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North Dakota: Legendary. Follow the trail of legends
North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department

What qualifies as a scenic byway or scenic backway?

BACKWAY---unpaved or loose-surfaced roads that lack all-weather surface features
BYWAY---roads with an all-weather surface suitable for year-round automobile travel

Eligible roadways for designation as byways/backways may consist of a gravel road, a city street, or a paved highway. The Scenic Byway Program considers six different "intrinsic qualities" of a roadway’s corridor character. To qualify as a Scenic Byway, a roadway corridor must possess strong characteristics that are significant to at least one of the following intrinsic qualities:

  • Scenic Quality is the heightened visual experience from the view of natural and manmade elements of the visual environment. The characteristics of the landscape are strikingly distinct and offer a pleasing and most memorable visual experience.
  • Natural Quality applies to those features in the visual environment that are in a relatively undisturbed state. These features may include geological formations, fossils, landforms, water bodies, vegetation, and wildlife. There may be evidence of human activity, but the natural features reveal minimal disturbances.
  • Historic Quality encompasses legacies of the past that are distinctly associated with natural or manmade elements of the landscape that are of such historic significance they educate the viewer and stir an appreciation for the past. The historic elements may include buildings, settlement patterns, and other examples of human activity.
  • Cultural Quality is evidence and expressions of the customs or traditions of a distinct group of people. Currently practiced cultural features include, but are not limited to, crafts, music, dance, rituals, festivals, speech, food, special events, and vernacular architecture.
  • Archeological Quality involves physical evidence of historic or prehistoric human life or activity that is visible and capable of being inventoried and interpreted.
  • Recreational Quality involves outdoor recreational activities directly associated with and dependent upon the other intrinsic qualities. Active and passive recreational opportunities may include downhill skiing, rafting, boating, fishing, and hiking. Driving the road itself may qualify as a pleasurable recreational experience.


These byway/backway signs are installed along state designated byways/backways.

State Designated Byway Sign State Designated Backway Sign

The America's Byways sign is installed in leiu of the state signs along state designated byways that have also earned national designation.

Nationally Designated Byway Sign