Roadtrip to
the North Rim of
The Grand Canyon
in our Model 3

Mark D Larsen
September 15-17, 2021

Life on the Edge
(Click to enlarge)

One of the reasons we moved to this area is because we’ve always loved the red rock deserts of southern Utah, with its numerous National Parks and Monuments. Since buying Correcaminos, we have driven it many times to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, and Arches, but had yet to revisit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in it. We therefore decided to take that trip to celebrate our 27th anniversary. The problem is that, unlike those other tourist destinations, the distance to the North Rim and back is farther than our Model 3’s range, and there are no Superchargers anywhere along that route. We therefore determined to spend two nights in the closest city to the North Rim, Kanab, where there are a few motels with Destination Chargers to plug in overnight. Below is my usual verbose narrative of our anniversary trip.

NOTE: You can click on the following photos to enlarge them, and the movies to play them.

We set our navigation to take us to the Days Inn in Kanab where we had reserved a room.

From an 80% charge, the energy screen estimated that we'd arrive there with 46% in the battery.

In this video I explain where we're going.

Driving on Highway 59, we could see numerous desert cliffs…

…and tower formations.

In this clip, we drive through the polygamist towns of Hilldale and Colorado City, where Utah Highway 59 becomes Arizona Highway 389.

We continue on to Fredonia, Arizona, where we turn left to cross back into Utah to reach Kanab

Now on Highway 89A, we leave the outskirts of Fredonia and enter Kanab.

Having driven 90.2 miles, we arrive at our motel, with 121 miles still left in the battery.

In other words, a 41% charge, slightly lower than predicted, likely due to the air conditioning and the 70 mph speeds.

We decided to splurge for dinner in celebration of our anniversary.

The French restaurant was delightful, with good food, and a pleasent outdoor ambience.

Even better, dogs are allowed on the patio, and Moxie enjoyed coming with us and observing all the doggies at other tables.

We had taken a drive up Kanab Canyon while waiting for a table to open up for us, and by the time we returned to the restaurant, the calamari appetizer really did whet our appetite.

As you can see from this shot of a Sentry Mode clip in the parking lot, the name of the restaurant is "Vermillion 45." Ç'est merveilleux!

When we returned to the motel, I plugged in to one of its Destination Chargers and set the limit to 90%, as I figured we'd need a bit more range when touring the North Rim the next day. I was perplexed that from its 48A rate Correcaminos was getting 38 miles-per-hour, the same as from our 40A HPWC at home. Then I noticed that the unit was running on 205V, instead of 240V. That explained it!

In the middle of the night, when I awoke to turn over in bed, I decided to check on the car, and was pleased to see that it had finished charging and was ready for the drive to the Grand Canyon the next day.

I took this photo of Correcaminos plugged in when I took Moxie out for her morning walk.

This was a rather quaint home just around the corner from the motel.

I also noticed that there were two Destination Chargers across the street at the Best Friends Roadhouse motel, where a white Model 3 was plugged in. It's odd that Tesla's map doesn't show this business, but I checked and found that PlugShare does.

I was also surprised to find that the Kanab City Offices have three DC Fast Chargers. ChargePoint has obviously leapfrogged Tesla in this area.

And they had also installed five EVSEs along one side of the parking lot.

I guess we could have visited the Grand Canyon in one day, after all, if only I had a CHAdeMO adapter, since the fast chargers sport both those plugs and CCS equivalents. I keep hoping Tesla will finally produce an adapter for the latter, because few EVs now use CHAdeMO, and I am wary of buying such an expensive adapter ($400!) if that connection is destined to disappear.

This is the main street in Kanab, with those City Offices at the end, where Highway 89 curves to then split with 89A south to Fredonia and the Grand Canyon.

Having lost only a few miles from our 90% charge to Sentry Mode, we set the navigation to take us to the North Rim.

The energy screen predicted that we'd arrive with 55% in the battery.

Here is a video as we start to climb Highway 89A toward the Kaibab Plateau.

We pulled off at a viewpoint with an illustration showing the various levels of geologic formations in the area.

Tragically, from this viewpoint we could also see the devastation wrought by a wildfire not long ago. The burned area extended for miles. We drove through a similarly scorched area once we reached the Kaibab Plateau.

In this clip we leave the burned area behind and reenter the forest with its tall, majestic Lodge Pole Pines. We also drive past some open meadows where in years past we've seen buffalo herds grazing, but we didn't see any this time.

We arrive at the entrance to the National Park. We have a lifetime permit, but there was nobody in the ranger station to check it, so we just kept driving.

Another shot of the mountain meadows, pines, and quaking aspen.

Here we are starting to descend toward the North Rim.

In this shot you can see how the lighter green quaking aspen blanket the hillside.

We arrived at the North Rim Lodge, but the navigation gave a very strange readout, as if it guessed we were trying to reach the South Rim on the other side of the canyon!

And the energy reading also seemed to make the same guess. We had arrived with a 50% charge in the battery, yet it assumed our destination was elsewhere, several miles distant. Odd!

We then drove to one of the prime viewpoints of the canyon, at Point Imperial.

As we anticipated, there was a lot of wildfire smoke in the canyon

Still, some of the views of the side canyon were not so hazy.

There were picnic tables at the overlook, so we decided it was time for a bit of lunch.

I wished the parking lot were closer to the canyon, but at least this photo proves that Correcaminos made it to the viewpoint's 8,803 feet elevation.

