Discover the 15 Most Dangerous Places in Montana

Written by Clemence-Maureen Feniou
Updated: November 1, 2023
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Montana, often called “The Treasure State” for its breathtaking natural beauty and abundant resources, is known for its wide-open spaces and outdoor recreational opportunities. Montana is the fourth largest state by area but only the 44th by population. But even with its low population, some cities have higher crime rates than others.

Updated information on Billings for the first half of 2023 shows that 471 violent crimes and 1,995 property crimes have been committed. 

To delve into the most dangerous cities in Montana, we will use data from a 2019 FBI report on offenses known to local enforcement in the state. The ranking is determined thanks to the violent crime rate (including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) per 1,000 people.

To calculate the rate, we divided the number of violent crimes by the city population and multiplied it by 1,000 to get to the violent crime rate.

1. Cut Bank

The town of Cut Bank in the state of Montana.

This city’s name comes from the nearby tributary called Cut Bank Creek.

©Royalbroil / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

  • Violent crime rate: 11.8 per 1,000 people

Cut Bank is located in northern Montana, only 30 miles from the Canadian border. The town was built in 1891 with the arrival of the Great Northern Railway.

With a population of only 3,038, Cut Bank is one of the most dangerous places in Montana. In 2019, the latest data available counted 36 violent crimes and 114 property crimes.

2. Wolf Point

A sign reads "Welcome to Wolf Point" with an american flag in the background

Wolf Point is home to the oldest rodeo in Montana, the famous “Wild

Horse

” Stampede since 1915.

©Royalbroil / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

  • Violent crime rate: 9.4 per 1,000 people

If you are a rodeo fan, you might have heard of Wolf Point before. Located in the northeastern part of Montana, Wolf Point has a population of 2,761 people and is the largest community on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. But this little rodeo town also suffers from crimes all year round.

Wolf Point had 26 violent crimes in 2019. Additionally, 54 property crimes happened that same year.

3. Ronan City

Destination scenic view over grasslands and out toward distant snow clad mountains of Bison Range Reserve on Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana

Ronan City is part of the Flathead Indian Reservation, which was created through the Treaty of Hellgate on July 16, 1855.

©Florence-Joseph McGinn/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 9 per 1,000 people

Nestled in the northwest region of Montana within the Flathead Indian Reservation, Ronan is a small city of only 2,113 people. This city is part of a rich agricultural area and remains a trade center for the region’s farmers.

But even with a low population, the small town suffers from crime. In 2019, Ronan City had 50 property crimes and 19 violent crimes.

4. Billings

The skyline of Billings, Montana.

Billings gained the nickname “Magic City” due to its rapid growth since its establishment as a railroad town in 1882.

©David Harmantas/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 6.1 per 1,000 people

As Montana’s largest city, Billings serves as the state’s economic hub. With a population of 110,198, this city faces various crime-related challenges, including violent and property crimes. In 2019, 672 violent crimes happened in Billings. Those included 75 rapes, the most in the state (along with Missoula). 

But Billings does not only suffer from violent crimes. According to the same data, there were 4,499 property crimes, the highest in Montana.

5. Helena

Drone view of the Montana State Capitol, in Helena, on a sunny afternoon with hazy sky caused by wildfires. The Montana State Capitol houses the Montana State Legislature.

Montana’s capital city Helena was founded as a gold camp during the Montana gold rush in the late 19th century.

©Mihai_Andritoiu/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 5.8 per 1,000 people

Helena is nestled in the western part of the state, halfway between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park.

Helena is also Montana’s capital city. Its 32,806 inhabitants benefit from a strong law enforcement presence and active community involvement, maintaining its safety. In 2019, 190 violent crimes happened, as well as 1,400 property crimes. 

6. West Yellowstone

Aerial View of the Tourist Mecca of West Yellowstone which directly borders the Western Entrance of the National Park

West Yellowstone is a getaway to the Yellowstone National Park. It is located just next to the park’s western entrance.

©Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 5.7 per 1,000 people

In the southern part of Montana is the city of West Yellowstone. This small town is only a few miles from Wyoming and the renowned Yellowstone National Park.

With only 1,396 inhabitants, West Yellowstone had eight violent and 25 property crimes in 2019, ranking the town as the 6th most dangerous in Montana.

7. East Helena

Overlooking downtown Helena, Montana with clouds in the sky

Downtown Helena is a ten-minute drive from East Helena.

©Hope Dorman/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 5.2 per 1,000 people

East Helena is approximately five miles east of downtown Helena, Montana’s capital city. This residential city has a population of 2,098.

But, like its neighbor Helena, it still undergoes criminal activities. In 2019, there were 11 violent crimes and 55 property crimes. 

8. Great Falls

City lights of Great Falls, Montana over the Missouri River.

Great Falls is a popular tourist destination in Montana. Each year, it welcomes around one million overnight visitors.

©The Adaptive/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 5.2 per 1,000 people

Situated along the Missouri River, Great Falls offers stunning river views and proximity to outdoor activities. But Montana’s third largest city by population also contends with violent and property crimes.

