Iowa : Safety by City
- Arnolds Park
- Cedar Falls
- Cedar Rapids
- Clear Lake
- Council Bluffs
- Des Moines
- Fort Dodge
- Fort Madison
- Iowa City
- Mason City
- North Liberty
- Pleasant Hill
- Polk City
- Sioux City
- Spirit Lake
- Storm Lake
- The Amana Colonies
- West Des Moines
Whenever you want Shenandoah, Iowa, all you have to do is dream. Dream. Dream. Dream. Dreaaaam.
It’s hard to research this small southwestern Iowa city without getting the Everly Brothers songs in your head.
This was where the duo was first heard on the radio and they went to school there until high school.
Then they became globally known as creators of country rock.
One of the best parts of visiting small-town Iowa is the novelties like that.
Shenandoah doesn’t even have 5,000 people and there are just two hotels.
One hotel sits right in the middle of the historic downtown area, and the other is across the street from a field of tall corn, aptly named “The Tall Corn Inn.”
There are actually more Chinese restaurants than hotels in this quaint town.
Shenandoah is also a place where they can get away with combining a deli and microbrewery into one nostalgia-filled restaurant.
The downtown feels like you might pass the Everly Brothers on the street back in the 1950s.
You can also walk along the Walk of Fame where famous people with Shenandoah ties have a chance to shine on the sidewalk.
(Ashton Kutcher even made the Walk of Fame!)
This is also the home of Earl May Seed & Nursery.
The flagship garden center is located just west of town, but you’ll see stores in many of the surrounding states as well.
This family-owned business has been thriving since 1919.
True crime fans might recognize the city from an Oxygen Network show called “An Unexpected Killer.”
The episode highlighted a woman’s murder in the 1980s where her husband, and then son, were suspects until the real killer made a mistake that led to his arrest.
You really need to add the word “Iowa” to any search for Shenandoah, as you’ll end up neck-deep in Pennsylvania information before you realize you’re in the wrong state.
Not that I did that.
Warnings & Dangers in Shenandoah
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk in Shenandoah. It's a small town with small-town crime and, despite the murder mystery, that was a big exception to a community that boasts low crime rates.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The Southwest Iowa Transit Agency is the local bus provider and rides as drivers are available. You can call 1-800-842-8065 to find out about bus availability, but this isn't going to be the most reliable mode of transportation if you want to get around the city. You really need a car here or a local friend/loved one who doesn't mind driving you around.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk of being pickpocketed or having a purse stolen. The theft rate is 39% lower than the national average. There aren't big enough crowds to be at risk and people here are nice enough to tell you if you dropped something.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Iowa is riddled with severe weather throughout the year. Severe thunderstorms with intense lighting, torrential rain, and tornado-producing abilities can happen any time of the year, with spring being the start of the storm season. Winter can include snow, sleet, and ice storms. There's a medium risk because staying weather aware is critical in the Midwest.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
There has been one robbery in two years here, so there's a very low risk of it happening to you. This doesn't mean you should let your guard down.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a very low risk. There are some companies with a large presence here, like Pella Windows & Doors, but that's nothing that would pique a terror group's interest.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The scams here are mostly impacting residents and the elderly. There's a low risk you'll get scammed.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women should feel safe visiting here and will enjoy the calm, quiet nature of the town. There are also outdoor activities to enjoy. It's still worth using all the good common sense safety skills they know.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Finding the water quality report for Shenandoah was the hardest part of this research, but I can assure you there are no violations in the water here dating back to at least 2018.
Safest Places to Visit in Shenandoah
The Everly Brothers’ childhood home has been restored and turned into a tourist attraction.
It’s amazing to see the humble beginnings that catapulted the brothers to fame.
Concerts with tribute artists and rock and roll bands are held here often, and this is the highlight of the Shenfest twice a year.
You can also visit the Historical Society Museum to see other historical moments from the city and surrounding counties.
There’s the Veteran’s Memorial Museum as well.
Don’t forget to check out the Shenandoah Walk of Fame on the streets downtown.
The Wabash Trace Trail goes through Shenandoah on its 63-mile trek through southwest Iowa.
The trail starts near the Iowa/Missouri border and weaves through ghost towns and nature until it reaches Council Bluffs near the Nebraska border.
The closest trail stops from Shenandoah are Blanchard, six miles to the south, and Coin, 12 miles to the north.
The Shenandoah Golf Course offers 18 holes across 6,000 yards, with plenty of tee times for everyone.
There’s also a pool with water slides in town and a senior center with a full schedule of activities.
Riverton Wildlife Management Area is less than 30 minutes away and brings duck hunters from miles around each year.
There are dozens of bird varieties here, as well as some sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans that nest here.
A fun fact about sandhill cranes I learned in Florida.
These animals pair up in the mating season and then stick to each other like glue.
I can’t quite say they are soulmates because if one dies, the survivor goes to find another mate.
However, when you see the birds in Iowa, that’s when they are coupling up.
I can also tell you they are some of the loudest birds alive and I had two that liked to stand outside of my bedroom window and cackle at dawn.
Places to Avoid in Shenandoah
There’s very little crime here, but if you’re going to force me to pick a “more dangerous side”, it would be the southwest side.
However, you don’t need to avoid any part of this small town.
