Minnesota : Safety by City
- Brooklyn Park
- Detroit Lakes
- Fergus Falls
- Grand Marais
- Grand Portage
- International Falls
- Maple Grove
- New Ulm
- Red Wing
- St. Cloud
- St. Paul
- Two Harbors
To many, Pipestone is hard to even find on a map in the rural terrain of southwestern Minnesota.
To many others, it’s a sacred place where fiery stones are transitioned to prayers as part of a Native American ritual.
While the city and county of Pipestone aren’t tourism meccas, they have been gathering spots for nearly two dozen tribes from ancient times to the modern day.
Pipestone National Monument is a special place protected under the umbrella of the National Park Service.
The city of Pipestone is a small town in a region of small towns, with Minneapolis being a zigzagged drive three and a half hours away.
Pipestone is closer to Iowa and South Dakota than to major cities in its own state.
Within the city limits, you’ll find the remnants of Fort Pipestone from 1862, with a gift shop and displays of Native American crafts at Pipestone Indian World.
Throughout the city, you’ll learn more about Native American traditions and present-day practices than any history class can teach.
The rocks in Pipestone have a story to tell, and every turn in this region shares a bit of the sacred story behind the brutal work it takes to produce a peace pipe and keep the legacy going for generations to come.
Warnings & Dangers in Pipestone
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, with very low rates across the country. While it's not the most robust urban destination, you have natural treasures in all directions and a great cultural experience on top of that.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Pipestone County Transit is for residents, and it's a small shuttle service that wouldn't be easy for visitors to rely on anyway. You'll need a car of your own, which you'll need to pick up in a larger city. The city is easy to walk, but you'll need additional transportation to get to the monument and state parks.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Just one purse snatching was reported in 2021, with a value of $5. The theft risk is very low - so low, in fact, that I was surprised a purse snatching was one of them. One word of caution - keep your car locked with valuables stored in the trunk when you park at a trail or park. Car break-ins can happen anywhere.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
This area can get severe weather throughout the year. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can roll across the Upper Midwest and Plains from spring through fall. Winter storms can bring bitterly cold temperatures or blizzards with treacherous ice and blustery winds. You need to stay weather aware in this region as storms can kick up quickly.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
With just six robberies in Pipestone County since 2000, this is another low risk.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Since Pipestone is a small town within a rural area across three states, there's no risk of a terrorist attack. While hate crimes are always possible in communities, it's still smart to report anything suspicious you see.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The traditional utility or fake police officer scams happen here, mostly targeted at locals. Since this isn't a big tourism destination, there aren't tourist scams to be wary of. You can look at the Better Business Bureau or Attorney General's website to see common statewide or nationwide scams.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This is another low risk. The city is small and safe, and the national monument has its own park police department. You shouldn't let your guard down, but you also don't need to be overwhelmingly concerned.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance with all state and federal standards and no violations. These reports are required to be posted annually by June for the previous year, so check the city website if you're visiting after June 2023.
Safest Places to Visit in Pipestone
Progressive Pipestone is the name of the city’s website, where you can find a free downloadable travel guide.
Use the Pipestone Chamber of Commerce website as well.
The Explore Minnesota website also covers Pipestone city and county.
Look at the Southern Minnesota section to cover this region, which includes Walnut Grove, the hometown of Laura Ingalls, and the setting for Little House on the Prairie.
Visit the Pipestone County Historical Society Museum to learn about the region and pick up a self-guided walking map of the town.
You’ll be amazed at how much pipestone has been built into the architecture, especially after you learn how hard it is actually to get to the pipestone layer of rock.
Pipestone National Monument is on the north edge of the city limits, making it an easy drive and close to town.
Stop by the visitor’s center and tour the museum.
Don’t miss the short film Pipestone: A Sacred Place, A Spiritual Practice to truly appreciate the land you’re about to explore.
Cultural demonstrations are also held from April through October.
Guided tours are offered every season except winter.
The Circle Trail takes you through several landscapes in less than a mile hike.
You can also snowshoe on that trail in winter.
Fort Pipestone is just south of the National Monument, and this is where you can purchase pipestone of your own.
You cannot take any of the rocks from the National Monument.
Here you can climb a fort tower or choose a dream catcher at the store.
This is a safe stop-and-explore location.
Blue Mounds State Park is less than 30 miles north of Pipestone, with tremendous rock formations as well.
Self-guided trails go through the Prairie with some moderate options.
There are 13 miles of winter hiking trails and designated snowmobile trails.
Rock climbing is popular here too.
Lake Shetet State Park is an hour east.
The word Shetet means “pelican,” and that’s just what you’ll see from summer through fall.
The lake covers 45 acres and is known to be a great fishing spot.
There’s a swimming beach in the summer and plenty of trails throughout the year.
Canoes can be rented at the park office.
Split Rock Creek State Park is just eight miles south of Pipestone.
This is a popular summer destination with canoes, kayaks, and SUPs for rent.
You can also get a fish or birding kit for free. Be sure to get a few photos of the dam or hike the road that goes over the historic dam.
