Scenic Byways

The Ohio Department of Transportation’s Scenic Byways program is a grassroots effort designed to increase the focus on Ohio’s history and intrinsic resources. The intent of this program is to preserve, enhance and protect the state's intrinsic resources for visitors and residents of the state by designation of highway, roads and streets as scenic byway corridors. Through partnerships with communities, organizations and government agencies we can combine our efforts to promote travel and recreation and to enhance and provide stewardship for the features that distinguish the designated byways. With this collaboration it is hoped that we can establish a balance between conservation and land use that heightens the experience of traveling designated byways while improving the communities' quality of life.

Ohio Scenic Byways

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Byways with Descriptions

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Learn More About Ohio's Byways

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Since its creation in 1994, the Ohio Byways program has identified 27 Ohio Scenic Byways. 

 

All of these 27 byways can be found on the Ohio Department of Transportation's website. The byways span over the entire state, and each byway page gives a small description of that byway, allows the visitor to explore and virtually tour the area, and highlights attractions or points of interest in or around the area of the scenic byway. 

Ohio Byways Video Collection

Currently the Ohio Department of Transportation has a list of videos taking you through six of Ohio's beautiful Scenic Byways as well as a small overview of all of the byways. The specific byways include: Ohio's Hocking Hills Scenic Byway, Ohio's Amish Country Byway, Ohio's Historic National Road, Lake Erie Coastal Trail, Ohio & Erie Canalway, Ohio River Scenic Byway

 

How to Qualify as an Ohio Scenic Byway

Ohio Byway Program Criteria:

 

To be considered An Ohio Byway, the proposed corridor must meet the intrinsic criteria assessment outlined in the Ohio Scenic byways Qualification Manual. All new corridors must meet the minimum standards detailed below.

  1. The proposed byway must be within an existing public right of way.   

  2. The proposed byway must be a passable, all-weather road that will safely accommodate 2 wheel drive motor vehicles.

  3. The proposed byway must obtain endorsements from the local government(s) that have jurisdiction(s) along the corridor. 

  4. The proposed byway must have logical termini. The corridor limits must be defined by recognizable geographic locations or milepost markers.

  5. The proposed byway must possess at least one of the six intrinsic qualities cited in Section 1.4. These include scenic, natural, historical, cultural, recreational, and/or archaeological. 

  6. The desired minimum length is 5 miles. a. Ideally the resources will determine the length of the byway, though five miles is ODOT’s desired minimum. This minimum length must accommodate a cohesive travel experience that is linked to the intrinsic qualities.

  7. All intrinsic resources are located on or near the corridor and are easily accessible. a. To meet the expectations of the scenic byway traveler, all identified intrinsic resources must be visible and directly accessible to the byway.

  8. The corridor must “tell a story” that relates to its intrinsic resource(s). Ohio’s Scenic Byway Guidelines 11

  9. The corridor must exhibit significant, exceptional, and distinctive features of the region it traverses.

  10. A majority of the corridor must exhibit scenic or heritage qualifying resource(s). 

  11. A Byway Committee must be organized to support the scenic highway designation. 

  12. A Community Participation Program must be developed and implemented. 

  13. Strong local support must be demonstrated.​

 

National Scenic Byways

The National Scenic Byways Program:

In 1991, Congress established the program under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and strengthened it further with the passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998 and subsequently with the passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), in 2005.

Designation:

National Scenic Byways designations recognize those roads across the country that exhibit one or more six-core intrinsic qualities: scenic, natural, historic, recreational, archaeological, or cultural– contributing towards a unique travel experience. As of 2020, there are 150 roads in 46 states designated as either National Scenic Byways or All – American Roads.


To be considered for designation as a National Scenic Byway, a road must possess characteristics of regional significance within at least one of the intrinsic quality categories. The byway must also demonstrate substantial community support and develop a corridor management plan that describes the preservation, marketing, and improvement strategies for the byway.
All-American Roads are the very best of the National Scenic Byways. An All-American Road must meet the same criteria as a National Scenic Byway but possess multiple intrinsic qualities of national significance. The byway must be considered a destination and reason for travel unto itself.

Ohio National Byways

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Out of Ohio's 27 Scenic Byways, Six of the Byways are designated National Scenic Byways.

These byways include:

  • Amish Country Byway which combines the history of the Amish with the scenic beauty of a quaint, charming roadway.

  • The Historic National Road which is Ohio’s portion of America’s first national roadway started in 1804.

  • The Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail which delivers fantastic lake views as it meanders along the shoreline.

  • The Ohio and Erie Canalway which travels the path of the original 19th-century canal.  

  • The Ohio River Scenic Byway which spans all 14 counties along the Ohio River as it makes its way between West Virginia and Indiana.

On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved the 2021 designations to America’s Byways. Hocking Hills Scenic Byway has been designated as a National Scenic Byway and will officially join the collection of America’s Byway