Nevada : Safety by City
- Battle Mountain
- Blue Diamond
- Boulder City
- Burning Man in Black Rock City
- Carson City
- Incline Village
- Las Vegas
- Moapa Valley
- Mount Charleston
- North Las Vegas
- Virginia City
- West Wendover
Winnemucca, Nevada, is a small city on the busy I-80 route across the state.
It’s a Cowboy Town at heart, but there’s a lot more history to be found here.
Winnemucca (“WIN-uh-muck-uh”) was originally inhabited by the Native American Northern Paiute tribe.
The town was named after a Paiute princess named Winnemucca, who was an advocate for Native American rights.
Soon the pioneer miners and ranches can in during the mid-1800s.
Immigrants of Basque descent still have their fingerprints on the restaurants in town.
It is also known for its mining industry, with several gold and silver mines located in the surrounding area.
This region is known for rockhounding opportunities as well.
For another kind of jackpot, check out the 24-hour casinos of Winnemucca.
It was an assemblyman from this town that proposed the bill that would eventually legalize gambling in the state.
Another treasure is the history of Winnemucca, including the famed 1900 bank robbery by Butch Cassidy.
In true Western fashion, the city has turned that crime into a point of pride.
Be prepared—the story of the robbery grows into a taller tale with each telling.
Winnemucca is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with several parks and recreational areas nearby.
Visitors can go hiking, fishing, camping, or take a scenic drive through the nearby mountains.
The city is also home to the Winnemucca Events Complex, which hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including rodeos, concerts, and festivals.
Warnings & Dangers in Winnemucca
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with a growing crime rate that could change that rating somewhere down the road. However, there are so many things to do here for visitors that will keep you busy.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You'll need a car to get here unless you have a private plane to fly into the local airport. Taxis and rideshares will be available but limited. This is a *very small town of fewer than 9,000 people.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Cassidy's spirit lives on with seven purse snatchings in 2021. I know that's not "a lot," but compared to hundreds of other small towns I've reviewed in this country, it sure seems like a lot. Treat it with a medium risk, but also know that the thieves got away with about $75 per theft. That's the kind of "don't carry valuables around with you" that we like to see.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Bitter cold and intense heat flank the height of winter and summer. Severe thunderstorms are possible, and they can cause problems from flash flooding to wildfires. Dust storms and air quality concerns can happen. Winter storms can shut down roads in all directions. Nothing happens without warning, but you should never assume a desert will always be sunny and warm.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Robberies were up 300% in 2021, but that just means there were three robberies instead of one. The risk is low, but a few crime sprees in town make it important always to stay aware of your surroundings.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with no hard target nearby. The only concern would be Naval Air Station Fallon (home of the REAL Top Gun training), but that city is two hours away and comes with a heaping amount of Maverick security.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Utility scams are the biggest problems over the past few years, but those are targeted at residents. You can review the Humboldt County Sheriff and local police social media sites to see if any new scams arise.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This is another low-risk, but keep in mind how small the town is. Many of the fun things to do are in the wilderness, which brings its own safety concerns. Try to avoid doing any outdoor activities alone. Opt for a tour group if you can.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. If you have questions about how water is treated and what the standards are, call the EPA's s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
Safest Places to Visit in Winnemucca
Winnemucca.com is the tourism website for the city.
If you ever thought there can’t be much to do in a place like Winnemucca, this site will prove you wrong with every click.
Keep in mind the gambling and drinking age in Nevada is 21.
Kids are welcome anywhere in casino resorts except for the casino floor or bars.
You’ll truly appreciate the history here with a visit to the Humboldt County Museum.
Artifacts date back to the Ice Age, and the experience is housed in an old church with an expanded and modern museum attached.
Admission is free, but leave a donation if you enjoy your time here.
There are several Basque restaurants here, a remnant of the settlers who immigrated here a century or so ago.
If you like that experience, nearby Elko also has a rich Basque history.
I was today years old when I learn that Buckaroo isn’t just silly nickname dads give random people.
It’s actually another word for Cowboy, and the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in Winnemucca is where you can see the best Buckaroos of all-time.
Mining makes the economy thrive here, but it’s also a tourism branch.
The Great Basin of Nevada offers some of the best rockhounding and gem hunting you can find.
Opal is the gem of this land, and several mining operations allow you a different kind of gambling.
You pay an entrance fee and learn how to mine.
Then, you keep what you find.
Shops can also help you turn your gem into a piece of jewelry.
The great outdoors are even greater in this part of the high desert.
Activities range from speeding through sand dunes to climbing a mountain summit or scrambling through Water Canyon.
Fishing is popular at the Patch Eye Reservoir.
Check out the Bureau of Land Management website to explore all the options and safety guidance.
To prove that there IS (or WAS) something out in that barren desert, look for the list of ghost towns you can explore on the tourism website.
Places to Avoid in Winnemucca
You can’t really avoid part of town since it’s so small, but that’s a good thing because there aren’t dangerous neighborhoods anyway.
This is a real cowboy town with a Yellowstone vibe.
The rodeo brings in a lot of people, and those crowds can bring in more potential thieves.
