Virginia's Scenic Byways

Scenic Byway

In 1966, the Virginia General Assembly passed the State Scenic Highway and Virginia Byway Act. The legislation defined a Scenic Byway as a road designated by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) having relatively high aesthetic or cultural value, leading to or within areas of historical, natural or recreational significance.

In selecting a byway for designation, preference is given to corridors controlled by local zoning to reasonably protect a highway's aesthetic or cultural value. A Scenic Highway is defined by the Act as "a highway designated by the CTB within a protected scenic corridor located, designed, and constructed in a manner to preserve and enhance the natural beauty and cultural value of the countryside.

The Act arose in response to a recommendation in Virginia’s first Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, known as the Virginia Outdoors Plan. Since its inception, the CTB has designated over 3,500 miles of road.

In 1991, the Federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Equity Act (ISTEA) authorized the National Scenic Byway Program. The program was active until Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) in 2012. While active, states would directly apply to the Federal Highway Administration to receive a designation.

The National program was more rigorous and required the development and approval of a Corridor Management Plan to specify actions, procedures, controls, operational practices and administrative strategies to maintain qualities of a scenic byway. Two types of byways were recognized by the National Program: an All-American Road and a National Scenic Byway.

An All-American Road is one considered nationally significant and containing one-of-a-kind features that do not exist elsewhere. The road or highway must also be considered a 'destination unto itself’. All American Roads have multiple intrinsic qualities.

Virginia has three All American Roads:

* Blue Ridge Parkway

* Colonial Parkway

* George Washington Parkway

A National Scenic Byway is a road having at least one intrinsic quality. Virginia has two National Scenic Byways:

* Skyline Drive

* The Journey Through Hallowed Ground

An intrinsic quality means the road has archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, or scenic features that are considered representative, unique, irreplaceable, or distinctly characteristic of an area.

Virginia’s Scenic Highways, Byways, National Byways and All American Roads are depicted on the Scenic Roads & Byways in Virginia map. To print, or request, a free copy of the map use one of the links at the top of this page..

To learn more about the designation process, review the Virginia Byway Designation Steps and Evaluation Criteria.

More Information: Synthia Waymack 804-786-2586

Page last modified: Dec. 16, 2022