These Road Trips Aren’t Just Epic, They Can Be Done in an Electric Car
We put together some road trip route ideas with plenty of electric vehicle charging stations along the way.
It’s no surprise that people who love the outdoors want to keep these landscapes beautiful for years to come. One in five campers own an electric vehicle, according to Kampgrounds of America. So, we put together some road trip route ideas with plenty of charging stations along the way.
But first, Matt Teske, founder of Oregon-based charging station app Chargeway, shares a few tips for road trips. To start, plan ahead. Temperatures and driving speeds can affect your battery life. And not every electric vehicle is compatible with every charging station. Download an app like Chargeway to plug in your destinations (plus all these variables) to ensure you can make it from point A to point B.
Also, find fast chargers. You’ll save time on the road if you map out a route where you can fuel up quickly, “so you don’t even need to worry about stopping at an overnight stop to fill up,” Teske says. If you do plan to hunker down for the evening, make sure there’s at least a standard charging station onsite.
And check the network! Many charging stations are managed by open networks, which means you’re more likely to have access to customer support if a problem arises. If you plan to use a non-network charger, call the location ahead to confirm it’s available and turned on.
Finally, make sure to bring your mobile connector. “Anytime I go on a road trip,” Teske says, “I always take my mobile connector.” In the event of an emergency, you can connect it to a power source and instantly access fuel.
Below, see some of our favorite routes across the West, keeping in mind electric charging stations and mileage for your specific electric vehicle.
GET NATURAL IN OREGON
End: Crater Lake National Park
Distance: 350-ish miles
The Pacific Northwest is home to the West Coast Electric Highway, a series of fast-charging stations no more than 50 miles apart along major roadways including Interstate 5 and Highway 99.
So, we’re heading to Central Oregon, which can satisfy the palate of any adventurer. At the epicenter of this environmental smorgasbord is Bend, a haven for outdoors enthusiasts and food lovers alike—and home to plenty of chargers. The drive from Portland to Bend takes a little over three hours, so a pit stop to stretch, indulge, and charge might be in order.
Amid the ocean of Douglas firs in Willamette National Forest is a geological oasis many refer to simply as “The Blue Pool.” Approximately 1,600 years ago, a lava flow oozing from Oregon’s Belknap Crater smothered a nearly 3-mile stretch of the nearby McKenzie River, effectively stifling the river’s flow except for porous lava that, to this day, filters the river in a process that transforms its water into a stunning shade of turquoise and a constantly frigid 37°F temperature. You won’t be swimming for long if you do decide to take a dip. Still, the beauty is well worth the 4-mile hike.
There’s lots of room to store your gear in these Bend digs. You can rent a tube at the front desk to float down the Deschutes River. Plus, there are fast chargers at the Walmart in town.
Smith Rock State Park
Twenty-six miles east of Bend is a 650-acre parcel of towering rock formations. Climbing, hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and mountain biking are abundant in this year-round playground. If you prefer a more relaxed pace, plop an inner tube down in the calm waters of the Crooked River and let soothing sounds usher all your worries into oblivion.
A visit to Bend isn’t complete without enjoying the soft roll of the river by inner tube, paddle board, or kayak. Mosey through the charming Old Mill District all the way to the picturesque Drake Park before embarking on the area’s renowned “Bend Ale Trail.”
Crater Lake National Park
With a depth of 1,949 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest of its kind in the U.S. Thanks to a steady diet of snow and rain, it’s also one of the clearest. Enjoy the 33-mile Rim Drive replete with 30 scenic overlooks. Stay after dark and you might even catch the Milky Way.
HUG THE COAST IN CALIFORNIA
Start: Santa Barbara
End: Big Sur
Distance: 230-ish miles
Highway 1 is arguably one of the most scenic drives along the West Coast, winding up and down rocky cliffs that tower over the ocean.
This drive will likely take you longer than five hours as you stop at overlooks to take in the views—or make your way into myriad small beach towns, each with its own character and charm.
All the while, you’ll be cruising along the Central Coast’s Whale Trail; if you’re lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures.
Because, every good day starts with coffee, right? Grab a cup to go from Dune Coffee Roasters.
Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove
Thousands of Western monarch butterflies make their way to this coastal sanctuary, best visited from November to February. It’s one of their largest over-wintering sites, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Seeing a “burst” of butterflies in the morning light is an ethereal experience.
Vespera Resort on Pismo Beach
Cozy up to one of the fire pits at this pet-friendly Pismo Beach hotel, where you can valet a Tesla to be charged overnight. Enjoy seaside chowder or grilled halibut at the onsite restaurant, Somerset Grill. It’s the perfect homebase to hike in the nearby Pismo Preserve.
Montaña De Oro State Park
Mountain biking, surfing, hiking, and more can be found in this spectacular 8,000-acre state park. Take in the views of Morro Bay, or explore the tidepools.
