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Driving from Denver, CO to Mesa Verde National Park

MaddMatt

New Member
Aug 21, 2019
1
0
Alabama
Hi,
First time posting and just looking for a little advice. I’m going to be in Colorado mid-September and I plan on renting a model S. I thought the drive from Denver to Mesa Verde would be an awesome way to try out the Tesla platform. Just wondering if anyone else has made this trip in a model S. I see the battery life ranges around 250mi and the trip is about 370mi. Is the mid-trip charge worth the time or should I plan a stop somewhere on route with things to do while it charges? Again new to Teslas in general so any tips or rudimentary advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
 

cpa

Active Member
May 17, 2014
3,298
4,525
Central Valley
Check out Plug Share for charging stations.

You should be able to reach the Poncha Sprgs. Supercharger easily from Denver with 80%+ battery. Poncha Springs to Durango should be easy too with enough charge. There once was a Tesla High-Powered Charger (AC)in Pagosa Springs, but I am not sure if it is still available.

Durango has a number of level 2 AC charging stations with ChargePoint. These are relatively slow, but will add 100 miles of range in about 5 hours. If you wish to avail yourself of these chargers, you probably ought to establish a ChargePoint account and pony up the $25 to allow charging without going through phone calls and the like. They will mail you a little plastic card that you swipe at the charging stall.

If you plan to spend the night in Durango, you can charge overnight and wake up to a full battery. You should be able to go out and back with a 90% charge without white-knuckling it.

Have fun!
 

sdoorex

Member
Feb 25, 2015
323
969
Front Range, CO
Check out Plug Share for charging stations.

You should be able to reach the Poncha Sprgs. Supercharger easily from Denver with 80%+ battery. Poncha Springs to Durango should be easy too with enough charge. There once was a Tesla High-Powered Charger (AC)in Pagosa Springs, but I am not sure if it is still available.

Durango has a number of level 2 AC charging stations with ChargePoint. These are relatively slow, but will add 100 miles of range in about 5 hours. If you wish to avail yourself of these chargers, you probably ought to establish a ChargePoint account and pony up the $25 to allow charging without going through phone calls and the like. They will mail you a little plastic card that you swipe at the charging stall.

If you plan to spend the night in Durango, you can charge overnight and wake up to a full battery. You should be able to go out and back with a 90% charge without white-knuckling it.

Have fun!

That 70A HPWC at Incredible Pagosa appears to still be available per PlugShare and there is also a 30A ChargePoint in Pagosa at Centennial Park. There's also an 80A HPWC at Far View Lodge at Mesa Verde.

If it's a new S, it's probably limited to 48A of max charge rate on an L2 but if it's older it might have the 72A high amperage charger or the 80A dual chargers. Hopefully the person renting the car can confirm.

I agree on the recommendation on getting the ChargePoint card before the trip.
 

dgpcolorado

high altitude member
Apr 25, 2015
2,771
4,389
The Western Slope, Colorado
Assuming that you are able to use the Tesla Superchargers in a rental car — not sure how that works — You can easily get to Mesa Verde via the Supercharger network:

• Denver (starting with a 90% charge, I presume) to Poncha Springs Supercharger Station, charge enough to get to Farmington with 20% or so. Distance from the Denver Supercharger Station near (sort of) the airport to Poncha Springs: 155 miles, about 131 "rated miles."

• Poncha Springs to Farmington NM Supercharger Station, 230 miles, about 170 "rated miles," Take your time and charge to 90% at Farmington unless you plan to charge in the park.

• Farmington to Mesa Verde National Park: 73 miles to the entrance station. Be aware that it is a long way from the entrance station to the main part of the park so you want enough charge to get into the park, do some exploring, and get back to Farmington to charge again and return to Denver (if that's the plan). This is fairly easy to do in a Model S with a battery at 250 "rated miles."

This is an easy one day drive each way. However, it is a trip that will take several days in order to get to and visit the park — you would need at least one day in the park to explore at least some of the sites. So, where do you want to stay? Hotels? Camping? There are campgrounds with RV pedestals that will allow you to charge the Model S (be sure the charge cable is in the car before leaving Denver, regardless of whether or not you plan to use it). There is also a Tesla Destination charger at Far View Lodge inside the park if you choose to stay there:
Far View Lodge | Mesa Verde National Park CO | VisitMesaVerde.com
If staying at Far View Lodge, let them know that you will want to use the Tesla charge station at the hotel. There is also a J1772 charge station that can be used by any EV, and by a Tesla with an adapter (again, be sure this adapter is in the car), in case the Tesla charge station is in use.

