While many of the 184 designated national scenic byways and All-American Roads are touted for their natural beauty and spectacular scenery, other byways have earned recognition for distinctive qualities beyond aesthetics. Here’s a list of quirky and surprising scenic byways that make memorable destinations for road trip adventures.
Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway (Nebraska)
This 272-mile byway connects the Nebraska towns of Grand Island and Alliance through the Sandhills, an area of grass-covered sand dunes approximately the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island combined. Native and migratory birds flock to this region, attracting birdwatchers and outdoors enthusiasts. Beyond the ethereal scenery and fascinating wildlife, the Sandhills are also home to offbeat sites like Carhenge, a replica of Stonehenge made from 38 automobiles.
Boom or Bust Byway (Louisiana)
In addition to showcasing the lush forests and colorful wildflowers of the bayou, this byway tells an interesting story behind the resiliency and changing economy of Northwest Louisiana. The 136-mile route passes graveyards of oil field equipment representative of the industry’s bust, as well as new oil and gas facilities representing the now-booming oil and natural gas economy.
Country Music Highway (Kentucky)
This national scenic byway runs 144 miles north and south through eastern Kentucky, passing through a region where notable country music stars grew up, including Loretta Lynn, Wynonna & Naomi Judd, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tom T. Hall, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, Gary Stewart, Patty Loveless, and Crystal Gayle. In addition to learning more about these musical legends, the road also showcases stunning scenery and offers lessons in Native American culture, Civil War history, and more.
The Billy the Kid Scenic Byway gives you a glimpse of the breathtaking scenary and vibrant characters of the wild west as it meanders 84 miles through New Mexico. While driving the byway, you can learn more about Billy the Kid, Kit Carson, as well as the Buffalo Soldiers, Apache people, and others who made their homes here–including Smokey the Bear, who was born near the town of Capitan along the route. The Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area is home to remarkable geological features, including the second-longest cave in New Mexico. The lively mountain town of Ruidoso is a popular draw for horse racing enthusiasts and skiers.
Many people are surprised to learn that the Las Vegas Strip is a designated scenic byway, but few roads are more iconic and storied than this one. The first and only nighttime scenic byway in America, the Las Vegas Strip is one of the nation’s most iconic streets. Though just five miles long, the road packs a powerful punch with its dazzling array of architecture and incomparable people-watching.
Do you have a favorite scenic byway with quirks and character of its own? Tell us about it by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.