Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
“Annie, Get Your Gun!”, and come to the land where Buffalo Bill earned his name in Oakley, Kansas.
This western Kansas town is full of cowboys, culture, and creative ways to celebrate the historical land.
Oakley’s legend is bigger than its population – with just 2,100 people living here.
It’s surrounded by Wild West ways to celebrate the hoards of homesteaders who settled this land.
Located just off the major I-70 interstate, you’re close to a highway but far enough away that you’re in your own Western world.
The town and surrounding area have plenty of hotels, RV sites, and campsites for the weary traveler to rest or explore.
A heads-up for those of you westward bound, the time zone changes about an hour west near the city of Goodland.
You’ll gain an hour in your travels by switching from Central Time to Mountain Time.
Those coming east will lose an hour once they cross through Goodland.
Even stopping at a gas station here can be a tourist experience with a giant Western Wildlife display at Mittens Travel Center.
You’ll be humming “Oh take me home, where the buffalo roam…” by the end of your trip.
Warnings & Dangers in Oakley
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a good chance this area is so low risk - you're more likely to meet the wrong end of a buffalo instead of a criminal. You do have to keep in mind this is a very remote area and in a lot of the places, you'll be exploring you might be the only person for miles.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There's not going to be any public transportation, taxis, or rideshares here. You're going to need a car. As long as you're stocked up on supplies, gas, and emergency equipment - just in case - you'll have a low risk. Keep up with road conditions through Kantravel.org.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with no pickpockets or purse snatching reported for years. There were just nine thefts in the city in 2020. However, five of those were car break-ins, so you're never too remotely located to keep personal belongings in your car.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk throughout the year. The risks here include; snowstorms, blizzards, wind storms, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, dust storms, and flooding. When a winter storm is imminent, the entire highway system will be shut down. Never try to go around the road closure arms.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a very low risk. The robbery was one of several categories that had no incidents reported in 2020.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The only terror that is going to happen here will be from the weather. This is a remote area that terrorists would have no reason to target.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The only scam risk here would be the type that could happen anywhere. There are no tourist-related scams.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should feel safe visiting here, but this is a certain uneasiness that can happen when traveling alone in a remote area. I've done it many times, and most of the time I love being alone with the open world around me. Stopping at gas stations, the odd honks from truckers as I go by, and the dust devils riding alongside the highway can be nerve-wracking. Always keep your mobile device charged, let someone know where you plan to stop for the night and schedule regular check-ins.
TAP WATER RISK : MEDIUM
Oakley officials report in the water quality report from 2021 that the water is safe to drink. However, throughout 2021 and in previous years, there have been high levels of nitrate in the water. This is especially important for those traveling with children, pregnant women, and certain health conditions you should ask your doctor about before consuming water here. Because of this, it's a medium risk, and try to bring a case of bottled water with you to be safe. The city shuts off the "high nitrate" well throughout the year, and you can check the city's website for updates on the water quality. For questions about water safety, call the city of Oakley at (785)671-3611.
Safest Places to Visit in Oakley
The Buffalo Bill Cultural Center is a great first stop on the Oakley adventure.
Neither Annie Oakley nor Buffalo Bill was born here.
Or lived here.
Or died here.
However, the time they did spend here and the Buffalo Bill Wild West performance is etched in Oakley history.
Here you’ll learn how there were two “Buffalo Bills” and this area hosted a buffalo shootout to earn the moniker, once and for all.
Don’t forget to get a photo op with the massive Buffalo Bill sculpture out front.
For those heading west, the flat lands of Kansas give way to impressive Monument Rocks.
This amazing geological display is filled with chalk and fossils from thousands of years ago.
It is open from sunrise to sunset.
It is on a paved road, so you might have to enter GPS coordinates to get there.
N 38º 44.578′ W 100º 76.236 is the correct place.
“Happy trails to you, until we meet again.”
Stop by the Happy Trails Ranch for a wide view of the Monument Rocks and some impressive hiking trails.
This location might just look like a remote hiking trail, but this was where the first sign of pre-historical life was found in the form of an animal that went extinct 8,000 years ago!
Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park is another outdoor adventure you don’t want to miss.
Tourism officials say it got the name because “from a distance, it looks like the ancient walled city of Jerusalem.”
There are several scenic overlooks here to rest, meditate, or just take some pictures.
Oakley is at the pivot point for the Western Vistas Historic Byway.
You’ll be off the main interstate and on country roads for as far as the eye can see.
Be sure to gas up the car when you can.
There are more than 30 stops along the way and you can pick and choose which ones are best for your trip, or stop and see them all.
In Oakley, you’ll find the Fick Fossil & History Museum depicting frontier lifestyles.
You’ll be able to see rocks and fossils found in the region without getting your hands dirty.
You can also visit the Oakly Livestock Commission for a cattle sale every Wednesday.
