How Safe Is Socorro for Travel?

Updated On July 15, 2023
Socorro, United States
Safety Index:
73
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Between the Magdalena and San Mateo mountain ranges in central New Mexico lies Socorro, a city that offers visitors a blend of rich history, outdoor adventures, and scientific discovery.

Socorro is one of the oldest Spanish settlements in the American Southwest, founded in 1598, and the San Miguel Mission from the 1620s exemplifies the town’s Spanish colonial heritage.

It sits on I-25, 76 miles south of Albuquerque and 190 miles north of the Mexican border town of El Paso.

Beyond its historical charm, Socorro is a paradise for nature lovers.

The Cibola National Forest offers hiking and camping with beautiful views of mountains, canyons, and wildlife.

Just outside of town, the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge provides incredible birdwatching opportunities, especially during the annual migration of sandhill cranes.

NOTE:

If you want to learn more about Sandhill Crane migration, check out our articles from Kearney and North Platte, Nebraska.

The famed Rio Grande River offers another elevated adventure experience with rock climbing, mountain biking, or kayaking.

Part of Socorro’s appeal lies in the skies above and the ground beneath.

It is home to New Mexico Tech University, which supplies many of the attractions.

The Institute of Mining and Technology, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the New Mexico Tech Earth and Space Museum are boosted by this educational institution.

Socorro is also a working-class town, with an average income of around $45,000 and a poverty rate close to 35%.

To be as transparent as possible, Socorro Police haven’t released official crime data since 2019.

In the years since, crime in America has surged in certain areas.

We do have crime data up to 2021 from the Socorro County Sheriff’s Office, which includes the areas outside of the town.

Warnings & Dangers in Socorro

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

There's a low risk in Socorro, as far as we can tell, from crunching crime data and searching for news articles. This is especially true for tourists who just want to see the wilderness areas or tourist attractions. You should still use extra caution with more updated crime data.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Socorro has some on-demand public transportation and the New Mexico Rail Runner service, but the options aren't very robust. The town also isn't that big, with just 8,700 people. Transportation is mostly designed to get people to and from the university. Taxis and rideshares will be available, but a rental car is your best option since you'll need to get to Socorro, and it's in a fairly remote location.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

Crime data from the county shows just two pickpockets or purse snatching reported in the past decade, so that's a low risk. Keep it low by practicing smart safety techniques as if you were in a much larger city.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

Located along the Rio Grande Rift, Socorro faces risks from earthquakes and flooding. The area lies within Zone III for seismic hazards, indicating a moderate chance of quakes. During heavy monsoons, the Rio Grande and other local waterways can overflow, inundating nearby homes and infrastructure. Wildfires are another risk you should monitor. Treat it with a medium risk to stay weather aware.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

With an average of one robbery a year for the past decade, the risk is low. It's still wise to use caution, especially when you're out at night.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

This is a low risk as a small town in the middle of rural New Mexico, and no known plots have been foiled in this region. The more likely risk would be illegal drugs, guns, or smuggled people from the border.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

There's a low risk here of a tourist being scammed, but you can always check the New Mexico Attorney General's website for common scams closer to your visit. Law enforcement will also post scams on social media.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Nothing in the limited crime data suggests there is a higher risk for women. Solo female travelers should use caution if exploring the wilderness and try to go with a group if they can.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance. The bigger risk to monitor would be tap water issues from flooding or water shortages. You can learn more about how to conserve water on the city's website and get alerts about water quality issues.

Safest Places to Visit in Socorro

Socorronm.org is the official tourism site for the town and county.

I love that they have a section for brochures instead of just one big travel guide.

It just makes it easier to search for things that interest you.

For example, you can get a Socorro County Ghost Town Guide or a Historic Walking Tour map.

If you do want a full travel guide, they have that too.

Look for “The Source” to get a great overview of the region.

You can download it without having to give any personal information.

Socorro is at the center of a series of cities along I-25, from Sabinal to Paraje.

The nearby attractions are all within easy driving distance.

Even the world’s largest telescope, the Very Large Array (visitvla.com), is just 50 miles east of Socorro.

The Socorro Heritage & Visitors Center has exhibits on the history and culture of Socorro and the surrounding area.

Some highlights include artifacts from the early Spanish settlers, the Buffalo Soldiers, and information about the ranching and mining history of the region.

The New Mexico Tech Mineral Museum contains over 16,000 mineral specimens from around the world, including gems, fossils, meteorites, and fluorescent minerals.

The Elfego Baca Shootout Site marks the spot of a famous gun battle in the 1880s involving the lawman Elfego Baca.

A small museum on site has exhibits and artifacts from the shootout and Baca’s life.

The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge has an informative visitor center with exhibits about the rare migratory birds and other wildlife found in the refuge.

Rock climbers shouldn’t miss the unique rock formations of Box Canyon’s Enchantment Tower.

Use the climbing guide from the tourism website to see all the options, safety steps, and risks found there.

Places to Avoid in Socorro

Even as I was doing research for safe places to visit, I saw several that were closed temporarily or until further notice for various reasons.

Always check the website for the attraction to see if it’s open and what hours it is available.

For example, the Very Large Array was closed until late 2022 due to COVID restrictions.

Some wilderness areas might be off-limits due to wildfire or storm damage.

Socorro isn’t a large enough town to have different neighborhoods that are more dangerous than others.

That said, you should stick to the main roads that get you to and from tourist attractions.

As a rather poor community, there aren’t elaborate homes to see as you drive through neighborhoods.

