Designating a State Scenic Road

Designating a State Scenic Road

Anyone may nominate a road for state designation. A state designation applies to parkways, historic and scenic roads. The process for consideration of a road can be initiated by any interested group or individual by requesting designation to the Parkways, Historic and Scenic Roads Advisory Committee (PHSRAC).


Application Components 


The format of the application report to the PHSRAC should be prepared following the criteria listed below:

  • Use 8 1/2" x 11" pages, vertically bound on the left side, with the capacity to add or delete material without destroying the binder (loose leaf, spiral bound or similar).
  • Provide a cover sheet with the proposed project name, route number, mileposts, preparer's name, date and agencies involved.
  • Address the cover letter here:
  • Parkways, Historic and Scenic Roads Advisory Committee
  • Attention: LeRoy Brady, Chairman
    1611 W. Jackson St.
    MD EM03
    Phoenix, AZ 85007
  • Provide a copy of the letter of request for designation and the jurisdictional agencies approval for designation of the road as a parkway, historic road or scenic road.
  • Note: Photographs included in the report for information and documentation should be enclosed in acetate sheet protectors on black background or in clear vinyl sheet holders. Color photocopies are acceptable. Any supportive material not conforming to the 8 1/2" x 11" format should be folded neatly and placed in a pouch at the back of the report. It should be labeled Appendix A, B, C, as appropriate, and referred to in the text of the report.

Road Sections or Areas

The road sections or areas proposed for designation should be clearly described by a written paragraph and should be depicted on standard, published maps.

The written description should include the general location within the state, the county, road name and number, length, mileposts, adjacent cities, direction of road and area or width of the zone of influence.

Here is an example from the Coronado Trail Scenic Road Application Report:

The road proposed for designation is a 93 mile segment of U.S. Route 666 (which is now U.S. 191) in Apache and Greenlee Counties which continues as a 32 mile segment of U.S. Route 180 in Apache County. The majority of the road segment is within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests and is known as the Coronado Trail. It traverses the east-central portion of Arizona and runs in a north-south direction.

U.S. Route 666 is a two lane federal aid primary highway. The limits of the road area under consideration are: Milepost (MP) 161.00 to the south near Clifton/Morenci, Arizona to M.P. 253.74 at Alpine, Arizona.

U.S. Route 180 is a two lane federal aid primary highway. The limits of the road area under consideration are:

M.P. 394.36 near Eager/Springerville, Arizona to M.P. 426.39 at Alpine, Arizona.


Maps to be included in the report should be of a quality published by the United States Geological Survey(USGS), ADOT, the county or the city. The area to be depicted should be at a scale that will maximize the space on the 8 1/2" x 11" sheet. If a larger map is used, fold and place it in the pouch at the back of the report.

Inventory Process

The inventory of natural, cultural and visual resources is the main focus of the designation evaluation. It must be descriptive and provide complete and convincing information. Historical road applications should emphasize cultural resources and scenic road applications should emphasize natural and visual resources.

The inventory should contain this information as applicable to the road area under consideration:

  • Natural Resources: geology, hydrology, climate, biota and topography
  • Cultural Resources: architectural resources, historical resources, archaeological resources and cultural development
  • Visual Resources: visual quality assessment procedures, landscape classification process, landscape inventory and visual quality assessment definitions

Other Supportive Documentation

  • Desirable Zone of Influence: Define an area to either side of the roadway that would be necessary to protect the resources from damaging encroachment. These areas will be generally the same as the view shed but may need to be further clarified. Give linear measurements for the corridors and illustrate on a map.
  • Land Ownership: Describe and illustrate the land ownership along the roadway. Use the following general categories: federal (Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service), state, city, reservation and private.
  • Land Use: Describe and illustrate the land uses along the roadway. Use the following categories: residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, governmental, conservational and recreational.
  • Land Zoning: Describe and illustrate the zoning along the roadway. Consult local zoning boards for this information.
  • Photographs and Supportive Material: Provide photographs and other information that document the scenic or historic significance of the roadway. Newspaper, magazine articles, etc. may be cited here. Include letters from local agencies or groups indicating their concern with the proposed designation. These may be special interest groups, city or county governments, etc.


