Byways 101

Part 1: Program Overview

What Supports Byways’ Sustainability?

The sustainability of byways and byway organizations around the country is critical to long-term success. Think of a sustainable byway as a three-legged stool, with the legs representing Planning, Intrinsic Qualities and Visitor Experience. One leg weaker than the others compromises the stool’s stability. A byway with balanced Planning, Intrinsic Qualities and Visitor Experience elements can achieve stability and sustainability over time.

As you continue through Byways 101, you’ll see that each of these three core elements is multifaceted yet interdependent.


  • Corridor Management: A corridor management plan (CMP) is a written document that outlines how a byway organization plans to protect, promote, enhance and manage the byway’s intrinsic qualities. The CMP acts as the guiding document for all efforts of the byway group and serves as a key element in all planning. A CMP is required for designation as a National Scenic Byway or All-American Road.
  • Organization: The National Scenic Byways Program is founded upon the grassroots strength of individual byway leaders and the groups with whom they work. Organizing and sustaining a byway organization requires thoughtful planning, including envisioning an ordered whole; pulling people together; giving the organization structure and order; and seeking united action. Seek committed proponents to help build and maintain a strong, resilient, long-lived byway organization for your byway.
  • Funding: Building a strong financial foundation is an important goal for all byways, and an important aspect of planning for byway organizations. Fundraising success directly links to other success factors, such as a clear vision, a healthy organization, active partnerships and sound planning. Develop and implement effective, long-term funding plans, and promote the plans to your potential funding sources.

Intrinsic Qualities

  • Inventory and Assessment: Intrinsic qualities arise from a byway’s particular combination of resources that define its character, interest and appeal. Identify, inventory and assess the intrinsic qualities that represent your route. Designation as a National Scenic Byway or All-American Road requires that you show the regional or national significance of the byway’s intrinsic qualities.
  • The Byway Story: A byway story is the intentional, coordinated message that the byway conveys to visitors to help them make connections with the byway’s resources and qualities. What byway story can be formed from your inventory of intrinsic qualities to frame what a visitor could experience along your route? Consider how to best interpret your resources and provide the visitor with opportunities to experience the special intrinsic qualities and resources that make your route unique.
  • Protection and Promotion: The National Scenic Byways Program advocates balanced protection and promotion of intrinsic qualities and resources on America’s most treasured roads. Byways deliver an experience of all the parts and stories in the corridor. Without those elements, the byway ceases to be a byway. Identify your byway’s core character, inventory its resources and communicate that information to the individuals and groups that have an immediate and future impact on your byway’s character.

Visitor Experience

  • Wayshowing: Wayfinding is what visitors do. Wayshowing is what your byway or byway organization should do. Can visitors effectively find their way along your byway? They will, if you first provide a well-planned guidance system incorporating proven wayshowing principles. Plan for signage, maps and other means of safely and effectively guiding your byway travelers to positive experiences.
  • Accessibility: About one of every five Americans has a functional impairment that limits daily life activities; two out of seven families are affected by disability. Compliance with Federal accessibility mandates is essential for byways that use National Scenic Byways Program grant funds, and applying universal design will increase accessibility for all people touring your route. Consider how travelers of many different abilities will experience your route’s intrinsic qualities, and incorporate those considerations into your planning.
  • Marketing: Authentic experiences, event planning, marketing plans, collateral materials and itineraries play distinctive and vital roles in providing access to your byway visitor experience. Successful marketing includes promoting your byway to target audiences. Gain insights on this broad topic and tap marketing professionals to effectively communicate specific messages to your current and potential visitors.

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