Utah : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Utah - state review
I started this article thinking I was writing about a quaint north Utah city, surrounded by mountains with a simple way of life.
Boy, was I wrong!
Research shows this is a city where you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
Ogen IS a beautiful town, surrounded by mountains with three ski resorts nearby.
The tourist venues aren’t as pricey or as crowded as in places like Park City.
Historically, this city has built itself up, tore itself down, rebuilt, and then ghosted.
Now, Ogen is undergoing a revitalization that is sure to break a historic trend.
This city is on the rise, but so are some other unsavory parts.
Why would a mountain town nestled up to the Wasatch Mountains need to have a Gang Unit and a Drug Task Force?
Warnings & Dangers in Ogden
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk in Ogden. The crime rates are mostly above the national crime level for 2020. There's a lot to do but a look to be wary of during your visit to Ogden, Utah.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) runs a tight ship of extensive public transportation options. Many bus lines go from Provo up to Ogden and back. By 2023, the Ogden Express should be completed with stops at the major points in town all courtesy of an electric bus. You can also take the Ogden Trolley through various points in town. Yes, you can still hail a cab that's regulated and rideshares are available. There's a low risk on public transportation, but you'd be well-advised to get a car here so you can explore the mountains.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk of being pickpocketed, with 38 reports of pickpocketing and purse snatching in 2020. This is higher than any other Utah city we've researched. Keep your wallet close and secured when visiting Ogden, Utah.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of natural disasters in Ogden. Tornados and earthquakes can happen, but they are rare. Snowstorms are common, but that's to be expected in a city that averages 41 inches per year and the facilities are prepared to handle the snowfall.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
30 of the 75 reported robberies in Ogden were highway robberies, which means they happened near a highway and are usually targeting strangers. That's among the highest numbers we've seen in Utah as well, so we'll call that a medium risk. It's also higher than the national average. By Utah standards, this would be a high risk, but since we're comparing this category to national numbers, we'll stick with the medium label.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Once upon a time with military bases and transportation hubs, Ogden might have been a mid-level target, but now there's nothing that stands out. There's a low risk.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Many scams in Utah target LDS church members and investment opportunities that turn out to be Ponzi schemes. There are some phone scams targeting residents demanding payment for a ticket that never happened. For tourists, there's a low risk, but remember if something seems too good to be true, it is.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's nothing about the crime numbers that specifies a woman would be more at risk, but the high crime numbers here still warrant a medium risk. Download an app like MayDay which can send an emergency signal to friends and family if a woman is in trouble while traveling.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of using tap water for drinking or bathing, as it meets or exceeds all requirements. There are times of the year when the water can get a foul odor or be discolored, and the city of Ogden explains these anomalies on its website.
Safest Places to Visit in Ogden
More than a million people visit Ogden annually.
No trip to Ogden is complete without a trip to Union Station and surrounding 25th Street.
In the late 1800s, you couldn’t walk down this street safely, with all the organized crime and brothels.
Now you can safely (using basic personal safety standards) visit this eclectic and storied street.
There are three museums within Union Station, so you could easily fill a day here and stop for some shopping and dining on 25th Street.
Just three miles away, you’ll find Ogden Nature Center, with 152 acres to explore.
You have three ski resort options near Ogden without having to travel down to Salt Lake City.
Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and Nordic Valley range from ski areas of 8400 acres to just 450 acres.
There’s a Jurassic Park of sorts in Ogden, called George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park, where you can learn about the history of dinosaurs in this area and see some pretty impressive replicas.
If it’s too cold outside, head into the Treehouse Children’s Museum for a bunch of hands-on family activities.
It’s designed for kiddos, but adults will love it just as much.
This museum is located in an area known as “The Junction” and is the typical shopping mall with a movie theater and dining options.
Visting any Utah town should come with a visit to the local temple, as Mormons use beautiful architecture in their temples.
Only Mormons can enter the temple, but it’s worth a few minutes outside taking in the amazing sight.
Antelope Island is in the Great Salt Lake, just a 45-minute drive from Ogden.
This is a park you want to see day and night.
Places to Avoid in Ogden
Ogden has long had a reputation for being Salt Lake City’s naughty sibling.
In a state of conservative values, proper etiquette, and high moral codes, Ogden historically breaks the mold.
25th Street is a place that brings tourists by day and parties by night.
This street has earned the reputation of being “The Most Entertaining Street in Utah.”
If Utah had a Bourbon Street, this would be it.
Any nightlife corridor is going to come with fun and safety risks.
Keep your belongings close, don’t keep valuables in the car in plain sight, and lock the car before going into a bar.
Crime maps show the most dangerous parts of the city are west and centrally located.
The farther east you go, the lower crime goes.
This isn’t a town where you should drive around haphazardly.
There are gangs in this area.
A strong sign of a gang neighborhood is graffiti, especially if you see “O13” spray painted.
Don’t go into these places day or night.
You aren’t going to see graffiti in the tourist spots, as police clean it up quickly, but if you happen to see fresh spray paint, call (801)629-8271 to contact the gang graffiti unit.
If you see any drug activity while you are in Ogden, call 1-800-TIP-A-COP (817-2267) to report it anonymously.
