Arizona : Safety by City
- Casa Grande
- Lake Havasu City
- Oro Valley
- Sierra Vista
I’m about to spill the tea on one of the best-kept secrets in all of Arizona — Sierra Vista.
This small town near the Mexican border and southeast of Tucson is filled with everything from prehistoric “kill” sites to Army secrets protecting the United States to ethnic cuisine from dozens of countries.
Meaning “Mountain View” in Spanish, Sierra Vista lives up to that name with beautiful mountains surrounding the city and a trail that crosses between two countries.
One of the great parts about Sierra Vista’s small-town appeal is the other small towns that surrounded her and give plenty of opportunities to see the history of the old west played out or tour some of the most unknown caverns in the world.
In the mood for a glass of wine?
You don’t need Sonoma when you have Sonoita, the oldest winery in the state of Arizona.
This remote region has more attractions than some of the bigger cities in Arizona without the lines and wait times.
Warnings & Dangers in Sierra Vista
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk in Sierra Vista. The crime rates are low, aside from a few areas we'll dig into, and the presence of the military base puts community members dedicated to safety living in neighborhoods. I was surprised to see that just 26% of the community is Hispanic/Latino, as I thought that would be higher, but there is a diverse community here with Asians, African-Americans, and Native Americans all having a percentage of representation.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Vista Transit is your local bus service to get around town. For $40, you can get a month-long pass and ride as much as you want. There are dozens of stops throughout the area. The regular fare is $1.25. You can also hop a shuttle to a national park, winery, or historic site. Taxis and rideshares are available but probably won't be as plentiful as bigger cities. All options come with low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were no pickpockets or purse snatching reported in 2020, so there's a low risk. That shows people are doing a great job of protecting their belongings and not making crimes of opportunity for thieves. While thefts are the only crime rate above the national average, this is due to auto break-ins and shoplifting driving the numbers up.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You've got several risks here including extreme heat, dust storms, and severe thunderstorms that cause flash flooding. There's a medium risk here because of these dangerous elements, but it's more because of how bad they can be and less about how frequently they happen.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were just 12 robberies in 2020 and about 40% of those were robberies in public. That's still a low risk with such a low number.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Due to the residence of Fort Huachuca (pronounced: "Wah-CHEW-kuh"), there is medium risk. Fort Huachuca is home to a U.S. Army technology center and intelligence center, and I'm sure terrorists would love to take it out. However, Homeland Security is aware of this risk and takes all necessary steps to keep the fort and the community safe.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are no scams reported at this time impacting tourists, but if you come across one, alert the Sierra Vista Police Department at (520) 452-7500. As it stands now, there is a low risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here as nothing in the crime reports suggests women are more in danger than men. 4 rapes were reported in 2020. Shoplifting is a big crime here, so if you're shopping you might see that happen, but other than that, you should be safe for your Sierra Vista visit.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There are always concerns about tap water when a military base is nearby because contaminants can leak into the groundwater, but as of the 2020 annual report, the Sierra Vista water is safe to use and comes with low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Sierra Vista
Let’s start in town with the plethora of restaurants to choose from.
Cuisine ranges from some of the best Mexican food you can ever have with bigger portions and lower prices than you might be used to; German, Italian, and Asian.
There’s some American cuisine there too.
While there’s no Main Street area like some other cities, the restaurants are spread throughout the small city.
Fort Huachuca is a place people would love to tour, but sorry folks, it’s off-limits unless you have a DoD card, do a 30-day background check, have a REAL ID, and aren’t in violation of about two dozen requirements.
The good news is, there is a Fort Huachuca museum where you can see all the artifacts from the early days of the Fort, through the Buffalo Solider era, to the incredible spy technology used and so much more.
You have to visit Tombstone to see the old west at its finest, with daily re-enactments of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
You can take tours of the city and there are even ghost tours for those who like supernatural stories.
Wyatt Earp’s house is now a museum with an art gallery.
Tombstone is also making a name for itself for the fine microbreweries in town.
Sonoita Vineyards opened in 1983 and prides itself on being the oldest commercial vineyard in the state.
You might be wondering “How can a vineyard thrive in a desert?” and the winemakers are excited to tell you all the benefits of the arid climate and how it makes your wine stand out.
Outdoorsy people have several options, including Coronado National Memorial, Brown Canyon Pass, Montezuma Pass (on the Mexican border), and going underground at the Kartchner Caverns State Park.
Some of the parks allow camping while others don’t, so check ahead of time.
Placess to Avoid in Sierra Vista
This is a small town, so the crime maps are going to show the highest crime rates in most neighborhoods as there’s not a lot of room to spread them out.