I know that’s one of my favorite things to do in a new community, but you don’t want to risk ending up at the dead end of potentially dangerous streets.

Some of the areas are more rural here, and you should always avoid private property.

If it’s not a designated wilderness area, someone owns it and won’t want tourists on their property.

Please make sure your research is about Socorro, New Mexico.

There is a Socorro, Texas, in the El Paso area, 200 miles away from the New Mexico location.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Socorro

  1. Socorro, the town, does have its own police department, but there isn’t a lot of information about safety steps on its website. You can call (575)835-4222 for specific questions. Another option is to email police@socorronm.gov.
  2. For the county, call the sheriff’s office at (575) 835-0941 or email avega@co.socorro.nm.us. You can also follow the sheriff on Facebook under “Socorro County Sheriff’s Office.” That page isn’t updated all that often, but if there is an update, it’s likely important.
  3. Use the Emergency Management section of the Socorro County website to sign up for Citizen Alerts. This will send emergency notifications right to your mobile device. You need this to stay on top of developing weather, wildfire risks, or other safety problems.
  4. Use NMFireInfo.com is the website used to check for wildfire activity and fire restrictions. Don’t go into an area where there is a high wildfire risk or a fire burning. Never drive around barriers established because of fire. Also, check air quality before you go into any wilderness region. Even wildfires far away can cause breathing issues.
  5. Since I-25 is the main north/south route through this area, you should stay on top of traffic and road troubles using NMRoads.com. The last thing you want to do is risk being stuck in a traffic jam without proper hydration, food, or a survival kit.
  6. Most of Socorro is on a floodplain. That means even if there is just rain in the forecast, streets could flood easily. Never drive through a flooded road, and stay away from rushing water in rivers and streams.
  7. The annual rodeo in Socorro takes place in late August and early September. You should expect hotels to sell out quickly during this time.
  8. If you plan to visit several national wilderness sites, like a National Forest, National Park, etc., consider purchasing an America the Beautiful pass for $80. This will get you access to all federal lands instead of having to pay a separate entrance fee for each one.
  9. Do not take any artifacts or fossils you find in the wilderness. It’s against federal law to do so. If you think you find something unique, like a dinosaur bone, please contact the governing body of the land where you are visiting.
  10. For those wanting to travel to Mexico during a trip here, you should check the Mexico Travel Warnings from the U.S. State Department. As of 2023, the recommendation for Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua is “Reconsider travel due to crime and kidnapping. Violent crime and gang activity are common. Battles for territory between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by (tourists), including restaurants and malls during daylight hours.

So... How Safe Is Socorro Really?

This is the big unknown, especially in 2023, when there is an onslaught of violent crime, gun crime, and drug-fueled crime across America.

We can’t assume Socorro is impacted by that, but we also can’t rely on years’ old data to say it isn’t.

Historically, Socorro’s violent crime rate is much higher than the national average.

In some cases, it’s double the number.

The context is important because, in 2019, that meant 57 violent crimes equaled a 65% higher than the national average rate.

This is due to the way crime math is done, turning into a rate of “per 100,000 people.”

What I can say is that in both the city and the county, most violent crimes were among people who know each other.

There’s a lower risk of being a random victim of violence.

You’ll need to take extra steps to protect your vehicle.

Lock the doors, don’t leave personal items inside, and invest in a wheel lock.

If someone steals a car here, they are likely to head across the border with it.

In a town where the poverty rate is so high, even taking something as simple as a GPS unit could be profitable for a thief.

What I like about Socorro is that a lot of the things to do are in places with a lot of security, either at the university, in a busy tourist area, or on federally protected land.

You could find trouble in Socorro, but you’d really have to go looking for it.

How Does Socorro Compare?

CitySafety Index
Socorro73
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Boston67
Washington DC56
New York City67
Detroit56
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60
Vancouver (Canada)82
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Toronto (Canada)81

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

You'll need a visa or visa waiver with a passport to get into the country. The requirements are the same whether you cross the border or fly into the country.

Currency

Currency

Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Exchange currency before you get to Socorro. Your home bank offers the best rates. It's important to know that ABQ Sunport doesn't have a currency exchange option.

Weather

Weather

Plan for hot, dry and dusty from spring through fall. You'll want sunscreen, sunglasses, hats—anything to block out the intense rays of the sun. The temperatures can have huge swings from day to night, so don't forget some layers on cooler nights. Temperatures in winter can plunge into the 20s(F), so pack winter clothing. You'll get mild days in the 50s.

Airports

Airports

Albuquerque International Sunport is just an hour north, and it's all interstate driving. That's the closest and best option. The only airport in Socorro is for private planes.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance provides peace of mind and financial support in emergency situations or during major travel delays. If you don't have health insurance in America, consider a travel health insurance plan too.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Socorro Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 3° C
Feb 6° C
Mar 11° C
Apr 14° C
May 19° C
Jun 23° C
Jul 25° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 20° C
Oct 14° C
Nov 8° C
Dec 3° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
121620242933343229241712
Low
°C
-6-4138131615114-2-6
High
°F
546168758491939084756354
Low
°F
212534374655615952392821

New Mexico - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Alamogordo73
Albuquerque31
Carlsbad74
Chama73
Deming62
Elephant Butte73
Farmington52
Gallup46
Las Cruces46
Los Alamos71
Raton68
Red River72
Rio Rancho72
Ruidoso72
Santa Fe32
Silver City72
Socorro73
Taos77
Truth or Consequences74
Tucumcari73

Where to Next?

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