Under the National Scenic Byways Program, the
U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes roads that possess
outstanding scenic, historic, recreational, cultural,
archeological and/or natural qualities by designating them as
either National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads. As of 2009,
there are 151 nationally designated byways in 46 states - 119
National Scenic Byways and 32 with the special distinction of
being named All American Roads. The Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) markets these routes, also known as
America’s Byways, both nationally and internationally.
Experiencing the Mississippi River for the
first time is a memory few will forget. From the native peoples
and early explorers to those seeking freedom on the Underground
Railroad, this corridor has played a major role in the history
of the nation. It also offers world-class heritage sites,
noteworthy historic towns, secluded natural areas and some of
the best eagle-watching in the state.
HISTORIC NATIONAL ROAD
Ms. Mary Truitt, President
Click on the image to go to the Historic National Road site.
As part of America’s first federal highway, the Historic
National Road holds historical significance and a glimpse of the
past. Visitors can explore Victorian architecture, prehistoric
mounds, friendly towns and their festivals along the “Road That
Built the Nation”.
HISTORIC ROUTE 66
Click on the image to visit the Historic
Route 66 site.
Route 66 defined a remarkable era in the growth of our nation.
No other road symbolizes optimism, freedom and the American
Dream quite like Route 66. The charm, the history and the
atmosphere of “The Mother Road” brings travelers from all over
the world to experience a very special part of America.
ILLINOIS LINCOLN HIGHWAY
Ms. Bonnie Heimbach, Belvidere, IL
Click on the image to visit the Lincoln
Drive the road that tells the history of modern
transportation. This historic byway follows the original
alignment of the first paved transcontinental highway in the
United States and was the forefather of the modern Interstate
transportation system. Today, cities and historic sites tempt
visitors to stop and enjoy the heritage that has thrived along
ILLINOIS RIVER ROAD
Click on the image to visit the Illinois
River Road site.
The Illinois River Road follows both sides of the river from Ottawa to Havana. The Illinois River valley imparts feelings of awe at the power of the river winding its way through a landform carved by glacial meltwater. Experience the seasonal colors and rhythms of the forests, wetlands, bluffs and prairies on your own or follow one of 7 different nature activity guides.
MEETING OF THE GREAT
Mr. Brett Stawar, Alton, IL
Click on the image to go to the Meeting of the Great Rivers
Travel 33 miles of historic, natural and cultural treasures
along this very special section of the Great River Road. The
Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois Rivers meet to form a
confluence that is breathtaking in its size and beauty. This
corner of Illinois boasts history and legends including the site
of the last Lincoln-Douglas debate and the mighty Piasa Bird
perched on the bluffs overlooking the confluence.
OHIO RIVER SCENIC BYWAY
Click on the image to visit the Ohio
River Byway site.
Traversing the lush hills and farmlands paralleling the might
Ohio River, this route has a strong Civil War history that is
brought to life by strategically placed forts and many
Underground Railroad sites. This byway is also home to the
magnificent Shawnee National Forest and the Cave-in-Rock, an
enormous cave that was once home to river pirates.
Any Illinois community or local organization may submit a
nomination for national designation of a specific section of
roadway, but the nomination must meet stringent criteria and be
submitted through the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Information regarding nominations, grants and federal contact
information may be found at
The National Scenic Byways Program and the Illinois Scenic
Byways Program include only one restriction. The federal law
which created the program includes a prohibition of new off-site
advertising along nationally designated roadways.
The Illinois Scenic Byways Manual, including information
relating to compliance of Illinois law, is available upon
Upon designation, byway organizations and byway communities are
eligible for federal funding for projects along the byway.
Typical projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration
Preparation of interpretive and marketing plans for the
Construction of byway facilities such as visitor centers,
informational kiosks, restrooms and access to recreation
Protection and preservation of byway resources
Administration funds for byway organizations
Projects are funded annually and require a 20% local match.
(80% federal/20% local) Local projects must be submitted to the
appropriate byway organization for approval and prioritization.
Each year, the Illinois Department of Transportation submits
applications to the Federal Highway Administration for review
and selection of funded projects.
For more information about the Illinois Scenic Byways
Program, please contact Melissa Hendricks at 217-785-1250 or
Jeff South at 217-782-0378. The federal website
www.byways.org also offers
information on byway travel in Illinois and other states.