Is Colorado Safe to Travel in 2023? (A Local’s Perspective)
Colorado cities have seen a big influx of people over the past decade. This leaves many travelers wondering, is Colorado safe?
It is true that crimes in the state have increased, and both property crime and violent crime rates are above the national average in Colorado. However, visitors can avoid high-crime areas and practice basic safety tips to lessen their chances of being a victim of crime.
I’m a Colorado local who can ease your worry and help you find the best places to stay in Colorado for a wonderful trip!
Table of Contents
- Is Colorado Safe?
- Things to Know About Safety in Colorado
- 5 Safety Tips for Colorado
- FAQs About Colorado Safety
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Is Colorado Safe?
In most respects, Colorado is a safe destination to travel to. Visitors should be aware of higher property crime rates and note that violent crime in Colorado is above the national average crime rate. But travelers can reduce their risk of being a victim of crimes by locking doors and avoiding dangerous areas.
Colorado has the third-highest property crime rate in the country and is at the top of the list for motor vehicle theft. To help prevent property crime, travelers should lock car and hotel room doors.
As for COVID-19 safety, there is a higher-than-average number of Colorado residents who are fully vaccinated. The state has a lower-than-average death rate from the disease.
The eastern plains of Colorado can have tornadoes, and lightning can pose a risk during thunderstorms. During those storms, hail can also cause serious damage. In winter, blowing snow can make it hard to see while driving.
Things to Know About Safety in Colorado
Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in Colorado
Many of Colorado’s safest places are small towns in Colorado. Urban areas where more people live also tend to be more dangerous areas. Areas with lots of people moving through in one day, like airports and urban pedestrian malls also have higher crime rates.
Brush, Colorado, on the eastern plains, tops the list of safest cities in the state. Denver, Colorado Springs, and Grand Junction – some of the areas with the biggest populations – are listed among the least safe. Castle Rock is one of the more populous spots that still has a relatively low crime rate.
👉 Pro Tip: If you’d like to know more about safe areas to visit, check out my guide “Is Denver Safe?” with tips on safely visiting there.
Covid-19 Safety in Colorado
Compared to the rest of the United States, Colorado has an above-average number of residents who are COVID-19 vaccinated. The state is also on the lower end of death rates from the pandemic.
The COVID-situation is constantly changing, so reference the below chart from Covid Act Now, which automatically updates with the latest pandemic statistics for Colorado:
Colorado residents live in a mix of rural areas, small towns, and urban cities. Because of these factors, the governor has tended to allow local leaders to determine mask mandates and restrictions in an area.
Crime in Colorado
Colorado has seen a rise in crimes recently, and has seen a particular surge in property crime rates. In fact, Colorado is the third-highest in property crime in the nation. Colorado also experienced a rise in violent crime over the past year.
As with any travel, be sure to use common safety practices while visiting Colorado. Tell a friend or family member where you will be, avoid being alone at night in poorly lit areas, and try to stay with a group. Don’t show large amounts of cash when buying things. Lock vehicles and hotel rooms to avoid property crime, and don’t leave valuables in plain view inside a vehicle.
Common Scams in Colorado
The Colorado Attorney General keeps a list of common scams on their website. Many scams in the state are targeted towards residents, rather than tourists, but it’s always best to be aware of common travel scams.
🚗 Rental Car Scams – On fake car rental websites, customers are told to call a number and prepay for a rental car with a store-bought gift card. Be sure to book your rental car with a reputable agency, or use a company like Discover Cars.
🏠 Rental Home Scams – The rental home you select may be falsely represented, or in extreme cases, may not even exist. Check the policies of the rental platform you’re using to see how they vet rentals and if they protect against fraudulent descriptions.
✈️ Airline Scams – Just as with the fake rental car scams, there are fake airline booking websites. These promise to book your plane tickets but take the money. Use a reputable booking site like Expedia or Trip Advisor to plan your trip, or call an airline directly.
Hazardous Weather and Natural Disasters
Visitors to Colorado should be prepared for a variety of weather while they’re here! In fact, crazy weather is just a fact of Colorado.
Depending on when you visit and where you visit, you may encounter hazardous weather or natural disasters. Here are some of the weather dangers you may find on a trip:
❄️ Snowstorms: With winter sports and epic ski resorts, Colorado is a wonderful place to visit during snowy months. However, that glorious powder can be a pain when you’re actually trying to travel. If you’re landing at DIA, be sure to check travel advisories and real-time traffic reports before starting a drive. Have a warm jacket and other winter gear handy. Bring water and snacks in case of an unexpected traffic jam. Snowstorms don’t usually last long, and if you can wait one out, you may save yourself a big headache.
