Eastern Sierra Fall Colors Trip in a Bolt EV
Fall Colors in California?
Yes, California has awesome Fall / Autumn colors.
- Exploring Eastern Sierra’s fall colors in Bolt EV was a lot of fun
- Even though charging infrastructure is sparse in Eastern Sierra region, with a little planning, it is perfectly doable
- Bolt handled dirt/gravel roads like a champ too!
- Go now (before end of October) to see the fall colors
It was a quick last minute trip. I have a Chevy Bolt EV – but it’s battery is capped at 80% charging due to the recall (argh!). So I had to be a little extra vigilant when doing trips.
I was staying overnight at an RV Park. So hoping to charge at the RV Park, I packed the following
Going from San Francisco Bay Area to Eastern side of Sierra takes about 4-5 hours.
Basically one can go over
- hwy 108 (Sonora pass)
- Or hwy 120 (Tioga pass, goes through Yosemite national park)
Even though 108 is probably the most straightforward route, but I have decided to take 120 through Yosemite park. Because I wanted to check out Yosemite for colors.
Here is a cool elevation profile(thanks to Plugshare’s Trip Planner).
As you can see Eastern Sierra region is basically above 6000 feet! Also check out the incredible mountain passes – Tioga pass at 9,945 ft (3,031 m) and Sonora Pass at 9,624 ft. / 2,933 m.
So there is a lot of climbing on this trip!
Day 1 – Leg 1 : Home to Buck meadows
Left home at 80% charge.
Drove pretty much normal; at 65-70 miles / hr on the freeways with AC on 🙂
At the bottom of the climb to Groveland (120/140 split) I had about 25% charge left. I was a little concerned, as the climb is pretty steep! So just for this stretch I turned off the AC.
Since there are no fast chargers in Yosemite, it is highly recommended to top off before entering the park. The best place to charge is at Groveland or Buckmeadows (location A).
There are couple of Chargepoint fast chargers in Groveland. Also Tesla superchargers are in Groveland.
Arrived at Buck Meadows at 15%. Charged upto 80%.
Day 1 – Leg 2: Buck Meadows → Yosemite Valley → Bridgeport
Left Buck Meadows at 80%.
Took 120 into Yosemite. Did a quick loop around Yosemite Valley, but no colors yet (too early).
Then took Tioga Pass road (120 East). Most people who go to Yosemite, spend their time in the valley. Fewer venture out to Tioga road and to Tuolumne meadows. But it is a gorgeous area. I haven’t been on this road in many years. So it was a delight to be back on.
Tioga pass road climbs steadily until it tops at 9,945 ft (3,031 m). And it descends pretty quickly into Lee Vining. There are patches of color popping up here. But since it was getting late, I didn’t spend much time here.
The best time to photograph Lee Vining Canyon is in the morning.
Once I turned into 395 north, it was a straight climb towards Bridgeport.
First night stay was at WIllow Springs Resort RV Park.
Arrived at the RV Park at 30%
My Attempt to Charge at RV Park
I choose Willow Springs, because they have RV hookups and cabins. My plan was the Bolt was going to rest at RV parking space, juicing up, while I was going to be resting comfortably in the cabin 🙂
How ever, I missed one detail.
The electrical hookups were all 30 amps. My portable charger is for NEMA 14-50 (50 amps). They gave me an adapter, but unfortunately it didn’t work.
I needed a TT-30 to NEMA 14-50 adapter that is designed for EV charging. I ordered one promptly. Will test it and report back.
So did a quick run to Bridgeport fast charger and charged to full (80%).
This is a nice Electrify America charing spot with 4 chargers. There are food options within a 5 minute walk to Bridgeport downtown. Plug share link
I will be using this charger quite a bit for the next couple of days
Day 2 – Color Watching along Hwy 395
This was a fun day. I was exploring a lot of places and saw some amazing color. I used the Mono county’s fall color map. It was very help ful and pretty spot on. See photos below.
I drove on some dirt roads too. I was a little nervous, as the Bolt doesn’t have a spare tire, and I didn’t want to be stuck with a flat. But Bolt handled it just fine 🙂
Here are the areas I saw amazing color:
- Conway Summit
- Perfect vista point on 395.
- Best time: Morning
- Conway Summit map
- Virginia Lakes road
- Lundy lake
- Parker lake
- June Lake loop
- The colors haven’t peaked yet. Too early. May be mid October.
- June lake loop map
At the end of day, back to Bridgeport charger, topped up to 80%
Pictures, pictures, pictures.
Day 3 – Drive Back Home
Twin Lakes Road
Today, I drove Twin Lakes Road. Amazing drive with scenery of saw tooth mountains and pretty lakes.
For the return trip I took 108 Sonora Pass road. I absolutely love driving this road. It is a winding, mountain road with awesome scenery. Especially in Fall the colors are wild.
Sonora Pass road is a steep grade @ 26%. But driving up was so much fun. I drove the Bolt in L + Sports mode – quick acceleration and deceleration .
Started the climb with charge of 75%, at the top of the Sonora Pass (el. 9,624 ft. / 2,933 m.) Charge level 60%.
After dropping down from Sonora Pass, it is all the way down. It was a fun drive!. Even after a fair bit of driving, my charge level was at 60%. Isn’t regen great 🙂
Charged at Oakdale charger for a bit. Even though I could have made it home, I was hungry 🙂
Finally arrived home at 45% of charge
Trip distance 642 miles
Charging expenses : about $35
And Finally Bolt EV Gallery
My Bolt EV performed like a champ on this trip, so it deserves its own gallery 🙂
Read more trips in Bolt