Choosing the Best Dash Cam For A Road Trip
With dash cams growing in popularity to improve road safety, they're also gaining recognition as a great road trip accessory when undertaking some of America's most scenic drives. If you want to choose the best dash cam for a road trip, it'll need some key features to make it easy to use and have high enough resolution to capture impressive footage. Here are the capabilities you should consider when looking for the best dash cam for recording scenery on a road trip, whether you're trying to capture winding mountain roads or unique city architecture.
- Quality Footage – A camera that records at 1080p full HD at 30fps or higher is really the minimum capability you want when trying to create a road trip video. A wide-angle lens with 4k resolution is an even better option to capture scenic drives. Don’t forget to consider adding an accessory in-cabin camera that can capture all your karaoke or in-vehicle entertainment.
- GPS Tracking – Being able to track your route and record the location of your video can be useful if you want to re-visit or share landmarks and points of interest that you encounter on route.
- LCD Screen – Having a built-in LCD screen isn't a requirement, but it can help you easily adjust camera settings to make sure you're capturing the best footage depending on lighting and camera positioning.
- Smart Features – Having an app or Cloud connectivity means you can view your footage in real-time and easily save it so that it doesn't get overwritten. Additional smart features include notifications of upcoming speed cameras, red light cameras, or other road hazards; these alerts can help keep you safe on your journey.
- Connectivity – Having a solid Bluetooth connection means you can easily connect to your smartphone app and manage settings or videos while your road trip buddy drives or once you’ve reached your destination. Having dual-band Wi-Fi means you don’t have to worry about missing out on software updates and you can easily upload videos to the cloud for safe-keeping. If you’re not sure whether you’ll have Wi-Fi, look for a dash cam that comes with an SD card, not all cameras come with one but they can save you money if they do!
- Incident Technology – Ideally, this feature won't be needed during a road trip, but in case an accident occurs, having a recording automatically backed up and a text message sent out to an emergency contact can give you peace of mind during a stressful event.
- Voice Control – If you're road tripping alone, voice control can allow you to still use your smart dash cam while keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. You'll be able to turn your screen on and off, take photos, lock videos, and use other features with just your voice.
Now that you know what features to look for when choosing the best dash cam for a road trip, learn how to use a dash cam to create road trip videos and where to explore to start your adventure.
How to Record A Road Trip
Recording your road trip with a dash cam couldn't be easier. Once your dash cam is set up and mounted, it's easy to start your video. You can choose between recording your entire trip or break up your videos into clips of the most scenic drives. If you've opted for a voice control camera, it's easy to use integrated voice commands so you can focus on driving safely. Apps and Cloud technology mean that when you stop to stretch your legs, you'll be able to take a look at your footage and decide if you need to reposition your camera or edit what you've captured.
Keep in mind that some states have tight restrictions when it comes to mounting items to a windshield since they can obstruct driver's views. Dash cams are perfectly legal, but where you put them can affect whether you're breaking the law. Be sure to check the rules around where you're planning a trip.
Other Road Trip Equipment
Now that you've got your dash cam set up and ready to record, it's time to consider other useful equipment to make your road trip easier. Choose a compatible radar detector to help you stay safe and alert on your drive. A power inverter is a must-have if you have medical equipment you need to power or if you need a laptop or other electronic device on your trip. We also recommend carrying a jump starter so that you don't risk getting stranded in an unfamiliar place. And, while your cell phone will work in well populated areas, coverage can be spotty in some places, including parts of the desert Southwest and Mountain states. As an alternative, consider getting recreational CB radios to maintain reliable communication, no matter where the road takes you.
Most Scenic Drives in America – Road Trip Ideas
America is filled with beautiful scenery and diverse environments that make for some of the most scenic drives in the world. From rugged mountains to pristine lakes and lengthy beaches, no matter whether you're staying on a major road or going off-roading, you'll want to make sure you have a dash cam to help capture epic road trip views.
Best West Coast Drives
The west coast offers a range of diversity when it comes to scenic drives. Planning a west coast road trip is hard – only because there is so much to see! Here are some top summer road trip ideas so you can fit in the best west coast drives, views, and experiences.
National Park Trips
The western half of the United States is brimming with national and state parks teeming with gorgeous views. Planning a trip between parks? Capture the drives within and between some of these iconic locations.
- Yosemite to Sequoia to Death Valley – experience drastically different environments when you make the journey between tree-filled mountains to sparse desert climates.
- Zion to Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef to Arches – take in all the splendor and orange beauty Utah has to offer with 4 national parks all within short drives of each other. On a clear day, the blue sky and sunburnt environment will give you stunning dash cam footage.
