Denver is a beautiful city silhouetted against the dramatic Rocky Mountains. But with the pandemic and rapid population growth, many people are wondering “is Denver safe to visit?”.
It’s true that the crime rate in Denver has increased in recent years, with both property crime and violent crime above the national average in America. However, those crimes tend to be concentrated in certain neighborhoods that can be avoided by travelers.
I’m a Colorado local who’s here to help you avoid high crime areas, find the safest places to stay in Denver, and plan an enjoyable trip.
Let’s dive in!
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Is Denver Safe?
Denver is a generally safe location for travel, although travelers should be aware of somehwat elevated risks of car theft and property crime. In 2021, Denver had the highest number of car thefts per 100,000 residents among seventeen major cities.
When it comes to pandemic safety, Denver has a higher-than-average number of residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and Colorado has one of the lowest death rates from the pandemic.
Weather-wise, areas near Denver International Airport can be affected by tornadoes, but those are rare. In winter, snow – especially blowing snow – can make driving a challenge. Air travel can be affected by snowstorms in winter and spring. In fact, Denver International Airport is one of the airports with the most flight delays in America.
Things to Know About Safety in Denver
Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in Denver
If you’re looking for safe neighborhoods in Denver, then Washington Park West is a great area with lower violent crime statistics. Plus, it’s close to some of the best outdoor attractions in Denver.
North Park Hill and Cherry Creek are other safe areas featuring great places to stay in Denver.
If you’re up for staying outside of the core, then Cherry Hills Village is a very safe suburban neighborhood about 20 minutes south of Denver that is one of the safest areas in all of Colorado.
Castle Rock is also a safe area with low rates of violent crime. It’s directly between Denver and Colorado Springs, so you’ll have a good spot for visiting both cities. Centennial is another suburban location that’s about a 25-minute drive to downtown Denver and nearby hiking trails, Red Rocks, and other things to do near Denver.
Covid-19 Safety in Denver
Denver has an above-average percentage of people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Because Colorado has such a variation in populations and a mix of urban, rural, and other areas, the governor has tended to rely on local leaders to determine restrictions for each city or area.
Denver’s mayor lifted the mask mandate in February of 2022, although the city still recommends masks for unvaccinated and immunocompromised people.
Transmission changes frequently, and the situation may be different by the time you read this article. This graphic from Covid Act Now automatically updates to summarize the current covid-19 safety situation in Denver, Colorado:
Crime in Denver
Crime in Denver is up in 2022 over the same time period last year. According to experts, property crimes including “porch pirates” and car thefts are especially up over the last year. Violent crime in Denver affected an average of 8.6 people out of 1,000 while property crime averaged 46.5 out of 1,000 people.
Common Scams in Denver
There are a few scams in Denver, and most of them prey on residents rather than tourists. The Denver District Attorney maintains a scam spotter that you can consult on current scam threats.
Although you’re not likely to be a scam victim, be on the lookout for common travel scams, especially those involving websites for fake businesses, just in case. Those include:
🚗 Rental Car Scams – In this scam, fake car rental websites are set up online. Travelers are then directed to call a fake number on the site, and to prepay for their rental using a store-bought gift card (always a red flag). When travelers arrive at their destination, they discover they did not make a valid reservation.
One way to avoid this scam is to book with a well-known rental company or a site like Discover Cars, which includes customer reviews for different agencies.
🏠 Rental Home Scams – Rental home scams have been known to happen in Denver, including ones in which homes or condos are grossly misrepresented or simply don’t exist. If you’re renting a vacation home, then check the policies of the platform you’re using to make sure you’re protected against fraud. You may also want to check their payment policies so you’re protected when you pay as well.
✈️ Airline Scams – Like the above, there are fake airline ticket booking sites that claim to book your tickets and do not deliver them. Be sure to use a reputable site like Expedia or Trip Advisor, or book directly with the airline.
Hazardous Weather and Natural Disasters
Extreme weather is a fact of Denver.
People traveling to Denver can experience hazardous weather and natural disasters, depending on the season. In fact, the same things drawing travelers to Denver – wonderful Colorado mountain skiing, majestic mountains for hiking and biking – can cause travel headaches or worse if you’re not prepared.
Here are a few things to know about Denver’s weather risks:
❄️ Snowstorms: The same snow that attracts lots of visitors to Colorado’s winter playground can cause a whole lot of headaches. One of the biggest challenges for winter travelers is getting from Denver International Airport up I-70 to ski resorts in winter. Be sure to check travel advisories and real-time traffic reports or apps before you begin your drive.
Make sure you have warm clothes including a jacket, hat, and snow boots in your car. You’ll also want water and snacks. It is possible to get snow every month of the year in the Colorado mountains, so bring a warm jacket even in summer.
Fortunately, winter snowstorms in Colorado don’t usually last long. If you have a flexible schedule, you may save yourself a lot of grief by simply waiting a day if it’s snowing heavily.
