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Travel Notes: North America: USA: National Scenic Byways

United States of America

Short URL: https://tnot.es/Scenic

Established by Congress in 1991, to preserve and protect the nation's scenic but often less-travelled roads and promote tourism and economic development along them.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recognises National Scenic Byways for their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and/or scenic qualities.

The program is administered by the Federal Highway Administration.

All-American Roads


The most scenic roads in the program are classified as All-American Roads; which means that they have unique features and are scenic enough to be tourist destinations in their own right.

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Acadia Byway


The Acadia Byway follows the Maine coastline around Mount Desert Island, through Bar Harbor, and loops back inside Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park:
People have been drawn to the rugged coast of Maine throughout history. Awed by its beauty and diversity, early 20th-century visionaries donated the land that became Acadia National Park. The park is home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery.

Alaska's Marine Highway


Alaska's Marine Highway is a coastal voyage by boat; offering stunning views of fjords, glaciers, icebergs, islands, mountains, waterfalls, whales and volcanoes; as well as fishing boats and some 32 terminals to explore, along the route from Bellingham to Unalaska.

Beartooth Highway

(Montana, Wyoming)

From the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone Park, the Beartooth Highway goes over Cutter Pass and down into Wyoming, before looping back up into Montana.

Custer National Forest:
The Custer is the most ecologically diverse forest in the Northern Region, reaching from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness near Red Lodge, Montana to the grasslands of South Dakota.

Shoshone National Forest:
The Shoshone National Forest was set aside in 1891 as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve, making the Shoshone the first national forest in the United States. It consists of some 2.4 million acres of varied terrain ranging from sagebrush flats to rugged mountains.

Big Sur Coast Highway


The Big Sur Coast Highway follows Route 1 from Carmel-by-the-Sea down to the Southern Redwood Botanical Area, in the Los Padres National Forest.

Los Padres National Forest:
The forest stretches across almost 220 miles from the Big Sur Coast in Monterey County to the western edge of Los Angeles County.

Blue Ridge Parkway

(North Carolina, Virginia)

Built during the Great Depression, the Blue Ridge Parkway became America's first, and ultimately longest, rural parkway; running down from Waynesboro, VA towards Winston-Salem, NC; connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

Blue Ridge Parkway Association:
At each Parkway entrance a directional sign indicates 'north' or 'south'. North, toward the north end of the Parkway, leads to Shenandoah National Park. South, toward the south end of the Parkway, leads to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Blue Ridge Parkway (NPS):
A drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway is meant to be slow paced and relaxing. The Parkway meanders 469 miles between Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
Ridge upon ridge of endless forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.

Shenandoah National Park:
Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Many trails are accessed from Skyline Drive.

Chinook Scenic Byway


The Chinook Scenic Byway travels along State Route 410, from Enumclaw (east of Tacoma) and over the Chinook Pass; through Mount Rainier National Park and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, then down to Naches in central Washington.

Situated in the foothills of Mount Rainier in western Washington State, approximately 45 miles southeast of Seattle, Enumclaw has retained its small town character while benefiting from the growth of the surrounding region.

Mount Rainier National Park:
Mount Rainier is an active Cascade volcano encased in over 35 square miles of snow and glacial ice. The mountain is surrounded by lush old growth forests, spectacular sub-alpine meadows and a National Historic Landmark District that showcases the 'NPS Rustic' style architecture of the 1920s and 1930s.

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest:
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, in Washington State, extends more than 140 miles along the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains; from the Canadian border, to the northern boundary of Mt. Rainier National Park.

Nestled in a scenic valley at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Naches is the gateway to Yakima Valley's agriculture and winery attractions to the east and the beautiful Cascade Mountains to the west.

Colonial Parkway



Creole Nature Trail



George Washington Memorial Parkway

(Virginia, District of Columbia)


Hells Canyon Scenic Byway



Highway 12 - A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway



Historic Columbia River Highway



Historic National Road

(Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia)


International Selkirk Loop

(Idaho, Washington)


Lakes to Locks Passage

(New York)


Las Vegas Strip



Natchez Trace Parkway

(Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee)


North Shore Scenic Drive



Northwest Passage Scenic Byway



Pacific Coast Scenic Byway



Red Rock Scenic Byway



San Juan Skyway



San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway



Selma to Montgomery March Byway



Seward Highway


The Seward Highway travels through south-central Alaska; from Seward, north to Anchorage.

Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road



Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

(California, Oregon)

The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway begins at California's Lake Almanor, close to the Lassen Volcanic National Park, and ends at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon; passing around Mount Shasta (14,162ft) and through the Butte Valley region.

