State Scenic Highway System (California)

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State Scenic Highway System
Highway names
InterstatesInterstate XX (I-XX)
US HighwaysU.S. Route XX (US XX)
StateState Route XX (SR XX)
System links

The State Scenic Highway System in the U.S. state of California is a list of highways, mainly state highways, that have been designated by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) as scenic highways. They are marked by the state flower, a California poppy, inside either a rectangle for state-maintained highways or a pentagon for county highways.[1][2]

The California State Legislature makes state highways eligible for designation as a scenic highway, listing them in the Streets and Highways Code, sections 260-284.[3] For a highway to then be declared scenic by Caltrans, the local government with jurisdiction over abutting land must adopt a "scenic corridor protection program" that limits development, outdoor advertising, and earthmoving, and Caltrans must agree that it meets the criteria. The desire to create such a designation has at times been in conflict with the property rights of abutters, for example on State Route 174.[4][5]

Any county highway that is believed to have outstanding scenic qualities is considered eligible, and the county with jurisdiction must follow Caltrans' same approval process as state highways to be declared scenic.[1]

California Historic Parkways

California Historic Parkways are defined in the Streets and Highways Code, sections 280-284, as a subset of the State Scenic Highway System. Such historic parkways must have been constructed prior to 1945, and have been determined by either Caltrans or the Office of Historic Preservation in the California Department of Parks and Recreation to have historical significance. They must not at time of designation be traversed by more than 40,000 vehicles per day on an annual daily average basis. They also must be "bounded on one or both sides by federal, state, or local parkland, Native American lands or monuments, or other open space, greenbelt areas, natural habitat or wildlife preserves, or similar acreage used for or dedicated to historical or recreational uses".[3]

List of eligible and designated scenic state highways

Sign on SR 1
Entering Angeles National Forest on SR 2 from the south
Subalpine meadow at Ebbetts Pass
San Luis Reservoir, viewed from SR 152 in July 2021
View of Mount Diablo and SR 24
View northeast from near Pine Mountain Summit on SR 33
SR 49 through the historic mining community of Downieville.
View from Echo Summit towards Lake Tahoe
Sign on SR 62
SR 68 approaching Monterey
SR 78 in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, looking east
SR 89 through Emerald Bay State Park overlooking Lake Tahoe
Sign on SR 154
Heading south on SR 160
The Cabrillo Freeway, looking south from the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park
SR 168, heading up Bishop Creek
Death Valley and access roads to SR 190 at Hells Gate
San Gorgonio Mountain seen from SR 243 near Banning
Sign on I-280
US 395 descending south into Owens Valley
Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway near Red Rock Canyon State Park
Descending from Mission Pass on I-680 northbound

Designated county highways

Mulholland Highway through Leo Carrillo State Park, with Sandstone Peak in the distance


  • California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  1. ^ a b District 3. "Scenic Highway Program". California Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 31, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "CA MUTCD 2014 Revision 4". California Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d "Article 2.5 of Chapter 2 of Division 1 of the California Streets and Highways Code". Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  4. ^ "Scenic Highway Concept Spurs Alarm". Sacramento Bee. March 25, 1999. p. N1.
  5. ^ Moller, Dave (August 7, 2004). "CABPRO's Urke steps down". Union of Grass Valley.
  6. ^ a b c d e f California Department of Transportation (2017). "List of eligible and officially designated State Scenic Highways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  7. ^ Lech, Steve (2012). For Tourism and a Good Night's Sleep: J. Win Wilson, Wilson Howell, and the Beginnings of the Pines-to-Palms Highway. Riverside, California: Steve Lech. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-9837500-1-7.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h California Department of Transportation. "List of Officially Designated County Scenic Highways" (PDF). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 2, 2019.

External links