Scenic Virginia

Scenic Rivers

The Federal and State scenic byways programs are ways to recognize and promote outstanding roads. Scenic Byway designation is a tool for scenic resource promotion and protection.

Virginia’s Scenic Rivers Program


The Department of Conservation and Recreation managed the Scenic Rivers Program starting in 1970. The purpose is to identify, designate, and protect rivers and streams with outstanding scenic, recreational, historic, and natural characteristics. As of July 2017, there were 33 river segments totaling 680 miles included in the system.

Criteria for Designation

  • Water Quality
  • Corridor Development
  • Recreational Access
  • Historic Features
  • Natural Features
  • Visual Appeal
  • Quality of Fisheries
  • Presence of Unique Habitat or Species

Benefits to Scenic Resources

“State and federal agencies must consider how projects and programs affect state scenic rivers. DCR helps localities develop planning tools to enhance the conservation and protection of scenic river corridors. Ultimately, the given locality decides which protection measures to institute. “

Source: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation


Scenic Rivers Program FAQ (Department of Conservation and Recreation)

Virginia’s 33 Scenic Rivers (Virginia Tourism Corporation)

Scenic Rivers Study Reports (Department of Conservation and Recreation)