Arizona : Safety by City
- Casa Grande
- Lake Havasu City
- Oro Valley
- Sierra Vista
Prescott, Arizona sits halfway between Phoenix and Flagstaff, high in the mountains, breaking all the “it’s so hot” reputation of the Grand Canyon State.
The city proclaims itself to be “Everybody’s Hometown” and there really is a little something for everyone.
This city was born in mining, lives for rodeo, and puts on one heck of a show during the Christmas season.
Pronounced “Press-KIT”, you’ll never be without something to do in this mile-high city.
Activities start at sunrise and go through the last call on Whiskey Row.
This was also the home of 19 wildland firefighters who tragically lost their lives in 2013 during the Yarnell Fire.
Their story was told in the movie “Only the Brave,” which I have to say is one of my favorite movies of all time.
You get a real look at what Hot Shots crews go through to keep wildland fires far away from homes whenever possible.
This is a small town with just 46,000 people, but you can choose to be in the center of everything or the middle of nowhere, as the city is surrounded by stunning mountains and lakes.
Warnings & Dangers in Prescott
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here. Even the crime rates are incredibly low for the city population, much less adding in all the visitors who come here each year. The people are as down-to-earth as you can find.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Yavapai ("Yav-uh-pie") Regional Transit is the shuttle and bus transportation throughout Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley. Fares are $2 each way. From May through October, the "tourist season", you can get free shuttle rides around downtown with real estate agents providing the rides - though they might convince you to move here. Plenty of private sightseeing and shuttle options are also available. Taxis and rideshares are available, but might not be as plentiful as bigger cities. All options are low-risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were 7 pickpockets reported in 2020, though the crooks only got away with an average of $50. It's a good reminder that even in a nice small town, petty crimes can happen. All that said, there's still a low risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
If you read the story of the Granite Mountain hotshots, it shows just how quickly a small wildfire can turn into a monster wall of death. Wildfires are a big threat here and there's medium risk. You'll get snow in the winter and thunderstorms in the summer, but it's those storms that spawn lightning to ignite wildfires. Any tourist here should know basic wildfire safety precautions.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
I don't think in all my years of research I've ever seen a city with fewer robberies than pickpockets. Chalk it up to another interesting point about Prescott. There were just three robberies all year long, a statistic that would probably disappoint Doc Holliday, who used to roam these streets. There's a very low risk of getting mugged now and an even lower chance of a shootout with an old West icon.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. This city is nestled in its own little nook with other small towns and has nothing appealing to terrorist groups.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are plenty of traditional scams against locals, but the one tourists need to watch out for is card skimmers at gas stations. Use a pump as close to the center of a gas station as possible and take a close look at the card machine on the pump to see if there is a skimming device put on there. For the safest purchase, pay inside.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. This is a place where they open the doors for ladies and tip their hats while walking by on the street. Just be sure if you're partying on Whiskey Row you don't take a drink you didn't see poured and always stay in public places with new people you meet.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There is a low risk in tap water as it meets all necessary standards. I thought this was a nice personal touch added to the 2020 Annual Water Quality Report, "As your water provider, we serve more than water. We provide customer service, reliability, peace of mind, and protect public health."
Safest Places to Visit in Prescott
This community was forever scarred and put on a global map when those 19 Hot Shot crew members died in 2013 and there’s a museum with tributes from across the world.
Learn about the lone survivor of the tragedy and the effort this crew made to get the elite “Hot Shot” status and what went wrong that terrible day a decade ago.
The “World’s Oldest Rodeo” happens every summer and it’s a great time to visit.
Western Heritage Days happen in the fall and at Christmastime, this city comes to life.
Those are just a few options if you’re trying to find the best time to visit Prescott.
Any time of year, you can hop on the Prescott Heritage Trail treasure hunt and explore the dozens of interesting topics in Prescott.
This includes a time the city was almost wiped off the map in a catastrophic fire.
There’s a museum of Indigenous People to learn about the Native American influence on the lands around Prescott.
You can also see old western art at the Phippen Museum.
You can safely get up close to wild animals at the Heritage Park Zoological Society, which is open every day of the year.
If live animals aren’t your thing, check out the Highlands Center for Natural History.
To head outdoors, ask about the many tours available.
You can hire someone to teach you how to safely scale a rock wall, take a backcountry tour without having to hike many miles in a day, or take a tour of some of the most unique cocktails in town.
When the sun goes down, Whiskey Row comes to life.
Get your cowboy boots and do some line dancing or just kick back and watch a mock shoot-out in the streets, just like in the olden days.
The Palace Restaurant and Saloon is the hallmark of this historic street.
(HINT: Ask about what townsfolk did when the city burned down in 1900.
You’ll be either fascinated or appalled at the answer.)
Places to Avoid in Prescott
There is really no place in town to avoid because it’s too dangerous.
Since it is a very big tourist attraction, that means a lot of strangers coming into a small space, so avoid putting down your guard and continue to protect your belongings.