Crater Lake National Park:
Located on the crest of the Cascade Mountain range, 160km east of the Pacific Ocean, inside a volcanic basin; created when Mount Mazama collapsed, following a large eruption, some 7,700 years ago.

Lassen Volcanic National Park:
Nestled within Lassen's peaceful forests and untouched wilderness, hissing fumaroles and boiling mud pots still shape and change the land, evidence of Lassen’s long fiery and active past.

Driving Guides

Most Scenic Drives in America: 120 spectacular road trips

Scenic Byways:
Browse Amazon's best-selling list of books about travelling on scenic routes in the United States.

National Scenic Byways (by state)

Multistate Byways

Cherohala Skyway
(North Carolina, Tennessee)

Connecticut River Byway
(New Hampshire, Vermont)

Crowley's Ridge Parkway
(Arkansas, Missouri)

Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway
(Colorado, Utah)

Great River Road
(Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Wisconsin)

Historic Route 66
(Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico)

Native American Scenic Byway
(North Dakota, South Dakota)

Ohio River Scenic Byway
(Illinois, Indiana, Ohio)

Santa Fe Trail
(Colorado, New Mexico)

Seaway Trail
(New York, Pennsylvania)

Talimena Scenic Drive
(Arkansas, Oklahoma)

Trail of the Ancients
(Colorado, Utah)


Talladega Scenic Drive.


Glenn Highway - Travels through the Alaskan Interior; from Anchorage, east to the Wrangell Mountains.


Coronado Trail Scenic Byway.
Kaibab Plateau-North Rim Parkway.
Sky Island Scenic Byway.


Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway - Route 110.
Death Valley Scenic Byway.
Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway.
Tioga Road/Big Oak Flat Road.


Colorado River Headwaters Byway.
Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway.
Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway.
Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway.
Top of the Rockies.


Connecticut State Route 169.
Merritt Parkway.


Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway.


A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway.
Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway.
Tamiami Trail Scenic Highway.


Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway.


Payette River Scenic Byway.
Pend Oreille Scenic Byway.
Pioneer Historic Byway.
Western Heritage Historic Byway.


Illinois River Road: Route of the Voyageurs.
Lincoln Highway.
Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Route.


Loess Hills Scenic Byway.


Flint Hills Scenic Byway.
Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway.


Country Music Highway.
Red River Gorge Scenic Byway.
Wilderness Road Heritage Highway.


Old Canada Road Scenic Byway.
Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway.
Schoodic Scenic Byway.


Catoctin Mountain Scenic Byway.
Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway.


Copper Country Trail.
River Road Scenic Byway.
Woodward Avenue (M-1).


Edge of the Wilderness.
Grand Rounds Scenic Byway.
Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway.
Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway.
Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway.


Little Dixie Highway of the Great River Road.


Lake Tahoe - Eastshore Drive.
Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway.

New Hampshire

Kancamagus Scenic Byway.
White Mountain Trail.

New Mexico

Billy the Kid Trail.
El Camino Real.
Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway.
Jemez Mountain Trail.
Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway.
Turquoise Trail.

New York

Mohawk Towpath Byway.

North Dakota

Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway.


Amish Country Byway.
Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail.
Ohio & Erie Canalway.


Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.
McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway.
Mt. Hood Scenic Byway.
Outback Scenic Byway.
Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway.
West Cascades Scenic Byway.

South Carolina

Ashley River Road.
Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.
Savannah River Scenic Byway.

South Dakota

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway.


The Energy Loop: Huntington & Eccles Canyons Scenic Byways.
Flaming Gorge-Uintas Scenic Byway.
Logan Canyon Scenic Byway.
Nebo Loop Scenic Byway.


Skyline Drive.

Washington State

Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway - Runs 100 miles along Washington State Routes 17 and 155, from Othello to Grand Coulee.

Mountains to Sound Greenway - Travels the I-90; through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, from Seattle to Thorp.

Stevens Pass Greenway - Stevens Pass Greenway extends from Everett to Wenachee and is part of the spectacular Cascade Loop.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Highway - Travels down the SR 112, along the Northern shoreline, above the Olympic Mountains; from just outside the Makah Indian Reservation, through Sekiu/Clallam Bay and Joyce, towards Port Angeles and the Olympic National Park Visitor Center.

West Virginia

Coal Heritage Trail.
Highland Scenic Highway.
Midland Trail.
Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike.
Washington Heritage Trail.

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USA Travel Guides

Rand McNally 2018 Large Scale Road Atlas (Rand Mcnally Large Scale Road Atlas USA) National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways, 4th Edition: The 300 Best Drives in the U.S. (National Geographic's Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways)

Scenic Highways and Byways - US Maps.

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