⛈️ Thunderstorms: One of the best seasons to visit Colorado also happens to be peak thunderstorm season. Colorado gets thunderstorms in late spring and early summer. Hikers will want to plan on treks in the morning, especially if taking an extreme hike. You’ll want to leave before it’s even light out and summit by 11 a.m. or noon when hiking one of Colorado’s 14ers.
If you are surprised by a thunderstorm, get to lower ground or find shelter inside or in a vehicle.
🌧️ Hail: Hail is one of the most expensive natural disasters in Colorado. You may want covered parking, especially if you’re leaving a vehicle for several days. If you get caught in a hailstorm, seek shelter and protect your head.
🌪️ Tornadoes: Weld County, Colorado is the most tornado-prone county in the country.
If you get a tornado warning, seek shelter on the lowest level, ideally a basement. If you don’t have a basement, find an inside room with no windows.
🔥 Wildfires: Colorado has experienced several severe wildfires in recent years. These include the heartbreaking Marshall Fire which burned 1,084 homes in Boulder County just after Christmas in 2021.
If you plan to camp or hike, please be aware of the weather conditions. Check on any fire bans, be sure fires are completely out before leaving a campsite (even a developed one with a fire pit), and practice fire safety.
Drinking Water Safety
Tap water in Colorado is almost always safe to drink. Denver’s water proudly comes from local snowmelt, which is treated to meet EPA and Colorado Department of Health regulations.
If you plan on backcountry camping and drinking from natural sources, you’ll want tablets or other methods for purifying your water. However, water at drinking fountains, campground taps, or home and hotel sinks is generally safe to drink.
5 Safety Tips for Colorado
Tip #1: Take Time to Acclimate
A big hazard for travelers who aren’t used to Colorado’s elevation is altitude sickness. It’s wise to plan a day or two of light activity after arriving but before any strenuous exercise like skiing or serious hiking. Drink plenty of water, listen to your body, and rest when you need to.
Tip #2 – Be Flexible With Outdoor Plans
Snowstorms and thunderstorms tend to move in and out of areas quickly. However, both types of storms can lead to traffic headaches or worse. If you can wait out snowy weather before driving, you’ll have a safer, more pleasant experience. If thunder and lightning are predicted, highly consider postponing your hike.
Tip #3 – Lock Car Doors And Hotel Rooms
Colorado is above the national average when it comes to property crime rates, especially theft. When you can, park your car in a garage or lot with security. Don’t leave valuables in your car, and be sure to lock all doors, even when hiking or in more rural areas.
👉 Read Next: Top Hotels in Denver, Colorado
Tip #4 – Be Aware of Your Surroundings
As with any place you travel, be aware of your surroundings. Try to stay in well-populated, well-lit areas. If possible, stick with another person or in a group.
If you’re camping or hiking, this includes being aware of wild animals! Use this literal rule of thumb for watching or photographing animals in the wild – stretch out your arm and give a “thumbs up.” If your thumb does not cover the entire animal, you’re too close.
🏕️ Read Next: Best Places to Go Camping in Colorado
Tip #5 – Don’t Walk Alone At Night
If you’re headed out on the town in Denver, Boulder, or one of the other big cities in the state, consider calling a rideshare if you’re alone. If you do decide to walk, avoid poorly lit areas and stay near more crowded areas.
FAQs About Colorado Safety
What is the safest place in Colorado?
The safest place in Colorado is the town of Brush, on the eastern plains. Brush has a small population and topped the list of safest cities in the Centennial State in 2022. The safest urban area in the state is Cherry Hills Village, one of the most upscale neighborhoods in Denver.
Does Colorado have crime?
Colorado does have crime. Colorado has the third-highest property crime rate in the United States. Colorado’s violent crimes are also slightly above the national average. Visitors to Colorado can help avoid property crime by securing valuables and locking car and hotel doors. They can lower their risk of violent crimes by staying in well-lit areas and traveling in a group.
What cities have the most crime in Colorado?
Sheridan, Pueblo, and Denver – cities with the highest population – have the most crime in Colorado in 2022. These places were at the bottom of the list of safest cities in the state for that year.
Is Denver a safe city?
Denver is generally a safe city, although it has a higher percentage of car thefts, property crime rates, and other crimes than most large areas. Violent crimes are concentrated mostly in specific neighborhoods. If travelers are cautious and avoid high-crime areas in the city, they can reduce their risk of becoming a victim.
Keep in mind that the crime rates, especially for violent crime, aren’t always a good indication of unsafe areas for visitors. This is because many of these crimes occur between people who already know each other. Property crime statistics can also include porch pirates and other home crimes that also don’t affect travelers.
If you were wondering “is Colorado safe?”, hopefully, this guide has helped you determine where to stay when visiting. While you’re here, be sure to check out our Ultimate Travel Guide for Colorado!
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