Bay Area to Yosemite (Wawona)

Bay Area to Yosemite (Wawona)

Not a lot has been written on the forums about taking a Model S from the Bay Area to Yosemite. There's just the pre-super-charger 2009 Roadster trip Here's some new info.

We went to Yosemite/Wawona 4/19/2013 - 4/22, renting a house with some friends from in Wawona. It's not in Yosemite valley, but it's still beautiful, and a short drive over to the valley. It's an easily do-able trip with a Model S from our house near Portola Valley in the Bay Area.

OK, OK. So that picture is photoshopped. The rest of this article is accurate!

Our route to Yosemite/Wawona from Gilroy was this 158 mile, 3 hour trip: which is along the quickest route to Yosemite from our house on the peninsula.

The elevation gain for the trip is: up and down 400m (1250 feet) for the Pacheco Pass, and then up another 1600m (5000') and down 1000' arriving in Wawona. For details on that, and to see how to get elevation profiles for your own trips, do this:

Navigate to:
and click on "Clear Points" below the map, then enter gilroy in the Address box and hit enter, then type wawona in the address box and hit enter. You'll see the elevation profile below the address box.

We put the Model S in Range Mode, and drove the 50 miles from our house to the Gilroy supercharger. We filled up the car at the supercharger, with range showing about 260 rated miles. I then drove the speed limit to Wawona (i.e. cruise control on 65mph for much of the trip), and had the air conditioning on most of the way, as it was a hot day both ways, probably around 85F in the valley.

We arrived at our rental house with 68 rated miles left and the "since last charge" trip counter saying: 162.9mi, 56.0kWh, 344 Wh/mi. This goes along pretty well with the "subtract 8 miles for each 1000' of elevation gain and add back 4 miles for each 1000' of elevation loss" theory: 260 - 163 - 6*8 + 2*4 = 57.

The folks at Redwoods at Yosemite had previously told us there would be a 110v outlet outside the house we could use to charge the car (for $10/night extra). Since we were with friends, our plan was to just keep the Model S parked the whole 3 days charging, and to use our friends' cars while in Yosemite. BTW, one can take a bus in the morning from Wawona to Yosemite Valley, and a bus back to Wawona in the evening.

We planned to drive back starting with a "full tank". We started our charge around 4pm on Friday (didn't need an extension cord), and unplugged it around 11am on Monday. I checked in on the car every now and then, and in fact noticed on Sunday evening that it wasn't charging. It probably lost 12 hours of charging due to a tripped GFI that I reset (no idea why). When we were ready to leave the house Monday morning we had 247 rated miles on the car. 247 - 68 = 179, 179 / 55hours = 3.25mi/hour, which is about right for 110v charging.

After we unplugged on Monday, we drove over to the Mariposa grove, hiked there, and then drove back to Gilroy. Leaving Mariposa we had 228 rated miles, (8.6 mi, 5.3kWh, 622 Wh/mi) and arriving back at the supercharger we had 94 rated miles (167.4mi, 43.3kWh, 259 wH/mi). Our driving style back on Monday was similar to that in the way out on Friday--probably a little faster, still with A/C, as, of course, the drive west uses less energy.

We charged 70 minutes in Gilroy, there were several free spots, and raised the rated miles to 227. Therefore, we charged at (227-94)/(70/60) = 114mi/hour, or about 35kW on average. In fact, my experience in Gilroy has been typically 40kW to 50kW (no where near 90kW) even when the car is fairly empty and there are no other cars charging.

Great trip!

As an extra bonus, here are some recommended hikes if you stay in Wawona:

- Chilnualna Falls. Tough hike, 8 miles round trip, plus an elevation gain of about 1000' up, and down 1000' on the way back. Tough but really nice. You can do this without a car, walking from the rentals in Wawona.

- Mariposa Grove. Short drive to Mariposa Grove--see the one-way "8.6 mi, 5.3kWh, 622 Wh/mi" above. We hiked to the top (to the fallen "drive through" tree) which a 7.5 mile round trip. Not nearly as tough as Chilnualna, and really nice. You can always stop and turn back down anywhere.

- Take a day in Yosemite Valley, and do any one of a number of great hikes. E.g. The Mist Trail, or Upper Yosemite Falls (just to Columbia Rock) These are tough but rewarding.