I can’t emphasize this enough, you have to avoid thinking you are going to Arizona that is hot all the time, or even nice and mild in the winter.
This place is seasoned more like a Colorado climate than an Arizona climate.
Even if you’re just coming up from Phoenix for a few days, bring appropriate clothing.
Avoid doing too much too soon, as this city itself sits at nearly 4500 feet above sea level and altitude sickness is a real thing.
I lived in a community this high once and I genuinely thought in the first few days I was getting asthma as I just couldn’t breathe right.
Once my body acclimated after a few days, I was okay.
Especially if you are running, your lungs will burn on the first run at this elevation, much less if you go into the mountains.
If you go hiking, those hills are filled with abandoned mines.
Back in those days, when a mine was picked clean, the workers just abandoned it.
There was no OSHA to say “Hey! Seal this up or you’ll get cited!” Do NOT enter an abandoned mine.
The reality is you could fall a great distance in the middle of nowhere and nobody will find you again.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Prescott
- There is still a chance there is “Gold in them there hills!”. There are some places you can go panning for gold, and you might get lucky. If you do, don’t jump around screaming “I FOUND GOLD!” This could attract people waiting to steal your gold. If you’re going to trade in that gold for cash, do it at a reputable place in town, and don’t ever go to a vendor you can’t confirm is licensed.
- Before you head into the wilderness, check the Arizona Wildfire Watch website to see if a fire is burning nearby. Winds in this area can quickly change direction, turning a small fire into a really big one in just an hour. Don’t risk it. Be prepared and informed.
- When parking, the Prescott Police Department suggests parking in a monitored lot or on the street. They say a car parked in an unattended lot is five times more likely to get stolen or broken into.
- Be sure to place an anti-theft device on the steering wheel, and if you’re hauling a bike or skis, lock them down before leaving the car.
- If you see a crime happen, you can report it to Silent Witness at (800)932-3232. You will stay anonymous, but you can call back in a week or so and see if the crime has been solved and you might get a reward.
- If you are involved in a non-emergency vehicle accident, you don’t need to wait for an officer. You can provide the information right on the police department’s website at any time.
- If you’re going into the wilderness, bring twice as much water as you think you’ll need. It’s still a dry climate here, even though it is cooler and you’ll lose more body fluids without realizing it.
- When planning a hike, look for a route that starts difficult and gets easier. I once hiked the mountain above Donner Lake in California, and I made the mistake of going down in elevation the first hour, leaving a miserable trek UP a mountain three hours later when I was exhausted. I also ran out of water. Learn from my mistakes.
- If you want to try rock climbing, there are tour guides here who can give you the right safety equipment and go on the adventure with you. While you might be trying to save money on a trip, this is one safety step that is worth every penny for a less experienced rock climber.
- You’re going to meet a lot of interesting people here, and it’s easy to share too much information that could make you a mark for identity theft. Don’t give out specific details or leave your credit card out if you open a tab where people can see it. Be friendly, but be smart about it too.
So... How Safe Is Prescott Really?
Here are the latest crime numbers reported to the FBI by the Prescott Police Department:
- Violent Crime: 168 incidents
- Rape: 31 incidents
- Robbery: 3 incidents
- Aggravated Assault: 134 incidents
- Property Crime: 658
- Burglary: 129
- Larceny: 494
- Motor Vehicle Theft: 34
Those rates are all lower than the national and Arizona state averages.
It is important if you do your research to know there is Prescott and then Prescott Vally, which is a separate city with its own crime data.
Prescott Valley has a much lower crime rate in the violent and property crime categories, but it also doesn’t draw as large crowds.
Since this area does get snow, if you’re visiting in the winter be sure to have chains for your tires, just in case.
You don’t want to get stuck on a hill with tires that can’t handle the snow.
An All-Wheel Drive or 4-Wheel Drive vehicle is ideal for this region.
How Does Prescott Compare?
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- Visas - There's no additional Visa requirement to be in Prescott. You will present the Visa when you arrive in the country, either at the airport or at the border crossing.
- Currency - You'll use the U.S. Dollar here as the only currency. There are some currency exchange locations in Prescott, but you'll get lower fees if you exchange through your bank.
- Weather - The weather in Prescott is very different than most of Arizona. You'll get seasonal changes here. Winter is cold at 51°(F) for highs while lows get into the sub-freezing 20s. The hottest parts of the summer only hit the upper 80s and you're still going to get lows in the 50s. You'll need layers, including a warm jacket or coat. Make sure to bring socks and shoes for hiking for the mountain visits. A hat and gloves might be a good idea too.
- Airports - There is a small airport in Prescott which has daily flights to Los Angeles and Denver via United Airlines. You're about two hours from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix and Las Vegas' Harry Reid International Airport (formerly McCarran Airport) is 4 hours away.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance for your trip to Prescott on airfare and rental car since there's a lot of ground to cover where a lot of delays can happen.
Prescott Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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