Update on Sierra Nevada East Side Non-Tesla DCFC Stations

By Paul Gipe

We recently completed our second trip from Bakersfield to Toulumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park in our Chevy Bolt EV. (See EV Road Tripping: Bakersfield Bolt to Yosemite via US 395 and the “East Side” for our experience driving the route in 2018.)

When we arrived at Toulumne Meadows Lodge there were two Tesla Model 3s. When we left a week later there was a brand new Bolt and one Model 3. Though there is Level 2 charging in the park, there is none in Toulumne Meadows.

As noted previously, there are no public non-Tesla EV charging stations on the East Side of the Sierra Nevada from Mojave, California to Gardnerville, Nevada on US 395–a distance of more than 300 miles.

There is Level 2 charging at three resort hotels in Mammoth Lakes, California. In 2018 we paid more than $400 for a night of charging. We paid half that–still a very stiff price for a full charge–on our most recent trip.

This year we added a stop in Kernville to charge at the USFS station’s Level 2 while we had breakfast at nearby Cheryl’s Diner. This was to enable us to reach Horseshoe Meadow at 10,000 feet, where we botanized, as well as our overnight charging destination at the Independence Inn in Independence, California.

The trip northbound took three days with overnight stops in Independence and Mammoth Lakes. The return trip–mostly downhill–took two days with an overnight stop in Independence.

Tesla has had superchargers in Mojave, Inyokern, Lone Pine, and Mammoth Lakes for at least five years. Tesla’s foresight is apparent in providing DCFC stations on this route, as is the lack of foresight by the major EV networks and the state of California.

Our experience driving US 395 with a non-Tesla EV illustrates the need for a network of DCFC stations on the East Side to make travel in an EV from Southern California to the recreational Meccas of Mammoth Lakes (skiing) and Yosemite National Park (hiking).


CalTrans, the state’s transportation department, will be installing stations in its 30-30 program at safety roadside rest areas at Coso Junction, and Independence, as well as at its district headquarters in Bishop. (See DCFC Stations Bakersfield to the Sierra Nevada East Side Coming.)

However, as of late spring CalTrans had not yet issued a request for proposals to build the stations. They are not likely to be installed until mid to late 2020–if then. Further, the stations were to include only one kiosk or dispenser per site. Experience with other networks suggests this is a recipe for poor availability and poor reliability. The locations of the stations also overlap with those of Electrify America.

Electrify America

VW subsidiary Electrify America is installing stations at Mojave, Coso Junction, Bishop, and in Bridgeport north of Lee Vining.

As elsewhere in Central California, EA has installed the charging kiosks, but not the necessary transformers. The kiosks at Coso Junction, Bishop, and Bridgeport were installed several months ago. Why EA hasn’t installed the transformers and completed the installations is unknown.

ChargePoint & EV Connect

Both ChargePoint and EV Connect have contracts with the state of California to install stations near Inyokern. The completion date for the three-year contracts is the end of 2019. We saw no activity on the ground on our recent trip to Yosemite.


Lee Vining Level 2

The building permit for Lee Vining’s Level 2 (ClipperCreek) at Hess Park has been approved and they expect the station to be installed sometime late this fall. This has been a long time coming and will be the first public Level 2 J1772 station on US 395. (See Lee Vining’s Pioneer Pavilion Small Step for a Big Idea–Solar EV Charging at the Eastern Gateway to Yosemite.) 

The only Level 2 charging currently available on the East Side is the use of NEMA 14-50 outlets at two motels in Independence, the Tesla and J1772 stations at three Mammoth Lakes’ resorts, and two Tesla home charge stations on Plugshare.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of non-Tesla, charge stations on the East Side of the Sierra Nevada that the issuance of a building permit for a two-head Level 2 station is newsworthy.