Is Pierre Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On April 19, 2024
Pierre, United States
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, sits along the eastern bank of the Missouri River near the “Big Bend.”

Named after Pierre Chouteau Jr., a prominent fur trader, the city and surrounding landscape are deeply intertwined with the development of the American West.

Established in 1880 as a small settlement, Pierre grew rapidly after becoming the state capital in 1889.

Fort Pierre, located just across the river, holds significant historical importance as one of the oldest continuously occupied white settlements in the Dakotas.

Visitors can explore its historic sites and museums to learn about the region’s Native American heritage, fur trading era, and pioneer history.

Visitors are drawn to Pierre’s scenic beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, and cultural attractions.

The area is renowned for fishing, boating, and birdwatching along the Missouri River, as well as hiking and wildlife viewing in the nearby state parks.

I do want to clarify that fishing, hunting, and outdoor activities are the bulk of things to do here besides museums.

Whether seeking adventure in the great outdoors, delving into history, or simply enjoying the tranquility of river life, Pierre offers something for every traveler seeking an authentic American experience.

Warnings & Dangers in Pierre

Overall Risk


There's a low risk in Pierre and a lot of history and outdoors to explore. I'll explain a little later why the first glance at the crime rates shouldn't be concerning for a visitor.

Transport & Taxis Risk


River Cities Public Transit is the local bus system, but it's not a traditional fixed route. Check the website to see if that fits your needs. Otherwise, taxis and rideshares will be available, but not abundantly. A rental car is a great option to enjoy all that this region offers.

Pickpockets Risk


Pierre hasn't had one pickpocket or purse-snatching report in at least 10 years (I double-checked)! That's a low risk, but one you shouldn't take for granted.

Natural Disasters Risk


This part of South Dakota can get four seasons of dangerous weather, from flooding to tornadoes to wildland fires to winter storms. Winter temperatures can be dangerously cold if you aren't properly dressed. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast and always have a safety plan.

Mugging Risk


This is a low risk, but the city saw five robberies for the first time in at least seven years in 2022. While most years have zero robberies, two people were robbed, and three businesses were impacted. Just use standard caution to avoid whatever risk there is.

Terrorism Risk


Even as a state capital, there's a low risk here. This region is just so small and remote. You might see protests and people expressing their First Amendment rights, but if you notice anything suspicious or threatening about that, let the police know.

Scams Risk


Scams mostly focus on residents here, given the trusting and friendly nature of South Dakotans. Any trending scams will be posted on the city's website or the police department's social media sites.

Women Travelers Risk


Women have the same risk as anyone else, but be warned - if you don't like fishing, hunting, or history, you might get bored in Pierre.

Tap Water Risk


Pierre has taken huge steps over the past five years to improve the water quality, color, and taste. You can read about the improvements on the Pierre Water District section of the city's website. The latest water quality report shows full compliance and no violations.

Safest Places to Visit in Pierre is the Chamber of Commerce website that offers a list of things to do and places to eat, with a free digital visitor’s guide available to download.

Explore the magnificent State Capitol building, which houses the state’s legislative and executive branches.

Take a guided tour to learn about the history and architecture of this impressive structure.

The geese gather at Capitol Lake right next to the capitol building.

The park has several memorials and places to sit and enjoy the view.

The Governor’s Mansion is on the other side of the lake.

Then, explore the Cultural Heritage Center.

Discover exhibits highlighting the state’s Native American heritage, pioneer history, and natural wonders.

Dive into the French explorers of yesteryear at the Verendrye Museum in Fort Pierre, across the river.

The story here starts with two French brothers claiming the Missouri River for France.

How did it end?

You’ll have to show up to find out.

Bring the whole family to the South Dakota Discovery Center for hands-on science exhibits and educational programs.

It’s a fun and interactive way to learn about the natural world.

Spend a relaxing day fishing or boating on the Missouri River.

With its scenic beauty and abundant fish, it’s a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts.

Walk along the Missouri River at Steamboat Park and admire views of the iconic steamboat replica.

This charming park is a great spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic with friends and family.

Head to Oahe Dam and Lake for even more outdoor recreation opportunities.

From fishing and boating to camping and hiking, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this picturesque area.

You might also consider La Framboise Island Nature Area.

Hike along scenic trails, spot wildlife, and enjoy a peaceful picnic in this tranquil oasis.

For those who like road trips, consider the Native American Scenic Byway from Chamberlain to Fort Pierre, about 90 minutes of beautiful South Dakota prairieland.

An additional option is the 116,000 acres of grassland at Fort Pierre National Grassland, a federally preserved land.

This is a must-see if you’re visiting in spring due to the abundance of wildflowers.

There is so much more to explore in Pierre, depending on if you want to learn more about history, wilderness, or hunting/fishing.

Places to Avoid in Pierre

Pierre is a very small town surrounded by very large chunks of remote land – there aren’t dangerous neighborhoods or parts of town, nor would there be anywhere to hide if there were.

