North Dakota : Safety by City
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Wahpeton, a town steeped in history and home to the North Dakota State College of Science, holds a unique place in the American Midwest.
Founded in 1869, Wahpeton is named after the Dakota Sioux Chief Wahpeton.
The town’s roots are deeply intertwined with the region’s Native American history.
At the heart of Wahpeton lies the North Dakota State College of Science, the second-oldest two-year public college in the United States.
Since its establishment in 1903, the college has been a pillar of education and innovation, providing students with a diverse array of programs and opportunities.
Wahpeton’s strategic location adds to its allure.
Situated just 45 miles south of Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota, it offers a tranquil escape from the bustling urban life while remaining conveniently accessible.
Moreover, Wahpeton shares its southern border with Breckenridge, Minnesota, creating a unique dynamic where residents and visitors can explore two states in one visit.
Outdoor lovers can enjoy the water, as this is where the Bois de Sioux River and Otter Tail River merge into the Red River of the North.
This charming town invites you to explore its historic roots, embrace educational excellence, and savor the beauty of its proximity to Fargo and the neighboring state of Minnesota.
Whether you’re interested in history, academia, or simply enjoying a peaceful Midwest retreat, Wahpeton has something to offer everyone.
Warnings & Dangers in Wahpeton
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in this small town of 8,000. Crime rates are low, and there's just enough to do over a few days that you won't get bored.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You'll need to rely on taxis or rideshares or consider a rental car if you want to get around here. Public transportation isn't available. The risk is low with any option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, with no pickpockets or purse snatchings reported in the past decade. There's a slightly higher chance of your car getting broken into, but locking the door and removing personal items nixes that risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is a medium risk due to the powerful weather that can sweep through year-round. Winter is quite intense, even without snow, but add a blizzard or ice storm to the equation, and it can be dangerous to go outside. Spring and summer bring thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes. Flooding is a risk, and on the flip side, wildland fires are possible.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Just two robberies were reported in 2022. One was at a liquor store, and the other was in a home. The risk is low for you.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This is another low risk, as it's a small, rural community that doesn't have any potential targets. Gun crime and domestic terrorism can happen anywhere, so it's still important to report anything suspicious.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Scams here are targeted at residents, mostly college students and the elderly. There's a low risk of a tourist scam. Check the county's website for any updated scams before your visit.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
There's nothing in the crime data or recent news articles that suggest women would be at a higher risk. Use standard safety precautions to keep the risk low.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance, and all tests met or exceeded standards. The only time water quality might be an issue is during or after a flood.
Safest Places to Visit in Wahpeton
VisitWahpeton.com is the official tourism website for the city.
You can download the two-page visitor guide for free on that site, and there’s also a section dedicated to maps of the city, campus, and several parks.
The Chahinkapa Zoo is a hit with kids and adults alike, and it’s one of the main attractions here.
It’s home to a diverse range of animals, and you can learn about conservation efforts while observing creatures from around the world.
Surrounding the zoo is Chahinkapa Park, where you can take a leisurely stroll along the Red River, have a picnic, or enjoy a game of disc golf.
The park’s beautiful landscape makes it a popular spot for both locals and visitors alike.
For those interested in history, the Richland County Historical Museum is a must-visit.
Explore the exhibits that showcase the area’s heritage, including artifacts from the pioneer days and Native American history.
Art enthusiasts will find delight at the Red Door Art Gallery, where local artists showcase their talent.
You can admire and purchase unique artworks, from paintings to pottery, that capture the essence of the region.
When it’s time to relax, the Bois de Sioux Golf Course offers a tranquil setting for a round of golf.
The well-maintained course provides a challenge for golfers of all skill levels and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
The city also has a sculpture garden and a mural.
The tourism website has an “I Spy” list of things to look for in the mural, which is another fun activity for kids.
Don’t forget to savor the local cuisine.
The Whistle Stop Cafe serves up delicious comfort food, and it’s a favorite among locals.
Be sure to try their mouthwatering pies, a perfect way to end your visit to Wahpeton.
For a great Instagram moment, check out “Wahpper,” the largest catfish in the world.
It’s 40 feet long and located at the Kidder Recreation Area.
In Wahpeton, you’ll find the North Dakota State College of Science, which proudly holds the distinction of being the second-oldest two-year public college in the United States.
Take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful campus.
Places to Avoid in Wahpeton
You don’t need to worry about dangerous parts of town in Wahpeton.
In fact, a murder in 2023 was in a part of town that residents and police said was traditionally safe.
That was a rare act of violence in this small town.
As with any North Dakota city, you want to avoid making outdoor plans that can’t accommodate weather problems like flooding, thunderstorms, or winter storms.
It will also help to check air quality since wildfire smoke from the west can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
Avoid the river if flooding is predicted, especially if there is an ice jam.
The water can carry a lot of debris and rise quickly.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Wahpeton
- Wahpeton does have its own police department. The phone number is (701) 642-7722 if you want to ask specific safety questions. If you’re trying to reach the North Dakota State College of Science Police, call (701) 671-2233.
- You’ll want to stay updated on the weather forecast while you’re here. Confirm you have the WEA alerts approved on your mobile device and turn on location tracking, so the alerts can follow you. If you’ll be out of mobile range, bring a battery-powered weather radio.
- Check with Richland County Emergency Management before you do anything that would require lighting a fire, like going camping. There are times of the year when burn restrictions will be in place, preventing such activities. Violating the restriction can result in a fine.
- A fishing license is required for anyone over 15 years old planning to fish. North Dakota has agreements with bordering states that a valid fishing license will cover any border waters, like the river that separates Wahpeton from Minnesota.
- That same river is prone to flooding and ice jams in the spring. Please be aware of rising flood levels, as these can happen days after a storm or warm stretch of weather.
- Hunting licenses require more safety training, with a list of different seasons and types of hunting to consider. Please review that on the North Dakota Department of Fish & Game website.
- Use ND 511 to check road conditions in the state, but that information will end at the state line. You’ll then use MN 511 to get road conditions or check route traffic if you’re crossing into Minnesota.
- Not wearing a seatbelt is now grounds to get pulled over in North Dakota. That goes for everyone in the vehicle. Avoid the risk and ensure everyone buckles up before you drive off.
- You should know how to measure ice thickness before you go on any lake or pond that is frozen over. It helps to know the weather patterns of the previous weeks, as a warm winter week can weaken the ice, even if it has been cold for a few days.
- There are a lot of mosquitoes here. I don’t think I’ve seen a city that has so much information about mosquito aversion in all of North Dakota. Wear bug spray, and if you’re headed to the woods in spring or summer, bring mosquito netting with you.
So... How Safe Is Wahpeton Really?
By all accounts, Wahpeton is a safe town to visit.
It’s not without violent crime, and a surge happened between 2019 and 2021, with rates nearly doubling.
Even at the highest, the city still had a rate in line with the national average.
However, 2022 brought the numbers back down to where they had historically been before the uptick.
That brought violent crime rates to half the national average and 40% less than the state average.
I think the headline in all of this is even the violent crime (and a handful of the stories are quite outrageous) all happened among people who knew each other.
That is it say, strangers weren’t victims of random acts of violence around these parts.
Theft rates are about average, with a lot of the context missing as data is put into “Other” category labels.
We do know that about 12% of thefts were related to car break-ins or car accessory thefts.
That’s about as far as the safety information you can’t control.
Now we go to the part you can control.
Know the forecast and weather risks.
Dress for the weather and avoid extended periods outdoors in the winter if you aren’t dressed for it.
Have an emergency roadside kit with you.
Watch out for wildlife on the road.
Common sense and best practices for weather and wilderness safety go a long way here.
How Does Wahpeton Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
It's required by federal law that all international visitors have a passport and either a visa or visa waiver. There are a lot of variables when it comes to the visa process, but you can get a great start on the U.S. State Department website.
The U.S. Dollar is the currency of the country, and you can't use any other option. Credit cards will exchange currency during transactions, but if you want cash, try your home bank for the lowest fees. Any international airport should also have ATMs that dispense cash in USD.
Pack casual clothing with an emphasis on staying warm from October through March. Don't skimp on accessories like gloves, hats, and thick socks. You'll want a waterproof outer layer, especially on your feet. Summers are mild, but you'll likely need a jacket or hoodie at night.
Hector International Airport in Fargo is the closest commercial option, and that's about an hour north. For those flying out of Minneapolis/St. Paul, plan for 3–4 hours on the road.
We recommend comprehensive travel insurance when visiting places prone to severe or disruptive weather. With the winter roads, you should carefully review your rental car policy to see if you're covered for emergency roadside assistance.
Wahpeton Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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North Dakota - Safety by City