Western PA has a number of roadways designated as “Scenic Byways” by the America’s Byways. These byways represent the region’s most spectacular views and scenic experiences. Visit the following links to explore the byways of Western Pennsylvania.
To be designated a National Scenic Byway, a road must possess characteristics of regional significance within at least one of the intrinsic qualities.
All-American Roads must possess characteristics of national significance in at least two of the following intrinsic qualities.
Scenic Scenic Quality is the heightened visual experience derived from the view of natural and man-made elements of the visual environment of the scenic byway corridor. The characteristics of the landscape are strikingly distinct and offer a pleasing and most memorable visual experience. All elements of the landscape–landform, water, vegetation, and man-made development–contribute to the quality of the corridor’s visual environment. Everything present is in harmony and shares in the intrinsic qualities.
Archaeological Archaeological Quality involves those characteristics of the scenic byways corridor that are physical evidence of historic or prehistoric human life or activity that are visible and capable of being inventoried and interpreted. The scenic byway corridor’s archeological interest, as identified through ruins, artifacts, structural remains, and other physical evidence have scientific significance that educate the viewer and stir an appreciation for the past.
Cultural Cultural Quality is evidence and expressions of the customs or traditions of a distinct group of people. Cultural features including, but not limited to, crafts, music, dance, rituals, festivals, speech, food, special events, vernacular architecture, etc., are currently practiced. The cultural qualities of the corridor could highlight one or more significant communities and/or ethnic traditions.
Historic Historic Quality encompasses legacies of the past that are distinctly associated with physical elements of the landscape, whether natural or man-made, that are of such historic significance that they educate the viewer and stir an appreciation for the past. The historic elements reflect the actions of people and may include buildings, settlement patterns, and other examples of human activity. Historic features can be inventoried, mapped, and interpreted. They possess integrity of location, design, setting, material, workmanship, feeling, and association.
Natural Natural Quality applies to those features in the visual environment that are in a relatively undisturbed state. These features predate the arrival of human populations and may include geological formations, fossils, landform, water bodies, vegetation, and wildlife. There may be evidence of human activity, but the natural features reveal minimal disturbances.
Recreational Recreational Quality involves outdoor recreational activities directly association with and dependent upon the natural and cultural elements of the corridor’s landscape. The recreational activities provide opportunities for active and passive recreational experiences. They include, but are not limited to, downhill skiing, rafting, boating, fishing, and hiking. Driving the road itself may qualify as a pleasurable recreational experience. The recreational activities may be seasonal, but the quality and importance of the recreational activities as seasonal operations must be well recognized.
(Source: America’s Byways)
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. Here’s a sampling:
The Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia/North Carolina Visitors spent $1.8 billion in counties adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, according to a 1995-96 study. These expenditures resulted in over $147 million in tax revenues and supported more than 74,614 jobs in the region.
Forty percent of American adults drive for pleasure. This makes driving the second favorite recreation activity of American adults, second only to walking.
Vermont Scenic Byways Travelers from out of state who drove Vermont Scenic Byways for the scenic drive or sightseeing spent 25% more per day than those traveling for other reasons.
Colorado Scenic Byways A survey of tourism-related businesses along two scenic byways in Colorado showed that a majority of business owners estimated a 10% increase in sales due to byway designation.
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