BLM Back Country Byways serve a unique niche in providing an “off-the-beaten-path” adventure through landscape settings as diverse as the West itself. The BLM currently manages 54 BLM-designated National Back Country Byways totaling approximately 2,952 miles in 11 western states. In addition to the BLM National Back Country Byways, approximately 60 National Scenic Byways or State designated scenic byways, totaling nearly 2,500 miles, traverse BLM lands in seven states. Some examples of these include the Billy the Kid Trail National Scenic Byway in New Mexico, the Rogue-Umpqua National Scenic Byway in Oregon, the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway in Colorado (also a BLM Back Country Byway), and Highway 12 - Journey Through Time All-American Road in Utah.
The BLM’s Byways Program, established in 1989, is a component of the National Scenic Byways Program. BLM State Directors designate BLM Back Country Byways on BLM public lands. Other Byway designations – such as National Scenic Byways, All-American Roads, State Scenic Byways, or National Forest Scenic Byways – may also occur on portions of BLM lands, but must be designated through a State Department of Transportation or other Federal agency. Since many BLM-designated byways cross other Federal, state, county and private lands, their designation and management can vary based on the agency responsible for the management of the byway.
Back Country Byway Categories
While most BLM-designated Back Country Byways are native surface or gravel base roads, BLM back country Byways fall into one of four category types. These categories range from “Type I” paved all-weather roads suitable for normal passenger vehicles, to Type IV single-track trails suitable only for dirt bikes, mountain bikes, or snowmobiles during winter season. The National Back Country Byway Program is BLM’s unique contribution to the larger National Scenic Byways Program. Both programs were created following a study by the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors that found 43 percent of American adults identified driving for pleasure as a favorite pastime.
Byways Program National Lead