Scenic Byways Benefit Local Economies

State scenic byways programs across the country are helping communities to protect and promote the beauty of America’s back roads.

Strong scenic byways programs preserve the beauty of the designated scenic corridors, which reaps rewards by protecting community character while providing economic opportunities in tourism and recreation.

An increasing number of studies demonstrate the economic benefits to identifying, protecting, and promoting scenic byways. Click on the title of any study listed to learn more:

The Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia/North Carolina

A 2019 National Parks Service report found that in 2018, an estimated 14.7 million visitors to the Parkway spent around $1.1 billion in local gateway regions, supporting 15,900 local jobs. 

Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, Minnesota

Visitors to the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway contributed $21.2 million in sales and directly funded 331 full-time and seasonal jobs and $7.2 million in labor income.  

Cherokee Hill Scenic Byway, Oklahoma

In 2010, visitor spending totaled $35,153, which directly and indirectly supported 925 jobs in the area around the byway.

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, California/Oregon

This study indicates that in the six-county byway region in California and Oregon, the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is generating $163.6 million in total business sales, more than 1,000 jobs, and an increase of $24.6 million in earnings.

National Parks Visitation

Use this interactive tool to gain an understanding of the economic impact of national parks. In 2018, 318 million park visitors spent an estimated $20.2 billion in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands across the country. These expenditures supported a total of 329 thousand jobs, $13.6 billion in labor income, $23.4 billion in value added, and $40.1 billion in economic output in the national economy.

Louisiana Scenic Byways

For every dollar spent on Louisiana scenic byways, it created a $1.56 return on investment in both direct and secondary impacts. This study highlights that many people in Louisiana do not know about the state’s scenic byways, and emphasizes the importance of marketing and encouraging people to visit and drive along them.  

Natchez Trace Parkway, MS, TN, and AL

In 2016, nearly 6 million visitors to the Natchez Trace Parkway spent $142 million and supported 1,907 jobs in the local area. 80% of this spending was in Mississippi, 13% in Tennessee, and 7% in Alabama.  

Scenic Byway 12, Utah

In 2014, visitors driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 spent over $12 million in the region which created 420 jobs

Beartooth Highway, Wyoming

The Beartooth Highway is a nationally designated “All-American Road” situated in south-central Montana and north-central Wyoming. In the summer of 2012, visitors to the Beartooth Region spent $44.96 million, supporting 616 total jobs in the region.