Tennessee’s beauty is showcased in 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 importance, not only to the state of Tennessee but to the American Highway System. Scenic Byways are designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Scenic Byways tell the story of America and are incorporated into a nationwide collection of roughly 200 roads called “America’s Byways”.
Each Scenic Byway has underpinning planning documents, a caretaking organization, and at least one of six intrinsic qualities to get its designation. These intrinsic qualities can be 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 significant to our state and the country.
Tennessee has thirteen Scenic Byways, the most of any state east of the Mississippi River and third-most nationally. These routes cover each of the three Grant Divisions of our state. Each offer different features and experiences for the traveling public. The Great River Road passes through a flooded forest and along several downtown arts and cultural landmarks in west Tennessee. The Natchez Trace follows a path taken by travelers for the past 10,000 years, while the Cherohala Skyway literally reaches the sky, at elevations of nearly 5,400 feet. The Cumberland National Scenic Byway traverses eight counties, while the Walton Road was an original wagon road over the Cumberland Plateau. The Norris Freeway was built to supply the Tennessee Valley Authority projects and the Newfound Gap is the lowest passable point through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Tennessee’s Scenic Byways offer important viewsheds and help to tell the story of the people and places in our state. Each one is carefully preserved and managed with visual quality in mind. This 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.