Like any major city, Las Vegas, Nevada has its issues with traffic congestion. Specific roads and areas of town can be problematic during certain times of the day. Having said that, Las Vegas traffic is nowhere near as bad as Los Angeles or other well-known problem traffic towns. So how bad is the traffic in Las Vegas?
You will spend less time sitting in traffic in Las Vegas than you will in many other large cities around the world. Las Vegas ranks 607th out of 979 global cities when it comes to traffic congestion. With the exceptions of rush hour and the Las Vegas Strip during the weekends, Las Vegas traffic is quite manageable.
Although the traffic here in Las Vegas isn’t as bad as some major cities, there are still some things you’ll want to know in order to avoid spending your time stuck in traffic.
Read on to find out what you need to know, plus a couple of tips and tricks that will help you to avoid the worst of the traffic in Las Vegas.
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Las Vegas Traffic Overall
In general, traffic in the Las Vegas Valley is pretty similar to any other metropolitan area. There are a lot of cars (most of them with a single passenger) heading in every direction at all hours of the day and night.
That being said, there are a few differences. With Las Vegas being a major tourist destination, there is a more steady flow of cars on the road at all hours of the day and night than in most other cities. This includes not only tourists but locals heading to and from work at odd hours.
Las Vegas also has a lot of drive-in visitors from nearby states which means that the number of vehicles in town ebbs and flows depending on what’s going on. Major trade shows, concerts, or sporting events throughout the year can bring a lot more traffic into the city, and weekends, on or near the Strip, are always more congested.
What Time is Rush Hour in Las Vegas?
Even though a lot of people in Las Vegas keep different hours (locals and tourists alike) we still have two extra busy times of the day usually referred to as rush hour. So what time is rush hour in Las Vegas?
Morning rush hour in Las Vegas runs from 7am – 9am, while evening rush hour is from 4pm – 6pm. At these times, you can expect both freeways and surface streets to have heavy traffic. On the weekends, rush hour on the Las Vegas Strip can last from midday until well into the night.
During the rush hour times, you can expect the I-15 freeway, which runs parallel to the Strip, to be anywhere from slow to stop and go. This is especially true in the areas where interstate 15 (I-15) connects to interstate 515 (I-515) (known as the Spaghetti Bowl) and interstate 215 (I-215).
The good news about traffic during rush hour in Las Vegas is that the problem areas aren’t very big. While it may slow you down considerably, slow or stop and go traffic in Vegas rarely lasts more that a few miles. Once you get through the trouble spot, you’re on your way again even if it remains crowded.
Besides the freeway rush hour trouble spots I outlined above, we should talk specifically about driving on the Strip.
Driving on the Strip in Vegas
Driving down Las Vegas Boulevard or the “Strip” as it’s called is either a whole lotta fun or an absolute nightmare. I think it really depends on your attitude more than anything else.
Driving down the Strip and checking out the sights, particularly in the evening, is something you’re definitely going to want to do if you’re in town in your own car or if you decided to rent a car.
(Check out our article about renting a car in Las Vegas here. It will help you decide if renting a car in Vegas is a good idea or not).
Driving down the Strip, however, can be slow going. Which if you’re trying to enjoy all the sights and sounds of Vegas isn’t so bad but if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere, it can be maddening.
The Strip itself is about 4 miles long and it can take you well over 30 minutes to drive one way when it’s busy. You can expect it to be busy on weekend days and evenings (Friday & Saturday). It can also be exceptionally busy if a large convention or event is going on in town during the week.
Busiest Streets in Las Vegas
When it comes to the busiest streets in Las Vegas, without a doubt one of them is the Las Vegas Strip. If there is another particularly busy street in Vegas it would have to be Tropicana Avenue.
Tropicana is busy as a whole but it is particularly busy at the intersection where it crosses Las Vegas Blvd. This intersection is the biggest and busiest in Las Vegas. It’s where thousands of pedestrians, cars, tourists, and locals cross paths trying to get to their hotel, job, or home.
The busiest part of Tropicana besides the intersection with the Strip is the two or three blocks of the road on either side of the blvd. In fact, to some degree, this is true of any major street that crosses Las Vegas Blvd. The good thing is that once you get a few blocks past the Strip in either direction things begin to clear up pretty quick.
Best Time to Drive Through Las Vegas
But what if you’re just trying to get through Las Vegas heading north or south on Interstate 15 without stopping (what are you thinking?!!)? What’s the best time to drive through Vegas without hitting too much traffic?
Avoiding the rush hour times of 7-9am and 4-6pm, anytime during the week is a pretty good time to drive through Las Vegas on the I-15. It’s a good idea to avoid driving through Las Vegas on the weekends. Especially on Friday’s and Sunday’s when visitor traffic is heaviest.
Without a doubt, the worst traffic in and out of Las Vegas happens on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. On Friday, everyone is trying to get into town and the I-15 can be backed up for miles. The same can be said for Sunday mornings after tourists check out of their hotels are are heading back home.
If the traditional weekend is the only time you can come to Vegas then you gotta do what you gotta do but if there is a way to schedule your drive in an out of Las Vegas on days other than Friday or Sunday, you should really consider doing just that.
Tips for Avoiding Traffic in Las Vegas
Fortunately, I have a few tips and tricks for avoiding the worst of the traffic in Las Vegas.
First, if you’re trying to get somewhere on the Strip and don’t want to see the sights or experience a slow, long drive, you can get a couple of blocks away from the Strip and take one of the many streets that run parallel to Las Vegas Blvd. Traffic will move much quicker on those roads.
Second, start early. Yeah, yeah, I know…you don’t want to get up. But neither does anyone else. And I’m not talking the crack of dawn early. I just find that driving around Vegas anytime after 8:30am and before noon helps to eliminate a lot of the traffic.
Third, if you need to drive across town and it’s not out of your way, try taking Desert Inn road. It’s not accessible from Las Vegas Blvd. which is what makes it so great. It doesn’t cross the Strip, it goes underneath it, thereby eliminating all of the traffic congestion which happens for a few blocks on either side of the Strip. It can help make for a quicker trip.
And finally, conventional wisdom states, if at all possible, don’t come into Las Vegas on a Friday and don’t leave Las Vegas on a Sunday. This is true whether your driving or flying. These are the busiest times to be trying to get in or out of Las Vegas.
Traffic in Las Vegas isn’t all that bad when compared to some other major metropolitan areas, however, it’s always best to avoid driving at times you know it’s going to be busy.
By scheduling your driving trips at off-peak times you can avoid spending too much of your day sitting in traffic when you should be having fun!