Utah : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Utah - state review
Provo, Utah, is perfectly placed between a giant freshwater lake and the beautiful Wasatch Mountains.
It’s the home of Brigham Young University (BYU, also called “The Y”) where 30,000 students attend each year.
It doesn’t have the typical party college town vibe, as nearly all students at BYU are Mormon, meaning they can’t drink caffeine, much less drink alcohol or do drugs and party.
All students must agree to an honor code that even includes limiting what can be worn.
Nearby, the Provo City Center Utah Temple is a stunning religious building, no matter what your beliefs are.
Provo is more than 40 miles south of the busier Salt Lake City area, but it’s still the 4th largest town in the state.
The latest census shows more than 115,000 people call Provo home.
21% of travelers to Utah choose Provo as their destination, just behind Salt Lake City and just ahead of St. George.
Provo is an idyllic town ranked as one of the best in America by Money Magazine a few years ago, and as the second-best for work-life balance by NerdWallet, while still being a startup hub city as determined by Forbes and Sparefoot.
Warnings & Dangers in Provo
OVERALL RISK : LOW
A little spoiler here. Just about every warning and danger will be low here. There's just not much to be scared of or worried about. Crime is low, there are so many things to do, and people are just very nice.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There are so many public transport options, you might never need a taxi (but you're safe if you do). A rapid bus transit line goes between Provo and Orem (north of Salt Lake City), BYU students, staff, and families can score free rides on Utah Transit Authority (UTA) buses, and there's the FrontRunner rail line. To get around town, you could just hop a bike in this bicycle-friendly community or rent one of the e-scooters. All that said, there's a low risk for all options except someone might talk your ear off since people are so approachable here.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There is a one in 78 chance of being a theft victim. That doesn't include BYU as it has its police force. While crime statistics don't go deep enough on Provo to detail how many pickpocketing incidents occurred, there's a fairly low risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk as there aren't any major disasters that generally happen in Provo. Tornadoes are rare, as are earthquakes. There's the occasional tornado with a thunderstorm, but that's lower than the national average. The biggest weather event is a snowstorm and Provo gets 43 inches a year. However, it's a state used to snowstorms and can handle them with ease, clearing roads quickly.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were 13 robberies in 2020. That's not a typo. 13 total. That's low-risk if I've ever seen one! It's one in 8858, to be exact.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Very low risk of a terrorist act here, unless a terrorist group decides to declare war on Mormons and target BYU.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of a scam here. All the scams listed on the BBB website are the typical ones you'd see, like a call saying you've won the lottery or a BYU housing scam.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk for women in Provo. This would be a good time to address the dress code. While there are no city standards, it's one of those "When in Rome" situations. This is a heavily Mormon area, and Mormon women don't wear clothing that exposes their legs above the knee, shirts that are strapless or sleeveless, or anything that is form-fitting. This doesn't mean you can't dress that way, but you might be getting lots of unwanted attention.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The tap water risk is low as it meets or exceeds state and federal requirements. There are plenty of conversations online about the "salty" taste of tap water, so if the taste bothers you, get bottled water. However, there's nothing dangerous in tap water. Some people said they will use it for bathing and brushing their teeth, but not for drinking.
Safest Places to Visit in Provo
Let’s start east and work our way west.
Utah Lake is 150 miles of water bliss.
You can swim, boat, fish, hike, paddleboard, kayak, and bike in this area.
It’s the largest freshwater lake in Utah.
The entrance fee is $10 in the winter and $15 in the summer.
Between the lake and Interstate 15, there’s not a lot to do aside from watching planes take off and land at Provo Airport.
East of I-15, you’ve got several community parks throughout Provo.
Downtown Provo is full of industries, government, restaurants, eclectic shopping, and home to the Provo City Center Temple.
You should drive around and check out the pixel art wall murals throughout downtown.
There are 43 to find if you’re counting.
BYU is in the center of Provo and you shouldn’t miss the historic “Y Mountain” behind it as the valley rolls up into the mountains.
For an interesting conversation starter, ask someone why there’s not a “B” or a “U” around the “Y” on the mountain.
East of there you’ve got hiking country and lots of it.
For shoppers, you’ll want to spend a few hours at The Shops of Riverwoods.
This open-air mall features some of your favorite stores, some unique boutiques, and plenty of dining options.
Places to Avoid in Provo
There’s a local term some students at BYU use to refer to a hill near campus as “rape hill.”
It’s south and west of the main campus.
BYU Police say there’s never actually been a rape reported in that area, but there is still a sign stating “Do not walk in this area after dark.”