We then drove even farther to what is probably the most spectacular overlook at Cape Royal. Unfortunately, they don't allow dogs on the trail to the viewpoint, so I opted to stay behind with Moxie while Tamara strolled down it to take this video.

Another photo that she took.

And yet another.

She has a penchant for wildflowers, be they red…

…or purple.

And she thought this cactus was impressive.

Yet another photo of the canyon.

And another that she took.

And here is Angels Window, underneath a viewpoint on the Cape Royal trail. You can see that "window" behind Correcaminos in the photo at the top of the page.

Driving back from Cape Royal, I decided to turn Autopilot off and experience the thrill of driving the Model 3 on the winding, curvy roads. It was sublime! I've never had a car that is tethered to the road so tenaciously, thanks to its heavy battery pack positioned so low underneath. Tamara, as you can imagine, was barely able to hold the camera with her sweaty palms, especially on the one curve that swung near the edge of the canyon.

Here is a shot of how the quaking aspen were starting to show their fall colors.

We pulled over as we exited the park so I could get a photo of Correcaminos with the entrance sign.

There was not sufficient cell reception to engage navigation until we reached Jacob Lake. Tamara went in the resort to do some shopping, and I set our destination back to the motel. We'd driven nearly 170 miles because of the side roads to the viewpoints, and now only had 48 left in the battery.

Indeed, although we had 16% left, the energy graph guessed we'd only lose 2% while descending from the plateau, thanks to regenerative braking. Still, that was cutting it pretty close!

Indeed, we arrived with only 21 miles left, and a "low battery" warning on the screen.

There was only 7% remaining in the pack —the lowest I've ever experienced. I guess I should have charged to 100% instead of 90%!

I plugged in for the night, and saw that it would take more than six-and-a-half hours to again reach 90%.

After nearly 20 minutes, I checked the charge rate again, and saw that it would now take 6 hours, once the Destination Charger had again reached its 38 miles-per-hour rate.

About a half-hour later, Sentry Mode detected a white Model 3 plug in next to us. The owner was especially cautious about wiping germs off of the plug, and then just sat in the car. Curiously, she charged for only 21 minutes and then left. Maybe hers was the Model 3 I saw that morning across the street at the Best Friends Roadhouse motel…?

Later, at 1:15 in the morning, a Model 3 like ours pulled into the same spot and plugged in. This owner went in the motel, came out again to check on the car, and then likely went to her room for the night. Her car was gone when we checked out in the morning.

Before returning home, we decided to take one more sidetrip to visit the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. I set the navigation to take us there, only 19 miles away.

The energy graph guessed that we'd lose about 10% of our charge by taking that detour.

It didn't take long to get there, and we were surprised to see so many other tourists at the dunes.

This is the biggest dune in the park.

And here you can see some more adventuresome youngsters hiking to the dune with wake boards to surf down the sand.

Here we are on a platform overlooking the sand.

And this short clip give you a panorama of the extent of the dunes.

We then drove to another viewpoint, where I could get a better shot of Correcaminos with the coral sand as a backdrop.

Tamara climbed that small dune and I took this photo of her.

But how to get down? She was wary of walking down, in case she stumbled on the soft sand and had to catch herself with a shoulder that was only recently operated on. She decided… to surf down without a wakeboard!

Moxie, meanwhile, stayed in the car, as the temperatures were a bit too hot for a furry pomeranian. Thank goodness for "Dog Mode" in our Tesla!

I then climbed up the dune also, and Tamara took this photo.

There she is below me, looking up.

And here I took a selfie with the larger dunes behind me.

As we descended from the dunes to the highway, we could see the cliffs running along the opposite side Kanab Canyon.

When I was a teenager —eons ago!— I was in a musical group that stopped at this watering hole to take a swim and cool off while on an outing to southern Utah. I remember very well how some local kids from Kanab had jumped off the top of the cliff into the water, wearing big hiking boots to protect their feet from the impact. At the time, I was amazed by their bravery in taking such a leap, for there is no way I could muster such courage. The site is now closed off as private property, only accessible with the owners' permission, but it looks the same as it did many decades ago.

Back in Kanab, we stopped to have lunch on the outdoor terrace at the Wild Thyme café.

This is a pretty cool wired sculpture of a horse at its entrance.

We had 201 miles left in the battery, and set the navigation to take us home.

It predicted we'd arrive with 43% remaining.

We drove by the same cliffs that skirt the border between Utah and Arizona.

They make a picturesque backdrop for the polygamist communities.

Here is another clip that Tamara took as we drove past Colorado City.

We arrived home with 37% in the pack, having driven 131.1 miles since recharging overnight.

In total, the entire trip was 464 miles. Whether dividing that by the 115 kWh used, or dividing a kWh by the 248 Wh/mi average, we had achieved 4.03 miles-per-kWh —notably higher than the EPA rating of 3.85 for our Model 3. What's not to like?

Seeing the Grand Canyon again was a nostalgic, uplifting, comforting, yet humbling experience for me. It truly is a natural wonder, a spectacular reminder of how fleeting and insignificant our human lives are in comparison to the millions of years it took to carve and shape and sculpture its deep crevices. That we are now obscuring its wonder with manmade pollution and wildfires is unconscionable. My one solace is that at least our trip there didn’t contribute even more tailpipe emissions to its pristine wilderness.