How Safe Is Reno for Travel?

Reno, United States
Safety Index:
70

Reno, Nevada, is known as the Biggest Little City in the World and sits on the eastern edge of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

While it shares many of the tourism and convention thrills of southern Nevada’s Las Vegas, they are just as different as they are similar.

Carson City is the state capital and is just south of Reno, with the suburb of Sparks to the east of Reno.

Nearby Virginia City is another place that Reno visitors take a day trip to as the old mining town thrives because of its throwback to another era.

The Truckee River runs through downtown Reno, offering waterside views and fun.

The downtown is very walkable, with casinos and shops along the way.

It’s nowhere near as elaborate as the Las Vegas Strip, and the economy has taken hits over the years.

The city is now growing as a technology hub with wide open spaces for miles and plenty of solar energy – and let’s not forget the great Nevada tax incentives.

There’s a great farm-to-table and locally-owned and operated food scene here.

I have lived in Reno twice in my life, and I can tell you the restaurants really get creative here.

Skip the buffets and eat local if you can.

You won’t regret it.

One of the biggest bonuses is that Lake Tahoe is about an hour away.

Most of the advertising you’ll see for Reno will be Reno-Tahoe-related.

Just be sure when you’re researching that you know if the event is in the Reno/Sparks area or an hour or more away in Lake Tahoe.

Warnings & Dangers in Reno

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : LOW

There's a low risk in Reno with a few hot spots and concerns we'll address as we go through the list. Since tourism is an economic base here, there's a strong police presence throughout the community.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

RTC is the public bus system here with fixed routes throughout the Reno-Sparks area. You can also get taxis, rideshares, and car rentals. It's ideal to have a car here, so you can explore the outlying areas and Lake Tahoe, as there isn't public transportation to and from the lake. You can rent a shuttle if you'd like.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

On an average day, the list is low. 54 pickpockets or purse snatchings were reported in 2021. Be extra vigilant during big events (and Reno has a LOT of them) because the crowds get pretty packed.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW

Reno gets its fair share of winter storms that can lead to interstate closures or chain restrictions on major highways. Parts of the mountain roads to Tahoe could be closed down. Wildfires are another big concern here. It can cause something as minor as an air quality advisory or as serious as an evacuation. Flooding can happen from snowmelt in the mountains, so even on a dry, sunny day, the Truckee might flood, and it goes right through downtown. It's important to get weather updates daily.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

The robbery risk is higher than the national average, but just 20% of those happen in public places or against strangers. To lower the risk, don't walk around downtown at night alone and stay on the well-lit and tourist-focused streets.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

There's a low risk here. It's a pretty isolated city with desert and mountains around for miles. Naval Air Station in Fallon could be a possible target, but only because military bases will always come with heightened awareness.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

There is a slew of new scams reported in 2022, but they are all focused on locals. There's a low risk for visitors, but you should always keep your guard up. You might be panhandled on the streets of downtown, but the homeless people aren't usually aggressive here.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

The sexual assault rate is 2.5 times higher than the national average, but with so few violent crimes happening against strangers, it's not something to excessively worry about. Since this is a 24-hour town, with bars open late and casinos open 24 hours a day, use caution if you're out in the overnight hours. Park in the valet as much as you can to avoid having to walk through parking garages or on the street. Valet parking is free, but you are expected to tip.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

The water in this area comes from the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe, two of the cleanest natural water sources in the nation. The water still goes through a rigorous testing and decontamination process before heading into the pipes. The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations.

Safest Places to Visit in Reno

Visitrenotahoe.com is the official tourism website for the area.

You can download a free visitor’s guide there.

It’s cyber smart to use the official website to get the safest options and protect your personal information when doing research.

Reno is mostly known for its big events throughout the year.

This could also impact the prices of your hotel bookings and the availability of hotel rooms.

Here are some of the major ones:

  • Reno River Festival: This event is a “Summer Kickoff” the first weekend in May with activities on the riverwalk and the Truckee River.
  • BBQ, Blues & Brews Festival: June turns into a block party with live music and the smell of BBQ in the air. Reno has some great local breweries, so check for local specials while you’re there.
  • Reno Rodeo: Saddle up for this 10-day event in June that puts the “wild” in Wild West.
  • Artown: An event spanning July that celebrates every aspect of art. Check the Artown website for specific events.
  • Hot August Nights: A classic car show, and just about every classic car owner and fan in the country flocks to Reno for this massive event.
  • Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off: Around here, they take rib cooking seriously, and this popular event squares off some of the best rib makers in the country, and you can taste as much as you’d like!
  • The Great Reno Balloon Race: On Labor Day weekend, the skies fill with hot air balloons starting before the sun comes up with Dawn Patrol. This event is held in a park on the northwest side of the city.