That’s good advice for any dark of any town, but it’s especially worth pointing out here.
Avoid trying to enter the Provo City Center Temple.
Not because it’s dangerous, but because you can’t go in unless you are Mormon (and can prove it.)
You can spend time on the temple grounds and check out the visitor’s center, but any LDS church doesn’t allow non-Mormons in the temple.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Provo
- There is the legend of the Utah Lake Monster, a dog-headed swimming creature with black eyes. The first report came in the 1800s and not much has been said about it since, but it’s still something people talk about. However, you are safe from the monster when you go to the lake, I promise.
- If you make a parking mistake on public property in Provo, you aren’t going to face getting towed or ticketed like some other Utah communities. It’s considered a civil infraction instead of a crime. Even the city admits it’s only going to tow in extreme circumstances.
- You will most likely see panhandlers in downtown Provo. They can legally be there, but they can’t get aggressive with you. Homeless advocates ask that you donate to a shelter instead of giving a panhandler money.
- This isn’t the place if you are looking for great nightlife, but it’s not as alcohol-avoidant as it once was. Long gone are the laws requiring people to have memberships to enter a bar. The state’s DUI limit is lower than most other states at .05% and that includes drivers of cars and bicycles. Beer can come from the tap or bottled, but if you want hard booze it’s going to come from a device called “The Berg” which measures an exact 1.5-ounce pour. There will be no heavy-handed bartenders in Provo.
- There is a good chance someone is going to talk to you about religious beliefs in Provo. Given that there’s such a large Mormon population, they love spreading the word of their beliefs. Don’t engage in a heated battle. You aren’t going to get “kicked out” if you aren’t Mormon. Just be respectful of the beliefs that dominate this state.
- We talked earlier about the moral codes of Mormon women, but what about men? Again, this is required of Mormons, but not non-Mormons. It’s just good to know the basic dress code. Beards are banned, and mustaches should be trimmed and not go below the mouth corners. No sleeveless or revealing shirts. All shorts should go at least to the knee. Piercings are a big “No”.
- On that note, watch your language. Cursing is not allowed, according to the city code. You aren’t going to get arrested for it, but again “When in Rome” rules apply.
- You can ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, but for safety and to comply with the law, give a verbal cue to anyone walking on the sidewalk that you are coming up behind them.
- You might want to stick to snow angels or snowmen if you are there during a big winter storm. It’s illegal to throw snowballs, even if you are just trying to annoy someone. When asked if that seemingly silly law was going to be taken off the books, the Provo mayor said, “It’s dangerous. I’m sure that one will stay.”
- If you’re getting some skiing in during your trip to Provo, Utah, beware of altitude sickness. If you come from a place near sea level, the adjustment could leave you feeling nauseous and light-headed. It’s best to get adjusted to the Provo elevation before heading up to the 8000′ of some ski resorts.
So... How Safe Is Provo Really?
It’s incredibly safe. Almost unbelievably safe, especially when you look at violent crimes.
The national violent crime rate is three times higher and even the Utah rate is twice as high.
Even property crimes are 30% lower than state and national numbers.
Any university area, including BYU, can attract unsavory characters, but unless you are visiting friends who attend that school, you don’t need to worry.
Even if you are, avoiding being out after dark can do wonders to lower your chances even more of being a crime victim.
Dangerous places in Utah have their specific definition.
Unless you are coming from a small, safe town of your own, the crime rates here are nothing compared to what you see in major cities.
This doesn’t mean you throw caution to the wind.
Still, lock up car doors and keep belongings out of plain sight.
Keep wallets and purses close to your body.
Don’t get money from the ATM late at night.
You’re going to be so tired from all the outdoor activities anyway, you probably won’t even be able to stay awake past 10:00 p.m.
How Does Provo Compare?
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- Visas - There is no special identification to get into Provo, Utah, outside of the Visa process you'll take care of at the airport.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted. You can use credit cards or cash to pay for anything you need in Provo, Utah.
- Weather - Winters are cold and summers are hot, almost to extremes. The average low in winter gets down to 22°(F) with highs barely breaking the 40°(F) mark. From June through August you've got nearly 90°(F) days and cool nights in the '60s. Provo sits at 4500 feet above sea level, so the higher you go into the surrounding mountains, the colder it will get in winter or summer.
- Airports - Provo has a small commercial airport, serving seven cities. The bigger choice is Salt Lake City International Airport, about 50 miles north, right on a major interstate.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance for your trip to Provo, Utah so you don't get stuck in a weather delay or traveling when it's too dangerous to do so.
Provo Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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