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Yakima is the agricultural heart of Washington state.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a nice, cold beer, you can thank Yakima as it produces the bulk of hops in the nation.
More than 1,000 varieties of fruit and vegetables are harvested here, and 90 of the farms are organic producers.
All that lends itself to a diverse community built around enjoying the literal fruits of labor.
There are U-Pick farms to choose your fruit of choice and you can tour some local farms to see how they work.
Across the Yakima Valley, another fruit brings in tourists—grapes.
Grapes that are turned into wine.
There are more than 120 winery locations throughout the region.
Nestled in the Yakima Valley, this city feels far away from the busy city life of Seattle, yet it’s only two hours away.
The Yakima River provides water adventures when the weather is warm enough.
Need a little more excitement?
The Yakima Valley has two casinos and six golf courses, while the White Pass Ski Resort is just an hour west.
Warnings & Dangers in Yakima
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in Yakima. The city has a history of its violent crime rate being above the national average. There's a gang problem in Yakima. The burglary rate is among the highest in the nation. When you dive deep into the crime data, many of these crimes are committed against victims who were known by the assailant. A much lower percentage was crimes against a stranger, but we'll dive deeper into that in a bit.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM
Yakima Transit provides transportation around town and offers a "Dial-A-Ride" for trips on demand. The state of Washington requires background checks for taxi drivers. Rideshares are also an option. Given the high crime rate in this area, we'll still give this a medium risk and recommend getting a rental car for your safety, even if just out of an overabundance of caution.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
There's medium risk. Crunching the FBI numbers from 2020, of the 2,308 larceny/theft crimes that happened, 43% of them were in places where a tourist might be, like a hotel, restaurant, sidewalk, or business. 48% were in homes.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk of a natural disaster in this area, but you might be surprised to find out there's a better chance for a volcano than an earthquake or tornado. Geological footprints show that even if there was a volcano at Mr. Adams, Mt. Ranier, or Mt. St. Helens, the biggest risk would be ash deposits. Yakima gets about 18 inches of snow and 73 days of rain a year, both much lower than the national average.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
While robberies against strangers only make up 14% of the robberies in the city, it's still a medium risk due to the potential of crime in this area.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's a low terrorism risk in this area. Gangs and violence in the community are the biggest concerns.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There were 14 reports of scams in 2020 in Yakima. There's a low risk overall, but scammers can be a little more brazen in this crime-ridden community. Keep your wits about you.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
A study in 2014 showed that 51% of people in Yakima didn't feel safe walking around at night. Those are the people who live there, so a tourist should be extra cautious before even thinking of walking around at night. 43% of victims of violent crime were women according to FBI statistics, so we're given this a medium risk during the day and a higher risk at night.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Yakima water safety scores 91/100 which means... excellent quality! There are no known health risks. You can drink tap water in Yakima with no worries.
Safest Places to Visit in Yakima
You’ll want to visit Yakima Valley’s wine country.
There are four main areas for wineries:
- Yakima Area
- Rattlesnake Hills
- Red Mountain
These wineries hold more than 17,000 acres of vineyards ripe for tasting options of all kinds of wine.
This is also a beer country with hops being produced for 70% of the nation.
They keep the best ones for themselves to fuel the craft beer scene that just keeps growing in Yakima.
Not only can you taste your way through the craft beers, but you can also tour the hops fields and get an up-close look at how they are grown.
There are 16 farms in this area where you can pick your fruits and vegetables.
The soil is rich in volcanic deposits and makes for a harvest you can’t find anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest.
Outdoor activities abound in this region where you can choose from hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, climbing, wildlife viewing, and water activities.
There are also many bicycling paths, each with its stunning view.
Places to Avoid in Yakima
Yakima is the epicenter of gang activity in Washington state, according to the Yakima Police Chief.
Crime maps show that gang activity can be found on the east, south, and north sides of town.
There are up to 750 gang members in a city of 94,000 residents.
You mustn’t engage in gang activity or with gang members.
Night hiking is a popular activity for those wanting to get a clear view of the night skies, but you need to make sure you’ve got the right safety equipment.
Even the warmest days can get chilly at night, so bring a sweatshirt or jacket and a blanket for stargazing comfort.
