Rustic Roads comprise a system of scenic roads across the state which posess certain "rustic" qualities. The Rustic Roads System was created by the State Legislature in 1973 to, "preserve what remains of Wisconsin's scenic, lightly traveled country roads for the leisurely enjoyment of bikers, hikers and motorists." Rustic Roads are identified by yellow- and white-on-brown "Rustic Road" signs. Also included below each Rustic Road sign is an identifying designation consisting of one to three numerals and prefixed with the letter "R," so as to differentiate the roads from state trunk highways, according to WisDOT (ie. "R 67"). Also, the maximum speed limit on any Rustic Road has been set, by law, at 45 mph. WisDOT also notes that "a speed limit as low as 30 mph may be established by the local governing body."
According to WisDOT, a Rustic Road needs to posses the following qualities:
- Should have outstanding natural features along its borders such as rugged terrain, native vegetation, native wildlife, or include open areas with agricultural vistas which singly or in combination set this road apart from other roads.
- Should be a lightly traveled local access road, one which serves the adjacent property owners and those wishing to travel by auto, bicycle, or hiking for purposes of recreational enjoyment of its rustic features.
- Should be one not scheduled nor anticipated for major improvements which would change its rustic characteristics.
- Should have, preferably, a minimum length of two miles and, where feasible, should provide a closure or loop, or connect to major highways at both ends of the route.
As a future enhancement to this website, pages dedicated to the Rustic Road System are being planned. In the interim, please consult either the publicaton "Wisconsin's Rustic Roads: A Positive Step Backward" or WisDOT's own Rustic Roads website and the links below.
- Rustic Roads – WisDOT's site detailing the creation of the program, featuring maps and descriptions of each route.
- 2016 Rustic Roads Guide – from WisDOT. Warning: the file is approximately 30 MB in size.
- Silent Highways: Riding Wisconsin's quiet roads – an article from the June 1996 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.
- Wisconsin's Rustic Roads: A road less travelled – a book with photographs by Bob Rashid and text by Ben Logan, George Vukelich, Jean Feraca, Norbert Blei and Bill Stokes.
- Wisconsin's Rustic Roads – from Midwest Weekends.
- Wisconsin's Rustic Roads – a streaming documentary from Wisconsin Public Television that originally aired on May 1, 1996.
- Wisconsin Rustic Roads: Look what Mom and Dad have been up to! – (from archive.org) a motorcyclist couple gathers photographs of themselves by the Rustic Road signs, part of the Rustic Roads Motorcycle Tour.
- Country Roads: Two states protect their quiet byways from progress – (from archive.org) an article by Elizabeth Brennan from the October 24, 2001 edition of Preservation Online from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.