Great River Road, Illinois Office of Tourism

Illinois Byways

Illinois boasts five national scenic byways, each of which demonstrates a unique and diverse perspective of the state. From presidential history to archaeologically significant remains of an ancient civilization, Illinois’ scenic byways help to preserve and promote some of the most culturally important areas in the state. Illinois is also home to two All-American Roads, the gold standard of our country’s scenic byways. Local destinations along the byways are renowned for their national and international appeal.

Byways Provide Access to Public Lands

Illinois byways provide access to the state’s most spectacular public lands, including 65 state parks, six state forests, 11 state recreation areas, one national forest, and two national historic sites.


About the National Scenic Byways Program

The National Scenic Byways Program, established by Congress in 1991, recognizes historic, scenic, and culturally important roads, all of which promote economic development and tourism in communities around the U.S. There are more than 1,200 byways in all 50 states.

All scenic byways exhibit one or more of six core intrinsic qualities — scenic, historic, recreational, cultural, archaeological, or natural. For a road to be named a national scenic byway, it must first be designated a state, tribal, or federal agency scenic byway. Once achieving that, a road may apply for national scenic byway designation, but its intrinsic quality must be of regional significance. All-American Roads are the very best of the national scenic byways, demonstrating at least two intrinsic qualities of national significance.