Timelapse: Drive Across America in 5 Minutes

New York photographer Brian DeFrees recently set out on a roadtrip around the United States with the goal of creating a timelapse to chronicle his journey. He traveled 12,225 miles while capturing a photo every five seconds with his Canon 60D. Take a moment to watch this video, which will carry you across the United States and back in five minutes:

DeFrees mounted the camera just below the rear view mirror along with an intervalometer, which controlled the camera’s rate of picture taking. He captured 200,000 individual photographs and combined them into the previous video which has turned into a viral hit on YouTube.

In total, he crossed at least 32 states in 55 days:

time-lapse across america

12,225 mile time-lapse roadtrip around the United States

When he was parked for the night or exploring an area on foot he was constantly timelapsing. Here is a collection of the timelapses he captured while outside of his car during the trip:

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Check out this COMPLETE guide (146 pages) to shooting, processing, and rendering timelapses using a DSLR camera. It can be found here: Timelapse Photography Guide

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50 responses to “Timelapse: Drive Across America in 5 Minutes”

  1. Todd Breitmann says:

    My family and I made a very similar trip around the country in a motor home in 2012. It took us nearly a full year to do. I logged over 13,000 miles on my motor home and drove some more in our towed vehicle. It was a trip of a life time. You can check it out on my blog: teambreitmann.blogspot.com.

  2. Tasha says:

    Random question, but what did you use to create the map in the picture above with all the pins? I tried creating a similar one using Google Maps but it limited how many locations I could use.

  3. Daisy says:

    What a shame that except for a brief drive through PART of Yellowstone, he apparently saw nothing interesting. I agree with Tom Anderson- BORING!

    Where was Yosemite? The redwoods? The sequoias? The Grand Canyon? The most scenic drive in North America – The Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier Park? The Olympic National Park temperate rainforest, mountains and seashore. Arches National Park, Zion, Bryce Canyon, a truck ride through Canyon de Shelly with Navajo guides? A hike into the Grand Tetons? A rodeo at Jackson Hole? And so much more that you simply do not see in this very uninteresting video. What a waste of gasoline just to make a video of highways!

  4. Victoria says:

    As someone who’s never had the opportunity to travel, I found these videos very exciting. I wish I could see the entire trip slowed way down, but the beauty of our country was still very evident. I loved the imagery in the second video, especially the time lapse of the night skies!

  5. Shanna says:

    I love the video. I wish you could do a video where it was slowed down just a bit maybe 10 minutes so people who would like to see more details could

  6. RKB says:

    You missed a lot of sites. I’ve got over 2300 items on my list. Roughly 800 completed..

  7. Jody Schuyler says:

    I drove from Alaska to Florida with my 12 year old daughter and our pug. I am a single mom and this was an adventure of a lifetime.Thank you for sharing your adventure.

  8. adc says:

    Also loved the ferry ride in to my current town of Seattle, WA

  9. adc says:

    30 seconds in is Austin, Texas??

  10. Millie says:

    I know many have asked for your route and places you saw along the way and if possible I would like to join them in asking if you can share that information.

  11. Heather says:

    This was great. Being an Air Force Brat and Navy Wife, I’ve been to all but four states (lived in many of them). Have done three cross-country road trips and this summer we’ll take my husband’s daughters on a road trip up the CA coast, through southern Oregon then down the interior of CA. This will be helpful in the planning – thank you!

  12. Karen says:

    That is pretty amazing! I have been on many of those roads myself. Longest trip is only 4,000 miles for me. Unfortunately you missed a whole bunch in WY and MT. So much there to see as well. Great video!

  13. Carol says:

    Would really love to get details about what the landmarks are that he visited…..nice map with the pins in them, but unfortunately it doesn’t tell us what towns and landmarks he visited. I’ve always wanted to spend a couple years just wandering the USA and this would be great information for that “someday”. Thanks.

  14. Margaret says:

    Can I have the directions for this trip?

  15. Michelle says:

    OMG! LOVED these! Thank you so much for sharing your creations. Absolutely amazing. If you slowed these down, or added to them to movie length I would pay big bucks to watch these in an IMAX theater!!

  16. D says:

    Funny question … how many times did you have to wash your windshield on this trip :)
    Great video!

  17. Tommye says:

    It would be really nice if it was slowed down, so you could enjoy it.

  18. Chris says:

    Where, exactly did he start and what direction did he go? I assumed FL then LA …

  19. todd says:

    What the heck is in the SW corner of ND?

  20. smcchef says:

    We did a similar thing but in 2 different trips. Drove to Alaska pulling a camper then back down on the west coast side. Few years later drove from Memphis to Niagara Falls, then down the east coast side. Stationed with the military for 3 yrs in Hawaii. So now my kids have been to all 50 states except North Dakota. Daughter and I taking road trip there in a couple of weeks before she leaves for college. Her bucket list item will be checked off!
    Kid may not of admitted they liked it then but we talk about the trips all the time! Great family memories.