I don’t know if there is a proper adjective to describe how many geese take over Pierre in the winter.

I honestly thought I was on a spoof site when I saw the city page with thousands of geese, some right in front of the camera.

It’s not a meme or exaggeration – geese easily outnumber people 10-to-1 from late fall through early spring.

No, not off in the wilderness or across the river – EVERYWHERE.

What might be a novelty at first could quickly annoy a visitor, especially with the amount of goose waste that has to cover everything.

Plus, I know some people aren’t fond of birds or can be downright afraid of them.

My niece Amanda had a terrible fear of birds as a child.

There is no way I could have visited Pierre with her.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Pierre

  1. Pierre has a local police department, and you can follow them on Facebook @PierrePolice. The phone number is (605) 773-7413 if you have specific safety questions.
  2. Hughes County uses AlertSense for emergency alerts, and it’s free to sign up. This will tell you about severe weather approaching or public safety threats. All weather alerts come from the Aberdeen National Weather Service office. The three-letter code is ABR.
  3. Use the Notify Me section of the city’s website to sign up for notifications as well. This could include information like the plowing schedule, a water main break, or other specifics related to an incoming weather system.
  4. Winter visitors should check the Energy Alert Status website, as it will tell you when the power grid is being pushed to the max. You can also find some helpful tips on how to limit energy use while you’re there.
  5. If the power grid is over-taxed, controlled blackouts could happen. This is a great reminder to keep a flashlight and necessary items you can use for heat and food that don’t require electricity.
  6. I don’t see any laws that ban feeding the geese in Pierre, but I would definitely ask before you do and see what kind of food is safest for them. As part of the Leave No Trace principles, you should not feed the geese, but that’s a moral decision.
  7. Spring can bring a lot of potholes on the local roads, thanks to the freeze that cycles. You can report a new pothole to the city using a form on the website. This can help get road hazards fixed faster.
  8. Pierre is a place where hunting and fishing are a way of life, but you need a license to take part in either activity. The licenses are sold on the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks website.
  9. While parking is free in Pierre, I’d definitely look for a covered parking spot if you can. Between the hailstorms that bring up to baseball-sized chunks of ice and winter, which requires a lot of scraping windows and clearing snow, it’s worth paying extra to get a covered place to park.
  10. Check SD 511 for road conditions across the region. Pierre doesn’t have an interstate leading to it, and roads can be closed ahead of incoming winter storms or blizzards. The website also includes live cameras, road construction, and real-time traffic.

So... How Safe Is Pierre Really?

Pierre makes several lists of the most dangerous cities in South Dakota, but there’s a difference between how safe a city is to live in and how safe it is to visit.

Also, South Dakota has an overall crime rate lower than the national average, meaning even the most dangerous cities wouldn’t be all that dangerous to most people.

Pierre is a safe city to visit, but there is trouble to be found if you go looking for it.

In 2022, the violent crime rate was 30% above the state average and 24% above the national average.

When we look closer, we see that just 11% of those crimes were against strangers.

That number drops to 6%, looking back at the five-year trend.

In addition, 72% of violent crimes happen in private homes.

Theft is slightly higher than the national average, fueled by 83% of thefts falling into the “Other” category, which could be anything from stolen farm equipment to storage unit break-ins.

Just 10% were car break-ins, which is about 20% lower than the national average.

South Dakota as a whole deals with drug challenges related to Mexican cartels that have teamed up with some people on reservations.

While you should avoid drug activity to begin with, there’s a far greater risk than being arrested for possession.

The average tourist won’t deal with that seedy side of the state crime challenges.

Beyond that, the safety issues of the weather and outdoor risks are up to the individual.

Know the forecast, prepare for severe or inclement weather, and study basic survival skills in the wilderness.

Have an emergency kit in your car and a paper map wherever you go.

How Does Pierre Compare?

CitySafety Index
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
La Paz (Bolivia)52
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61

Useful Information



International visitors should start with the Visa Wizard module on the U.S. State Department website to see if they qualify for a visa waiver. If you need a visa, the timeline for processing is listed. A passport that isn't within six months of expiring is also required.



Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Limit purchases to credit cards if you can, and exchange currency in your hometown to get the best rates.



Plan for long, cold winters, wet, stormy springtime, hot summers, and brisk fall weather. You'll want bug spray, comfortable shoes, and sturdy outdoor gear if you're exploring the wilderness.



Pierre Regional Airport has a handful of flights a day, either going to Denver or Minneapolis. Given the remote location, that's your best option.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

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Pierre Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -7° C
Feb -4° C
Mar 2° C
Apr 9° C
May 15° C
Jun 21° C
Jul 25° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 18° C
Oct 10° C
Nov 2° C
Dec -5° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

South Dakota - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Hill City83
North Sioux City70
Rapid City57
Sioux Falls76

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