Expanded BC Hydro fast charger network, improved EV range, make it easier
The electric vehicle is no longer just an urban commuter that sits at home when the family decides to go on a real road trip. As of 2018, there were at least 10 fully electric cars in B.C. featuring a range of at least 150 km, including six that could go at least 200 km between charges.
And for longer trips around B.C., there’s now a network of 57 BC Hydro fast chargers (with funding for 23 more to be added). So it’s now practical – and really tempting given how fun EVs are to drive – to embark on a road trip deep into the B.C. Interior, Whistler, or to the West Coast of Vancouver Island. It just takes a little planning. BC Hydro’s fast chargers can charge most electric vehicle batteries to 80% capacity in a half hour or less.
To provide a taste of what some of those trips might look like, we’ve plucked a few destinations from our popular list of 150 Best Places in B.C., and mixed them with a few 2019-specific festivals and events around the province.
Use PlugShare to find charging stations and their status
As you plan your trips in an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid electric around B.C., use plugshare.com to find not just the location of stations, but also for updated information on whether stations are free or in-use.
Bike ride the trestles at Myra Canyon (Victoria to Kelowna)
The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is one of Canada’s iconic bike trips, whether you’re intent on a multi-day trip or just a one-day out-and-back adventure on the trestles in the Myra Canyon section of the trail above Kelowna. Consider hanging out in Kelowna for a few days, as you could tour wineries on your bikes, attend the Great Okanagan Beer Festival, or time your trip for a music festival (Rock The Lake, Center of Gravity).
Distance (one way): 504 km
Vehicle: 2018 Nissan Leaf SL
Number of stops: 4
We’ve designed this trip for the 2018 Leaf SL and its 242 km of range. But with a few minor tweaks, it’s a trip you can do comfortably with any EV with a range of at least 170 km. With the Leaf SL, you could do this with three stops, but we’ve built in a top-up in West Kelowna before heading up the hill to the Kettle Valley trailhead at Myra Canyon.
Stop 1: Abbotsford EcoDairy, 105 km: This is a one-of-a-kind charger. The EcoDairy uses cow manure produced at the farm and converts it – through an anaerobic digester – into electricity. As you wait, visit EcoDairy’s discovery centre to learn about the science of farming (and meet a few cows).
Stop 2: 4th Ave. park & charge, Hope, 80 km: Most people gas up in Hope. You get to top up while grabbing a soup and sandwich, or a coffee, a block away at The Blue Moose Coffee House.
Stop 3: Princeton Plaza, 133 km: Still buzzing from your trip past the Hope Slide and through Manning Park – and perhaps after slowing down to avoid deer on the downhill run into Princeton, it’s time to recharge for the trip through the Similkameen Valley. Lots of places to grab a bite or a smoothie, or to quickly change into your swimsuit for a dip in the Similkameen River at picturesque Bromley Rock Provincial Park, just 15 minutes down the road on your way to Kelowna.
Stop 4: West Kelowna, 154 km: An optional charge in West Kelowna, depending how much range you have left (it’s a 65-km out and back to Myra Canyon). After driving so far, it’s likely you’re bedding down for the night before heading out to Myra Canyon the next day. Time to visit a winery?
Arrival: A 32-kilometre trip through Kelowna and up the other side of the valley gets you to the Myra Canyon trailhead. Pack a snack, lots of water, and make sure your phones are charged. You’ll treasure the photos you take here.
River raft one day, then hike the Rockies (Burnaby to Floe Lake)
You’ll want to set aside up at least a week for this trip, as recreation options abound en route, and if you time it right, you can spend a day or two in lovely Salmon Arm and take in the family-friendly Roots & Blues music festival (Aug. 15-19). We strongly recommend a different route home that begins with an after-hike reward at Radium Hot Springs and options to explore the Kootenays or to cut back to Highway 1 and then head back through the Okanagan.
Distance (one way): 846 km
Vehicle: 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric
Number of stops: 3
Billed as the longest-range “other-than-a-Tesla” car available, the Hyundai Kona Electric sports a 415-km range that translates to 363 km on the highway. That gives you a lot of options on a longer road trip. We’ve built this trip with the Kona’s capabilities in mind, but it also works (with a couple extra stops) for any EV with a range of 240 km-plus.
Stop 1: Kamloops Tournament Capital centre, 339 km: Located outside the stadium on the campus of Thompson Rivers University, this charger is a short walk from a variety of excellent places to grab a bite. Consider spending a night to take advantage of the local mountain bike trails, or hikes including the unique Lac Du Bois Grasslands.