Great Falls is home to 58,637 inhabitants, and in 2019, there were 302 violent crimes. Additionally, 3,405 property crimes were reported — the second highest behind Billings.

9. Polson

Polson Montana on a sunny day

Polson takes its name after pioneer rancher David Polson.

©Janelle Garcia Photograph/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 5.1 per 1,000 people

Nestled along the shores of Flathead Lake, Polson is a city in the Flathead Indian Reservation. This lakeside town is one of the best areas in the state for farming and is a prime region for cherry growing.

Home to 5,075 inhabitants, Polson mostly suffers from property crimes, with 197 in 2019. Additionally, there were 26 violent crimes.

10. Sidney

Wheat fields and grain elevator in Sidney, Montana during a rain storm on a summer day.

The access to the Yellowstone River grants fertile areas for farming around Sidney.

©David Harmantas/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 4.7 per 1,000 people

Sidney is located on the east side of Montana, along the Yellowstone River, and less than ten miles west of the North Dakota border. 

With a population of 6,376 people, Sidney had 30 violent crimes and 76 property crimes in 2019. 

11. Stevensville

Black angus cattle graze in pasture at Fort Owen State Park in Stevensville, USA

The city of Stevensville has over forty properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

©Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 4.4 per 1,000 people

Stevensville is a small town on the western side of Montana, only a few miles away from Idaho. This city is recognized as Montana’s first permanent settlement of non-indigenous people.

With only 2,051 inhabitants, Stevensville had nine violent and 24 property crimes in 2019.

12. Glasgow

Trees in the streets of Glasgow, Montana

Glasgow is the most populous city for more than 110 miles (177 kilometers), making it a major economic hub for a broad region in northeastern Montana.

©Beets Productions/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 4.2 per 1,000 people

Nestled in northeastern Montana, Glasgow lies along the Milk River and has 3,334 inhabitants. Despite its low population, Glasgow counted 14 violent crimes and 35 property crimes in 2019.

13. Kalispell

Aerial view of some beautiful landscape around Kalispell country side.

Kalispell is a Salish word that means “flat land above the lake.”

©Kit Leong/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 4.1 per 1,000 people

Located in the scenic Flathead Valley of northwest Montana, Kalispell attracts tourists and outdoor enthusiasts with its stunning landscapes and recreational opportunities. However, the city’s popularity also brings challenges related to tourism-related crime, such as theft and fraud.

Home to 24,473 inhabitants, Kalispell is not immune to crime. In 2019, there were 102 violent crimes and 821 property crimes.

14. Laurel

Buildings in a street in Laurel, MT.

Settlers started making their homes in Laurel’s vicinity in 1879.

©Jon Roanhaus / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

  • Violent crime rate: 4.1 per 1,000 people

In the southern part of the state, Laurel is home to 6,768 inhabitants and is the third-largest community in Billings Metropolitan Statistical Area. In 2019, this city had 28 violent and 177 property crimes.

15. Missoula

View of Missoula from Mount Sentinel, in Missoula.

The 1992 movie

A River Runs Through It

made Missoula famous for its world-class trout fishing.

©Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com

  • Violent crime rate: 4.1 per 1,000 people

Missoula, nestled in the scenic heart of western Montana, is renowned for its natural beauty and vibrant arts scene. With a population of 75,422 people, the city faces challenges like high theft rates, property crime, and violent crime. These can partly be attributed to its status as a college town (University of Montana).

In 2019, 310 violent crimes were reported. Additionally, 3,082 property crimes happened in Missoula.

Billings’s Newest Crime Data in 2023

Zimmerman trail as it winds up the rim rocks on the West end of Billings, Montana.

Billings is the most populous city in Montana but also one of the most dangerous.

©Gary C. Tognoni/Shutterstock.com

New criminal data is available for the city of Billings from January 2023 to June 2023. For the first half of the year, 471 violent crimes and 1,995 property crimes have been committed in Billings. 

The latest population estimates date from 2022, with a count of 117,866 people. This 2023 data then translates to a 4.0 violent crime rate per 1,000 people. This crime rate will eventually evolve once data is available for the entire year.

Summary of the 15 Most Dangerous Places in Montana

RankCity NameViolent Crime Rate per 1,000 people
1Cut Bank11.8
2Wolf Point9.4
3Ronan City9
4Billings6.1
5Helena5.8
6West Yellowstone5.7
7East Helena5.2
8Great Falls5.2
9Polson5.1
10Sidney4.7
11Stevensville4.4
12Glasgow4.2
13Kalispell4.1
14Laurel4.1
15Missoula4.1
Summary Table of the 15 Most Dangerous Places in Montana

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jeremy Janus/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Clémence-Maureen is a writer at A-Z animals primarily covering geography, locations and travel. She holds a Master of Science in Journalism from the University of Southern California, which she earned in 2023. A resident of Hawai'i, Clémence-Maureen enjoys hiking, surfind and volunteering in taro farms.

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