of the town and the surrounding valley.
Look to the websites for the individual outdoor areas here:
- Valley of Fire State Park: Trails galore in a priceless geologic bounty.
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area: Hiking, biking, boating, boat tours, fishing, and swimming, plus nearby tours available at Hoover Dam.
- Logandale Trails System (Bureau of Land Management/BLM): 200 miles of trails for OHVs.
- Overton Wildlife Management Area: An oasis of plants and animals in the wilderness.
- Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge: Another protected land for the Moapa dace fish.
Please note that if you’re bringing a dog, each location’s management has different rules and risks.
Most of the public lands are open at night for amazing stargazing, far away from the light pollution of Las Vegas.
The newly renovated Lost City Museum is in Overton, with millions of years of history.
From archeological sites to Native American history to pioneers, this interactive museum has a living history section, too, where you can walk through adobes.
St. Thomas is a ghost town flooded by the creation of Lake Mead.
I lived in Las Vegas starting in 2003, and for years we talked about the “underwater ghost town.”
Then in 2012, the waters of the lake dropped enough that the city emerged.
As Lake Mead hit historic lows in 2023, the town is once again on dry land (but for how long?).
There’s a 2.5-mile trail around the ghost town with kiosks along the way and some archeological sites.
Even though Hoover Dam is at the edge of Lake Mead, it’s still 73 miles from Moapa Valley.
It is a stunning drive, however.
Within three hours of Moapa Valley, you also have the Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Cathedral Gorge State Park, and Gold Butte National Monument.
These places will blow your mind just as much as places like Valley of Fire.
Places to Avoid in Moapa Valley
You only want to avoid any area you aren’t prepared to visit in a worst-case scenario.
That’s not meant to scare you but to urge you to stay prepared.
Read about the Dirt Road Code on the Travel Nevada website to learn about riding dirt and gravel roads safely.
If you don’t know why you’d need to partially deflate your tires on these roads, you really need the tool.
Some of the roads can become treacherous after flooding, and large boulders can be right in the middle of the road.
Avoid going to any public land without checking the website or social media pages first.
Look for the alerts and updates.
If you were visiting in early 2023, you would’ve seen a slew of closures, warnings, and weather risks as flooding took over the area.
You should also avoid going to a summit too soon if you aren’t used to the elevation.
Let your body acclimate for a day or two.
There are no bad neighborhoods or parts of town in Moapa Valley.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Moapa Valley
- Moapa Valley does have a Constable’s Office, but that office doesn’t handle law enforcement. They are part of law enforcement but mostly execute court orders. Metro Police out of Las Vegas covers all city and Clark County areas outside of Henderson and North Las Vegas.
- Gather a list of the phone numbers for all the public lands (BLM, State Park, National Park) so you aren’t trying to find that information with limited mobile phone service. Valley of Fire State Park does have Wi-Fi available if you really don’t want to unplug.
- Many activities here require a license or permit, like OHVs, hunting, and fishing. You can check with the Department of Wildlife to get that information or look on the website of your preferred public land.
- Hiking Valley of Fire is not recommended in the summer. The scenic drive is a great way to see the park and avoid risking dehydration or heat stroke in triple digits. At the height of summer, low temperatures might not even get below 90°(F).
- Swimming in Lake Mead comes with the risk of Swimmer’s Itch, which is caused by parasites in the water. Flatworms in the water cause this problem by borrowing under your skin, but they can’t survive, so they die. The resulting “itch” shows up a few hours later. Reactions can range from a red, annoying itch to major welts. Left untreated, the rash will go away in a week. Avoid the risk by drying off completely when you exit the water to remove parasites from your skin.
- Hiking in the heat can cause you to sweat up to two quarts an hour. The problem here is that you might not even notice it because the dry air evaporates the sweat instantly. Keep a steady fuel of water, electrolytes, and bites of salty snacks as you go. Plan for up to one quart of water an hour. Drinking too much water can cause water intoxication, which is another reason not to wait until you are thirsty to drink.
- There are dozens of raft and paddle companies here that will lead you through a safe ride of Lake Mead. You’ll get all the supplies you need and the best safety steps available, so you can just enjoy the ride.
- It is against the law to vandalize, take, or destroy any archeological artifacts. If you see someone doing it, report it to the office in charge of the location. Even wildflowers, rocks, and plants are off-limits.
- Do not drink water in the wild, even if it looks clean. You can bring water-cleaning pellets, but they take a while to work. It’s okay to splash water on your arms, but keep it away from your nose, eyes, and mouth.
- If you’re stargazing, bring a flashlight with a red filter, so you can still see the ground but won’t create light pollution. You might also want to bring a black light since scorpions glow underneath it. Even something as simple as sitting near a rock base could cause scorpions to scatter, and I guarantee you don’t want to know what that sting feels like.
So... How Safe Is Moapa Valley Really?
The biggest headlines to come out of Moapa Valley involve weather, natural disasters, and traffic accidents, not criminal activity.
When Las Vegas city limits end, it opens the doors to a world of outdoor activity you’d never expect if you just assume it’s a “big, empty desert.”
However, it’s just as wild as the Wild West has even been from a natural standpoint.
You sometimes have to think about what sounds impossible, like planning for flash flooding on a sunning morning without a cloud in the sky.
People come to the “hot” desert in winter unprepared for below-freezing temperatures and snow.
Highways can quickly become rivers, floating cars away and ripping out the road underneath.
Slot canyons that draw so much fascination leave little room for escape if water floods in and little hope of help to come should you get injured in them.
Wayward rattlesnakes, scorpions, and spiders can surprise you in the little shade you sought out.
If you know desert survival and wilderness safety while being prepared for the worst-case scenario, there’s really low risk and an abundance of potential.
How safe Moapa Valley is really is in your hands.
How Does Moapa Valley Compare?
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- Visas - A passport that isn't within six months of expiring is required for international travelers. You'll also need a visa or visa waiver, but that depends on your home country. Visas are available for the purpose of the trip, like tourism, work, or education. Don't lie about your travel purpose, or you could have to start the whole process over again.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted. You should exchange currency before you get to Moapa Valley. The international terminal at the airport has a Travelex location.
- Weather - There are four seasons here, but it's mostly designated by temperatures and not falling leaves or snow. Summers will be very hot. Wear loose, light-colored clothing and get UV protective clothing if you can. Hiking boots that cover the ankle will be helpful for climbing, scrambling, and desert critters. Winter can be very cold, so wear several layers. You can peel off more as you go. A dust mask might be helpful too.
- Airports - Harry Reid International Airport, formerly McCarran International Airport, is the closest location, just an hour and fifteen minutes away. Be sure on the way back that you go to the right terminal, as the international terminal is not connected to the main terminal. A handful of domestic flights do leave from the international terminal as well.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a wise choice, especially if you can get coverage for accidents in the wilderness. No free health care is available in America.
Moapa Valley Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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