Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways Significant Economic Drives for State Economy

Dec. 6, 2016

DENVER—As the nation celebrates the 25th anniversary of the National Scenic Byways Program on Dec. 6, Colorado is celebrating nearly $800 million in economic impact generated by its 26 scenic and historic byways.

Colorado's 26 scenic and historic byways are significant economic drivers for the state, according to CDOT's Colorado Byways Economic Data Analysis.

"Colorado's National Scenic byways host thousands of visitors annually who bring tourism, cultural and economic vitality to the communities along the byway corridors," said Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway Board President Kristie Melendez. "The tourism generated by these byways is often the key supporting financial source to many of our historic-designated sites, as well as to the local businesses along the byways."

The study found from 2009 to 2014, visitor spending on Colorado's byways generated an estimated $4.8 billion and supported nearly 4,000 jobs throughout the state. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway accounted for about a quarter of all impacts during the five-year study period.

"Colorado's scenic and historic byways continue to be very popular and contribute significantly to regional and state economies," said Colorado Scenic Byways coordinator Lenore Bates.

Colorado's 26 byways include two All-American Roads, two Bureau of Land Management National Back-country Byways, 10 National Forest Scenic Byways, and 11 national scenic byways as part of the American Byways® program—more than any other state. America's Byways® is the national collection of 150 distinct and diverse roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the America Byways® program, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1991. To mark the occasion and celebrate the 150 roads across the country that have earned National Scenic Byway status, a special celebration will be held on at the Congressional Atrium at the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6.

"More than just suggested road trips, Colorado byways are a catalyst for the preservation of Colorado's culture, history, and natural wonder," Bates said.

Recent federal research shows that international visitors in particular are seeking out scenic byways because of their interest in the true "American road" experience, according to the Federal Highway Administration.