  21. Kate says:

    I loved everything about this, thank you for this.

  22. Sandy says:

    We took a trip like this 30 years ago. We traveled over 6 weeks from Michigan to Northern California, down to Southern California back thru the southern United states! Some of our highlights were Mount Rushmore, Pikes peak, Redwoods, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon & New Orleans! We had planned on going to Vegas, but chose to visit family in Santa Clara California instead. Good choice if ya ask me! We traveled in a pop up camper hitting many KIA well as other themed campgrounds! I would recommend this to anyone that can do it!! I would love to travel up the east coast the same way!!

  23. Anna says:

    For those of you asking for more information look at his website:

  24. Tom Anderson says:

    I have to say that’s one of the most boring videos I’ve ever seen. It’s almost all freeways and bridges, with very little to tell people where he is or what he sees. I stopped it less than a fourth of the way in, and can’t understand why people think it’s so great.

  25. Ben Dover says:

    from Salt Lake City, totally recognized SLC and Park City just over the mountains! So cool man which highways did you take for this? Would love to do this with the family sometime.

  26. marcy says:

    Can you please post the places you stopped/your route???? PLEASE?!?!

  27. Mihaela Froehlich says:

    We are doing a road trip this summer with our family from VA to WA. We will go to Kentucky to visit family, Saint Luis, Kansas City, Mont Rushmore, Yellowstone, North Idaho and finally WA. Anyone has any suggestions?

    • C Tomlinson says:

      Depending on your time frame and interests, we’ve traveled most of the US and can recommend some stops. Idaho has Craters of the Moon, Washington state has Spokane, with a Loeff Carousel, beautiful waterfalls, Minten Gardens and the cathedral on it’s edge that plays “Hello Dolly”. Coulee Dam is worth seeing in upper northeast Washington, Leavenworth’s Bavarian village is truly unique and of course there’s Seattle. In Oregon, see the actual Oregon Trail ruts at Baker City, Multnomah Falls just outside Portland, the city of Portland’s Pioneer Square and the ten blocks around it (Portland Library’s amazing fossil steps, Powell’s largest bookstore, the Pods on 10th that started the food cart craze, etc).

    • billy says:

      I would suggest since you are going to be in northern Idaho that you spend a couple of days at Glacier National Park with a trip across the border to see Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. They are only separated by the border and have some beautiful sights ad wonderful wildlife. Mt. Rushmore was a bit boring to me and we didn’t spend much time there. Also another great place for wildlife in that part of the country is Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

  28. erica says:

    Would love a copy for the route, highways, etc. I would totally do that with my kids for the whole summer.

  29. Jenna says:

    I did a similar trip last year at 12k miles and 8 weeks. I fell in love with my country and savor every delicious memory.

  30. Katrina says:

    Wait, do I see a tornado at 4:23?

  31. Sadie says:

    Well, the time lapse video certainly wasn’t taken from his car. The bit from Austin, TX is at the SRV statue and would not be where he parked his car…it is on a jogging path and really only accessible to park vehicles. It is a beautiful collection of time lapses, but highly doubt the story behind these videos.

  32. Elizabeth says:

    After seeing this, I no longer have the desire to see the other states. Except for a few nice areas, everything was highways and cities. I think I will pass adding this trip to my bucket list.

    • Lisa says:

      Clearly if the pictures were taken as he was driving, most of it would be highways and cities. On a road trip that is mostly what you will see while driving, that’s why you have to get out of the car sometimes too. I wouldn’t cross this off your bucket list based on that reason.

  33. Sarah says:

    Wow, that was just amazing! Made me want to jump in a car and go

  34. Barbara says:

    Would love to know the route he took on this!

  35. Gale says:

    I never say awesome, but, AWESOME! Being a Navy brat we travelled all over the US, it was nice to recognize so many sites. I want to do this.

  36. Tammy B says:

    Going from Portland to Mt Vernon WA..Suggestions for limited mileage??

  37. Tiffany says:

    You totally missed Missouri and the other central states. There are lots of awesome things to see in Kansas/Missouri area. I may be partial since I grew up there, but it really is a gorgeous area!

  38. Kristen says:

    I won’t the route with the places Ana’s highlights

  39. Jen says:

    Amazing .. Breathtaking. Thank you for the beautiful videos. What a perfect portrait of our nations beauty and diversity.

  40. Teresa says:

    I wonder how much it costs to do such trip. It sounds like a great bucket list

  41. Wow! That was dizzying and exhilarating! I liked it and shared it!

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