⛈️ Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms often occur in late spring and early summer. They can hit at any time, but if you’re hiking – and especially if you plan to hike a 14er – you’ll want to do that in the morning and summit by 11 a.m. or noon. In fact, it’s not unusual for summer hikers to start a 14er hike at 4 or 5 a.m.
If you do get caught in a thunderstorm, seek shelter indoors or in an enclosed vehicle immediately and wait it out.
🌧️ Hail: Often hail can accompany thunderstorms. If possible, especially in spring and summer, try to park your vehicle under a cover to avoid hail damage. Seek shelter to protect yourself if there is a hailstorm.
🌪️ Tornadoes: Although Colorado is the proud home of the most tornado-prone county in the country, it is very unusual for tornadoes to hit Denver. However, every once in a great while, they come close. If you are in an area under a tornado warning, seek shelter on the lowest level – ideally a basement – or in an inside room without windows.
🔥 Wildfires: Colorado has seen several devastating wildfires in recent years. If you plan to camp or hike in wilderness areas, be aware of weather conditions, especially if it will be hot or windy. Know the fire bans that are in place, and always make sure to fully extinguish campfires and practice fire safety.
Is the Tap Water Safe to Drink in Denver?
Denver tap water is safe to drink. Denver’s water really does come from snowmelt collected in reservoirs and streams. It is then treated to meet Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Health standards.
👉 Read Next: Is Colorado Safe?
5 Safety Tips for Denver
Tip #1 – Be Flexible with Winter Travel
One reason residents love Colorado is that snowstorms move in – and out – pretty quickly, leaving gorgeous sunny days in their wake. If you are planning to drive to the mountains during a snowstorm, then you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble and have safer road conditions if you can wait for the storm to clear.
Usually, it isn’t even a long wait – less than 24 hours can often make the difference between a miserable drive and a pleasant one.
Tip #2 – Be Aware of Your Surroundings
If you’re out and about in downtown Denver, then protect yourself from violent crime and be aware of people nearby. At night, keep to well-lighted and well-populated areas. At all times, keep an eye on your belongings and, if possible, walk with another person or in a group.
Tip #3 – Lock Car Doors
Car theft and property crime are high in Denver. If possible, park in lots or garages with security. Be sure to lock doors and don’t leave valuables in the car.
If you’re going hiking outside the city, it’s easy to get lulled into a sense of safety among the beautiful scenery. Continue to lock your car doors and don’t leave valuables in the car! I once got a warning from the Sheriffs’ Department on my windshield, alerting me to the possibility of theft when I accidentally left my wallet in plain view while on a hike.
Tip #4 – Don’t Walk Alone at Night
If you plan to be out late at a bar, are taking in a show, or are enjoying one of the many other things to do in Denver after dark, it’s best to call a rideshare service instead of walking. If you do walk, protect yourself against violent crime by avoiding alleys and poorly lit streets and try to stay with a group or in the vicinity of others.
Tip #5: Be Ready for High Elevations
Since Denver is a mile above sea level, it can be a challenge for some travelers who aren’t used to the high altitude life. Be sure to drink plenty of water and bring a refillable water bottle along with you during the day. Wear plenty of sunscreen, year-round.
If you’re planning to do some physical activity like hiking, skiing, or biking, it can be helpful to give yourself a day to acclimate to the altitude. Take it easy, and check out one of Denver’s museums or other attractions before trying more strenuous activities.
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FAQs About Denver Safety
What are the safest parts of Denver?
Cherry Creek is one of the safest neighborhoods in Denver. North Park Hill and Washington Park West are other neighborhoods in Denver with lower crime rates. If you’re wondering “Is downtown Denver safe?” – you likely won’t have any problems going out to dinner, to a bar or club, or to see a show as long as you stay in well-lighted areas and travel with a group.
Does Denver have a high crime rate?
Denver’s violent crime rate was higher than the national average in 2020. The property crime rate was above average as well.
Denver also had a higher crime rate in 2020 than any time in the city since the mid-90s.
What are the most dangerous parts of Denver?
Civic Center and Union Station are dangerous parts of Denver. Union Station is unusual in that the front area includes an upscale hotel, boutique shops, and beautiful, historic benches in the train station. The bus station next to the train, however, has seen an increase in the crime rate, which local law enforcement is working to lower. Five Points also reports a high number of violent crimes in the area.
Capitol Hill is a part of Denver that’s full of fun bars and restaurants. However, Capitol Hill is about double the national average for crimes like aggravated assault and murder and has more than 2 ½ times as many car thefts as the national average.
Thanks for reading my guide to safety in Denver! Denver crime rates, especially its violent crime rates, aren’t necessarily an indicator that it’s an unsafe destination for tourists. While you’re here, be sure to check out this extensive list of tips for visiting Denver!
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