California Department of Transportation

The Benefits of Scenic Highway Designation

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Route 1 - Monterey County Route 78 - San Diego County Route 580 - Alameda County

The stated intent of the California Scenic Highway Program (Streets and Highways Code Sections 260-263) is to protect and enhance the natural scenic beauty of California’s highways and adjacent corridors, through special conservation treatment.

Ten Reasons Why Designation May Be Desirable For Your Community

Official designation requires a local governing body to enact a Corridor Protection Program that protects and enhances scenic resources along the highway. A properly enforced program can:

  • Protect the scenic corridor from encroachment of incompatible land uses such as junkyards, dumps, concrete plants, and gravel pits.
  • Mitigate activities within the corridor that detract from its scenic quality by proper siting, landscaping or screening.
  • Prohibit billboards and regulate on-site business signs so that they do not detract from scenic views.
  • Make development more compatible with the environment and in harmony with the surroundings.
  • Regulate grading to prevent erosion and cause minimal alteration of existing contours and to preserve important vegetative features along the highway.
  • Preserve views of hillsides by minimizing development on steep slopes and along ridge-lines.
  • Prevent the need for noise barriers (sound walls) by requiring a minimum setback for residential development adjacent to a scenic highway.

In addition, scenic highway designation will:

  • Enhance community identity and pride, encouraging citizen commitment to preserve community values.
  • Enhance land values by maintaining the scenic character of the corridor.
  • Provide a vehicle for the community to promote local tourism that is consistent with the community's scenic values.

Other Scenic Resources

National Scenic Byways Program -- This web site provides travelers with current, detailed information about scenic byways throughout the United States. NSBO also provides byway organizations more information about the federal designation process. National Scenic Byways Program also provides byway organizations more information about the federal desigination process.


Please send comments, suggestions or questions to 
Caltrans Scenic Highway Coordinator


Updated June 2, 2014