List recommendations to protect or enhance the unique features and special natural or cultural resources in the area. The Laws and Rules, which contain ARS 41-516 and R17-3-809, provide for exemption from standard construction and maintenance practices to ensure resource preservation and provide for the safe use and service of the traveling public. Here are some examples:

  • Modifications to structures and signs
  • Pruning, removal or addition of plant materials
  • Enhancement of historical markers
  • Erosion control
  • Addressing vehicular and pedestrian traffic
  • Compliance with area planning and zoning
  • Location of scenic viewpoints
  • Restoration of vegetative cover in disturbed areas


Evaluation Criteria

The application is evaluated by the Parkways, Historic and Scenic Roads Advisory Committee. A summary is offered here to familiarize the applicant with the evaluation criteria and process. To become familiar with the complete scoring, please review the complete Evaluation Criteria.

Parkway Proposal Evaluations

Parkway evaluations are based on meeting the criteria for a scenic road or historic road, access and corridor protective restrictions, interagency agreement and certain economic factors. Its designation allows for the development of appropriate facilities such as visitor centers, rest areas, trails, etc., so that the resource may be enjoyed at a more intimate, leisurely level.

Not all scenic and historic roads qualify for parkway designation and applicants should not feel that this is the ultimate goal of the process. Other benefits are obtained from careful consideration of a particular roadway under these criteria. The proposal for the parkway shall be evaluated by the use of these criteria:

  • Meet the one-mile minimum distance between access roads as established by ARS 41-514.
  • Meet the established criteria for either a scenic road or historic road.
  • Have appropriate space obtainable for interpretive area with parking and visitor facilities.
  • Provide controlled access and development of adjacent property rights obtained by the State Transportation Board or other governments.

Note: These definitive criteria will not be rated on a scale as are the historic and scenic criteria.

Historic Road Proposal Evaluations

Historic evaluations are based on documented criteria as confirmed by the Arizona Historical Society and the Arizona Historical Advisory Committee. Factors critical to the historical designation include the impact of the route on cultural heritage, impact on the area, proximity to the historical area and uniqueness.

The route must have a significant historic contribution or impact to the state or at least to a region of the state.

To obtain the numerical combination of the four factors, please use the Historic Road Evaluation Sheet.

  • Impact of the Route: Impact of the route relates to the estimated relative importance of the historical route or place to the cultural heritage within the national, state, regional or local framework, which are judged to be of equal significance. This factor includes consideration of the historical impact on the development of Arizona's heritage in such fields as transportation, commerce, architecture, history, archaeology, mining, agriculture and culture.
  • Impact of the Area: Impact of the area relates to the significance of the contribution of the historical place or road to the exploration, settlement or development of Arizona. The activities of exploration, settlement or development may be considered collectively or individually. This factor should include consideration of the historical impact of exploration, settlement and/or development of the American Indian, Hispanic/Mexican and United States civilizations. It will also include consideration of the historic impact on political/governmental, sociocultural and technological/economic development at all political subdivision levels.
  • Proximity: Proximity of the proposed historical route to the historical place or road shall consider both physical and/or visual access.
  • Uniqueness: Uniqueness of the historical place or road refers to the relative scarcity or abundance of a given type of historic resource.

Scenic Road Proposal Evaluations

Scenic evaluations are based on the level of the overall visual quality rating developed on the visual quality summary sheet, and not just landscape components. Attributes critical to the visual quality are vividness, intactness and unity.

The information provided by the Visual Quality Summary Sheet includes the overall visual quality of each landscape assessment unit and the average visual quality of the entire road segment.

Many factors contribute to the visual quality of a landscape. For purposes of evaluation generally, these factors can be grouped under the attributes of vividness, intactness and unity.

  • Vividness: Vividness is the memorability of the visual impression received from the contrasting landscape elements as they combine to form a striking, distinctive visual pattern. The route is extremely vivid if unforgettable elements and patterns combine to form a unique visual impression.
  • Intactness: Intactness is the integrity of the visual order in the natural and human built landscape and the extent to which the landscape is free from visual encroachment.
  • Unity: Unity is the degree to which the visual aspects of the landscape elements join together to form a harmonious composite of visual patterns.

Parkways, Historic and Scenic Roads Advisory Committee

The PHSRAC reviews, prioritizes and evaluates the requests based on the established criteria and the quality of resources. Recommendations are then made to the State Transportation Board for the designation of favorable routes. The PHSRAC may also review significant changes that may require deletion of a designation to maintain the integrity of the program.

The advisory committee is comprised of 11 members:

  • Six citizen appointees by the governor
  • One member from the Arizona Department of Transportation
  • One member from Arizona State Parks Board
  • One member from the Arizona Historical Society
  • One member from the Arizona Office of Tourism
  • One member from the Tourism Advisory Council


Guidelines & Rules

Once a roadway is designated as a parkway, historic road or scenic road, there are specific guidelines and rules that must be adhered to preserve the designation.