Don’t let the charming ruggedness of this town make you feel immune from danger.
Prostitution is legal here, but most of the brothels have closed up.
There are laws about where they can be located, and it’s never going to be on the main road.
That said—if you ever feel like someone is very, if not uncomfortably, interested in you, it’s wise to assume that person is a prostitute.
As a former Nevadan, I’ve had several male friends I had to remove from a bar because they were being lured by a hooker.
You’ll also see brothel signs along the rural areas of I-80.
I was once terribly low on gas after wrongly assuming how far a 1/4 of a tank would get me.
I saw a sign on the horizon and knew I was in luck.
Turns out, it was the light of a brothel and still not a gas station in sight.
Prostitution is only legal in certain counties, and Humboldt is one of them.
There are specific laws for brothels, but it’s best to avoid them altogether.
If you’re looking for the one made famous by HBO, that’s far away, just outside Carson City.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Winnemucca
- Winnemucca has its own police force, and you can find them on Facebook @WinnemuccaPD. They do a great job of updating the website with criminal activity and safety advice.
- Marijuana is now legal in Nevada, but please read the laws before you think about taking part. You can’t just walk down the street smoking a joint or popping gummies. Even as a passenger in a car, you can still get in trouble for using it.
- Download the Stay Ready Humboldt County app to learn about emergency notifications and weather guidance. It’s important that you know the unique risks in this region.
- Nevada 511 is the app you need to check road conditions across the state. You can view live cameras, see traffic backups, or look for construction zones.
- Summer brings the Mormon crickets to Humboldt County, and I’m not sure if I can find the right words to tell you how annoying this is. Imagine a sea of crickets coming at you. They are most likely to be found in rural areas, but if you see them all over town, assume the wilderness areas are 10 times worse. They don’t bite or pose a health risk, but they can make it all but impossible to see out of your windshield if you run into a rampage of them.
- I can’t emphasize enough how blinding the desert sun can be. It’s best to plot your path to always have the sun at your back if you can. At the right (wrong?) angle, even sunglasses and sun visors won’t help.
- Spring can bring major floods as the snow melts from the mountains and works its way down to the lowest spot in the valley, which is Winnemucca. Never drive through a flooded roadway. The good thing about desert flooding is that it usually passes after a few hours.
- The city of Winnemucca has an app that gives you direct access to safety updates, different departments, and the police tipline.
- In early 2023, the city was having a problem with vandals damaging cars and property. The problems led to park curfews being put into effect. Always lock your car and don’t even leave anything inside. Take the rental paperwork with you, and don’t leave it in the glove box.
- Take any high wind warning seriously. The winds here are insane at times and can cause blinding dust on highways, blow over semi trucks, or make it really hard to keep control of a vehicle. There’s nothing wrong with wearing one of those leftover COVID masks if the dust is kicking up. It’s better than a mouthful of mud.
So... How Safe Is Winnemucca Really?
The real problem for Winnemucca is that crime rates are going in the wrong direction and have been for some time now.
Since 2011, every key category increased—most of them exponentially.
In 2011, the city had just nine violent crimes, but the spike in 2021 put the total at 48.
The small population of the town makes figuring out the average “per 100,000” with a greater margin of error.
It’s still 30% higher than the national rate at face value. 25% of the 2021 crimes happened against strangers.
Winnemucca isn’t the kind of town where police officers hold news conferences to address crime concerns, but after doing a deep dive into news articles, I can tell you that drugs and domestic issues fuel the fire.
I still can’t imagine Winnemucca could have seven purse snatchings in a year, but that means there are some really inattentive people or slick thieves.
It does feel somewhat poetic, considering this was the site of a notorious Butch Cassidy crew bank robbery in 1900.
Whether you’re staying a couple of days or deciding which city to stop in for the night on a long road trip, Winnemucca is a safe option.
You just need common sense, situational awareness, and a strong desire to stay out of trouble.
How Does Winnemucca Compare?
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- Visas - All international visitors need a passport and a visa or visa waiver. All that information is on the U.S. State Department website, which also has new information in 2023 to expedite the processes after a post-pandemic backlog.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Casinos will require you to use cash. They'll be happy to exchange currency, but you'll pay a mighty high fee. Opt to exchange your currency at home to get the best value.
- Weather - You'll get all four seasons here, but without humidity, the cold feels colder, and the heat feels hotter. Sunscreen and sunglasses are necessary. Cowboy boots are common, but at least wear comfortable shoes that can get dusty. Bring lotion since the arid climate can dry out your skin fast. The first month I lived in Nevada, I looked like a boxer because I had bloody knuckles all the time until I found the right lotion (I like Nivea, but that's just a personal opinion, not a sponsored post).
- Airports - The Reno Tahoe International Airport is 2.5 hours away and your best choice for more flight options. Elko's regional airport is two hours in the other direction but with a much more limited menu of flights.
- Travel Insurance - We recommend comprehensive travel insurance and make sure that comes with roadside assistance. The long stretch of interstate isn't a place you want to be stuck if you break down. Make sure you know how to call for help before you hit the road.
Winnemucca Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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