A common problem for new drivers is their parents have chauffeured them around for the last ten years, so they spend all the car time staring at their phones, I-pads, or game machines. Young people used to ride bicycles everywhere and learn about their streets, which is uncommon in Las Vegas. Some have literally never noticed a street sign and have no idea where they live.

Giving clear, concise directions to your home is a vital adult skill, like sending texts or writing checks. You may think you can rely on your trusty GPS or phone to lead you around, but those devices, while useful, still have limitations. Your GPS will happily take you to:

  1. A street closed for construction or maintenance.
  2. A gate requiring an access code.
  3. The freeway at 8 AM, which is now a parking lot.
  4. A street that no longer exists

Devices may also run down, or the street is too new to be included. Perhaps you cannot get satellite reception. Sorry, but you must know your streets, & directions, think for yourself, and make the final decision.


The signs are designed to tell you the street names, what direction you are headed, and the block numbers. If the example sign is on your right, you are entering the 5600 block of North Durango.  You must be on an East or West cross street if it is above or facing you. Check your car’s compass just to be sure. If you wanted 4650 North Durango…you have gone too far.

Green & white signs mean you are in Las Vegas; blue & white signs mean you are in North Las Vegas. They are distinct cities yet run together. Brown signs mean you are on private property, not maintained by a city.

Vegas is laid out in a grid, with most streets meeting at 90-degree intersections.  They run North–South or East–West, and most do not change names.  Tropicana is Tropicana from 10000 West to 10000 East.  Rainbow is Rainbow from 10000 North to 10000 South. This greatly simplifies navigation.  A notable exception is Rancho Road, which runs diagonally from Northwest to Southeast.

Back East, in older cities like Boston, this is not true.  These cities just grew at random rather than being planned. So a street might 4 different names in just 3 miles.

Streets end in abbreviations:  Street – St.,  Boulevard – Blvd., Avenue – Ave, Lane – Ln, Road – Rd and Court – Ct.   So Cimmarron Ln is a different street from Cimarron Rd, but probably nearby.


Major North – South Streets

Fort Apache/Rampart, Durango, Rainbow, Jones, Decatur, Valley View, Maryland Parkway, Eastern, Pecos, Lamb, & Nellis

Major East-West Streets 

Ann, Craig, Alexander, Gowan, Cheyenne, Lake Mead, Charleston, Sahara, Spring Moutain, Flamingo, Tropicana, & Russell


To really learn the roads, you must first turn off your phone when a passenger (gasp!) and watch the signs.  Have your parents quiz you on what road you are on and in what direction you are traveling.  The correct answer is never: “straight.”

You must also buy a primitive visual aid called a map at your corner convenience store (or free from AAA). This “map” device folds out to show the entire city in colors with letters across the top and numbers down the side to locate streets. No batteries are required!   Do this at home, not while driving!

Next, highlight the following locations: your house, UNLV, McCarran Airport, Nellis AFB, the Stratosphere Tower, and your school.  Then, figure out how to get to these locations from your home using both the freeways and surface streets.  This will quickly build a mental map of your city and help you stay on course.

Drive safely, and happy motoring!

Author Image
Master Instructor / General Manager

Read More