- Mount Rainier to Olympia to North Cascades – impressive mountain peaks and lush forests will be sure to leave an impression on you and anyone who watches your road trip video and leave you wishing for a return trip to underrated Washington state.
Other Scenic West Coast Drives
Other popular drives include classic and iconic road trips that start and end in major cities. Even if you don't live close, flying in and hiring a rental car will still allow you to enjoy breathtaking views.
- Drive 466 miles on California's Pacific Coast Highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles for dreamy coastal views and beachy towns
- Start in Portland, OR, and enjoy the 75-mile drive between Troutdale and The Dalles while taking in waterfall views, stone bridges, and dramatic cliffs.
- Enjoy a 140-mile wine trail (with a designated driver) between Mendocino and Napa to take in vineyards, redwoods, and award-winning restaurants on the rolling hills of inland California.
- Drive the Oregon Coast on Highway 101 for 360 miles and capture rugged coastlines with crashing waves all the way to the Oregon dunes, where drivers can experience the thrill of off-roading and create an exciting dash cam road trip video.
Best East Coast Drives
Although people often think the west coast has more to offer than the east, there is still plenty to see and do if you know where to go. Incorporate off-roading on wide stretches of sandy beaches or take on the twists and turns of the east coast mountain ranges. There's a plethora of cute towns and good southern food to make an east coast drive memorable.
Atlantic Coast Drives
If the Pacific Coast Highway in California is a bit too far away for your next road trip, don't miss the beautiful coastline on the East Coast. From the rocky beaches of Bar Harbor, ME, to the tropical adventures of the Florida Keys, you'll have amazing road trip video to share.
- The 113-mile stretch of highway from Key Largo to Key West in the Florida Keys is filled with stunning ocean views and tropical wildlife. If you start your trip in Miami, you can take in the excitement of the city before you head to the islands.
- U.S. Highway 17, also called the Coastal Highway, stretches 1,200 miles from Virginia to Florida. A great place to start is the 92 miles from Savannah to Jekyll Island, where you can experience the Southern beauty of these Coastal Georgia towns. Savannah, the state's oldest city, is full of historic sites and beautiful tree-lined avenues and public parks, while the Golden Isles barrier islands are home to shrimp boats and wide, natural beaches.
- Take a lighthouse road trip along the North Carolina Outer Banks. There are seven standing lighthouses in North Carolina, and the trip from Old Baldy in the south to Currituck Beach on the northern end is about 365 miles. Along with the amazing lighthouses and beautiful beach views, you can even drive right on the beach itself in Corolla. If you have a little extra time, why not visit the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse in Edenton, NC, one of the last surviving screwpile lighthouses in the U.S.
- If you're looking for a different type of beach, take a drive along the scenic coastal roads of Maine. Known for its rocky shores and lovely harbor views, stick to the coastal road, Route 1, where you can.
Best Midwest Road Trips
Sure, the East and West Coast have stunning ocean views, but don't miss out on the beauty in the middle of the country. Check out these fun road trips through the Midwest.
- The Great River Road is a collection of roads that follows the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana. While you might not be ready to drive all 2,340 miles in one trip, why not make a start in Prescott, WI, at the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center to explore the Great Rivers Confluence, where the Mississippi and the St. Croix rivers merge.
- The Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway in South Dakota is made up of 39 miles of incredible scenery, including the amazing spires of Badlands National Park. Stop at one of the 16 designated overlooks to take in the amazing views
- Take a ride along Route 66! Start at the historic marker on Adams at Michigan Ave. in Chicago, IL, and end your trip at the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO. There's much to see along the way, including the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site (the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln) in Springfield, IL.
- Take a trip along the Ohio coast of Lake Erie. Travel in the autumn and get amazing road trip video as the leaves on the tree-lined roads show off their fall colors. Cleveland to Sandusky is a 66.2 mile trip, taking just a few hours if you're looking for a day trip through picturesque small-down America.
Scenic Routes for Off-Roading
Looking for more adventure than just a leisurely drive through winding mountain roads or along the coastline? Consider taking your trip off-roading, whether it's in your vehicle or a rental, and don't forget to bring your dash cam along for the ride! There are some awesome off-roading spots for adrenaline junkies and beginners alike and using the best dash cam for off-roading adventures will capture wild memories during your excursion.
- Take on the mountains 10,000 feet above sea level at Lizard Head Pass, Colorado
- Roll through Ideah Springs to Central City and Saint Marys Network to pass by alpine lakes and glaciers.
- Go jeeping in New Mexico to see canyons, river crossings, and practice rock climbing in your vehicle for the ultimate adrenaline-filled dash cam road trip.
- Take a drive along the beaches of Carova, NC, which is only accessible to 4WD vehicles.