New Mexico : Safety by City
- Elephant Butte
- Las Cruces
- Los Alamos
- Red River
- Rio Rancho
- Santa Fe
- Silver City
- Truth or Consequences
Walk in the footsteps of famed gunslinger Billy the Kid in Silver City, New Mexico, where the Old West is a new adventure.
Founded in 1870 after the discovery of silver ore in the area, Silver City boomed as hopeful prospectors flocked to the town.
Though the silver rush eventually ended, the town lives on, retaining its Old West charm and pioneering spirit.
Mining is still an economic boost, with the country’s oldest mine still offering up copper hidden deep in its walls.
Walking down Bullard Street feels like taking a step back in time.
Grand Victorian-style buildings that once housed saloons and hotels still stand, many now converted into quaint shops and restaurants.
Nighttime reveals some of the most amazing stargazing opportunities, and a few legendary ghosts might pay you a visit.
Silver City serves as a gateway to the Gila National Forest, offering hiking, biking, fishing, and more.
Try your hand at panning for gold in streams near Pinos Altos or explore the excellent birdwatching and wildlife viewing areas around the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
From history and hauntings to mountain adventures, Silver City is an unforgettable New Mexico destination.
It’s quickly becoming a retirement destination, and it’s definitely one of southwest New Mexico’s hidden gems just 70 miles from Arizona.
Warnings & Dangers in Silver City
OVERALL RISK : LOW
By most accounts, this is a low-risk town, but I can tell you that valid crime data hasn't been formally released for several years. With plenty of tourism-based activities, you can at least find safe places to explore.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Corre Caminos is the name of the public bus system that offers rides between Silver City, Deming, and Columbus. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find, but you will need to get here, so it makes more sense to rent a car and control your own adventures.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
If you use all the standard safety precautions, it's a low risk. Don't carry more than you need, leave valuables at home, and keep your wallet/purse concealed as much as possible. Also, don't leave valuables in your vehicle.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You have a wide range of weather concerns here, which should prompt a medium risk. With an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet, the winters can be cold, with a little snow that could impact roads. Wildfires and flash flooding are the biggest risks, with severe weather potential during the summer monsoon months.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Robberies are rare in Silver City, as determined from a news article search over the past few years. While the risk is low, keep your guard up at night and stay in well-lit areas.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
This is a low risk due to the remote location of Silver City. It's surrounded by desert and mountains with a good 2-3 hour drive to anything close to a major city.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The best way to track current scams is by searching the city and police department's social media sites. You can also check in with the New Mexico Attorney General's website. The risk is low, but it stays low if you're informed and prepared for any scammers.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
While it wasn't a safe place for women in the 1870s, it's now a low risk with a lot of tourist attractions in town and national parks in the wilderness to provide safe experiences for women, whether solo travelers, mothers, or girlfriend getaways.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations, but there is a warning that water can appear cloudy at times due to trapped air bubbles. If you let a cloudy glass of water sit for a few minutes, it should clear up.
Safest Places to Visit in Silver City
The websites for Visit Silver City and Silver City Main Street are the two best options for finding things to do in and around Silver City.
You can download a free tourism guide without having to give personal information.
To visit the Gila National Forest and Gila Cliff Dwellings (Gila is “Hee-lah”), use their respective websites through the National Park Service.
A perfect starting point is at the Silver City Museum, where exhibits showcase the evolution of this region from ancient times through the Indigenous tribes that lived on mountain cliffs through the mining and railroad days of the Wild West to the present.
From there, head to the Billy the Kid homesite just a few blocks away.
The log cabin there isn’t the actual home where Billy lived, but it was a gift from director Ron Howard.
If you really want to get some entertaining history lessons before you visit here, watch the 1988 movie Young Guns, which is a fairly accurate historical take on Billy’s gunslinging days.
The summer monsoons we discussed earlier literally shaped this city, as massive floods in 1895 and 1902 tore through what was then the downtown area.
That area became known as “The Big Ditch” for the 55-foot-deep gorge cut by the intense floodwaters.
That area is now Big Ditch Park.
Summer storms still bring churning waters down this drainage area.
Only one home was left standing from the massive floods, and that’s The Warren House.
While you can’t tour the home, you’ll walk right by it on the Big Ditch Trail.
Western New Mexico University has a museum on campus that includes ancient artifacts, prehistoric pottery, and historical photos of the region.
The impressive collection helps you understand the different generations that survived on the surrounding land.
Less than 10 miles away in Santa Clara, you can visit Fort Bayard Museum.
This historic property housed military operations to protect settlers from Native American attacks.
When tuberculosis raged through soldiers during the World Wars, it became a sanitarium for the sick.
Then it was a veterans hospital before it was marked as a national historical landmark.
Head east of Silver City on Route 152 to see the Santa Rita Copper Mine, one of the oldest in the country.
There’s a great scenic viewing platform with kiosks explaining the history and modern-day use.
You can read the tourism guide for other mining districts in this region.
To get a better look at the whole region, you can take the Trail of Mountain Spirits across nearly 100 miles from Silver City to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
Another highlight of Silver City is the Continental Divide Trail, which is just nine miles north.
