Image by Jennifer Sensiba.

Two NM Parks Are Much Easier To Get To In An EV Now

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When it comes to visiting the country’s most popular national parks, it’s usually pretty easy in an EV. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon has both Tesla and CCS charging right outside of the park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also fairly well served, and getting better. So, when the vast majority of people visit only the most popular parks, it seems like it’s covered.

But when you decide to visit the less visited national parks, monuments, and seashores and decide to hit the backroads and visit even less popular state parks, you’re often facing a much harder challenge. In some cases, you can’t get there at all unless you pack along a mobile charger and plug it in at an RV park. In some cases, there aren’t even any RV pedestals to rely on. So, the story of growing EV charging in the United States is a story of greater and greater access to the national and state treasures that are our parks!

In this article, I want to share the good news for two parks in New Mexico, one national and one state, that are now a LOT easier to get to thanks to two new charging stations.

White Sands National Park Now Has 24-Hour Charging Available Nearby

Alamogordo, New Mexico, sits just a few miles outside of White Sands National Park. Because White Sands doesn’t have any developed campgrounds or lodging in the park, people coming from out of state often need to stay in Alamogordo. The park itself also doesn’t have any EV charging at all, so the only way you can get a charge is there.

The town has had a one-stall charging station at a dealer, but it’s closed both at night and on Sundays. Between the lack of capacity for multiple cars and the limited hours, it’s a pretty awful choice for travelers. It’s been very helpful for me on a few trips, but the town and the national park definitely needed something better.

 

Recently, that something better opened up: a two-stall charging station open 24 hours at the local Allsups station. It’s located on the road leading out of town toward the park, making it ideal for travelers. Speeds aren’t amazing (125 kW), but they’re a hell of a lot better than anything else in town, especially when you consider that there are no L2 chargers at hotels in the area.

But, for people who were hoping I was going to say that there’s a Supercharger opening, I’ve got something for you guys, too! Some documents a friend of mine recently got from the state showed that Tesla plans to build a Magic Dock station in Alamogordo soon. Exact opening dates are not available, but that’s going to mean that the town and therefore travelers to White Sands get a lot more charging opportunities.

Pancho Villa State Park

In 1916, sketchy policy in Mexico backfired on the United States. Initially, the US government backed Pancho Villa’s army in the civil war, but later Woodrow Wilson covertly joined the effort against Villa by helping his opponents. At one point, Wilson even ordered the military to use US trains to move soldiers around and outmaneuver Villa.

After this betrayal and in bad need of supplies, Pancho Villa decided it was time for a Hail Mary throw: an attack on the United States. With hundreds of troops and bad intelligence, he invaded the small border town of Columbus, New Mexico, hoping to defeat a small US force to discourage Wilson from helping his enemies again and walk away with food, weapons, and horses.

Things didn’t go as planned. Not only were there more US soldiers ready to fight him, but there were also machine guns that (with some work) were able to enter the fight and drive Villa’s troops away. Then, instead of being discouraged, Wilson ordered an invasion of Mexico to go after Villa. So, the backfire was now in Villa’s face.

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A political cartoon from the era. Public Domain.

US troops never captured Villa on the punitive expedition, but the exercise gave US forces valuable experience using new technology like proto-tanks, trucks, and aircraft. Not long after, when the United States entered World War I, this experience proved valuable. The expedition’s leader, John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing, went on to victory in the war and achieved the highest rank possible in the military: General of the Armies. Technically a six-star rank, only a few people have ever been awarded the rank (the others were George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant, both posthumously).

So this was a much bigger turning point in US military history than most people know!

Decades later, the State of New Mexico designated part of the area where the battle took place as a state park. It has some outdoor displays, an indoor museum, antique military vehicles, and an outdoor walking path to the top of a hill that played a key role in the battle. On most days, you can see into Mexico from the hilltop. It also has a campground where people have occasionally charged their EVs for years.

Now, people won’t need to use the RV park to charge their cars. A new ChargePoint station recently opened up just up the street from the state park. The station is powered on, but still needs some software setup done for it to be complete. So, for the next few days it will have limited speeds and only dispense 10 kWh of energy per session, but that should be more than enough for most cars to get back to Deming or El Paso to hit up other stations.

Another important thing about this station is that it opens up more of Highway 9, a road that runs along the border to Arizona, for EVs to travel on. This isn’t a particularly exciting stretch of road on most days, but it gives EV drivers access to another back road. Plus, there are beautiful views of the Milky Way at night, as the road ventures into areas with some of the lowest levels of light pollution in the United States. It’s also a great gateway to the hidden gem of Portal, Arizona.

Finally, it’s very helpful for people traveling into Mexico. There aren’t many charging opportunities in northern Chihuahua, so adding one right next to the border is a huge help!

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.


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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba