Utah : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Utah - state review
West Valley City, Utah, is about as ethnically-diverse a community as you’ll find in Utah.
A significant percentage of Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and African Americans makes this a cultural melting pot, especially when it comes to the incredible food scene.
Enjoy a trip to the Utah Cultural Celebration Center to get an artistic look at the diversity in the region.
This is the second-largest city in Utah and it shoulders right up to the Great Salt Lake on the west side of the valley.
The Marick Center was home to the ice hockey portion of the 2002 Winter Olympics and is still bustling with hockey activities for local teams.
West Valley City gets a bad reputation.
It’s known as the crime-ridden part of the Salt Lake area, and you might even be warned not to go there.
Do the warnings hold true?
We investigated all the details.
Read on to find out the facts vs. fiction.
Warnings & Dangers in West Valley City
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Overall there's medium risk. Utah is a low-crime state, but West Valley City shatters many of the averages in its crime rates. So why aren't we going with a high risk then? Because we aren't feeding into the bad reputation of the city. High risk is an outrageous chance of being a crime victim, and that's not the story in West Valley City.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
The Salt Lake metro area has an intricate and impressive public transportation system. The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has buses throughout West Valley City and has stops on the TRAX rail line. UTA has its police force for additional safety. Taxi drivers go through a background check and must be licensed to provide service here. Due to elevated crime numbers, we're going to give this a medium risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
In 2020, there were 11 reports of either pickpocketing or purse snatching for a total of $700 taken. That's not a very high risk, but it's more than we've seen in other Salt Lake City suburbs, so we're going with medium risk. 30% of all thefts were shoplifting.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
The area was rocked by an earthquake in 2020 and some local schools and homes were damaged. It was a rare occurrence, but it can happen and some predict the Wasatch Front, just east of the area, is due for "the big one". However, there's not a day-to-day imminent risk. Winter storms are the biggest and most common act of nature, feeding the hungry ski resorts with much-needed fresh powder, but slowing down travel on roads and rail lines. Despite all this, there's a low risk on an average day.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The chance of being a robbery victim is one in 1085. Of the 96 robberies, 17 of them were highway robberies, meaning they happened on or near a highway and were most likely targeting travelers. The most commonly stolen item is a vehicle. It's safe to call this a medium risk, but I'm tempted to call it a low risk just because it's the only statistic that isn't above the national average.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There are bigger things to worry about in West Valley City than terrorism. The city itself isn't a major target and even in the larger metro area, there's not a major hard target for terrorists. The city is also remotely located, making it less likely for a terror attack. There's low risk.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
My research shows a large variety of scams in West Valley City, so we're going to call this a medium risk because it seems like a con artist is always coming up with something. From puppy scams to check scams to bogus debt consolidation calls, the concerns here run the gamut. We can't say it enough. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Hate crime statistics don't show any targeted crimes against women, so there's a low risk of being a victim of crime just for being a woman. However, a woman should still take basic safety steps to protect herself. This isn't an area you want to go walking around at night alone.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There's low risk when using tap water as it currently meets all required regulations. In the past few years, there were two months when a violation was issued, but the source of the problem was cleaned up promptly.
Safest Places to Visit in West Valley City
Valley Fair Mall is the shopping hub in West Valley City.
It’s the typical American mall with a town center remodeled in 2021 to give it more family-friendly activities.
Golfers will love the holes at Stonebridge or The Ridge golf clubs.
Hunter Park is the largest city park in the area, with amenities for sports, and plenty of walking paths and playgrounds.
The Utah Cultural Celebration Center is worth a visit just to see the art exhibits, but check ahead of time if there’s a big event or show coming.
The Olympic Oval ice skating facility is just four miles south of West Valley City and is open year-round.
Places to Avoid in West Valley City
Crime maps show the northeastern and central parts of the city have the highest crime rates.
Repeated social media reports say “the further west of Redwood, the better.”
However, there isn’t much city east of Redwood.
The neighborhoods can be hit or miss, with large homes in neighborhoods with lower-income housing.
After digging into this for a couple of hours, I think it’s safe to say this is one of those places where if you don’t have a reason to be in a certain area, then don’t go there.
Not because of imminent crime, but because you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to yourself.
While there are many amazing things to see in the Salt Lake valley and surrounding mountains, West Valley City isn’t a big tourist draw outside of the few localities we’ve mentioned.
People come here often for the unique mom-and-pop ethnic food restaurants you can’t get in other parts of the city, so don’t dismiss a restaurant just because it’s buried in a small strip mall.
It could be the best meal you’ll have here!
Safety Tips for Traveling to West Valley City
- Aggravated assault numbers here are 30% higher than the national average. If you do happen to be a victim of theft, don’t fight back. Your wallet or purse isn’t worth your life.
- This is a community where speaking a little bit of Spanish might help. The population is 38% Latino. There will be pockets of the community where knowing a few common Spanish phrases might help you out.
- Panhandlers are becoming more common in West Valley City and the mayor urges people to avoid donating, even if the panhandler is persistent. You can politely but firmly say “No” and walk away. Report any aggressive behavior like following or blocking your path to the police. 12% of this community lives in poverty, and with the city growing, it’s drawing more activity from beggars.
- Airport noise is a real concern in West Valley City. While the goal is to bring planes in over the Great Salt Lake, airplanes must fly based on wind direction. When there’s wind, it will put the flight path right over West Valley City. The airport is just 8 miles from West Valley City, so get ready for some noise. There’s nothing you can do about it, but it’s just good to know for planning travel.
- The West Valley City Police Department offers an online crime mapping tool. You can search specific areas of the city to see where crimes are most likely to happen when you visit.
- If you are visiting West Valley City with children, it’s important to know there is a juvenile curfew from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. for anyone under 16. Children who are 16 or 17 must be off the streets by 1:00 a.m. This is due to an increase in juvenile crime in the area.
- I’m going to put the full text of this law here for you because, in a town that gets 42 inches of snow per year, you can’t throw a snowball. “It shall be unlawful for any person within the limits of the City to willfully or carelessly throw any stone, stick, snowball or other missiles whereby any person shall be hit, any property injured or destroyed, in such manner as to render travel upon the public streets and places of the City dangerous or in such a manner as to frighten or annoy any other person.”
- For those who want to enjoy skiing in the mountains, public transportation can get you there, but it will take hours. A taxi will set you back $100 both ways. It would be a good activity to rent a car if you haven’t already. Park City is about a 45-minute drive, without considering any traffic.
- When visiting the Great Salt Lake, check the Department of Environmental Quality website before you go. There can be bacterial blooms that cause a wretched stench or seasons when bugs overwhelm people. Insiders tell us if you go on a boat the bugs and smells are lessened once on the water.
- Don’t park on city streets in West Valley City if more than an inch accumulates. This is against the law and can get you ticketed and towed.
So... How Safe Is West Valley City Really?
To be honest, there are nicer parts of the Salt Lake City metro area to stay in when visiting.
Those areas might be pristine and brimming with activities, but there’s very little cultural influence outside of the West Valley City area.
A lot of what I can tell you is fact-checking rumors.
There’s a rumor that it’s a very racist area.
Yet crime statistics show there were just 4 hate crimes reported in 2020.
The crime rates are higher than the national average in:
- Violent Crime
- Aggravated Assault
You have to remember when you see and hear information about this being a “bad part of town” that it’s generally from people who live in the Salt Lake City area and haven’t lived in many other places.
To them, it IS the bad part of town.
Compared to a travel enthusiast or someone who lives in a much bigger city, this is nothing compared to what you’ve seen before.
As one transplant from New York to Salt Lake City said in an online forum, “When West Valley City is considered the bad part of town, you know that standards are too high.”
How Does West Valley City Compare?
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- Visas - You'll take care of the Visa requirements at the airport. You don't need anything additional to visit West Valley City, Utah.
- Currency - You'll use the U.S. Dollar currency here and this is one place it's strongly advised you don't show large amounts of cash when making purchases. If you need to use an ATM, do it during the day in a populated area.
- Weather - Winters are cold with average temperatures dropping down into the 20s, but it can get much colder. Pack layers for a winter trip. Spring is hit or miss as it can be cold or warmer, so pack a lot of options. Summers get hot with average temperatures into the 90s. It's a dry heat, so you won't sweat a lot because it evaporates before you even notice it, but you'll need to drink plenty of water.
- Airports - The Salt Lake City International Airport is just 10 miles away from West Valley City. It's the only major airport in the state, so you don't have any other option outside of a long road trip.
- Travel Insurance - Plan your trip with travel insurance so a western wildfire or winter snowstorm doesn't cost you money before you even get a chance to travel.
West Valley City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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