Back in Pipestone, visit Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers, where you can learn how to make a pipe or participate in a workshop where you create your own.
There’s a gift shop there, too, if you’d like to buy handmade pipes or other Native American crafts.
The world’s largest peace pipe is outside.
Pipestone Country Club is the local golf course, and while memberships are offered, there are tee times available for visitors.
Check the website for the rules and costs.
Places to Avoid in Pipestone
You don’t need to worry about dangerous neighborhoods or bad parts of town.
This is a small community that wouldn’t be large enough to have a place to avoid.
As you might have concluded, if you don’t want to learn about pipestone, explore Native American crafts, or visit parks, you’ll be bored out of your mind here.
Even if this is just a day trip for you, it’s worth the visit.
You’ll just be hard-pressed to parlay this into a long vacation unless you plan on camping or quarrying.
Visitors should always check the road conditions between the small towns and within the parks.
You can use the 511 MN app to do so.
Storms can wash out roads, or winter weather can leave trails impassible.
Since this isn’t a robust media market, you’ll need to have social media sites for your preferred parks and locations bookmarked.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Pipestone
- Pipestone County Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement for the county and the city. You can follow the office on Facebook @Pipestone-County-Sheriffs-Office.
- Report any crime tips to the anonymous hotline by calling (507)825-1105. If you have information about crimes or thefts at the National Monument, call the National Park Service at (507)825-5464.
- Pipestone National Monument is open 24 hours a day, and it’s a great place to do some stargazing. While you can’t camp there overnight, you can park and observe the unimpeded skies. Bring a red flashlight, so you don’t create light pollution for others there.
- The National Weather Service that serves this area is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. You’ll still get hyper-local forecasts even though it’s in a different state. You should also have a battery-powered weather radio if you’re going into the parks to stay on top of developing weather. Mobile phone service can never be guaranteed.
- If you plan to do rock climbing, like at Blue Mounds State Park, you’ll need a permit. They are free and available at the park office. Be sure to arrive when the office is open.
- Whether it’s a state park or a federal park, you should check the trail updates on the respective park website before you go. If there’s a lot of snow, you want to confirm the trail is groomed. If it has been a dry winter, you don’t want to go through the trouble of getting snowshoes if there isn’t snow.
- If you are in Pipestone during winter weather, don’t park on the street. A snow emergency declaration means all streets must be clear, so snow plows can get through. Violators can be ticketed or towed by police and risk being sideswiped by a snow plow.
- You’ll need a license to fish anywhere in Minnesota, which requires applying through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
- Quarry permits are required for anyone who wants to get pipestone, and permits are only given to members of federally-recognized tribes. If you do get a permit, you will need to bring your own tools.
- The natural areas here have some stunning waterfalls, but the rocks around them and underneath it will be very slippery. Even comfortable tennis shoes won’t hold up against the slippery rocks. Use caution and don’t get too close to a rocky location since the ground can also be unstable.
So... How Safe Is Pipestone Really?
Pipestone saw fewer than 50 violent and property crimes in 2021.
It’s THAT safe – and that’s for the whole county.
As a tourist, you really don’t have safety concerns here.
That said, if you go looking for trouble, you will find it.
There’s a drug issue here, as with many American cities, and major drug busts have been made in the past few years.
One of the most outrageous crimes I saw in Pipestone was a man who had his car impounded after being arrested on drug charges, and police say he showed up to pick up the car… in a car full of drugs.
You do need to have wildlife, wilderness, and weather safety knowledge to stay safe here.
Even knowing how to spot poison ivy can avoid a painful few days of scratching and misery.
You should know how to dress in layers that will keep you warm in the winter without causing sweat or accumulating or letting moisture to the layers near your skin.
If you don’t keep track of the weather, you could find yourself stuck in the open prairie with a storm approaching.
Know the difference between a weather advisory, watch, and warning – all of which are available on the NWS website.
How Does Pipestone Compare?
|Santiago de Chile (Chile)||71|
- Visas - International visitors need a passport and U.S. Visa. Confirm that your passport doesn't expire within six months of your departure date. A Travel Visa is the most in-demand in America, which means it takes the longest. Check out the State Department website for the most updated rules and regulations, as changes were made at the start of 2023.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here. Don't wait to exchange currency until you get to Pipestone. Do that at the airport or at home. Carry some emergency cash with you, but purchase as much as you can on a credit card for the best fraud protection.
- Weather - Causal, comfortable clothing is just fine here, and there's little reason to get dressed up. Bring clothing that you can move around in since you might be shuffling around snow rocks while hiking. Wear boots that cover your ankles for support, and don't wear brand-new boots during a hike. Break them in at home, so you'll be comfortable putting them through the real wilderness.
- Airports - The Sioux Falls airport in South Dakota is the closest option, and that's about an hour away. You can use the larger Minneapolis St Paul International Airport, but you'll drive three and a half hours to get there.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a smart investment since weather can close the few attractions and roads here throughout the year. If you purchase insurance when you buy your airfare, it will go into effect immediately.
Pipestone Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|