Nebraska : Safety by City
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Scottsbluff, Nebraska, is nothing as you’d expect from Nebraska.
The notoriously flat green state turns a rustic brown as buttes, rock bluffs, and plateaus rise in the high plains.
The famous Chimney Rock stands like a beacon—a reward for a long road trip along a highway so flat you can see the curve of the earth.
Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff National Monument bring tourists, but just like the popular rocks, there are more layers waiting to be explored in this quad-state area where South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado are just a short drive away.
Downtown Scottsbluff is evolving with green spaces and new businesses while still holding onto its rustic charm in this far northwestern Nebraska town.
I drove from Omaha to Casper, Wyoming, and I was amazed when I took one of the scenic routes through Scottsbluff. It was like a whole different world.
The city is Scottsbluff, all one word.
The county surrounding it is Scotts Bluff, two words.
Warnings & Dangers in Scottsbluff
OVERALL RISK: LOW
You'll find information that says Scottsbluff is one of the most dangerous towns in Nebraska, but there's a low risk for tourists, especially on the trails and outdoor attractions they tend to gather.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The Tri-City Roadrunner is the public transportation system in Scotts Bluff County. It can get you to certain places, but it's not very robust. Taxis and rideshares are sparingly available. Having a rental car is the best option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk with just one purse snatching in 2021. Shoplifting is the biggest theft concern here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
This part of the country can get a little bit of the worst weather possible as the storms come off the Rocky Mountains and sweep across the Plains. During winter storms, this is the most likely part of the state to have the roads shut down. Tornadoes, extreme temperatures, wildfires, and drought are other risks. Flash flooding and ongoing flooding are concerns too.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Scottsbluff has had fewer than eight robberies a year since 2011, and since 2017 that number has dropped below five. That's a low risk.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This is a low risk with no hard target nearby, and this whole quad-state region is very remote.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The biggest scams here over the past few years have been scammers posing as law enforcement and asking for or demanding money from residents. A tourist won't need to worry about that.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here with no crime data that suggests women have any concerns. This is a remote region, so if you're not comfortable driving alone, it might be worth bringing a friend. I was a little creeped out by a road stop in the middle of nowhere, but my dogs had to go, so we stopped and used all the same safety precautions that we would anywhere else.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. For issues like boil orders due to flooding or runoff, that would be found on the city's social media sites.
Safest Places to Visit in Scottsbluff
Visit Scottsbluff is the website for Landmark Country, and will cover a good chunk of western Nebraska.
Look for the Community & Travel Links section under the Contact heading to find more nearby small towns to explore.
You can also sign up for the Nebraska Passport, which offers a chance to explore more unique Nebraska locations with discounts and deals.
Broadway is the Main Street of Scottsbluff, with a retro feel and unique businesses along the way.
While you’re there, art lovers shouldn’t miss the Western Nebraska Arts Center.
Look for the map of the Creative District to explore more art hot spots.
On the southwest side of Scottsbluff is Riverside Park along the North Platte River.
Walk along the trails or explore Riverside Discovery Park, the local zoo.
The Legacy of the Plains Museum is a must-see here.
You’ll see the flat prairie in a whole new light when you learn about the history, struggles, and strengths of the people who cross here centuries ago.
Scottsbluff National Monument stands out in the distance, but at the National Park, you can see the 800-foot rock up close.
Whether you want to take the scenic drive, hike the summit, or get up close with fossils, there’s a lot to see here.
You can also walk part of the famous Oregon Trail here!
30 minutes southeast is another showstopper at Chimney Rock in Bayard.
The name will make sense when you see it.
This was among the most-mentioned landmarks by westward settlers.
Stop by Chimney Rock museum first, and there’s another museum about settlers at the Pioneer Trails Museum (not be confused with the Legacy of the Trails Museum).
If you head about an hour north, you can get a better look at fossils and prehistoric fingerprints left behind at the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.
Can’t get enough of the fossils?
Consider grabbing a map of the Fossil Freeway from Nebraska to South Dakota’s Black Hills.
Would you believe there’s a lighthouse in landlocked Nebraska?
Head to Lake Minatare State Recreation Center and enjoy the view while exploring the waterways, trails, or campsites.
You can also enjoy Nebraska Wine Country at Papa Moon Vineyards, just north of Scottsbluff.
Wine, mead, and ciders fill out the list of award-winning and 100% Nebraska-made drinks.
You’ll love the scenic views, too.
Places to Avoid in Scottsbluff
Honestly, Scottsbluff is too small to have a bad part of town and too far off the main I-80 interstate to bring in transient troublemakers.
My best advice is to check the road conditions before you go anywhere, even in spring when the weather is warm.
Late spring snow storms can close roads or severe weather anytime of year can cause closures and flooding.
I’ve seen too many highway patrol photos of cars stranded on the interstate because they didn’t heed the warnings or thought they could get through.
Use the 511 Nebraska app to check road conditions, construction, and traffic before you go anywhere.
In the winter, there are live pictures of snow plows available on the app.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Scottsbluff
- Scottsbluff has its own police department and the social media sites are updated often. Follow them to get the latest crime and safety information.
- Sign up for Panhandle Alerts through the department’s website. This will get you severe weather and emergency information right on your mobile device.
- Don’t take drugs, even ones that look like prescription pills, from anyone. Nebraska is one of many states dealing with an influx of fentanyl-laced street and illegal prescription drugs.
- Put this in one the “I hope you never need it category,” but the police department has an anonymous sexual assault reporting form. If you or someone you know has been a victim, you can call 866-95-DOVES as well.
- If you have any non-urgent criminal activity information, you can report it anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 308-632-STOP (7867).
- Use the National Weather Service website to learn about tornadoes, the types of watches and warnings, and other severe weather alerts. For example, your community might not have Red Flag warnings, which can mean extreme wildfire danger. The local NWS office comes from Cheyenne, Wyoming.
- Stock up your car with seasonal needs, like blankets, ice scrapers, and warning flags in the winter, and water, windshield wiper fluid, and reflective gear in the summer.
- Never hide under a highway overpass during a tornado warning. It seems to make sense, but those overpasses can create a wind tunnel that does more damage. When in doubt, get out of your car and find the closest ditch, covering your head with your hands.
- If you want to hunt or fish, you’ll need a license. All the requirements are listed on the Nebraska Game & Parks website. There’s also a convenient app to download.
- Follow the speed limits on the roads here. I can tell you from personal experience that the side of the state is much more vigilant about stopping speeders. You should also stick to the speed limit and watch the side of the road, so you don’t get in an accident with a wild animal.
So... How Safe Is Scottsbluff Really?
Violent crime in Nebraska is 15% lower than the national average, so when you read that Scottsbluff is among the most dangerous cities in the state, it is not necessarily as dangerous as that sounds.
The rate here is 60% higher than the state average and 15% higher than the national average.
By all accounts, the risk is low for visitors because 67% of all violent crimes happened at homes.
Just one of the 77 crimes that happened against a stranger in 2021.
Since 2011, the theft rate has dropped by half in a consistent decline; the theft rate is significantly higher than the national average.
However, when you take shoplifting out of the equation, the theft rate is actually below normal.
Shoplifting accounts for a whopping 42% of all thefts.
16% of thefts were related to car break-ins, so don’t forget to keep your doors locked at all times.
Scottsbluff does get some crazy headlines, like a man who bit a police officer while being arrested or the woman who was arrested for shoplifting but ended up with an added drug charge for hiding fentanyl in her bra.
In any event, Scottsbluff is really great, if for no other reason than it’s not nearly as flat as the rest of the state.
How Does Scottsbluff Compare?
|Santiago de Chile (Chile)||71|
|Hong Kong (China)||70|
You'll need a passport and U.S. Visa for your travel purpose—tourism, work, or student. Some countries are part of a Visa Waiver program, so check your eligibility for that first.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency used here and across America. You can exchange currency at local banks, but you'll get the best rates where you are a member. Don't wait to get to town if you can since the process can take a while.
You can get snowstorms or sunburn in April... sometimes within the same 24-hour period! It makes packing a chore. Bring several layers and always err on the side of colder. Summers will be warm to hot with not nearly as much humidity as the eastern part of the state.
United has two flights to Denver on weekdays out of the Western Nebraska Regional Airport (aka Scottsbluff Airport). You can also drive three hours to Denver. Even though they are in the same state, Omaha's Eppley Field Airport is 7.5 hours away.
Travel insurance protects your flight in case of emergencies or weather cancelations, and rental car insurance helps with trouble on the road, two things you need to have protected in a region prone to wild weather.
Scottsbluff Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Nebraska - Safety by City
|South Sioux City||78|