Scenic & Cultural Byways
Welcome to the Scenic and Cultural Byways website!
New Hampshire has over 1,000 miles of designated scenic and cultural byways. Each of our byway tours offers something different for everyone. From the ocean views and sandy beaches of the Coastal Byway to the impressive scenic vistas and recreational opportunities found along the White Mountains Trail National Scenic Byway, you are sure to enjoy the trip.
Touring New Hampshire's Byways
For more information about planning a trip along New Hampshire's Scenic Byways, please visit the New Hampshire Department of Business & Economic Affairs, Division of Travel and Tourism Development at Visit NH : Scenic Drives
- Official Map of New Hampshire Scenic and Cultural Byways
- Byway Nomination Application
- Wayfinding Sign Guides
Scenic Byway or Scenic Road?
What is the difference between a Scenic Byway and a Scenic Road? Are Scenic Roads a type of Scenic Byway? These questions have come up quite often in the past couple of years. With this in mind, the following is a summary of the main points of each designation. Also, check out the State of New Hampshire's Web site for links to the legislation for each program.
The New Hampshire Scenic and Cultural Byways Program was established in 1992 under RSA 238:19, "… to provide the opportunity for residents and visitors to travel a system of byways which feature the scenic and cultural qualities of the state within the existing highway system, promote retention of rural and urban scenic byways, support the cultural, recreational and historic attributes along these byways, and expose the unique elements of the state's beauty, culture and history." The legislation established the program and the Scenic and Cultural Byways Council to serve as an advisory body for the Scenic and Cultural Byway System. The administration of the program is through the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Community Assistance. The New Hampshire Scenic Byway program manager is Lucy A. St. John and she can be reached by e-mail at Lucy.A.StJohn@dot.nh.gov.
New Hampshire's Scenic and Cultural Byways program is one of many now in place nationwide. These statewide programs are tied directly to the National Scenic Byways Program. There are three categories of byways under the National Scenic Byways Program; two are nationally designated categories, the third is a state designation.
All-American Roads are the cream of the crop, representing a handful of the Nation's top roadways. National Scenic Byways, the second group of nationally designated byways, represent roadways that are destinations in themselves and deserve national recognition for the intrinsic values they feature. There are about 53 National Scenic Byways in all, three located in New Hampshire (White Mountains Trail, Kancamagus Highway, and Connecticut River Byway). The third group consists of state designated byways (i.e. Coastal Byway, Moose Path Trail, Lakes Tour). These byways fit requirements set by the Scenic and Cultural Byway Council for inclusion in the statewide network. Some state designated byways go on to become National Scenic Byways as efforts progress along the byway. The White Mountains Trail was originally listed as a State Scenic and Cultural Byway, and after a great deal of effort, was nominated and accepted as a National Scenic Byway in 1998.
Scenic Roads are substantially different from Scenic and Cultural Byways. Refer to the provisions of New Hampshire’s RSA 231:157-158. Scenic roads are local, town designations. Any road in a town, other than a class I or class II highway, may be designated a scenic road. Local scenic roads may be designated upon petition of 10 persons who are either voters of the town or who own land which abut a road mentioned in the petition. You are advised to contact the local Town Office with specific questions.