Quick Charging Breakdown (TL;DR)
- Left Bay Area with 245 miles.
- Stopped to charge in Merced, CA and topped up to 250 miles.
- Reached Yosemite West (Airbnb) with 110 miles remaining.
- Slow charged (Level 1) on and off during the 2 day stay.
- Left Yosemite West with 160 miles.
- Charged (Level 2) in Rush Creek Lodge.
- Charged (Level 3) in Livingston.
A few of my friends and I planned to spend Eid-ul-Fitr 2022 in Yosemite. I had switched to a Tesla Model 3 LR (356 mi/ 572 km range) a few months prior and was looking forward to an actual road trip to test how the car would perform. The charging network outside more populated cities still has gaps and scarcities and we had to spend a bit more time on trip planning compared to our friends who all own gasoline-powered cars.
The Daily Driver Experience
My wife and I live in an apartment building that doesn’t offer an electrical socket close to the parking spot. During my first month of being an EV owner, I had perpetual range anxiety. It was psychological of course and after a couple of weeks, I had gotten into a habit of searching the nearby area for a charger wherever I parked. Sometimes that means we add a 10-minute or so walk to our actual destination and back, but that saves us from going out of our way to find a supercharger and sit and wait for 45 minutes.
Since the Tesla is the only car we own, the Long Range model was a necessity for the occasional road trip. Tesla’s supercharger network is a huge bonus compared to most other EVs. And once Tesla makes its chargers universal, just as they did in the EU, all EVs will be able to benefit from it.
Bay Area to Yosemite
We took the I-140 on our way to Yosemite. I wanted to start the journey with a full battery, but life had other plans, and we started with a 70% charge. When we put our destination into Tesla maps, it automatically added Merced, CA, as a charging stop for us and even specified that we should charge there for 30 minutes.
We set off on the route Tesla maps had planned for us and made our stop at Merced. Had we begun our drive fully charged, there would have been no need to stop, but then again, at the time of writing, Merced is the last place that has fast charging before the I-140. There is an 8kW Tesla Destination Charger at Midpines on I-140, but unless you are staying overnight, it won’t be a viable option.
The good news is that Rivian stepped up and installed a few Level 2 chargers in the Yosemite Valley. But some of these are in hotel parking lots and may or may not be available to non-guests. We were in luck since we had booked an Airbnb in Yosemite West that allowed us to park in their garage and charge our car, and that’s the first thing I did when we reached the house. I backed into the narrow garage entrance and plugged into the standard 120V socket.
The hosts also had a 240V dryer socket, but I was relatively new in the U.S. and didn’t realise I needed a Gen 2 NEMA 14–50 adapter. I ordered one as soon as I found out. I also learnt that RVs use the same socket and read about people’s accounts of charging at RV parks when they could not reach a supercharger.
Although I wasn’t able to charge the car up to full over the two days we stayed there, we were still able to make the trips to Yosemite Valley and back for free. When we left Yosemite, I had enough charge to reach the next supercharger on the way home with ease.
Yosemite to Bay Area
We took I-120 on the way back. On the way, we stopped at Rush Creek Lodge for lunch. It is a beautiful resort and what’s more beautiful is that it has a ChargePoint charger. An hour there gave us enough juice to reach Bay Area with a few miles on the battery to spare. But we decided to stop at the Livingston Mall (which has quite a few superchargers) before we drove the final stretch home.
Since an electrical socket was waiting for me in Yosemite, I had no worries about driving to the state park. Even if that had not been the case, a full charge from the last supercharger would have easily covered the trip, owing to the 356 mi/ 572 km range battery. And I would have been hopeful to top off slightly in the Valley.
I hope this brief EV-centred travel log helps you with your travel planning. Leave your experience as a comment if you’ve also had the chance to take your EV to Yosemite.