Scenic Byways Showcase
the Beauty of Tennessee
Tennessee’s beauty is showcased throughout its Scenic Byways, and the state has numerous beautiful roads and highways that have been preserved and enhanced so that citizens and visitors can enjoy what they have to offer.
What is a Scenic Byway?
A Scenic Byway is a road or route that has an authentic sense of place, intrinsic qualities, and tells the story of Tennessee (and America!) Scenic Byways often have tremendous regional and national significance, and are awarded a series of designations. The State of Tennessee designates scenic roadways as Scenic Highway and Tennessee Parkway. If a roadway has a state-level designation, it is eligible to be designated federally and is included in the America’s Byways Program as either a National Scenic Byway or All-American Road. The process by which a roadway receives a designation involves a lot of planning, preservation, and cooperation amongst stakeholders. Central to these efforts is keeping the area beautiful.
Each Scenic Byway must have at least one of six federally defined intrinsic qualities. These designations are: historic, recreational, cultural, archeological, scenic or natural. Many of the Scenic Byways in Tennessee have more than one of these qualities, making them even more special to our state.
Thirteen routes make up the Tennessee collection of Scenic Byways, covering all regions of the state. Each Scenic Byway offers something different for the traveler who experiences it. The Great River Road is winds through delta and the Chickasaw Bluffs, as part of a ten-state roadway network following the Mississippi River. The Natchez Trace Parkway follows a path taken for ancestors for hundreds of years connecting Middle Tennessee with the Mississippi Rover. The Cherohala Skyway literally reaches the sky, at elevations of nearly 5400 feet. The Cumberland National Scenic Byway connects Cumberland Gap to the Cumberland River and traverse through eight counties of Tennessee’s upper Cumberland region. The Walton Road was an original wagon road over the Cumberland Plateau. The Norris Freeway was originally built to supply the Tennessee Valley Authority’s first hydro-electric dam project, the Norris Dam, in the 1930’s. The Great Smoky Mountains Byway is an extension of the scenery and dramatic views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Best Time to Travel
Tennessee’s collection of Scenic Byways demonstrate a commitment to preserving the natural scenic beauty of the state. Each one is carefully managed which includes keeping them litter-free!
Find Out More about the Scenic Byways
Ready to experience the Scenic Byways of Tennessee yourself? Download this beautiful booklet which includes maps, photos and more for each of the thirteen designated byways in our state.