Explore BC with your EV
British Columbia’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is a wild, uncrowded, and vast region full of epic scenery and unmatched adventure, but did you know that you can explore these roads less travelled entirely with an Electric Vehicle (EV)? Thanks to the average range of new EVs being around 440 km (273 mi) and BC’s increasing push for more electric car charging stations, gone are the days when EV travelling was limited to the city. With a growing network of fast-charging stations and EV-ready accommodations, taking a road trip, taking a road trip in an electric car through the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast has never been more possible. You will see BC Hydro charging stations throughout the region. Our electricity comes from clean, renewable hydropower; so take a trip that is virtually emissions-free and discover how this place truly is a Land Without Limits.
THE CARIBOO GOLD RUSH TRAIL & SOUTH CHILCOTIN
The Gold Rush Trail is history shaped by nature, and its stories are told through the very scenery and characters you meet along the way. If you’re starting your journey in the Lower Mainland, you may not know that you are actually starting your journey at the mouth of the Fraser River itself, a river you’ll follow for much of this journey, and a waterway of significant importance to ecological, Indigenous, and colonial history. This incredibly scenic trip climbs through the Fraser Canyon, past farmlands and geological wonders as BC’s founding history is connected through Indigenous experiences, historic sites, museums, and adventure activities.
Accessed from Vancouver via the Whistler BC-99 N route or the Fraser Canyon Trans-Canada Hwy, Lillooet is a great spot for an adventurous weekend away or a pit stop along the rest of your journey. Lillooet is an undiscovered destination home to Indigenous experience tours, two wineries, and affordable accommodations. Summer hiking, biking, canoeing or kayaking in the surrounding rugged mountains and lakes is a must. And for those looking for a bit less action, take in the culture and traditions of the St?t’imc (stat-lee-um) First Nation, book a round of golf at the Sheep’s Pasture Golf Course or learn about Cariboo Gold Rush history at the Lillooet Museum and Visitor Centre. Please make note that if you’re putting together an EV trip plan heading west to South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park or Gold Bridge, use Lillooet as your last charging point.
A little over an hour from Lillooet, Clinton is both an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and geological wonderland. Go for a bike ride on some of their famous gravel roads or visit nearby Chasm Provincial Park to see for yourself the awe-inspiring colourful lava flow layers. If you’re looking to stay directly in town, Clinton’s own unique limestone mountains are a sight to see. You can also swim, kayak, canoe or fish on Kelly Lake, which is famous for its rare black coral deposits that have even piqued the interest of NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. Following all the exercise, slow down for a while and explore Clinton’s quaint historical town. Visit local heritage buildings, stroll past antique shops, or venture out to one of the nearby guest ranches, where you can spend your time taking in authentic cowboy culture and some pampering spa time.
At the northern end of the Gold Rush Trail, just over an hour north of Williams Lake, is the vibrant community of Quesnel, beautifully situated at the confluence of the Quesnel and Fraser rivers. Experience each of the four seasons here (with minimal rainfall), where you can explore outdoors year-round, from fishing, hiking and biking in the warmer months to ice fishing, skiing, snowshoeing and more in the winter. In between exploring, visit quaint cafés or try something new with a vibrant dining experience. In town, you’ll find pathways and museums, and plenty of opportunity to explore the rich history of Quesnel, The Gold Rush Trail, and the province of British Columbia.
LAND OF HIDDEN WATERS
Loved by fishers, paddlers, and adventurers alike, BC’s Land of Hidden Waters surrounds parts of the Gold Rush Trail and BC’s famed “Fishing Highway 24” – this area also provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities and experiences in nature. Countless lakes, lodges, fishing resorts, mountains, parks and small communities branch off the route, making it easy to plan a road-trip with your electric car here. There are so many lakes in this region, a little saying has been coined! “Fish [paddle or swim] a lake a day for every day you stay!” With the highway stretching 97 km (60 mi) from its start in 93 Mile on Highway 97 and ending in Little Fort on Highway 5, it’s a doable range for most EVs. We recommend charging in Little Fort or 70 Mile House before venturing this way, just in case you want to make a detour!
