Wisconsin’s Scenic Byways Program was initiated in 1999 due to the passage of Wisconsin Act 9 which directed WisDOT to develop and administer a State Scenic Byways program, similar to ones in other states. The Scenic Byways are a cooperative effort between the state and local communities to identify state highway corridors possessing certain scenic and historic qualities. The first routes were designated in 2005.
State Scenic Byways can potentially be designated a National Scenic Byway, as is the case with the Great River Road, and such a designation can bring additional recognition and promotional opportunities. State and nationally-designated byways are eligible to apply for federal grant funds and designated scenic byways benefit from special signage and promotional efforts.
According to WisDOT, a Scenic Byway should posses the following qualities:
- Should have be part of the state highway system (a numbered state or federal highway other than an Interstate) at least 30 miles long.
- Should offer travelers outstanding scenic views or historic resources combined with recreational and/or cultural attributes.
- Should be initiated/supported by local groups and governments.
State Scenic Byways are designated once applicants complete a two-step process involving a resource assessment and the completion of a corridor management plan and having attained resolutions of support from the various local governments along the route. As WisDOT states, "The Scenic Byway program is a cooperative effort between local communities and WisDOT to identify and promote state highway corridors with scenic and/or historical attributes that provide travelers an enjoyable visual, educational and recreational experience."
State Scenic Byway Routes
- Great River Road – STH-35 between Prescott and Kieler.
- Lower Wisconsin River Road – STH-60 between Lodi and Prairie du Chien.
- Door County Coastal Byway – STH-42 and STH-57 circling the northern Door County peninsula.
- Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway – STH-13 from US-2 to CTH-H in northwest Wisconsin.
As a future enhancement to this website, pages dedicated to the individual State Scenic Byways are being planned.
- Wisconsin Scenic Byways Program – WisDOT's site detailing the creation of the program, featuring maps and descriptions of each route.
- Door County Coastal Byway – from DCCB (Door County Coastal Byway) organization.
- Wisconsin Great River Road – from the Wisconsin Great River Road organization.
- Wisconsin Lake Superior Byway – from the Lake Superior Scenic Byway organization.
- Scenic Byway 60 – Lower Wisconsin River Road