Because the main attractions in the park are so far from the entrance station, it is best to stay in the area, to allow more time to explore. Far View Visitors Center is about 15 miles from the entrance. The museum and Spruce Tree House is about six miles from Far View. These are slow twisting roads with significant elevation gain (however, the slow speeds mean that you will use only a tiny bit of the car's charge, so it isn't a range issue at all). Yes, you could do an out and back from Durango but that would be a long day and would limit the time exploring the park. If you do get all the way into the park, do check out the little museum next to Spruce Tree House — it has original artifacts recovered from the ruins.

Is the plan to return to Denver the same way you got to Mesa Verde? How much time do you have? Another alternative would be to use the Supercharger network to go to Blanding UT, Moab UT, and check out the parks there. You could do a loop and head back to Denver via I-70. There are many other loop alternatives that could be tried. Depends on the time available and what you want to see/drive.

September could be hot, or rather cold, at the altitude of Mesa Verde NP, about 8000 feet. Bring clothes suitable for cool weather, just in case.
 

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dgpcolorado

high altitude member
Apr 25, 2015
2,771
4,389
The Western Slope, Colorado
General tips for a newcomer to the Model S. Use navigation to set the next destination when charging. It will give you the estimated charge at the destination and let you know when you have charged enough to make it, unless you hit unfavorable weather. For a newcomer I suggest charging until the estimated charge at the destination is at least 20%, to give a "buffer," in case of weather issues, such as a strong headwind. While driving, if you see the estimated charge at the destination dropping, you can slow down until it stabilizes. This is important: the slower you drive, the farther you can go! When in doubt, slow down. [Why? Because aerodynamic drag increases at the square of velocity.] To avoid having to slow down, charge some extra before leaving the charge station — that 20% (or more) I mentioned above.

You should be able to use voice navigation when in places with good AT&T cell service: push the right "talk" button on the steering wheel, it should beep at you, then you can say "navigate to Poncha Springs Supercharger." The car should set Poncha Springs as the navigation destination and show you the estimated charge left when you get there. If voice doesn't seem to work, you can enter the destination on the screen by typing it. Also, while in cell phone range, you should be able to view the car's manual. The button at the lower left of the screen gives access to the car's settings as well as access to the manual.
 
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PLUS EV

Running on Empty
Sep 16, 2016
6,947
11,470
Seattle
Agree with everything dgpcolorado has already said.

This is a high degree of difficulty trip for a novice Tesla driver. Registering for Chargepoint and fumbling around with public L2 (read: slow) chargers is probably more difficult for a n00b than just detouring to the Farmington and/or Blanding superchargers.

You also don't say what kind of Model S you are driving. If it's a 100, you'll be able to go from Poncha Springs to Farmington without much issue, but if it's anything less than that, it could be a struggle.

All in all I'm not sure that driving to the Four Corners region is a GREAT idea for a Tesla n00b.
 
You can go from Poncha Springs to Ouray where there is a few options while soaking in the hot springs (Distillery with Tesla destination chargers, Ouray Hot Springs with L2 chargers, etc). Also Ridway park has L2 chargers that are free to use and the nearby restaurants are great. From there, you can go to Silverton and charge while exploring that town. Chargers are right on Main Street. With a full charge in Silverton you can easily get to Mesa Verde and charge while staying in the park.

The best park of electric driving is the enjoyment of sightseeing while charging. Like geocaching, you get to learn, explore and relax.
 

theheff

Member
May 4, 2014
334
79
Denver , CO
I'm probably late to this thread, but you shouldn't have a problem with a full charge to begin and another full charge in Poncha Springs if you go that route. Since the speed limit is 65mph or less on non-interstate roads, it should help you stretch out the range, especially with moderate temperatures. Alternatively, you could take the I-70 route west and top off at Grand Junction before heading south. Just make sure you have a destination charger or camping site with a plugin (Plugshare) for overnight (also, check if they're providing a J1772 Tesla adapter in the rental). I've also used the Farmington, NM Supercharger for this exact route.