70 Mile House
Located along Highway 97 only 20 minutes past Clinton, 70 Mile House is one of this region’s primary guest ranching areas. Along with horseback riding, the community has an abundance of hiking, biking, fishing, snowmobiling and canoeing options. Plus, a serving of authentic French-Canadian poutine and maple syrup sweetened coffee is a welcome break to any drive. If you’re planning on visiting Green Lake Recreation Area – one of the most popular water sport destinations in the South Cariboo – or anywhere along the “Fishing Highway” 24, make sure to use 70 Mile House as your last charging spot.
100 Mile House
Acting as the main service centre for the surrounding communities, 100 Mile House is a great place to stop for supplies along your journey. However, with tons of history and lots to do, it’s easy to stay a while! We recommend paying a visit to the 108 Mile Heritage Site where you can take in local history and stretch your legs around the museum or lakeside heritage log buildings.
Strolling around the 100 Mile Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary is another lovely daytime activity or if you’re visiting in the winter, try cross-country skiing at 100 Mile Nordics, one of B.C.’s most active Nordic clubs with over 45 km (27 mi) of maintained trails. Whilst using the electric car charging station at the South Cariboo Visitor Centre, stop and take a photo of the world’s tallest pair of cross-country skis. At over 11 m (39 ft) tall, they’ll be hard to miss! If you’re heading east from here to Canim Lake, make sure to use 100 Mile House as your last charging station. If you’re heading towards Wells Gray or Kamloops via Highway 5, use Little Fort’s charging point at the Little Fort Rest Area.
Whether you’re interested in Secwepemc (shi-HUEP-muh-k) First Nations history at Xatśūll Heritage Village, mountain biking, golfing, cowboy culture, craft beer, or wildlife-viewing; Williams Lake has something for everyone. Spend the morning mountain biking at Westsyde Ridge, Desous Mountain or Fox Mountain. Swing by the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame to brush up on your western history and then visit Scout Island Nature Sanctuary for your dose of flora, fauna and local wildlife. After a busy day of activities, make sure to reserve enough energy to visit the local Tourism Discovery Centre. Built from sensitively harvested trees that were damaged by the western red cedar beetle and thought to be around 745 years old, this incredible log structure cannot be missed. If you’re planning on heading west on Highway 20 into the Chilcotin, check your range before you leave Williams Lake as the next set of chargers are in Hanceville – approximately 97km (60mi) to the west.
Recharge at: Super 8 by Wyndham Williams Lake (J-1772 Plug), Williams Lake City Hall (50 kW fast charging; CCS/SAE & CHAdeMO Plugs), Prosperity Ridge Shopping Centre (8 Tesla uperchargers & 1 50 kW fast charging station; CCS/SAE & CHAdeMO Plugs1) and TRU Williams Lake Campus (J-1772 Plugs). On the Run (coming soon; 150 kW fast-charging; CCS/SAE & CHAdeMO Plugs)
THE GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST
The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth, covering 6.4 million hectares of BC’s central coastline. You can either take a direct scenic ocean route from Port Hardy to Bella Coola aboard the BC’s Ferries Northern Sea Wolf or take your time driving the 12-hour inland route from Vancouver. To make the journey by car, take the Trans-Canada Hwy and Highway 97 to Williams Lake. This part of the trip takes 6.5 hours at about 550 km (341 mi) with many charging stations along the way as highlighted above.
You will likely charge up in Williams Lake, but additional fast-charging stations are available at the Hanceville Rest Area. While new charging stations are being added along the route, there is currently a stretch of 370 km without stations between Bella Coola and the Hanceville rest area. If you are staying at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, 360 km from Williams Lake, you may use a portable charging station on their RV outlets (NEMA 14-50). We recommend breaking up this drive and exploring the Chilcotin along the way and the floatplane capital of Nimpo Lake. Plan ahead and call your lodge or hotel to arrange charging using either a portable charging station or your basic charging cable.
The BC Ferries Northern Sea Wolf runs from June to September, and we recommend reserving your spot aboard well in advance. You can make this part of a larger journey in what we like to call “The Great Bear Rainforest Circle Loop.”