Docrob | 28 avril 2013

There is now a level 2 charger near the general store in Yosemite valley, the valley loop bus leaves from just nearby so if driving into the valley you can park your car to charge and then use the valley bus to reach all the sights. Of course the more people who inquire about EV chargers at commercial accommodation like you have and make use of commercial chargers the more likely people will consider adding faster and/or greater numbers of chargers in such areas.

Brian H | 28 avril 2013

If you ask Tesla about its motor, you'll get a lot of spin. Up to about 14,000 rpm, in fact.


Paulreiche | 28 avril 2013

In a stroke of crazy synchronicity, I made a trip to Yosemite this weekend as well. I travelled from Novato (25 miles north of the Golden Gate), stopping at the Gilroy supercharging station and then straight to the Valley charger you describe. Great trip, with lots of positive excitement from folks visiting the park.

DouglasR | 28 avril 2013

Wow! Gilroy took you pretty far out of the way (from Novato), didn't it?

shs | 28 avril 2013

That is why we need a Supercharger in Mariposa or Merced. I live in Mariposa and am on a campaign to get the motels here to add either a 14-50 or a J1772.

Hy | 28 avril 2013


Nice pic, and you didn't even have to photoshop it!

My issue with things like "one j1772 at the valley general store", is that, what if it was taken (e.g. by someone else who had to charge for 10 hours to fill up his Model S)? Those kinds of things make me nervous. Did you have a backup plan?

More power to you for using the valley store charger.

BTW, does the charger require a certain card, or is it just for general use?


PS It would have been sweet to have bumped into another Tesla in Yosemite--a vision of the future.

nav66 | 28 avril 2013

Thank you for this report! My wife and I have been debating for some time about when to try the Yosemite run, and your trip seems like an excellent model. And thanks for the calculations. We will use your assumptions in our planning.

Paulreiche | 28 avril 2013

My back-up plan was to spend another day in Yosemite! Seriously.

The charger did not require any authorization, and was easy to use, though it is placed in between two tour bus parking spots, so you have a long stretch in reverse. As our numbers grow, there is no doubt going to be greater congestion at the chargers. Places like Yosemite really should encourage EV visitors, so perhaps we can petition for more chargers? In the mean whilst, what's good form in terms of charging etiquette? Perhaps one could leave their phone number on their windshield in case a more urgent chargee arrives?

Brian H | 28 avril 2013

The Gilroy charge level should be reported.

Docrob | 28 avril 2013

The charging etiquette question is an interesting one, its hard to justify multiple charging stations until the one you have is being used to a reasonable level of efficiency. It occurred to me that with the Tesla App an in app instant messaging system could be an excellent addition, allowing you to message the owner of a car charging asking if they are charged and/or mind if you unplug. You could of course have a standing message with a number to ring or with a message such as "please don't unplug until xxxx". This allows fellow model S owners to interact and enhance the charging experience without leaving mobile numbers in the window as a privacy risk.

Docrob | 28 avril 2013

Yu could even have an option (user selectable of course) which allows other nearby Tesla owners to see the state of charge of your car with a message such as "feel free to unplug once I have 180 rated miles"

Brian H | 29 avril 2013

Unplugging is useless unless the car can be moved.

Docrob | 29 avril 2013

Not true at all Brian, A single EV charger can easily be positioned so up to 4 parking spaces can make use of it.

Brian H | 29 avril 2013

Perhaps, but the current ones, not so much.

DouglasR | 29 avril 2013

I don't know about Yosemite, but cell phone service is really spotty in Yellowstone and many other national parks, so the notification solutions may not work.

shs | 29 avril 2013

The cell coverage in Yosemite is pretty spotty and even if you have "bars", getting a message through to someone, e.g. circulating looking for a parking spot is often impossible. We have driven our MS into Yosemite pretty much every week since we had it. About to leave for a quick visit right now!

skymaster | 30 avril 2013


Awesome Picture! I love Yosemite. I pulled up this thread on my model S to drive around and show folks. I have silver 85 with 19" rims, so this pic is awesome...Thanks

shs | 30 avril 2013

I can't understand how his car is so clean in the picture.

Hy | 6 mai 2013

When I originally posted this, I wanted to include the following picture to go with the picture of the Tesla and the tree (but couldn't find it until now).

Here's a picture of President Taft driving his car through a similar tree in Mariposa.

Son of a Gunn | 4 août 2015