I have to be honest—when I drove across the Continental Divide, I wasn’t very impressed, but when you get into the mountains, you get a better view of this distinct feature of the continent.
Places to Avoid in Silver City
Silver City doesn’t have dangerous areas or bad neighborhoods.
The city is only five miles wide and six miles long, so it’s easy to stay on the main roads and not try shortcuts.
You should look closely at the map if you’re trying to take side roads, and some quickly turn to gravel or dirt as you get to the perimeter of town.
If you don’t have a high-clearance 4X4 vehicle, don’t attempt these roads.
I recommend that you take a Google Maps Street View glance at all the roads you plan to take.
For example, NM-15, a scenic route, turns to a paved road without a shoulder or any guiding lines on the roadway.
Silver City is 52 miles from I-10, so the highways and roads you’ll take will be remote and barren.
You might lose mobile service, and you should have an emergency kit in your car.
Always confirm your spare tire is inflated before you head out on a road trip.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Silver City
- Silver City does have its own police department. You can find them on Facebook @SilverCityPoliceDepartmentNM. Also, call (575) 538-3723 if you have specific safety questions you want answered.
- Look for the Grant County Emergency Notification System signup page on the Silver City website. You will get emergency alerts on your mobile device as severe weather watches/warnings or other safety concerns arise.
- Recreational Off-Highway Motor Vehicles are legal in Silver Spring, and you will be sharing the road with drivers of those vehicles. Those vehicles aren’t allowed between 10 pm and 6 am and are required to go the speed limits.
- Use the NM Roads website to track road conditions, traffic accidents, and construction zones across the region. Create your own account so you can set up travel alerts along your preferred route.
- Black bears and mountain lions are in this region, and you should know how to handle a run-in with either one. Odds are, a mountain lion will go out of its way to avoid you, but I have a friend who was trail running in Colorado when she came face-to-face with one, and that animal wasn’t happy with her. She knew the right safety steps and lived to tell the story.
- Shake your shoes out before you put them on each morning, as scorpions love to hide in cool, dark places. I was stung once by putting my hand under my pillow (another cool, dark space). The scorpions found in New Mexico are venomous, but some people will have a reaction like a bad bee sting. Other people can have breathing and neurological problems. You can also spot scorpions at night by shining blacklight. They will glow.
- All anglers between 12 and 70 need to have a license from the New Mexico Department of Fish & Game. Knock that off your to-do list by purchasing it online before your trip.
- When you are in the wilderness, do not take any artifacts or rocks you find. Under the Leave No Trace principles, you should only take photos of your trip. If you do try to take an artifact, even if you found it yourself, you could face federal charges.
- During periods of heavy rain, like the summer monsoon, stay away from the Big Ditch and never drive through a flooded roadway. Flash floods sometimes last less than a half hour but can be damaging and dangerous while they’re flowing.
- The green chile options in New Mexico are legendary, and you’ll need to decide if you prefer the red chile or the green chile. This isn’t “chili,” like the meaty stew. This is a chile pepper, which is technically a fruit. Restaurant workers are happy to tell you about the different flavors and spice levels of their chile sauce, so don’t be afraid to ask.
So... How Safe Is Silver City Really?
Silver City hasn’t released crime data officially since 2016.
The new police chief vows transparency moving forward, hoping to release monthly crime data, so check the department’s website before your trip to see if that has started.
The lack of crime data makes it really hard to get a good grasp on the crime risk here.
While random acts of violence seem rare, a solo bicyclist was shot and killed in July 2023 during a morning bike ride near Silver City.
Police say the suspect had a history of erratic and threatening behavior on the trail.
New Mexico has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, and this region particularly has a problem with illegal drugs.
While the best thing to do is avoid any kind of drug, even if it looks like a prescription drug, more drug activity brings more guns and violent crime.
The roads around this region can be winding and dangerous, especially if you aren’t paying full attention to the road.
Even with just a few inches of snow that fall here each year, the roads can quickly become treacherous, and not all roads get plowed.
You need to use common sense, like locking car doors and have situational awareness wherever you go.
Basic safety steps of street smarts and wilderness survival go a long way.
One thing I can say for sure is that this town is much safer than it was in the 1870s when gunslingers walked the streets.
How Does Silver City Compare?
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- Visas - You will need a passport and a visa or visa waiver to get through Customs and Border Patrol. You can see the latest news on visa processing and waivers on the U.S. State Department website.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here, and you shouldn't wait until you're in this small town to exchange your currency. Most banks will exchange currency if you are a customer, which means your home bank offers the lowest fees.
- Weather - The humidity will be low throughout the year, which means the cold will feel colder and hot temperatures will feel like you're baking. It also means more fluctuations in temperatures between day and night. Bring layers of clothing, hiking boots, and comfortable, casual clothing. Don't forget sunscreen or sunglasses for the many bright, sunny days here.
- Airports - Grant County Airport is 30 minutes from Silver City, but it only has minimal service through Advanced Air. It can get you to Albuquerque, which could save you a four-hour drive. El Paso, Texas, has an airport three hours southeast. Tucson, Arizona's airport is three hours west.
- Travel Insurance - Comprehensive travel insurance should cover all air and ground travel, plus add emergency roadside assistance and urgent health care.
Silver City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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