Nebraska : Safety by City
- Grand Island
- La Vista
- Nebraska City
- North Platte
- South Sioux City
Maybe you’re planning a trip to see the sandhill crane migration, or maybe you want to expire Buffalo Bills Wild West.
Either way, there’s more than meets the eye in North Platte, Nebraska.
As a Nebraskan, I can tell you I was thrilled to see North Platte as I erroneously estimated how far my gas would get me on that long interstate from Lincoln, but it’s truly a gem that’s more than a gas station stop.
You are truly in the thick of the Wild West, and the stories from this spot of land on the Plains are legendary.
North Platte is near the center of the state, west of Kearney, and getting close to the Colorado and Kansas state lines.
In fact, Wild West lovers should know that Dodge City, Kansas, is just four and half hours away from beautiful “amber waves of grain” in the heartland.
The city has less than 24,000 people, and you’re more prone to see cowboy hats than baseball caps.
People you don’t know say hello like you’re an old friend.
The pace of life slows down in this small town etched in history.
Warnings & Dangers in North Platte
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, despite all the "one of the most dangerous cities" lists out there. The crimes that happen here are largely among people who know each other, and unless you make a sandhill crane angry, there's a low-risk anything will stand out as dangerous.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The public transportation here is just for residents, mostly to get to the grocery store or doctor's appointment. Rideshares might be slower to respond, and having your own car is really the best plan to see all of North Platte.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Seven purse snatchings in the past five years, and five of those were in 2021. Quite frankly, I'm surprised there were any at all, but there are some big events held here that should prompt you to be a little more secure with your stuff. The risk is low, but not so low you let your guard down.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The biggest risks here are crippling winter weather, severe storms that produce tornadoes, and wildfires. If there's any chance of developing storms or wind warnings, treat it with a medium risk. Storms on the Plains should not be messed with.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk the majority of robberies (all but one) happen at businesses or in homes. You'll see people with guns here as Nebraskans defend their Second Amendment rights, but that's not uncommon.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The risk is low, and the police department has a link to the latest Terrorism Advisory Bulletin from Homeland Security. It just helps to know the nationwide concerns. Nothing about North Platte is a target.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Scams here are focused on residents and not tourists. If you stick to booking hotels and attractions through official tourism sites, you shouldn't have to worry about fraud either.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, but if you're traveling alone, there are a lot of lonely roads here. I've driven I-90 several times solo (day and night), and aside from a creepy moment at a rest stop (probably my imagination, anyway), I never had a problem.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance but does note there is a detectable (but not violating) level of arsenic in the water. If that bothers you, drink bottled water instead. Learn more by calling 402-471-3376.
Safest Places to Visit in North Platte
Visit North Platte is the official tourism site, and it’s a wealth of information from a downloadable map to a free tourism guide.
If you are specifically looking for the sandhill cranes in North Platte information, you can find that on the tourism site or visit the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary website.
You can learn more about the downtown, also known as the Canteen District, at Downtownnp.com.
There’s also a Facebook page @downtownnorthplatte.
Since the downtown is undergoing redevelopment, there’s usually something new on social media.
There’s actually a really amazing story about how the Canteen got its name, and it makes me get a little choked up when I think about it.
I won’t ruin the surprise for you.
In addition to stores and restaurants in the Canteen District, there’s a children’s museum and the Prairie Arts Center.
Buffalo Bill State Historic Park covers 4,000 acres of the man, the myth, the legend. While “Wild Bill” Cody could’ve called anywhere home (and certainly did several times), it’s North Platte that won him over.
This is the place where his entertainment troupe, including Annie Oakley, was headquartered.
Grain Bin Antique Town’s entrance looks like the start of a horror movie where you wonder, “Should we turn down this road?”
This is one turn you won’t regret because you’ll never have another antique shopping experience like this.
A boardwalk connects 20 historic grain bits and a barn, all filled with timeless treasures.
Train buffs have a lot to see here, too, with the Golden Spike standing above the world’s largest train yard.
The tower has a mini museum inside, and you’ll learn how more than 10,000 cars a day switch and shuffle around the tracks heading to the next destination.
Check out the Cody Park Railroad Museum too.
Where the North and South Platte Rivers meet, there’s a mass gathering of sandhill cranes migrating each spring.
What’s a mass gathering? 400,000!
The sight is short-lived, as they move on after six weeks.
While they’re here, they even do the Dance of the Sandhill Cranes, which might be more popular than any Buffalo Bill show!
Guided tours and viewing platforms to navigate on your own are available.
Dusty Trails is the main tour company in town, and they offer river trips, horseback riding, and fishing adventures in addition to sandhill crane viewing.