Tourists are welcome to come to watch the process.
Places to Avoid in Oakley
There aren’t any bad parts of town or neighborhoods to avoid here.
Quite frankly, the city is too small and crime is too low to even worry about it.
It’s always the best advice to stay on the main roads.
You need to avoid being unprepared to drive in this region.
You should have your car stocked with supplies in case of a breakdown or weather delay.
- Water: One gallon per day, per person
- Blankets: For warmth in the winter
- Red Shirt or Blanket: To use as a flag on your car in a blizzard or snowstorm
- Portable Charger: To keep mobile devices charged
- Tire Pressure Device: So you can check tire pressure along the way
- Spare Tire: Make sure it’s inflated before you leave
- Windshield Wiper Fluid: You can quickly run out quickly in an area that has so much dust, a lot of bugs, and frequent bursts of weather
- First Aid Kit: For burns, bruises, or cuts along the way
This part of Kansas can have tumbleweeds, and as much as they can be a novelty, they are also dangerous.
If one gets stuck under your car while driving, pull over when it is safe and remove it.
They are heavier and sharper than you’d think.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Oakley
- Sign up for emergency notifications through myAlerts for Thomas County. You’ll get severe weather updates and community concerns like boil orders for tap water. Make sure to enable location tracking in this app.
- The city of Oakley has alerts you can signup for as well. This would include city-specific items and weather notifications. You can enroll through the “Notify Me” section of the city website.
- The 911 Communication Centers here cover nearly 2,000 square miles. If you have an emergency, be as specific as possible about your location. You can also text 911 in this area if your mobile carrier has the capability.
- Some of the outdoor tours and state parks offer guided tours if you feel safer with a group or expert. You do have to schedule the tour through the state park or recreation area you want to visit. Reservations to hike are not required – just for a guided tour.
- While it would be cool to take a shark’s tooth from a pre-historic ocean site in land-locked Kansas, please don’t. You are not allowed to take any fossils, flowers, or rocks from the parks.
- Most of the scenic parks in this region are open from sunrise to sunset, which means no camping. Please review the rules of your selected park. Many don’t allow pets or bicycles.
- When you are at Monument Rocks, you are technically on private property. Please don’t take any natural elements, climb the rocks, haze the cattle, or light a fire of any kind (cigarettes included)! This is a great gift the property owner gives tourists, but it’s only because people have respected the land.
- Please bring a gallon of water per person for your hike. It’s not as humid in this part of Kansas, but the elements can be a beast. It might be smart to bring one of those COVID masks with you if it’s a windy day to keep dirt and dust particles out of your respiratory system.
- When driving the Western Visa Historic Byway, wait for spots designated for cars before you pull over. Don’t park on the side of the road, even temporarily, to take pictures. There are semis that can drive through this area and the winds can cause gusts as they pass. There are plenty of designated scenic spots.
- There are very specific hunting rules in this region. It’s very popular for hunters, but you have to know the places where hunting is allowed and where it is firmly banned. You also need a license from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, which requires some education before you can get the license.
So... How Safe Is Oakley Really?
It’s so safe that I don’t really have that many crime statistics to give you.
Really, the weather and natural elements pose the greatest risks.
There were no robberies, rapes, or homicides in 2020.
There were six cases of aggravated assaults, all of which happened in private homes.
There were nine robberies and five of them were car break-ins.
Six cars were stolen.
While it is really safe in Oakley, the wide expanse of the outdoor area can be overwhelming and intimidating.
It’s suggested to drive during daylight hours for the best safety, but if you are driving at night, make sure your headlights are clean and the windshield has plenty of wiper fluid.
Wild animals might roam across the highways, so avoid distracted driving.
How Does Oakley Compare?
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- Visas - A U.S. Visa is going to cost $160. You should plan several months ahead to make sure you meet all the deadlines and requirements to get your Visa. Once you make it through Customs, you can put away your visa in a safe place until your flight back.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. While even the most rural gas stations and travel stops take credit cards, it's smart to bring some cash with you in case card readers go down.
- Weather - The lack of humidity doesn't mean there isn't a risk for storms during all the seasons. It just means you won't sweat as much. This can be misleading because you won't realize how dehydrated you are getting. Pack layers of clothing throughout the year, and bring a "worst-case scenario" winter outfit in case of a blizzard. You'll need good hiking or walking shoes and plenty of sunscreens.
- Airports - Colorado Springs and Wichita are the nearest commercial airports. They are each about four hours in opposite directions. Remember, when you head west you'll cross time zones. If it's 3 pm Central Time when you cross the time zone boundary heading to Colorado, the clock goes back to 3 pm. Most phones and vehicles will adapt automatically.
- Travel Insurance - You should have travel insurance for your flights and a vehicle here since there are a lot of roads to cover and plenty of mishaps that can happen along the way.
Oakley Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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