Side note: I'd highly recommend taking highway 145 or 550 (Million Dollar highway) through the San Juans if possible. It's an incredible part of the state.
 

theheff

Member
May 4, 2014
334
79
Denver , CO
He says the car has a rated range of 250 miles. This route is 250 miles and that is just to the national park headquarters, so I don't agree with your statement.

Never hurts to err on the side of caution. I saw 230 miles from Poncha to Mesa Verde, which in my opinion would be very achievable on mountain highways and a 250 mile charge. Destination charger required, of course.
 

PLUS EV

Running on Empty
Sep 16, 2016
6,947
11,470
Seattle
Never hurts to err on the side of caution. I saw 230 miles from Poncha to Mesa Verde, which in my opinion would be very achievable on mountain highways and a 250 mile charge. Destination charger required, of course.
Nope. It's definitely 250 miles. Also, this guy has never driven a Tesla before and the stuff he'll want to see in the national park is even further down the road. Not recommended.
 

dgpcolorado

high altitude member
Apr 25, 2015
2,771
4,389
The Western Slope, Colorado
Nope. It's definitely 250 miles. Also, this guy has never driven a Tesla before and the stuff he'll want to see in the national park is even further down the road. Not recommended.
This. A side trip to the Farmington NM supercharger is the easiest way for a newcomer to Tesla to do the trip. Destination charging in Durango would also work but would take longer and be much more complicated for a newcomer.

Never hurts to err on the side of caution. I saw 230 miles from Poncha to Mesa Verde, which in my opinion would be very achievable on mountain highways and a 250 mile charge. Destination charger required, of course.
If using the Farmington Supercharger Station coming and going, with a 90%+ charge, destination charging while staying in or near the park isn't necessary but would be a convenience and offer peace-of-mind. However, counting on destination charging to be available is not recommended for a newcomer. Those of us with road trip experience can adjust our plans on the fly, and often do, but that's asking a lot for someone taking an extended first test drive in a Model S.

I do agree that a trip over Red Mountain Pass on US 550 would be lovely but planning that sort of route is asking a lot for a newcomer. Poncha Springs is too far when going that way, without level 2 charging enroute, although getting from Farmington to Grand Junction would work. Then back to Denver on I-70.

Denver to Mesa Verde National Park and back is a fairly difficult first trip for a newcomer to the Model S. It would be quite easy and fun for an experienced Tesla road tripper.
 
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LostWages

uv has cured me
Apr 10, 2019
56
51
Rand McNally
Resurrecting an old thread for discussion/help.

I'm planning this trip in my MS. Boulder county to Mesa Verde. Not too worried about destination charging in Durango, there seem to be a few level-2 options. But for piece of mind, and to avoid the Farmington side trip (with young kids), I'm looking to rent or borrow a CHAdeMO or Setec CCS1 adapter for a long weekend (NEXT weekend). I have already reached out to the New Mexico rental group, but unfortunately it's not available.

Do any of the Colorado Tesla owners have a CHAdeMO or CCS1 adapter they would loan or rent? I'm on the northern front range, but could pick up / drop off it were on the route for me.
 
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krsgio

Member
Nov 8, 2018
444
440
Colorado
Resurrecting an old thread for discussion/help.

I'm planning this trip in my MS. Boulder county to Mesa Verde. Not too worried about destination charging in Durango, there seem to be a few level-2 options. But for piece of mind, and to avoid the Farmington side trip (with young kids), I'm looking to rent or borrow a CHAdeMO or Setec CCS1 adapter for a long weekend (NEXT weekend). I have already reached out to the New Mexico rental group, but unfortunately it's not available.

Do any of the Colorado Tesla owners have a CHAdeMO or CCS1 adapter they would loan or rent? I'm on the northern front range, but could pick up / drop off it were on the route for me.
The denver tesla club facebook group usually has people willing to lend out chademo adapters if you haven't already found one.
 

LostWages

uv has cured me
Apr 10, 2019
56
51
Rand McNally
We stayed at a hotel with 4 J1772 connectors and we were able to charge overnight each night in Durango. Only mild charge-anxiety, half the parking spots were ICE'd each night. But with 6kW overnight, not really an issue.

We have 2018 model S 100D, and used about 60+% charge between Poncha Springs and Durango each way. We drove to the end of both Mesas in the park, and that used ~50-60% as well.

There were a few Teslas charging in Pagosa Springs.

I guess I'm just waiting to see if Tesla release a CCS adapter, or if I need to order the Setec while I wait...
 

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