Those who love roadside attractions can’t miss Fort Cody Trading Post, attracting tourists since 1963.
There are more Wild West memorabilia, and if that doesn’t sweeten the pot, would a two-headed calf do the trick?
Places to Avoid in North Platte
There’s not a dangerous part of town or anything, but you should always stick to the main streets and highways.
There aren’t historic neighborhoods here that are fun to drive through.
Most of the hotels are along the interstate, and the ones that aren’t won’t be very fancy.
Either way, you’re either going to deal with railroad noise or interstate noise.
Hotels along interstates are more likely to have thieves try to break into cars.
They will usually just walk the lot, pulling door handles to see what’s left unlocked or look for valuables that are worth breaking a window over.
Lower any risk by locking all doors and bringing all your belongings inside.
I can tell you at least two dozen times this past winter, I’ve thought, “Man, I’m glad I don’t live on that side of the state.”
When winter hits hard, I-80 is closed down.
That means no cars in either direction or heading west.
Travelers who don’t heed the warnings end up stuck, sometimes for 12–24 hours.
Don’t be that person.
Safety Tips for Traveling to North Platte
- Download the 511 Nebraska app and use it often. I can’t tell you how handy this thing is when it comes to exploring the roads, seeing traffic, checking road conditions, or looking at live cameras of snow plows in the winter.
- North Platte does have its own police department. You can find them on Facebook @NorthPlattePolice. They’ll share a lot of info from the Nebraska Highway Patrol since the interstate is such a prominent part of the community.
- If you have any information about a crime, suspect drug activity, see graffiti, or anything else non-urgent, call Crimestoppers at 308-534-8400. You can share information and remain anonymous.
- I lived in Florida for a while, and we had a pair of sandhill cranes that fell in love with my unfenced backyard. I bring this up because those birds are noisy. I strongly recommend that you watch the videos of the cranes to determine if that noise will drive you nuts and make you scream at the birds to shut up as I did. It’s truly a special sight, but I don’t think many people realize how loud they are.
- If you want to hunt, fish, or do anything else that requires a license, download the Nebraska Outdoors app and look closely at the requirements and seasons. The Nebraska Department of Game & Parks has a lot of great, easy-to-use options on the app.
- Don’t try to beat a train at a railroad crossing. There are too many trains here to risk it, even if it means waiting a while.
- The Emergency Management Department in North Platte is Region 51. You should follow them on social media, @LCEMNP on Facebook, and @lincoemgt on Twitter.
- If a snowstorm is approaching, keep cars off the city streets, so plows can get through. A snow emergency sounds scary, but it just means the parking rules change.
- When you get to your hotel, ask where the safe room is for tornadoes. If a storm comes through in the middle of the night, you’ll just have seconds or a few minutes to get there.
- Use Smart 911 to sign up for emergency alerts while also making sure your WEA alerts on your modern mobile device are activated. You need several ways to get alerts, whether it’s a severe storm or train derailment with hazardous chemicals. For those camping, use an NOAA weather radio.
So... How Safe Is North Platte Really?
North Platte is a safe city, especially for a tourist.
Any crime rate data that might concern you would be negated by the fact that hardly any violent crimes happen against strangers (just 4%), and 76% happen in private homes.
Theft rates are 33% higher than the national average, fueled by 20% shoplifting and 26% car break-ins.
Car thefts averaged about one per week in 2021.
Since it’s a transient town, there’s no guarantee that trouble won’t come driving in off the interstate.
Some of the biggest headlines in the past few years have involved chases or criminals on the interstate, not the streets of North Platte.
Drug seizures on the interstate happen far too often, and the whole state is battling an exponentially increasing number of opioid issues.
Many of the dark corners of crime won’t be apparent to a visitor, and if you’re not into the Buffalo Bill stuff, you might even find yourself quite bored.
How Does North Platte Compare?
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- Visas - A passport and visa or visa waiver are required to get into the country. You should always check the U.S. State Department and Customs/Border Patrol websites for new requirements or banned items in luggage.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. Take care of any currency exchange at a larger connecting airport or at home. Your home back will give the lowest fees and best service.
- Weather - I can honestly tell you as I write this in April, it was 13°(F) on March 28 and 70°(F) on April 2 in North Platte. Packing for the Plains is tough since the weather changes so quickly. Check the 10-day forecast before you go, but always pack extra in case of a cold front.
- Airports - North Platte Regional Airport is small but does have a commercial flight to and from Denver daily. You can also drive four hours to Denver or Omaha.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance makes sense since even an on-time flight can be road closures for miles. Protect your investment as soon as you purchase airline tickets. You'll get immediate coverage.
North Platte Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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