Stop 2: Revelstoke Visitor Centre, 218 km: If you can spare a day or two in Revelstoke, you’ll be rewarded with high alpine hike and bike options and some fantastic places to eat including The Village Idiot. Check out our 10 ways Revelstoke rocks story for a few ideas. Tip: Once you’re an hour or so from Revelstoke, check on the availability of the Revelstoke charging station, as there’s a BC Hydro fast charger at Malakwa Supermarket, 54 km before you get to Revelstoke.
Stop 3: Memorial Park, Golden, 148 km: The Kicking Horse River is famous for its rafting and has spawned at least seven different rafting companies. Modestly-priced hotel options make this a great stop before heading into the Rockies.
Arrival: It’s 141 km to the Floe Lake trailhead, and it’s a 20-km out-and-back hike, so grab a big early breakfast, and pack lunch and lots of water. Hikers recommend booking a spot at the Floe Lake campground (after July 10), as it’s a fairly strenuous hike and the campground is in a glorious setting. If this hike isn’t your cup of tea, there are excellent moderate hikes (plus some multi-day treks) in Kootenay National Park.
Radium Hot Springs option: Book a night or two at Radium, a 73-km drive away from the Floe Lake trailhead, to relax in the hot pools. And you can recharge your vehicle at the Radium Community Centre.
Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival: Feel like a fall road trip to the Rockies? Check out the 2019 festival, set for Oct. 26-Nov. 3.
Cathedral Grove, Tofino & Hot Springs Cove (North Vancouver to Tofino)
There’s a lot to do en route to Tofino, a recreational paradise with accommodation ranging from tenting options to luxury accommodation at the likes of Wickaninnish Inn and Middle Beach Lodge. And Hot Springs Cove, a 90-minute boat ride or jaw-dropping float plane trip from Tofino is a bucket-list adventure. Located in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, the hot springs are a geological marvel, with water pulled into the earth to a depth up to 5 km then heated to more than 100 C before being pushed back to the surface at 50C and then mixing with cold ocean water in rock-lined pools on the beach.
Distance (one way): 238 km
Vehicle: 2019 BMW i3 Sport
Number of stops: 2
You could make this trip in two spots with numerous electric vehicles available in B.C., but we chose the i3 for the fun you’ll have driving the highway into Ucluelet and on to Tofino.
Stop 1: Quality Foods, Qualicum Beach , 75 km: Grab a stack of pancakes or a soup and sandwich at Ohhh… So Yummy Cafe or hang out at the Old School House Arts Centre while your vehicle is charging. Once you hit the road again, set aside some time to stop and drink in the wonder of the old growth Douglas Fir forest at Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park, with easily-accessible trails on both sides of the highway.
Stop 2: Pacific Rim Visitor Centre, 131 km: Charge here or rely on your BMW’s range extender to ensure you can make it back here for a charge before heading home. Walk two minutes to the Wya Point Surf Shop, where you can rent surf gear or grab a quick bite.
Arrival: It’s 32 km to Tofino from the Pacific Rim Visitor Centre. If you’re going to Hot Springs Cove, make sure you book your boat ride or float plane trip in advance. And while in Tofino, don’t miss out on the beaches and trails, the IPA and amazing Kelp Stout at Tofino Brewing Company, and Roy Henry Vickers Gallery.
White Rock to World Ski & Snowboard Festival, Whistler
This year’s festival has been pared down to five days (April 10-14) from the 10-day event it was a few years ago, but there’s still a tempting mix of snowboard and ski competitions, music, and arts. Of course, it’s all about getting out on the slopes yourself, and the big dumps of February brought the base at Whistler-Blackcomb to over 2.5 metres. As of late February, there were still rooms available at modest rates.
Distance (one way): 170 km
Vehicle: Chevrolet Bolt or Tesla Model 3
Number of stops: 0
We chose this route to showcase the extended range of the Bolt (383 km) and Tesla Model 3 (343 km). In both vehicles, you can do this trip from White Rock as an out-and-back without plugging in. And it’s a comfortable trip for many other EVs with less range, as BC Hydro operates a number of fast chargers en route, including one in Squamish (114 km from White Rock).
Optional stop: Whistler Conference Centre, 170 km: While the Bolt and Model 3 will get you there and back, you could also plug in for free charging ($1/hour parking charge) in Whistler Village if you want a top-up.
Which road trip do you want to try?
Victoria to Kelowna
Burnaby to Floe Lake
North Vancouver to Tofino
White Rock to World Ski & Snowboard Festival, Whistler
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