Photo Credit: TN
The Best US Road Trips For Electric Cars In 2022
As gas prices continue to increase, so is the appeal of electric cars (ECs). As a result, more and more companies across the country are building new charging stations to meet the demands. This is making driving a zero-emissions car easier than ever before. But EC road trips still come with conundrums as travelers must consider their car’s range (the average is roughly 250 miles), plan excursions around areas with charging stations, and prepare for unforeseen fueling mishaps along the way.
Luckily, there are plenty of EC-approved road trips around the nation. From Atlantic to Pacific, here are the most reliable, convenient, and scenic routes for EC drivers ready to leave range anxiety in the dust. Lonely Planet has verified all using Plugshare – the leader in EC charger apps.
1. San Diego to Mendocino (600 miles)
Throughout this length of California’s scenic shoreline, EC chargers are never more than 50 miles away. This road trip from San Diego to Mendocino County’s ancient redwoods is part of the West Coast Electric Highway, stretching from Mexico to Canada.
Idyllic beach towns delight as the PCH shoots toward San Francisco: there’s surf-happy Ventura, and historic Santa Barbara — all equipped with charging stations. You can recharge at Hearst Castle while touring the 127-acre San Simeon estate once owned by filthy-rich newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst.
The journey’s second half is California at its best: Big Sur’s sea cliffs give way to Monterey Bay before reaching San Francisco. Drive beyond the Golden Gate Bridge where wild forests filled with giant redwoods surround the road to tiny Mendocino. If you want to go green for the trip, you’ve ended up at the right place. Mendocino is part of the Emerald Triangle – America’s largest region for cannabis production.
2. Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California (2500 Miles)
On Route 66’s drivers can find around 1800 chargers along the historic trail, allowing travelers to go electric on one of America’s most renowned roads.
Plan a two-week road trip to make the most of the journey. There are now Tesla charging stations at the Blue Swallow Motel, a Route 66 landmark from 1939 in eastern New Mexico. Afterward, head to Santa Fe and toward some of the region’s most impressive parks. Pit stop at the Grand Canyon while passing through Flagstaff, Arizona, then explore the Mojave Desert’s singing dunes after charging in Needles, California. Once you reach the road’s terminus at Santa Monica Pier, you can pick up a “Road Scholar” certificate at the 66-to-Cali kiosk — tangible proof of your epic expedition.
3. Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi (444 Miles)
Take your EC from Nashville to the Mississippi River’s oldest city. The Natchez Trace Parkway roughly follows a 10,000-year-old trading route used by Indigenous tribes; many sites near the path pay homage to the land’s original stewards. You’ll find roughly 360 chargers throughout the drive, and 80% support fast charging.
Drive along the route’s two-lane road as it leaves Nashville and winds toward Hohenwald, home to a monument for Meriwether Lewis, who explored America’s uncharted territory with the help of native experts like Sacagawea. Once you’ve seen the Pharr Mounds – eight Indigenous burial sites built between 1 and 200 CE – spend an evening recharging in Tupelo, once home to the Chickasaw Nation.
While fueling up in Jackson, MI, visit the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum to learn about The Negro Motorist Green Book. This annual guide once helped Black travelers navigate the open road in Jim Crow-era America.
The road ends in Natchez, ten miles from the Emerald Mound – the second-largest Indigenous ceremonial mound in the US, built and used between the 14th and 17th centuries. Stand in the shadow of the 35-foot-high earthwork to ponder how much the country’s architecture has changed.
4. Denver to Aspen (160 Miles)
In 2021, Colorado electrified its 26 Scenic and Historic Byways with EC charging stations located every 100 miles. If you only have time to choose one path, pick the Top of the Rockies byway, where visitors can climb Mount Elbert and Mount Massive — the Centennial State’s two tallest peaks. Spend a few days touring the area in summer or fall, when cold temperatures won’t affect your battery’s range.
Begin your journey in Denver and drive to St. Mary’s Glacier — an easy out-and-back hike near Idaho Springs. The actual byway begins near Frisco, dubbed ‘Main Street of the Rockies’ thanks to its mountain views and postcard-perfect downtown. From here, you can make your way to internationally renowned ski havens like Aspen. If you’ve got time to kill, consider continuing to the Collegiate Peaks byway, an electrified route with the highest number of 14,000-plus-foot mountains in the US.