A trend happening in Iowa is small-town drug crime.
Even in Shenandoah, the biggest crime increase was in drug crimes in 2021.
For those who aren’t familiar with the opioid crisis rocking America, the drug criminals aren’t always bad people who make bad choices.
This stemmed from when opioids were given by doctors in the early 2000s, having been told the drugs weren’t habit-forming.
Turns out, the drugs are very habit-forming.
The state of Iowa has reached a settlement with several pharmaceutical companies that made opioids and that money is going into communities to battle drug-related crimes.
If you suspect any drug activity during your visit, call the police.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Shenandoah
- To get information from the Shenandoah Police Department, you’ll need to follow them on Facebook. There isn’t a website with information to view. The handle is @shenandoahiowapolice. Their phone number is (712) 246-2480.
- The city occasionally has to flush the fire hydrants. This is done as a safety step to clean out the pipes of the hydrant system and keep the hydrants active. It can produce a brown or red tint to the water. If you see this, don’t drink the water. Let the tap run for a few minutes to clean it out. Once it’s running clear, it is safe to drink. The city will give a heads-up about this on social media sites, so check there before you call to complain about brown water.
- Off-road vehicles are allowed on the streets of Shenandoah, so be sure to look out for golf carts and ATVs. Off-road vehicle drivers must obey all the street lights and stop signs, just like a regular car.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Be sure to purchase a non-resident license. You cannot use the license from your home state. While you’re there, check to see if there are any fish health warnings if you plan to eat your catch.
- For hunters, there’s a much more elaborate process to get a license. There are safety courses and tests you need to pass to legally hunt here. The DNR has in-depth information about this process and will help you every step of the way to see if some of your training at home will meet the requirements in Iowa.
- Shenandoah is in both Page and Fremont counties, which might be confusing when it comes to emergency management questions. You can sign up for Alert Iowa notifications because both counties are part of the program. This will get your instant weather watches and warnings when storms are brewing.
- The Page County Emergency Management website has a great list of the rivers nearby and the flood gauges. This is great information to know if you’re going fishing or traveling in an area that frequently floods.
- 511ia.org is the best way to track road construction or traffic delays across Iowa. This is a very remote part of the state, so the more help you can get navigating the roads, the better.
- Mobile phone service can be hit or miss in this part of Iowa. Each mobile provider will have a coverage area map on the company’s website so you can see if you’ll be covered along your travel route. Check before you go so you can be prepared for outages of GPS and mobile phone service.
- If you are ever stuck outside when a storm is approaching, it seems logical to stay in your car for safety. If a tornado develops, it’s best practice to get out of your car. A tornado can easily pick up or move a vehicle. You should find a ditch or low spot on the ground and crawl into a ball with your hands covering your head. Never seek shelter under a highway overpass. The design of the overpass can intensify the winds and leave you trapped if debris is flying with the storm.
So... How Safe Is Shenandoah Really?
Shenandoah is a city filled with “Iowa Nice” people.
What does that mean?
There’s “nice” and then there’s “Iowa Nice.”
This means they are very, very nice in a genuine and heartfelt way.
When crimes happen here, it tends to rock the whole community.
That’s why it’s good news that stories like the 1980s murder are few and far between.
Even a search I did for big news stories in Shenandoah recently, including, a drunk man arrested for throwing rocks at passing cars, a fiery city council meeting over rules for fireworks in the city, and a drunk woman playing music so loud it was setting off car alarms.
Here are the risks of being a crime victim in Shenandoah:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 213 risk
- Robbery: 1 in 4,682 risk
- Theft: 1 in 144 risk
Just because it’s a small town doesn’t mean you can leave doors unlocked and windows open.
That kind of lackadaisical attitude is how cars get broken into and rooms get robbed.
Use the same common sense as if you were in San Francisco instead of Shenandoah, and you’ll have a safe trip with plenty of stories to tell.
You might even be humming “Wake up.. little Susie.. wake up” on the drive to the airport.
How Does Shenandoah Compare?
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You will need to prepare a few months in advance to get a U.S. Visa. Don't wait until the last minute because there are several steps you need to take, including a face-to-face interview. Once you have gone through Customs at the airport, you can tuck the visa away until the return flight. You don't need it to travel through Iowa or the surrounding states.
The U.S. Dollar (USD) will be the only currency exchanged here, though I wouldn't be surprised if you couldn't barter for items in this small, friendly city. Definitely exchange currency at the airport before you drive through rural Iowa.
The winter winds have quite a bite on them in the rural areas, so bring full winter gear. Snow boots or waterproof boots are going to be helpful. Don't forget thick gloves and a warm hat. Summer will be humid and hot, almost like you're breathing in a wet rag. Dress in clothing that can handle a lot of sweating. Bring boots for the summer too, because the outdoor areas might have you walking through mud. Spring and fall can have varying temperatures, so dress in layers. This is a very casual town.
Eppley Airfield in Omaha (OMA) is the closest airport, just an hour's drive away. You're looking at a two-and-a-half-hour drive to get to the Des Moines International Airport. In two hours, you can be at the Kansas City airport.
Travel insurance would be a smart idea for a trip to a rural area. From flight delays to a wayward cow on the road, you want to prepare for everything.
Shenandoah Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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