Arizona : Safety by City
- Casa Grande
- Lake Havasu City
- Oro Valley
- Sierra Vista
Oro Valley, Arizona, is flanked on one side by the Santa Catalina mountains and open desert to the west.
It’s a suburb of the larger city, Tucson, to the south, but it holds its own with activities for families, couples, and individuals visiting.
Meaning “Valley of Gold” in Spanish, just being in Oro Valley is a natural wonder.
The mountains are breathtaking and when the sun goes down the stars are brighter than you’ve ever seen them before.
You’ll need to be an outdoorsy person to appreciate all Oro Valley has to offer, and some of the best golfing you can find in the state is located in the city.
This is a city that is growing with help from the Innovation Park.
While contractors work to build more homes in the region, the city is also dedicated to protecting the many historic parts of the land.
Warnings & Dangers in Oro Valley
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk in Oro Valley. The crime rates are low, the people are friendly, and you'll find a nice mix of ages here — from young college students attending the University of Arizona to young adults starting their professional lives and seniors retiring in the warm desert sun.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There's a bus service between Catalina, Oro Valley, and Tucson. If you're here for work, there are park and ride options. Taxis and rideshares are also available. All come with low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
It's very rare someone gets pickpocketed here. FBI crime data shows there hasn't been a pickpocket or purse snatching in this city in a decade. There's a low risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Flash flooding, wildfires, severe thunderstorms, dust storms, and extreme heat are the issues you'll face in Oro Valley. There's a medium risk because these events can be dangerous, yet almost every year someone dies just by not following safety precautions.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a very low chance of being mugged. Only 8 robberies were reported in 2020. This is a city with a very low violent crime rate, so you can feel safe here. That doesn't mean you should throw caution to the wind and leave your stuff lying around or show large amounts of money in public.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk in Oro Valley. Tucson has some appealing targets for terrorists, but Phoenix would be a bigger target for terrorists.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of being scammed. The scam and fraud cases reported are targeted at people who live in Oro Valley, not tourists.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should be safe here. There were just three rapes reported in 2020. While that's still three too many, it's among the lowest number I've seen in my nationwide research. There's a low risk, but there are also a lot of risks, so don't let your guard down. If you are going into the mountains or wilderness alone, make sure you let someone know where you are going and when you'll be back. Bring plenty of water as this is a desert community and dehydration sets in quickly.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Looking at the Oro Valley Water Quality Report from 2020, there are no violations in the drinking water and it meets or exceeds standards. There's a low risk, but please conserve water here as much as you can.
Safest Places to Visit in Oro Valley
You’ll definitely want to check out the Santa Catalina Mountains.
You’ll get there by going to Catalina State Park.
Walk among the rare saguaro cacti along 5500 acres of land.
You can camp here, ride a horse, or just hike.
Check out their programs as they sometimes have guided bird walks or nature lessons of desert life.
When you get hungry, there are plenty of restaurants in Oro Valley and 21 of them are places you’ll only find here.
From a fresh breakfast to a bakery with homemade cinnamon rolls to a luxury dinner overlooking the mountains, there are an abundance of options.
Shoppers will love the Tucson Premium Outlets just across Interstation 10 from Oro Valley.
You can shop for name brands at discount prices.
This is a great way to avoid the heat of the day by walking in and out of air-conditioned stores.
There are at least a dozen golf options in town.
Some of the courses are connected to hotels, so if golf is your game, try to stay at a place where you get free or discounted golf.
At night, there are some restaurants and bars in the area, but you need to head south to Fourth Avenue in Tucson.
There are a wide variety of bars, nightclubs, and venues to choose from.
If you stay in Oro Valley, you can rent a telescope from the library and get an up-close look at the stars in the wide-open desert.
Places to Avoid in Oro Valley
There are no bad neighborhoods in Oro Valley and you don’t need to worry about stumbling into the bad part of town.
Some of the communities here are gated, so you should avoid trying to sneak through a gate.
Especially in the summer, you want to avoid hiking or biking in the heat of the day, from 10 am – 2 pm.
In June, the average — AVERAGE — high is 102°(F).
Not only is it scorching hot, but summer monsoon storms also whip up quickly and can catch an uninformed hiker off guard.
If you are there during a severe storm, don’t drive through a flooded road, even if you think it’s just a few inches.
It only takes six inches of water to potentially carry a vehicle away.
You’ll see warning signs at various intersections reminding you of this.
The desert communities also have washes throughout the area.
These look like river beds, but they are dry.
When the storms hit, the washes get flooded with rushing water.
Every year someone goes in the wash and needs to be rescued.