There isn’t an area you should avoid in Sierra Vista, but definitely have a good working GPS, because if you are going the wrong way, you are heading to the open desert or possibly Mexico.
You should avoid going hiking in the summer in the heat of the day, as you can get easily dehydrated.
Especially if you aren’t acclimated to the desert or high altitudes, you could get sick very easily in a short period of time.
Keep the gas tank full as a lot of the attractions require some driving into remote areas, and you certainly don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the desert.
(Remember Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Vacation searching for an auto shop in the middle of the desert?)
Safety Tips for Traveling to Sierra Vista
- There’s a difference between a cavern and a mine in and around Sierra Vista. You have to remember this was once mining terrority and there are a lot of abandoned mines. You should not go in or around old mines as they are quite dangerous. A place like Kartchner Caverns is safe as it’s a guided tour and prepped for visitors.
- When you are in a cavern or cave in this area, there are bats. You should avoid all contact with bats as they carry many diseases. Even touching a bat means you should go to the emergency room to get checked. The bats are great for the wildlife in Arizona but very dangerous to people.
- You need to bring a gallon of water for each person in your party. By the time you are ready to chug a full bottle of water, you are already dehydrated. The desert arid climate sucks the moisture right out of you to the point where you won’t even notice that you’re not sweating much.
- In the wild west, there are snakes, scorpions, and coyotes. I lived in the desert and once saw the gnarliest spider ever with seven legs and the size of my hand. The critters here are not to be messed with. Learn the difference between a small, translucent scorpion and a bark scorpion. The bark scorpion is the only one that has a venom with its painful sting and might mean a visit to the hospital if you get stung.
- The Sierra Vista Police Department has a Crime Solvers section on its website where it lists the most wanted fugitives in the area. Check this out before you visit as you might spot one of these people. If you do, don’t try to apprehend them yourself, just call 911.
- If you see a crime in Sierra Vista, you can report it anonymously by dialing 88-CRIME. If this helps lead to an arrest, you can get a reward of up to $2500. You can also fill out an online form on the police department’s website.
- Before you head out to Coronado National Monument, check the Forest Service website to see if there are any wildfire risks or fire burning. A wildfire can spread easily in this dry climate and the winds can switch direction quickly. You don’t want to be stuck in the wilderness with a wildfire burning nearby.
- Wear good hiking boots when out in the wilderness. Tennis shoes aren’t going to be as safe, especially with the risk of snake bites. This is a rocky terrain with changes in elevation and boots will help keep you stable and safe.
- Sierra Vista is very bike-friendly with plenty of rentals available. Helmets are required for those under 18, but it’s a good idea for all riders to wear one. You can get free helmets at the Sierra Vista Fire Department. Call (520) 417-4400 to get more details.
- Be aware of bicyclists when you are driving and give them space on the road. Also, know the distance you are riding, as some of the destinations on the bike trails are 30+ miles away. You’ll need to have plenty of water and endurance to make the trek.
So... How Safe Is Sierra Vista Really?
Sierra Vista is a safe town with little crime.
Your chances of being a victim of a violent crime are one in 552.
The chances of you getting robbed are one in 3775.
Theft is a little bit higher with a one in 59 chance of being a victim, but when you take out the shoplifters and car thefts, the chances go down exponentially.
Sierra Vista is a military town with a lot of tourist attractions and also brings in snowbirds each winter as people escape the harsh winters up north.
The city needs to be safe to keep bringing in those tourists and snowbirds and the crime statistics show that it is a safe community.
You’ll still want to follow all the basic safety precautions like locking car doors before you leave and keeping valuables in the hotel room when you are out and about.
How Does Sierra Vista Compare?
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
- Visas - The Visa process is taken care of at the border crossing or airport. You don't need additional processing in Sierra Vista. You will need a passport or visa if you want to cross the border into Mexico and come back to the U.S.
- Currency - You'll use the U.S. Dollar here even being this close to Mexico. Even if some spots take pesos, you will still be able to pay with American currency. You can use a credit card for purchases to avoid carrying around cash.
- Weather - The coldest day is going to be a high in the low-60s and lows down near freezing. There can be some really chilly desert nights in the winter, so bringing a coat isn't a bad idea. The spring and fall have highs in the 70s and 80s with lows in the 40s or 50s. Summers get hot with highs in the 80s and 90s, while the lows still drop to the 60s. Why is it so cold in the desert at night? Hot air rises and with the clear desert skies, all the heat is up high and the cold air stays at ground level.
- Airports - The Tucson Airport is 70 miles north and that's the closest major commercial airport. Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is 213 miles northwest, and that's about a four-hour drive, but it is a much larger airport.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance for a trip to Sierra Vista. With so much to see and do, you don't want to lose money on delays or weather cancellations.
Sierra Vista Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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