The Downtown Riverwalk is filled with charm, adventures, and neon.

Whether you want to watch kayakers battle the Truckee River Rapids, climb a rock wall above downtown, or get a photo in front of the neon “Biggest Little City in the World” arch, there’s something for everyone.

Great local restaurants line the river, and casinos are on every corner.

Even if you miss Hot August Nights, you’ll get the same vibe from the National Automobile Museum.

From hot rods to motorcycle rockets to DeLorean, the exhibits here are always expanding and changing.

It’s never the same trip twice.

Wingfield Park is near downtown along the river, and this is a great place to catch a local festival, go for a morning run or leisure stroll, or take in a concert at the outdoor amphitheater.

Rancho San Rafael Park is where the balloon festival is held, but it’s another wonderful and expansive outdoor space to explore with a large dog park too.

The Wilbur D. May Center is there, too, with a botanical garden, arboretum, and interactive exhibits to grow a greater love of the outdoors.

Reno also has some amazing spas.

Since this is much like Las Vegas with mega casinos, you get the full amenities.

I can’t tell you how many times I whittled the day away at the Peppermill or Atlantis spa.

The great part of these spas is that you can schedule a service but spend as much time as you’d like in the saunas, salt rooms, and relaxation areas.

Places to Avoid in Reno

Reno’s downtown revitalization gave it much needed boost after the economic downtown of 2008 and the expansion of casinos throughout the country.

While most of the downtown area feels very safe and “seen” with bright lights and lots of people, there are some shady alleys and dark areas you need to avoid.

It’s a “you’ll know it when you see it” thing.

If you win a lot of money at the casino, try to avoid making a scene.

It could attract a would-be criminal to follow you or beg you for money.

Casino security is always happy to walk you to the car or escort you to the valet for safety.

Don’t be afraid to ask.

I’ve done it many times, even if I didn’t win.

Check the road conditions before you head outside of Reno.

Getting to Lake Tahoe, Virginia City, and Truckee will take you through some major elevation changes, and hairpin turns at times.

There are steep drop-offs with distracting views.

Only use the designated scenic view pull-offs to take pictures.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Reno

  1. Washoe County (where Reno is located) uses the CodeRED notification system for weather or emergency alerts. Sign up for this before you go, and make sure you’ve enabled notifications on your phone. You must keep on top of safety warnings.
  2. It’s not uncommon to see a plume of smoke on the horizon in Reno. Use Nevadafireinfo.org to check the fire status of any smoke column you see. If smoke is black, it means it’s being fueled and burning. White smoke usually means there is a good level of containment or a lack of fuel for the fire. Sometimes these fires are planned. Other times it’s a lightning-sparked fire in the middle of nowhere and won’t be put out – only monitored. There are times when a major wildfire can threaten the community. You need to stay informed about
  3. The Reno Police Department has a map of all the latest incidents reported. You can view the last week to the last 30 days. This interactive map can show you crime trends closer to and during your visit. Use this resource so you can be safely prepared for the day ahead.
  4. Bring snow chains with you if you’re traveling in the mountains during winter. Ask your rental car company if they provide the chains. While you are allowed to install your own, there are workers on the interstate who will install them for you at a price.
  5. Download the myRPD app so you can have a direct line of communication with the police department. You’ll get safety information, a way to report non-urgent crimes, and links to social media pages.
  6. While recreational marijuana use is allowed in Reno, there are many stipulations. You can’t use it in public. You have to use it at a private residence where the owner allows you to do so. Breaking this rule could get you a $600 fine.
  7. Set a gambling limit and stick to it. Reno offers a lot of casinos, but even grocery stores and pharmacies have slot machines or poker machines in them. It’s easy to get caught up in the reward/loss cycle to try to “win it all back.” There are pamphlets in every casino to help you for “when the fun stops.”
  8. You’ll likely be panhandled at some point in your trip. It’s advised never to donate to a homeless person. Instead, you can donate to the Northern Nevada Food Bank or St. Vincent’s Food Pantry if you are so inclined.
  9. Northern Nevada has wild horses, especially near the edge of city limits. If you see these horses, don’t feed them or interact with them in any way. Watch for signs alerting you to the presence of wild horses. If you see an injured horse, call (775)352-3944.
  10. Bears are also spotted in Reno. A few have even made it downtown trying to enter a casino! If you see a bear, don’t get close to it, feed it, or interact with it. If you are staying in a remote area, use bear-proof containers and trash cans for all disposed items.