Avoid going anywhere near a wash when it’s raining.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Oro Valley
- You can sign up for CodeRED alerts from the Oro Valley government. You’ll get notifications of weather events, civil emergencies, road closures, accidents, or crime concerns.
- Bring a good pair of hiking boots. Hiking in tennis shoes can put your ankles at risk of getting twisted by walking on rocks or taking a bit from a rattlesnake you didn’t see in time.
- I lived in Oro Valley for a year, so here was my biggest fear — scorpions. Yes, they live in the desert and they can get into hotels and rental homes. When I moved out of one apartment there, after the movers took all the stuff, there were 10 dead scorpions around the baseboards. I was freaked out that I lived with those suckers for so long. All scorpions can sting, but the bark scorpion also delivers venom through its bite. Always shake your shoes and any folded clothes before you put them on. Scorpions look for dark, cool places to hide. If you have a blacklight, you can use that to spot them as they will glow.
- A couple of days before your visit, start drinking three liters of water a day. You’ll need to stay hydrated as the desert sun can suck the moisture out of you. When you arrive, keep drinking water and mix in a couple of drinks with electrolytes, like Gatorade.
- The sun is going to do a number on your skin and nose. It’s not uncommon for desert visitors to get nosebleeds on the second or third day of a trip. Bring some Vaseline and apply it inside your nostrils several times a day to keep them moist. Start this as soon as you get to town.
- If you’re going to be staying in Oro Valley a while and you’re a woman, the police department offers a 12-hour self-defense class. This is free and open to everyone 15 years and older.
- One day, I was going to work and I opened my door to see three angry pig-like creatures staring me down. I closed the door and called work. They laughed at me and said, “those are just javelinas, don’t mess with them, they’ll go away on their own.” I was baffled at how “normal” my colleague made it seem. It’s true though, you might see these hoofed mammals that resemble a pig in Oro Valley. They can get aggressive, so don’t go near them. Call Arizona Fish and Game if it poses a threat. That number is (520) 628-5376.
- I cannot emphasize how important it is to wear sunscreen here. Most days the UV index is at 11, the highest level. Even just walking in and out of stores can leave you with a nasty sunburn. Wear SPF 30 or higher and re-apply often.
- You might wonder why you aren’t sweating as much as you thought you would in such high temperatures. The reason for that is, the air is so dry, so as soon as you sweat it evaporates. You might sweat a little bit, but not like you would if you were visiting Miami, where it’s humid.
- Don’t go outside in a dust storm. Yes, they are really cool to see. Take it from me, a person who ignored this advice and walked right out to walk a duststorm roll over the city. I sneezed mud for days and coughed up dirt for a week.
So... How Safe Is Oro Valley Really?
This city is about as safe as you can find.
It’s a more rural area with great developments sprinkled throughout.
47,000 people live here.
The national violent crime rate is 399 incidents per 100,000 people.
In Oro Valley, the violent crime rate is 57 per 100,000.
There have only been four homicides in the past decade.
There’s a one in 5886 chance of being robbed.
The real dangers here come from the land — the critters, the heat, the unpredictable weather, and the dehydration potential.
I happen to love heat and hate cold, so being in Oro Valley was like a retreat every day.
I swam in the pool on Christmas Day.
I rarely had to wear a coat and never wore boots.
I had beautiful mountain turns at every corner.
If you can handle the heat, there are few better choices for a safe vacation with lots of amenities than Oro Valley.
How Does Oro Valley Compare?
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- Visas - You'll take care of the Visa requirement at the airport or when you cross the border. You won't need additional identification in Oro Valley. If you're American and plan to visit Mexico, be sure to bring your passport.
- Currency - You might be just 90 minutes from the Mexican border, but you'll still need to pay in U.S. Dollar for all purchases. Especially in this heat, you want to carry around as little as possible, so just use one credit card for all purchases. There's no need to carry around cash.
- Weather - The desert weather can have large gaps between the high and the low. In winter, you'll get average highs near 70°(F) and lows in the 30s. Spring and fall have highs in the 70s and 80s with lows in the 40s. The heat starts in April with a high of 83°(F) and then, from May through August, you're going to get at or near triple digits for highs and lows around 70°(F). Pack sunscreen, layers of clothing, and hiking boots. Don't forget your swimsuit as there are pools everywhere in Oro Valley.
- Airports - Tucson International Airport is 22 miles south. If you want a bigger airport, you can head to Phoenix International Airport, which is 104 miles north.
- Travel Insurance - The weather here can change quickly and wicked windstorms can delay flights. It's a good idea to get travel insurance for a getaway to Oro Valley, Arizona.
Oro Valley Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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