The routing of the road was determined in November 1931 by National Park Service Engineer Thomas W. Secrest during a visit to the monument.
The detailed design for the road was developed in 1932 by the National Park Service Branch of Engineering and Branch of Plans and Design for maximum scenic impact, using the National Park Service Rustic style. Most of the road was constructed with almost entirely manual labor by labor from the Works Progress Administration, Public Works Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps, and represents one of the most significant Depression-era public projects. Extensive drilling and blasting was required, and three tunnels were bored. Work was suspended by the Second World War from 1942 to 1948, and was finally completed in 1950. At its height, the project employed more than 800 men.