New Mexico : Safety by City
- Elephant Butte
- Las Cruces
- Los Alamos
- Red River
- Rio Rancho
- Santa Fe
- Silver City
- Truth or Consequences
Rio Rancho, New Mexico, is a dense residential area between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
This is a hidden gem with plenty of hotels nearby on major roads to access any part of this high desert heavenly oasis.
With its picturesque landscapes, vibrant culture, and a plethora of recreational activities, Rio Rancho offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.
The majestic Sandia Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop, inviting visitors to explore its trails and witness stunning sunsets from atop.
There’s even a tram that goes to the top to save the extra miles of walking.
The nearby Rio Grande Bosque, a lush riverside forest, offers a tranquil escape with opportunities for birdwatching, hiking, and biking.
That’s in addition to many nearby open spaces along the famed river.
This is one of the fastest-growing cities in New Mexico, and with each new housing development, more amenities pop up.
It might be more suburban than some would like.
I read one review that said, “If you like Applebee’s, you’ll love Rio Rancho.”
However, if you want to be at a great pivot point for all the ABQ/Santa Fe amenities while still having great golf courses and shopping options in a safe community, you can’t be Rio Rancho.
Warnings & Dangers in Rio Rancho
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here, but crime rates have gone from "very safe" to "average" in recent years. You'll likely have to leave Rio Rancho to do the best activities, so keep that in mind.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
ABQ Ride, Rio Metro/Rio Transit, and the New Mexico Rail Runner are three public transportation options here. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find. Rental cars are plentiful. If you choose a rental car, please be aware of a surge in car thefts and break-ins throughout this metro area. Just be prepared to exercise relentless safety steps.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
About 2-3 pickpockets or purse snatchings happen each year in Rio Rancho, so that's a low risk. There's definitely a greater chance your car will get broken into.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Wildfires and flash flooding are the biggest risks here. Snow can happen in the winter, but it's not usually a "lockdown" snowstorm. Be prepared for swimming in temperatures and weather conditions throughout the various elevations here. Treat it with medium risk and stay informed.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
While aggravated assaults are on the rise, robberies here are still well below the national average. It's good news that there's a low risk of a mugging, but bad news that a robbery attempt could escalate to an assault.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a low risk in Rio Rancho but a medium risk in Albuquerque because of all the government and military presence here. The security is definitely strict here, even if you don't notice it. The best thing you can do is report any suspicious activity.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
As a residential area, the scams are targeted at residents and are mostly the garden variety text and phone call scams. Just don't answer calls from people you don't know, and avoid any deal that seems too good to be true. That should keep the risk low.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
It's so unsettling to see the number of cases here that involve sexual assaults against children, but there's no reason for a tourist to worry about the risks. Most cases are among people who know each other. Just use standard safety precautions, and you'll be fine.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
I've become somewhat of a connoisseur of Water Quality Reports in this line of work, and the Rio Rancho report from 2022 is very well laid out, with vibrant graphics and great information. The water is safe with no violations and full compliance, but it helps to understand how the water is treated and why water conservation is so important here.
Safest Places to Visit in Rio Rancho
Visit Rio Rancho is the name of the tourism website for the city through the Rio Rancho Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
You can get a tourist guide, but you have to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (505)896-8710.
I’m going to try to tell you as much as I can about the place in and near Rio Rancho, but since it’s so residential, most of the travel website sends you outside of the city limits for activities.
You can use the Visit Santa Fe or Visit Albuquerque website to get more information about those locations.
Look for events happening at the Rio Rancho Events Center or Community Theatre during your visit.
The Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the history and art of hot air ballooning.
The museum is just seven miles from Rio Rancho and includes exhibits, educational programs, and events.
NOTE: The major Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque is held in October each year.
It’s a spectacular event to plan a trip around.
There are several open spaces (aka parks) along the Rio Grande near Rio Rancho.
Each one has trails and access to the water, with unique features.
You can learn more about those on the City of Albuquerque website.
In the neighboring city of Corrales, you can visit the Gutiérrez/Minge is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of New Mexican art and furnishings throughout different centuries, all housed in an adobe.
Rio Rancho is just 15 miles west of Sandia Peak, a four-season destination with one of the longest aerial tramways in the world.
Visitors can enjoy hiking trails, skiing in winter, and various outdoor recreational activities in the area.
Adventurers should also look at the Sandia Mountain Trails through the U.S. Forest Service website to get a look at the great options ahead, including one that leads to an elevated cave and an old stone house.
Some trails increase in elevation by 4,000+ feet, so check that before you go.
The shortest trail is half a mile and the longest is 16 miles.
Places to Avoid in Rio Rancho
You won’t find bad neighborhoods or dangerous parts of town in Rio Rancho, but you will find it has a reputation for lacking culture and authenticity.