So... How Safe Is Reno Really?

Reno has a violent crime rate 30% higher than the national average, yet more than 95% of residents said in a 2020 survey they feel safe in the community.

The theft rate is 25% higher than the national average, but 45% of those thefts are car break-ins.

You’ll decrease theft odds greatly by simply locking your car when you park, rolling the windows up and removing all personal items from the inside.

Don’t leave a car running to warm up in the winter, as this causes yearly car theft sprees since too many people do it.

Of the 1513 violent crimes in 2021, just 20% of those were against a stranger.

20% of robberies were in public places.

Much of the crime here isn’t seen by the public because it’s either domestic or among people who know each other.

You should use all the same safety precautions since this is a place where people come to spend money, and criminals know that, but especially in casinos and downtown, you’re always on a surveillance camera with a strong security presence around.

Before heading to Lake Tahoe, you should study the route you want to take.

Nevada and California split the lake, so certain areas are more nature-oriented and outdoorsy, while the Nevada side still has casinos and nightlife in addition to the outdoor wonders.

Please be safe on those mountain roads too.

If you’ve never seen Lake Tahoe in person, it truly takes your breath away.

It’s just risky if it takes your breath away while driving a hairpin curve.

How Does Reno Compare?

CitySafety Index
Reno70
Orlando64
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67
Brussels (Belgium)60

Useful Information

  • Visas - Use the U.S. State Department website to see all the Visa rules and regulations. You might be eligible for a Visa Waiver. Be sure you're clear about if you want a travel or work visa, as filling out the wrong form can get you denied. Start this process at least three months ahead of time.
  • Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here. Unless you're going to be gambling, keep carrying cash to a minimum. The casinos will have ATMs, but those will come with hefty access fees. Going to the casino cage to take out money is going to be even more expensive.
  • Weather - Reno gets a full winter with excessive snowfall at times. It's important to note the elevation changes in this region. I lived in Reno, but just 1500 feet above the valley floor, and some days it was snowing at home when I left for work, but there was nothing but wet roads when I got to the interstate. Summers are dry here, so bring a water bottle and replenish it often. Extra lotion will be helpful, too, so your skin doesn't crack.
  • Airports - Reno Tahoe International Airport is the best option, and it has really great flight options for a medium-sized city. The next closest airport would be in Sacramento, which is two hours over the mountains.
  • Travel Insurance - We always recommend travel insurance for peace of mind and extra safety. If you're going to be skiing or snowboarding, make sure you have insurance that would cover an accident on the slopes.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Reno Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 2° C
Feb 4° C
Mar 7° C
Apr 10° C
May 15° C
Jun 20° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 22° C
Sep 18° C
Oct 12° C
Nov 6° C
Dec 2° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
8111418232934332821138
Low
°C
-5-3-12610131172-2-5
High
°F
465257647384939182705546
Low
°F
232730364350555245362823

Where to Next?

2 Reviews on Reno

  1. H
    Harriet Jones says:

    Great Town With Fabulous Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

    We moved here from the DC area 10 years ago and love the place. The city offers lots of entertainment, shopping, cultural venues, and dining opportunities. The outdoor recreational possibilities and myriad; from hiking, camping, mountain biking, swimming, and just about anything else you can think of, in the summer to world-class downhill skiing, snow-shoeing, sledding, and any other winter sport you may be interested in.

    In your review you mentioned “humidity”. You are aware, of course, that Reno is in high desert and has exceedingly low humidity and very little rain. I have a friend from back East who lived here for a few years and said it was wonderful weather. Specifically, her actual quote was, “The best weather in the world.” We have four seasons and they’re all lovely.

    Downtown along the Truckee River is a great place for a walk. If you would like, you can swim in one of the swimming holes and picnic in the park which follows the river. The Truckee River is the only outlet for Lake Tahoe and the water is crystal clear. People kayak and go tubing right through downtown. There are many restaurants and shops lining the river walk, if you should get hungry or just want another diversion.

    We love it here and friends who have visited us from back East have, to a person, been amazed and thrilled with our little city in a spectacular landscape.

  2. S
    Samuel G. says:

    Had loads of fun

    Reno is known as a big, little city for a reason: it’s just that. This is the city that seems so small that it won’t have many attractions but it actually has almost everything you’d want. For some attractions you’ll have to travel for 30 minutes or so with your card but you are getting a great package from this city.

Rated 4.5 / 5 based on 2 user reviews.

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