5. Seattle to Whidbey Island (440 Miles)
When it comes to EC infrastructure, Washington is ahead of the curve. Along this route, stretching from salty beaches to snow-capped peaks, you’ll find plenty of stations where you can recharge. The Cascade Loop went electric in 2014, and with chargers strategically scattered around the route, even cars with ranges under 100 miles can manage the trip without worry.
Expect a diversity of landscapes on this journey through the Pacific Northwest. Start by fueling up with caffeine at one of Seattle’s trendy cafes, then roll into the wilderness outside the city limits. Next, zoom east along the Skykomish River’s emerald banks, over the pine-topped Cascade Mountains, and on to Leavenworth.
Continue toward Wenatchee – the orchard-packed Apple Capital of the World. Lakes, rivers, and rolling hills sparkle as the loop heads north through Methow Valley and mounts North Cascades National Park’s jagged peaks. Farmland comes into view while dipping toward the Salish Sea, and the route finishes along the sloping coasts of Whidbey Island.
6. Narragansett to Providence to Newport (65 Miles)
More miles don’t always mean more fun. Tour charming towns in the country’s smallest state for a summertime road trip free from range anxiety. Even cars with low-range capacity can hack this haul without a problem. Split the drive into two or three days to properly enjoy all three destinations, each equipped with EC chargers.
Start by hanging ten in Narragansett, New England’s surf capital. The town’s population balloons from roughly 15,000 to 34,000 between May and September, with visitors arriving en masse to exploit sandy beaches and coastal hiking trails that have attracted travelers for over a century.
Providence, Rhode Island‘s quirky capital, makes a good case for staying overnight. The city’s riverfront passes a dizzying mix of 18th-century architecture and contemporary skyscrapers, all within walking distance of restaurants fit for all tastes. Plant City is a two-story smorgasbord dedicated to veganism, and Dune Brothers Seafood serves New England clam chowder from a lobster-red shack on wheels. After taking a brewery tour to spots like Bayberry Beer Hall and Moniker, you’ll need a night’s rest before sitting in the driver’s seat.
Gilded Age Newport is Rhode Island’s grand finale. Spend the day touring opulent 19th-century summer cottages once occupied by families like the Astors and Vanderbilts, then watch the sunset along Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile seaside promenade. The historic setting might not seem like the place to find EC charging stations, but au contraire – according to Plugshare, this picturesque peninsula boasts nearly a dozen.
7. Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida (1600 Miles)
Thanks to Electrify America, one of the country’s largest networks of EC charging stations, it’s possible to cruise the country’s eastern corridor on a zero-emissions road trip. Sail down I-95 on this adventure from Maine to Miami and you’ll find charging stations nearly every 70 miles.
If the thought of a multi-state trek sounds exhausting, consider splitting the trip into three geographic sections. The first section visits New England’s historic coastal cities. Gobble down a lobster roll in Portland – Maine’s most populous seaside town – before heading south into Boston. Recharge in Providence, RI, or along breezy Long Beach in Stratford, CT, before leaving the Atlantic coastline.
Compare America’s former capitals on the journey’s second leg. First up is NYC. Recharge in Fort Lee, NJ, before passing Trenton and Philadelphia. Crack open a blue crab shell in scrappy Baltimore, before getting to Washington, DC.
The road trip’s southern section drives through Richmond, Virginia – a town rich in Revolutionary War history and covered in modern murals. While skirting through North Carolina and South Carolina, veer off the I-95 to experience Raleigh’s college-town charisma and sip sweet tea on a side porch in Charleston. An adults-only ghost tour to haunted pubs in Savannah, Georgia, will energize your spirits before driving Florida’s Atlantic coast. Grab lunch in Jacksonville’s Five Points, the city’s uber-cool epicenter, then drift down I-95 through suburban beach towns to Miami. Finish the epic adventure by jumping in South Beach’s electric-blue waters. Florida’s warm ocean is a far cry from Maine’s icy shores.