To The Grand Canyon In A Tesla Model S

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A friend of mine reached out to me with an incredible story from his friend, Tonto. Tonto went on a summer road trip to the Grand Canyon as a way to celebrate America. His trip was his own way of celebrating our freedom, and what is a better way of doing this than going on the road trip in his American-made Tesla Model S? Tonto will take it from here.

Tonto’s Journey (in his own words)

My interest in Tesla was piqued at the initial unveiling of the Model 3 in March 2016. I put down a reservation in October 2016. In preparation for that, I took a test drive of a Model S P100D in November 2016. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed and every time I got in my gas car, it felt outdated. I like the nice, clean, smooth acceleration of the S over any gas car I’ve ever driven. I was even more determined that the world needs to move away from gas cars that pollute the planet to non-polluting electric cars. I also love driving and taking road trips, so a Tesla was the only viable alternative to a gas car.

I kept my reservation for the 3 until July of 2017 when I decided that I was going to buy a Model S 100D. I picked up my Tesla S100D in September of 2017 as a (very expensive!) birthday gift to myself. I could not have been more pleased with that decision. The car was everything I imagined. As I predicted, I went on more road trips and drives after I bought the car. I used to take road trips in my gas car; however, I would get headaches from the constant engine noise by the end of the day. I have had no such issue with my S. Plus, stopping to charge every 2½–3 hours provides a welcome quick break, and a chance to stretch my legs.

So, earlier this year, I was thinking that I should celebrate July 4 of 2019 with — what else? — a road trip in my Tesla! I figured there is no better way to celebrate American freedom than take an awesome road trip out on the open roads in a car built in America. Southwestern Utah has some of the most gorgeous scenery in the country, and that seemed like a great destination. I also added the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for some great views. I left on July 3 and returned on July 8.

Due to range degradation over time, I currently get 314 miles (originally 335 miles) on a 100% state of charge. Here was my itinerary:

From what I found, the Tesla Model S is an awesome road tripping car — it’s luxurious and comfortable. With an S100D, I found out that I had plenty of range between Superchargers, except when I got near southwestern Utah, where I had to rely on destination chargers and L2 chargers.

Day 1: I started from the Bay Area and drove to Reno, where I spent the night and hit a table or two. Here is a sunset over the Sierras:

Day 2: I left Reno and drove along the SW portion of Nevada, going pretty close to Area 51 and ending up in St. George, Utah, for the night. I made three Supercharging stops in Hawthorne, NV, Beatty, NV, and Vegas. I just made a quick stop in Vegas for dinner since it was getting late, then stopped in St. George, UT, overnight. The hotel had three destination chargers, but they were all occupied! Tesla is doing a great job with destination chargers — they are increasing in popularity.

Day 3: After filling up to 100% at the St. George Supercharger, I left St. George, UT, and headed for Kanab and towards Grand Staircase National monument. Before I headed towards Bryce and Grand Staircase, I made a 1–1½ hr stop at a La Quinta for a quick boost:

This hotel in Kanab, UT, had 4 destination chargers. I called ahead, and they were gracious enough to let me use them even though I didn’t stay there overnight. I was able to charge at 56A at around 35 mph. Destination chargers are an awesome option for the Tesla road trip experience. After a quick bite to eat at a Pizza Hut within walking distance, I headed off towards Johnson Canyon:

When I entered the road, there was a lane marking, so I was able to use Autopilot, but after a few minutes, it turned to gravel. Even though Autopilot was still working, the car kept drifting to the left, so I disengaged it. I then decided to go to Kodachrome Basin State Park. The road got worse, but the suspension was great, and the car held up fine:

Kodachrome was a nice, unspoiled location with some great views:

My next destination was the Grosvenor Arch. However, going there involved going through an even rougher road. I figured having lots of torque, AWD, and adjustable air suspension should get me through no problem. Below is a picture of the entrance. Note the road signs – “Impassable when wet” and “Unimproved Road.” This road is the entrance to Cottonwood Canyon.

I continued down this road for a few miles and encountered Grosvenor Arch. According to Wikipedia: “Grosvenor Arch is a unique sandstone double arch located within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Kane CountyUtahUnited States. It is named to honor Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (1875–1966), a president of the National Geographic Society, publishers of the National Geographic Magazine.[1]

After a few miles, I got to Grosvenor Arch:

I then proceeded to head south towards Page, AZ, along the Cottonwood Canyon Road. Before I headed down, I made a quick stop at a scenic overlook:

As one can see, the road only got rougher, but I had no issues. I raised the air suspension to the Very High setting.

Below are some scenic shots of the Cottonwood Canyon road drive. This is one of the most scenic drives I’ve been on. The sun was starting to set; it made for some great photos.

One can see how dusty the road really was by the dust buildup on my Tesla.

A picture looking back at the sunset:

Finally, after 30 miles and ~1.5 hours, the unimproved road was finally over!

I then drove to Page, AZ, which was about 45 minutes away, where I plugged into the Supercharger and stayed overnight.  

The next day I headed for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. On the way there, I stopped at the Marble Canyon overlook, where one can see the Colorado River.

And, of course, here’s a scenic overlook at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon:

The next day, I stayed overnight in Hesperia, as the traffic back to the Bay Area was terrible on the Sunday of the July 4 weekend. I headed home the following day and barely made it.

Note: the total mileage over 6 days was 2,330 miles. The trip consisted of 3 destination/level 2 charger stops and 10 Supercharger stops. I have to say, the car held up very well, even on basically “off-road” routes, with only intermittent warnings that Blindspot Detection was limited, which went away after two days. Tesla sure has a winner on its hands with a car such as the Model S 100D.

I have to say that Southwestern Utah (of which I explored a portion) has some of the most beautiful scenery, which photos cannot do justice to. Exploring the area in a clean energy vehicle makes the experience and journey that much more rewarding.

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider