Although the road Pensacola calls Scenic Highway was paved in 1929 at a cost of $1 million, the story of the unique corridor began long before man ever set foot in the area.
Five thousand years ago, what is now Scenic Highway was approximately 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and stood above a deep river canyon. Swift rivers carried sediment from the Appalachian Mountains to the Gulf. Bits of Appalachian granite lost their red-pink component on the journey, and the remaining quartz was deposited as the perfectly oval grains of white sand the make up Santa Rosa Island today. Some 500 years ago, a massive estuary system that includes present day Escambia Bay, Pensacola Bay and East Bay formed behind Santa Rosa Island. These bays became the source of bountiful seafood, and in time, attracted the attention of Yamassee Indians who set up camps on the bluffs overlooking Escambia Bay. What was once a Native American trail became a dirt carriage road used by the colonist when they settled Pensacola.
In 1929 the dirt road was paved and became U.S. 90. In 1973 it was designated a State Scenic Parkway by the Florida Legislature to encourage tourism. The highway follows the western shore along a series of distinctive sand and clay bluffs which offer magnificent views of Escambia Bay these bluffs are the highest point along Florida’s entire coastline. The corridor is rich in biodiversity, with both wetlands and upland forests. Expansive views of the Bay are punctuated by picturesque stands of longleaf pine, live oak and other indigenous trees and understory growth.