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Your Guidebook to Guide Signs

September 26, 2019

One of the most helpful types of highway signs for long distance travelers is the guide sign, which directs drivers to specific locations. This sign category includes signs that post mileage from upcoming intersections, towns and cities. Other types of signs that provide destination guidance may be less specific and contain arrows. Here are important facts to know about guide signs.

Mileage Information and Markers

Guide signs that contain specific mileage information of upcoming destinations have green backgrounds with white lettering. The shape is often rectangular but can take on other shapes as well. They may accompany mile markers, which are placed on the side of the road for reference. Other forms of guide signs include street signs, exit signs and rest area signs. They differ from route signs in the sense that route signs indicate federal, state, county or local highways. Interstate route signs use a shield symbol.

Lakes, Rivers and Streams

Natural landmarks are often highlighted by guide signs because they often represent either tourist destinations or reference points. Sacramento, California, for example, is the home of two rivers that converge in the Downtown area. Old Sacramento sits on the Sacramento River, which is the site of deep American history involving the Gold Rush and the First Transcontinental Railroad. Then there’s the American River, which is also connected with Gold Rush history, although its main popularity is for rafting and picnics. Folsom Lake is another local attraction due to its proximity to the famous Folsom Prison and one of America’s first power plants.

Several rivers and streams have interesting stories behind them, which can attract tourists from around the country. Every city and town has some type of mystique that revolves around the area’s history and scenery. Whether it’s a natural park or an amusement park, if it’s part of a region’s identity, guide signs are needed to direct tourists to the proper destinations.

Avoiding Confusion at Airports

Airports use guide signs to direct visitors to specific airlines and terminals. For people who are unfamiliar with an airport’s layout, guide signs help them find the correct place to drop off or pick up flight passengers. These signs are also useful for directing traffic to either short-term or long-term parking. Any facility as large as an airport needs guide signs to direct drivers to specific locations.

Helping the Local Economy

An important reason to post guide signs all over town is that they help promote the local economy. Any large community park that contains multiple forms of recreation, such as swimming pools and tennis courts, can help generate revenue for the local economy. Posting signs of places that bring the community together serves as a reminder that people have opportunities to interact with each other.

While many of these scenic attractions close at night, it’s still helpful for visitors coming into town at night to see these signs as references. For maximum night time visibility, it’s crucial to meet the MUTCD requirements for color, retroreflection and illumination. Not only must all messages have retroflective qualities, so must all backgrounds.


Guide signs are important to making travelers feel welcome and help them easily find their way around an area. They help drivers know where they are in relation to their destinations. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, Washington or California location to learn more about the how various road signs create better traffic conditions.

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