KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and the U.S. Department of Transportation agrees.
Norris Freeway, Newfound Gap Road, Cumberland National Scenic Byway, and Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway are among five state roads to earn a National Scenic Byway or All-American Road designation.
The five roadways are part of the 144 American roads that have earned a designation based upon their archeological, cultural, historical, natural, recreational, and scenic intrinsic qualities. The new scenic designations means greater access to federal grant funding through the National Scenic Byway Program and national marketing from the America’s Byways program.
“This national recognition is reflective of the distinctiveness and authenticity of so many parts of our state,” state Department of Transportation Commissioner Clay Bright said. “It is an honor well deserved by so many local leaders and the public who care for their communities.”
Norris Freeway sweeps through the town and state park that was build during the Great Depression. Norris Dam was the first hydroelectric power plant built by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Newfound Gap Road, also known as U.S. Highway 441, traverses the Appalachian Mountains through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park connecting Gatlinburg and Cherokee, North Carolina.
Cumberland National Scenic Byway skirts the northern end of the Cumberland Plateau from Cumberland Gap to Celina. The 200-mile route goes through eight Tennessee counties and 17 communities.
Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway features the serene Sequatchie River and is framed on either side by the Cumberland Plateau and Walden’s Ridge.
The other state road to earn merit was the Great River Road, a collection of roadways that runs the length of the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.
In total, Tennessee’s collection of nationally designated scenic routes stands at 10, the fourth-most with a state in the country. These routes include:
- Ocoee Scenic Byway (1988) – National Forest Scenic Byway
- Cherohala Skyway (1996) – National Scenic Byway
- Natchez Trace (1996) – All-American Road
- East Tennessee Crossing (2009) – National Scenic Byway
- Great River Road (2009; 2021) – National Scenic Byway in 2009; All-American Road in 2021
- Woodlands Trace (2009) – National Scenic Byway
- Newfound Gap (2021) – All-American Road
- Norris Freeway (2021) – National Scenic Byway
- Cumberland National Scenic Byway (2021) – National Scenic Byway
- Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway (2021) – National Scenic Byway
The National Scenic Byway Program, established by Congress in 1991 and administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. More information about the National Scenic Byway Program can be found at www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/.