There’s a whole unit of police dedicated to stopping the drug trade in Ogden.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Ogden
- Know the signs of gangs. They generally dress in similar colors and clothing styles. They most likely have tattoos of “OGDEN” or “TRECE” on their hands, neck, arms, or chest. Utah Jazz and LA King’s attire is another sign, especially if the jerseys have the numbers 31 or 13 on them.
- On the flip side, this is Utah and there’s a strong Mormon following. Mormons are all on a mission to discuss their beliefs and convert people. If you get into a conversation with a Mormon, don’t use strong words. Just tell them you don’t want to talk about religion and walk away. They aren’t going to be aggressive, but religious beliefs do come up quite often across all Utah cities.
- If you plan on camping and want to build a campfire, you need to check the fire restrictions at that time. The western drought causes restrictions throughout the year, as a campfire can quickly start a brush fire if not properly attended to.
- Antelope Island is a “Dark Sky Park”, meaning it’s one of the top recreational places in the world to see the stars at night without any light pollution from cities. You can camp here overnight, but if you’re just visiting to see the stars you’ll need to arrive before 10:00 p.m. when the park gates close. As you leave, the gates will automatically open.
- If you smell something funny in Ogden, it’s not just you. For years, residents complained about the odor of a local pet food manufacturing plant and then there’s a double whammy of the smell that can sometimes come from the Great Salt Lake. The city took steps to regulate the foul smells from the plant. The lake smell? Well, you can’t find the lake. You just deal with it. That smell, which has caused the nickname “Lake Stink”, is from bacteria that feed off the organic matter at the bottom of the lake and the gases make their way to the top, producing a wretched smell. If the wind is just right, the smell comes up into Ogden.
- Ogden is at 4500 feet above sea level, and if you’re coming from a much lower elevation it might take a day to acclimate. You shouldn’t go right to the ski resorts as those peaks can get up to 9500 feet, where altitude sickness is much worse. Signs of altitude sickness include a bad headache, trouble breathing, nausea, and loss of appetite. I have spent a lot of time at high altitudes and if you don’t acclimate it feels like you can’t get air into your lungs. It’s horrible. Let your body adjust.
- There are various levels of hiking trails in this area, and you need to find one that fits your physical fitness level. A moderate-level trail can quickly cause health issues for someone who normally isn’t active. Dehydration can set in whether it’s hot or cold. Check trail conditions before you go and use an app like alltrails.com to check the effort level needed from real hiker reviews.
- If you are there during a snowstorm, don’t park on public roads. This will get in the way of snowplows and it could cause damage to your car if a plow sideswipes it. Use parking garages or parking lots during snowstorms.
- If you want to hunt or fish while you are in Ogden, or anywhere in Utah, you’ll need a license for it. Contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to get one.
- Now for some bison safety tips brought to you by the Utah Parks Department. There are up to 700 bison in Antelope Park, so you’ll likely see one or a heard. If a bison is close enough to notice you, that means you are too close. Back up. Don’t walk closer to bison just to get a picture. If they are blocking the road, don’t try to move then. When I was 12 years old, my dad and I took a trip in this part of the country, and on a lone Wyoming road, we were blocked by at least 20 bison. Thinking I knew best, I did the exact wrong thing, and got out of the car and started yelling at them. It didn’t help and, turns out, it was very dangerous. If a bison blocks your path, just wait for them to move.
So... How Safe Is Ogden Really?
It’s not nearly as safe as some other Utah cities.
It’s not even safe in comparison to the national crime rates.
Are you in imminent danger of being a victim?
It’s just one of the tougher, grittier cities in a state full of pristine, near-perfect, communities.
Here are your chances of being a victim of a crime in Ogden, Utah.
- Robbery: 1 in 164
- Violent Crime: 1 in 195
- Aggravated Assault: 1 in 382
- Theft: 1 in 2151
Ogden gets a bad reputation statewide based on its history and current climate.
There were the 1974 Wi-Fi murders that I suggest you don’t research unless you have an iron stomach.
It was a horrible mass murder inside a store.
When a city has enough drug activity and gangs to warrant gang and drug units in a police department, it signals there’s a problem.
All that said, the majority of places you’ll visit as a tourist are highly trafficked by police.
You’ll want to use extra caution when enjoying the Ogden nightlife, as it’s much more intense than any other part of the state — but it’s still no South Beach.
The major crime happens in the part of town you shouldn’t be visiting anyway.
How Does Ogden Compare?
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- Visas - You'll deal with the Visa requirements at the airport. No additional ID is required to get into Ogden.
- Currency - You'll use the U.S. Dollar currency here. Most places, even national parks, take credit cards, so don't worry about carrying around large sums of cash which can make you more likely to be a victim of a robbery.
- Weather - Ogden gets less rain but more snow than the national average. The summers get hot, well into the 90s, and the winters get down into the teens. It's wise to always bring a jacket, as even summer evenings can get a little chilly. You can rent ski equipment so you don't need to pack it unless you are an avid skier and insist. Rain gear is always going to be helpful. Bring a good pair of hiking boots or snow boots, depending on what time of year you are visiting.
- Airports - Ogden has a small airport with two commercial airlines going to either Mesa, Arizona, or Burbank, California. The best bet is to drive to Salt Lake International Airport less than an hour south on I-15.
- Travel Insurance - Wildfires, snowstorms, and other unexpected travel delays make it a great idea to get travel insurance for your trip to Odgen, Utah.
Ogden Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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