Even if you’re not staying in one of the iconic themed rooms (and by that, we mean the all-pink “Love Nest” and lime green “Bridal Falls”), grab a drink at the lounge, where you’ll find floral carpets and neon-colored armchairs. There are onsite chargers if you want to stay overnight.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
You’ve probably seen photos of iconic McWay Falls; now hike down to experience the real deal. It’s a quarter-mile stroll to this 60-foot cascade into the ocean. Enjoy the redwoods and madrones along the way.
Ventana Big Sur
This hilltop resort offers campsites, glamping tents, and luxury suites. Bring an inflatable paddleboard for endless adventure. Plus, there are chargers in the parking lot to keep you topped off.
GLAMP IN UTAH
Start: Big Water
Distance: 350-ish miles
Few destinations are better equipped to accommodate adventure than a state boasting five national parks, 11 national sites, 43 state parks, 22.8 million acres of Bureau of Land Management lands, and one of the greatest concentrations of certified International Dark Sky destinations in the world. Did we mention Utah is in the midst of installing electric vehicle chargers every 50 miles along interstate highways?
For this southern stretch, spectacular sights and adventure are—literally—right outside your door.
Under Canvas Lake Powell-Grand Staircase
Nestled atop a canyon rim, this glamping site offers accessibility to sightseeing, as well as an arsenal of luxurious amenities—plush beds, wood-burning stoves, en suite bathrooms, to name a few—that can accommodate families of up to six. Plus, there are Rivian open-network chargers onsite.
Charge up before heading to this superb destination—best-reached by four-wheeler—that offers easy hiking and canyoneering far removed from the dense crowds attracted by the region’s better-known spots. The hike through the slot’s narrows is a leisurely half-mile stroll through a red, orange, and pink canyon maze that radiates in the afternoon sun. If you’re in the mood for a longer on-foot expedition, try the nearby, highly-rated Buckskin Gulch on the Arizona border.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
After another night inside your canvas tent, head to this state park for hiking, ATV riding, and wildlife viewing in a setting that began forming 15,000 years ago through the slow erosion of pink Navajo sandstone. Enjoy an evening watching the dunes catch fire in the glow of a southwestern sunset. Do some research ahead of time to see if you can fuel up at the fast charger in Salina on the drive out.
Under Canvas Moab
Like its aforementioned sister property, Under Canvas Moab also has open-network chargers and is beautifully positioned among some of Canyon Country’s most inspiring natural wonders. Amenities are likewise plentiful, and tents can accommodate anything from a romantic getaway to family outings.
Canyonlands and Arches National Parks
With just a half-hour drive between them, these parks should be on your bucket list. Enjoy endless exploration of more than 2,000 natural arches, precariously-balanced boulders, red rock mazes, and canyon-carving waterways (headlined by the Colorado River).
DIVE INTO IDAHO
End: Craters of the Moon
Distance: 360-ish miles
Idaho is too often left off the to-do lists of travelers, so we’re endeavoring to remedy that.
This iteration takes us to Craters of the Moon, where alpine lakes, mountain vistas, volcanic oceans, and a renowned author take center stage.
Sun Valley Lodge
It was at the Sun Valley Lodge, where, in 1939, American novelist Ernest Hemingway put the finishing touches on For Whom the Bell Tolls. Visitors today can book a suite dedicated to the iconic author, who’s buried alongside family in the Ketchum Cemetery. Before you head out on alpine adventures farther north, you’ll want to stop and recharge in the nearby town of Hailey.
Stanley, Pettit, or Red Fish Lakes
Three of the most popular alpine lakes in the jagged Sawtooth Mountain range appear straight out of a postcard. Drive right up to sparkling bodies of water with dramatic backdrops that beckon families and solo travelers alike. Breathtaking night skies will make evident the region’s designation as the first in the United States to be named a Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association.
Craters of the Moon
Like a sight out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Mordor, this 600-square-mile ocean of lava, cinder cones, and sagebrush comprises one of the largest lava fields in the Lower 48.
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- 3 Cabins, 3 Styles: Is This the Ultimate Forest Hideaway?
- Bikepacking 101: Why You Should Try It and How to Get Started
- Feeling the Heat? Try These Drought-Tolerant Plants in Your Garden Now
- Go Ahead, Forage Your Own Food. But First Know the Rules
Exploring the numerous phenomena is made easy thanks to a 7-mile, drivable loop that meanders through mind-bending cone, spatter, and hoodoo formations, some of which solidified in mid-flight as far back as 15,000 years ago. (Make sure you charge up before you enter the park, somewhere off Highway 75.) To no surprise, the park is an International Dark Sky location.
Craters of the Moon/Arco KOA Journey
Just 19 miles from Craters of the Moon is this spacious, shaded KOA campground that offers tent and cabin sites. Free Wi-Fi and a heated pool will help you unwind.
Ensure you have enough electric fuel to make it all the way to Idaho Falls, where fast chargers are available, not to mention plenty of hotels to rest your weary head.
Don’t forget to pack these products to keep your road trip running smoothly.
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