It's not just Tesla Superchargers — other EV charging networks are making road trips easy too
There have been some exciting recent developments for adventuresome EVangelists such as myself. While much of driving for most everybody is predictable commuting, sometimes one needs to get off the beaten track. Until now, for EV drivers, that often presented a challenge at best, and a complete roadblock at worst.
Above: The author at his favorite charger in the world, at Crater Lake National Park, with is older son (Source: EVmatch)
But, lo! The sands of EV trekking are shifting. More exotic charging destinations are on the horizon – and, in some cases, already here. These developments represent a harbinger of what’s to come, due not only to the shift to electrification generally but the imminent prospect of an extensive infrastructure bill.
Non-Tesla charging networks are growing
Just this Spring, Jeep announced a partnership with Electrify America, the organization formed as part of Volkswagen’s penance for its diesel emissions scandal of the last decade, to create the Jeep 4xe Charging Network. Within just one year, Jeep intends to add a Level 2 charging station at the trailhead of each of its 62 “Badge of Honor” trails, a list that includes everything from California’s famed Rubicon Trail to, per CleanTechnica, extremely remote trails such as “the Black Gap 4×4 Trail in Big Bend National Park (near the Mexican border) and Monument Ridge in [Grand] Teton National Park.” Charging will be free!…for Jeep owners.
On a more microcosmic level, forward-thinking Coloradans will benefit from the addition of public charging stations to every one of Colorado’s 42 state parks, courtesy of Rivian. As reported by The Colorado Sun, “with the first installations planned for July” (I’ll be interested to see whether that means finishing them, or just starting them), the teamup “is good for both the ‘not if but when’ changeover to EVs and Colorado’s leadership on the environment and outdoors-related travel.”
More widespread – and at the risk of sounding like a shill for Rivian – the company’s “Adventure Network” presents a tantalizing brand promise. While ostensibly similar to Tesla’s Supercharger system, among other widespread networks, Rivian’s play seems to have a focus on outdoorsiness, not to mention timeliness: “Michigan’s UP via I-75. California’s Hwy 395. The entire Blue Ridge Parkway from Shenandoah National Park down to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All these routes and more will begin opening this year.”
Far-flung charging locations are proliferating
I, for one, can’t wait to take our EVs to even more far-flung places. And that’s saying something – I have incredibly fond memories of pushing my family’s myriad EVs to far-flung, if not outright ill-advised places, of which the following examples represent but a small smattering.
Oakzanita Springs RV Campground (or, as I call it, “Oakzanita Springs EV Campground”), in the greater San Diego area. At 4,000 feet of elevation above sea level, my 2013 Nissan LEAF hit “turtle mode” at least once between getting there from our home in the Los Angeles area and taking day trips from Oakzanita during the stay. The only thing that saved me was plugging into the 110V outlet for the maintenance person’s golf cart, which I can’t recall if I did with or without prior approval.
Zion National Park, which has a fantastic set of two Level 2 chargers near its eponymous lodge. Alas, as I rolled into the park, I discovered I had left my Tesla plug adapter in San Diego, attached to a Blink Network charging cable at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa (soon to be a Margaritaville Resort!). Undaunted, I talked the lodge staff into letting me plug into a mercifully unoccupied RV outlet in the employees’ living area.
Yellowstone National Park, which had, when I went there in 2019, but one level 2 charger not in a handicapped spot. I made it work, but it was dicey and not the shortest walk back to Old Faithful Inn, where we were staying. Another plug shown on PlugShare was a dryer-type connector (NEMA 10-30) rather than the aforementioned NEMA 14-50 RV-type plug, with which my Model X came.
Crater Lake National Park, which boasts my all-time favorite plug right near the Cabins at Mazama Village.
Taking advantage of peer-to-peer charging
Before I close, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a plug (pun intended) to EVmatch, which, by nature of its peer-to-peer model, holds open the possibility of charging being offered in the remotest of places!
Above: A look at peer-to-peer charging (YouTube: EVmatch)
Just to show that this isn’t merely a theoretical construct, here are some of the locales in which EVmatch hosts are making charging available today:
- Silver Plume, CO (near Loveland Ski Area in the Rockies; see second photo)
- Near Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Zion National Park, in Utah
- Twentynine Palms, CA (by Joshua Tree National Park)
- On Madeline Island, WI one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior
- And a list of many more that grows every day!
Somehow, after more than eight years and something on the order of 100,000 miles, I’ve still never run out of charge. That said, as much as I relish pushing the limits, and as fun as the challenge of coming up with creative charging solutions is (if only to puzzle enthusiasts the likes of cruciverbalists), even an early adopter like me can’t help but be delighted about the flood of greater availability.
Along with my fellow longtimers, I look forward to seeing second- and third-wave EV drivers out there at the trailheads!
An earlier version of this story appeared in EVmatch by Jeff Pickett. Author Bio: Jeff Pickett is a passionate advocate for clean energy and transportation. By day, he works as Director, Growth Marketing for Sikka, a SaaS company helping to rethink the important retail healthcare market using an award-winning single API cloud platform with artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. By night, he is a devoted husband and father of three and is involved in multiple entrepreneurial ventures, EVmatch being one. Born and raised in Portland, OR, Jeff earned his undergraduate degree from Yale, an MFA in film production from USC, and, most recently, an MBA at Wharton's San Francisco campus, earning the rank of Palmer Scholar. He has been a resident of California for 20 years and is a lover of art, cycling and tennis, all of which can be enjoyed in abundance in the state.