You’ll also need a flashlight or headlamp for each person on the hike.
The Washington Trails Association recommends using a red light to avoid bright, blinding lights on other hikers.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Yakima
- You might be tempted to bring back some of the fresh fruits from your visit to Yakima. Most solid food items can be carried on or checked, but confirm that at your departure airport before you pack.
- Get clear guidance from the carrier of your choice before shipping. If you want to mail fruit or vegetables, there are several limitations. The food must be dry and cannot be perishable before the arrival date. Packing has to be done in a specific way and you will need to declare what you are packing. Some states have strict limitations on fruit arriving from other states to prevent the spread of disease and fungus.
- Knowing Spanish might be beneficial in this community, as the Census Bureau shows half the population is Hispanic. While English is the primary language, there will be instances during a visit where knowing Spanish will come in handy.
- There are more than 300 days of sunshine here, so bring sunscreen. Yes, even in the winter. The sunny skies can cause sunburn or skin cancer risks. It’s worth lathering up with some SPF 30 before you go out for the day.
- The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office has a personal safety checklist on its website to make sure you are doing all you can to stay safe when visiting.
- There is a landslide happening in Yakima County. A portion of Rattlesnake Ridge is slowly sliding down the hillside. By “slowly”, we mean about 1.6 inches a week. This isn’t expected to cause any road blockages, but you just need to be aware of it in case you hear people talking about it. It’s by no means an imminent danger of destruction. The slide is expected to quarry itself eventually.
- Once you know the address of your hotel, you can sign up for ALERT YAKIMA. It is a county-wide system that will text and/or call alerts in case of a natural disaster or community emergency.
- Be sure to check the air quality reports daily during your visit. Smoke from wildfires in the state and surrounding states can send a plume of smoky air over the Yakima Valley. This can quickly impact air quality and outdoor activities.
- Don’t joke around near burial grounds and ask anyone in the tribal nation for permission before taking a picture. The Yakama Nation Museum on the tribal land is open almost every day of the year, barring holidays. Here you can learn about the Native American imprint on this region. It’s important to respect that you are in tribal land. This is a special, sacred part of history and you need to treat it with proper respect.
- The city (and county) are pronounced: “Yack-uh-maw”, not “Ya-KIMA” or any other variation. Also note, while the city/county name is Yakima, the tribal nation is Yakama. This spelling is the real name given during the treaty signing in 1855 but was changed along the way in 1994, it was voted to bring it back to its original spelling. It is still pronounced the same.
So... How Safe Is Yakima Really?
It’s not all that safe, but there’s not an imminent danger for the average person.
The majority of the crimes in Yakima included victims known to the assailant or criminal.
How at risk is a tourist in Yakima?
- Robberies – 28% against strangers
- Theft – 14% against strangers at a store
- Aggravated Assault – 8% against strangers
There’s still a high crime rate to worry about in general in Yakima.
You don’t want to wander around at night in strange neighborhoods.
You don’t want to go away from your tourist or business destination.
The small town perception of Yakima isn’t as quaint as it might seem in other American small towns.
This is one where you have to keep your guard up.
How Does Yakima Compare?
|La Paz (Bolivia)||52|
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)||45|
|Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)||43|
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)||63|
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)||61|
There's no special Visa for Washington state or Yakima. You'll take care of the Visa for United State entry at the airport or port of entry.
The population in Yakima is 50% Hispanic, but even if you are visiting relatives there from out of the country, you'll still need to use U.S. Dollar currency in Yakima and the surrounding areas.
Yakima experiences all four seasons. In the winter, temperatures get cold and can drop into the 20s. It averages about 23" of snow but surrounding areas at higher elevations can get more. Summers are mild with highs in the upper 80s' and lows in the 50s. You still want to bring a jacket in the summer for the cooler nights. It's a dry climate, so humidity isn't a big concern.
The Yakima airport is smaller, serving just 70,000 people a year, and is served by Alaska Airlines. Portland International Airport is three hours west of Yakima. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is 2:30 northwest, and that driving route goes over Snoqualmie Pass, which can be shut down during big winter storms.
Due to the weather hazards that can cut off eastern and western Washington state, it's a good idea to get travel insurance.
Yakima Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Washington - Safety by City