While it’s a safe place to stay, the commute to Albuquerque is a beast during high-traffic times of the day.
Rio Rancho has a lot of suburban amenities, which is helpful for people who live there, but not a lot of the culture you’re likely looking for in a trip here.
Summer visitors should avoid planning outdoor activities in the heat of the day.
It’s just too hot, and you can easily succumb to heat stroke or heat exhaustion, even if you like the heat.
I know I loved the heat in Las Vegas when I lived there, but even I overdid it one night and had to go to Urgent Care the next day for an IV.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Rio Rancho
- Rio Rancho has its own police department. The main number is (505) 891-7226, and you can find them on Facebook @RioRanchoPolice.
- Sign up for emergency notifications through the CodeRED program. There’s also a link to sign up on the emergency management website for the city. These alerts cover weather, criminal and civil emergencies in the community.
- The police department does have an interactive crime map on its website. You can search for crimes in a certain radius or during a certain time frame. It’s one of the best options to see a more accurate glance at updated crime data.
- Use the Rio Rancho Observer newspaper to get a look at more recent crimes. It’s a newspaper website that is free, which is a welcome relief from those that hide stories behind a paywall. We definitely encourage the support of local journalism, but sometimes unsubscribing from paid newspaper sites is nearly impossible. I had to go through the Better Business Bureau just to get a response to my local paper cancelation request.
- Rio Rancho has automated speeding enforcement, which means you can get busted for speeding without knowing it until you get a violation in the mail. Yes, they can track down rental cars.
- If you notice any nuisances like graffiti, potholes, or busted streetlights, you can file a report through Report Rio Rancho on the city’s website. The website also lists other reports that have come in about a problem.
- In a city that is growing so fast, there will be a lot of infrastructure work happening throughout the year. That means potential detours and road closures as work is done. There’s a list of the latest projects on the city’s website under “Department of Public Works.”
- If heavy rain is in the forecast, be prepared for flash flooding. Never drive through a flooded roadway or swim in a flooded wash. Usually, the flooding recedes quickly, so stop and wait it out or find a safe way around it.
- Drink plenty of water while you’re here. The dry desert air will make you dehydrated faster than you realize. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. I would also recommend you put some Vaseline inside your nose to avoid nose bleeds.
- Rio Ranch is at an elevation of 5,300 feet above sea level. This could make some people a little short of breath, but be prepared for higher elevations around you to cause more health issues. Let your body acclimate a day or two before hiking in the mountains to avoid more serious elevation sickness side effects.
So... How Safe Is Rio Rancho Really?
What is particularly mind-boggling to me as a journalist is that the Rio Rancho Police Department has an entire Crime Statistics website section that touts the importance of transparency, yet hasn’t updated official crime data to the FBI since 2020.
While the police told a local media outlet they did submit data, it’s just “not showing up correctly,” I initially couldn’t find any other way they would’ve transparently released that data.
The 2021 Crime Data is posted in the annual report, which is on the police department’s website.
Here’s why outdated crime data is important.
Between 2020 and 2021, aggravated assaults in Rio Rancho more than doubled.
Sexual assaults were also nearly double.
Even at the highest number of violent crimes over the past decade, Rio Rancho was still only half the national average until 2021.
Now the city is at the national average.
Theft was up 51% year to year, with the greatest increase in theft from motor vehicles.
This is also a town that is growing rapidly due to its proximity to the much more dangerous Albuquerque.
Even between the 2020 census and July 2022, the city grew by 4%.
Given how residential Rio Rancho is, the crimes are going to be more about petty thefts, car break-ins, crimes of opportunity, and domestic issues.
If you’re choosing between ABQ and Rio Rancho, definitely pick Rio Rancho.
Just know the risks go up in there, and we have a separate article for Albuquerque you can review.
How Does Rio Rancho Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a visa or visa waiver to get into the United States. Given how much tension there is at the U.S.-Mexican Border, you'll be subject to a thorough questioning at Customs and Border Patrol.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Local banks and credit unions offer the lowest fees to members. There will also be an option at the ABQ airport.
- Weather - The desert of New Mexico is known for extremes, which include extreme increases and drops in temperatures during the day. For example, in May, the average high is 80°(F), and the low is 42°(F). Bring layers of clothing to add on or peel off during your trip. Even December can have highs near 50°(F) but plummet below freezing at night. Bring sunscreen and hydrating lotion.
- Airports - Rio Rancho is just 30 minutes from the Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ). Given its remote location in the center of the state, that's really the only option unless you want a long road trip ahead of you.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a critical part of a trip to take care of unexpected issues, be it a personal emergency, flight cancelations, or injury.
Rio Rancho Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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