After the beautiful journey to the Bella Coola Valley, you will be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking scenery and rugged mountain and coastal adventures BC has to offer. Spend your time exploring some of Canada’s longest fjords, soaking in natural hot springs or staring up at the old-growth cedar and spruce forests. If that doesn’t sound good enough, you can also try your hand at fishing, hiking, sailing, ocean kayaking or a wildlife tour in search of bears or whales that frequent these waters and coastlines. The beauty of this place is hard to describe, so come see it for yourself on a road trip with your electric vehicle.
Recharge at: Hanceville Rest Area (50 kW fast charging station; CCS/SAE & CHAdeMO Plugs and J-1772 plug), Tweedsmuir Park Lodge (NEMA 14-50 outlet, available only for guests) or Bella Coola Marina (NEMA 14-50 outlet)
More EV Travel Resources
Go to Plug In BC for information about charging station types and network accounts in the province, and PlugShare.com for a map of charging stations, crowd-sourced tips, and details about individual stations.
- Many vehicles will select charging stations for you if you enter your final destination in the navigation system. If you are not using navigation, you can use tools likePlugShare to find charging stations. Pay attention to charging power, measured in kilowatts, to select the fastest stations that your vehicle can use. You can use stations more powerful than your vehicle’s maximum charging rate (also measured in kilowatts) but you will not get any extra benefit.
- EVs charge best when their batteries are at optimal temperature, and many new vehicles can pre-condition their batteries to the best temperature while travelling to a fast-charging station. Select a fast-charging station in your vehicle’s navigation so that it knows to pre-condition the battery.
- When using fast-charging stations, do not charge above 80% unless you absolutely must. As an EV’s battery fills up, it reduces the charging speed in order to prevent damage. You will save time and money by leaving once the battery is 70-80% charged. It is also poor etiquette to remain at a charging station while your vehicle is charging slowly if other drivers are waiting to use it.
- Some public charging stations can be activated with a credit card, while others require a smartphone app or tap-card. Those at gas stations may use an app that you already have for collecting rewards points. Use charging stations tools like PlugShare to find this information in advance. Follow instructions on the charging stations,
- The non-Tesla charging stations on the routes presented here can be activated with either a BC Hydro, Chargepoint or Flo. They have a roaming agreement so there is no need to have multiple accounts. Future stations such as On the Run locations use their own apps for activation.
- Electric vehicles have big, powerful batteries to drive their motors, but they also have 12v car batteries, just like any other vehicle, to run the infotainment, lights, and other accessories. The large battery recharges the 12 volt battery, but if that 12 volt battery runs dead for any reason, the vehicle will not be able to start. Carry a battery booster in your emergency kit, just like you would in a gas car.
Using an EV rental car:
- A variety of electric vehicles are available through rental companies, car shares, and peer-to-peer rental platforms. Your charging station selection will be determined by whether the rental is a Tesla or another brand.
- If the rental vehicle is a Tesla, prioritize Tesla Supercharger stations and check to see if they are available on your route. The Tesla account should already be enabled on the vehicle so you can simply plug into a Tesla station and begin charging. The car’s navigation will show nearby stations and provide a charging plan if a route is entered. Using any non-Tesla fast-charging station would require an adapter. A rental car is not likely to come with a fast-charging adapter. This is something to verify with the rental company before hitting the road.
- Tesla vehicles can use an inexpensive adapter to charge at “level 2” or “j-plug” charging stations. These are lower powered stations commonly found at hotels, malls, parks, parking garages and homes. Again, check with the rental company or owner to determine if an adapter is included. Learn more about plug types and charging stations at https://pluginbc.ca/charging/.
- The rental company or vehicle owner might include an RFID card for activating public (non-Tesla) charging stations. If not, you should set up a BC Hydro EV account and keep the app on your smartphone. It can be used to activate many of the charging stations that do not use credit cards. You can check the details about activating stations along your route using PlugShare.
- The rental company, vehicle owner, or even a previous user may have enabled a charging limit or charging schedule through the vehicle’s menu. Ask about this in advance and determine if you are allowed to change anything.