Standards of Operations

Vegetation Protection

All vegetation within the designated zone of influence on parkways, historic roads and scenic roads should be protected against destruction or unauthorized removal.

Any planting by state forces or others within designated parkways, historic roads and scenic roads should be for revegetative purposes or to enhance unattractive roadside conditions. All plant material used for these purposes should be similar plant material indigenous to the area.

The ADOT District's landscape vegetation management should be alert for major plant pests that may substantially harm existing growth. They should initiate control of plant pests before excessive damage occurs to the existing vegetation.

Access Permits

All applications for access permits on designated parkways, historic roads and scenic roads shall be reviewed by ADOT's Roadside Development Section for possible negative environmental and visual impacts before the permit is issued. If said negative impacts are found to occur due to access point location(s), recommendations will be made by the Roadside Development Section on possible location(s), where their construction shall

  • cause the least damage to existing vegetation.
  • cause the least visual impact from the traveled roadway.
  • require the least amount of earthwork and cause a minimal amount of erosion.
  • provide adequate safety standards for traffic passing, entering and departing the access point.
  • include revegetation of disturbed areas and appropriate mitigations.

The Parkways, Historic and Scenic Roads Advisory Committee (PHSRAC) shall be informed of the permit request and recommendations. All permit applicants will, if possible, conform to the Landscape and Irrigation Design Guidelines.

All permit applicants shall, if possible, conform to the Landscape and Irrigation Design Guidelines for ADOT's encroachment permit applications as developed by the ADOT Roadside Development Section and other appropriate department standards.


Development along all parkways, historic roads and scenic roads should be environmentally compatible. The PHSRAC recommends that local and county planning and zoning departments implement protective zoning regulations or design review overlay zoning along designated scenic roadways. These types of zoning regulations are necessary to protect, maintain and enhance the scenic quality along the highways. These regulations should also be incorporated in urban areas along the designated routes to help unify development patterns and enhance the visual quality.


Permits for utility crossings on designated parkways, historic roads and scenic roads shall be reviewed by the ADOT Roadside Development Section for possible negative environmental and visual impacts. Recommendations will be made by the Roadside Development Section to mitigate those impacts. Utility permit applicants should, if at all possible, conform to these recommendations:

  • The utility should cross the parkway, historic road or scenic road in the shortest possible distance, i.e., at a right angle to the roadway.
  • The utility shall place all pipe, lines, wire, etc., underground if possible. If above ground structures are necessary, they should be painted to blend into the environment to soften the visual impact.
  • The utility shall conduct its construction activities so as to disturb a minimum amount of vegetation and soil.
  • All disturbed areas should be reseeded after completion of construction activity with indigenous or adapted species specified by the ADOT Roadside Development Section.

Interpretive Sites / Scenic Pullouts

The ADOT Roadside Development Section, in cooperation with the ADOT District, shall evaluate potential sites for historical markers, scenic pullouts and interpretive sites on all parkways, historic roads and scenic roads. All potential sites shall provide adequate safety standards for traffic entering, departing and passing the site.

Roadway Construction and Maintenance

Construction of any nature shall be done in a manner that will cause the least disturbance to the visual or historic resources of a parkway, historic road and scenic road. Construction and maintenance activities shall, if at all possible, conform to these recommendations:

  • Construction equipment shall not be allowed to move at random on and off the roadway. The limits of construction shall be clearly marked, and a minimum amount of disturbance from the construction should be used to efficiently complete proposed work. Access roads should also be clearly marked.
  • All construction scars shall be reseeded with appropriate species determined by the ADOT Roadside Development Section.
  • The project should be designed to minimize long-term impacts detrimental to the unique visual or cultural resources of the road's environment. For example, slopes should be designed suitable for effective revegetation.
  • Roadway appurtenances such as fences, bank protection, traffic barriers, retaining walls, etc., should be of a design, color and texture compatible with surrounding natural and cultural features.
  • Maintenance activities should encourage and protect the existing values of the parkway, historic road and scenic road designation.
  • Mowing operations should be timed so as to take advantage of the maturing seed crop of existing grasses and wildflowers, to foster their propagation.
  • Maintenance foremen should consult the ADOT Roadside Development Section before beginning any work that in their opinion may jeopardize the visual quality of the parkway, historic road or scenic road.