How to Not Get Stuck in the Big Sur with an Electric Vehicle

This article was updated on July 15th, 2020


  1. How to Not Get Stuck in the Big Sur with an Electric Vehicle
  2. Highway CA-1 Continued: Marina to San Francisco
  3. Highway CA-1 Continued: San Francisco – Part 3
  4. Highway CA-1 Continued: San Francisco – Part 4
  5. Highway CA-1 Continued: San Rafael – Part 5
  6. Highway CA-1 Continued: Return to San Jose – Part 6

I recently took a Tesla Model X through Big Sur, California to explore Pfeiffer Beach, Partington Cove, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park / Vista Point, McWay Falls…

I rented the car through a relatively new service called, Turo. It’s a car sharing platform for people who are willing to rent their cars out to others. It’s like Airbnb but for cars.

How to Not Get Stuck in the Big Sur with an Electric Vehicle 2
2016 Model X 90D

Turo: 2016 Model X 90D

  • Battery is rated for 250 mi (custom order or existing inventory)
  • Rental car had 64,827 mi on odometer
  • Free Tesla Supercharging (link) (vs $3.95+ in Cali)
  • 14-50 Gen 1 NEMA (link), 5-15 Gen 1 NEMA (link) (power adapters)

It was around 70-80% charged when I picked up the car from the disclosed location on the day of my reservation. I saw about 241 mile range if I charged this car to 100% charge so at 64K miles there has been some battery loss due to battery degradation. Otherwise, I was seeing around 200-210-220 mi range if I was charge to the car to 80-90% per the default settings. I learned this is the optimal setting but the owner of this car allowed their customers to charge fully if needed for longer trips.

One finding with my trip was that I found the Supercharging estimates to be way off. For example, If I was told 35 minutes for charging and I left to grab a coffee. 10 minutes later when I returned to car it was still reading 35 minutes. Granted, miles were added to the battery. If I had access to the owners’ Tesla account I would have been able to track the charging progression from the official Tesla app. Unfortunately, with the Turo app there is no way to see these estimates from outside the car and I needed to be extra vigilant otherwise I would be charged a Supercharging idle fee if I left the car finished charging for 5 minutes or longer.

On Tesla’s website, they list Ventana as being a 24/7 Supercharger in Big Sur, California, however when I showed up to top off the Model X to insure plenty of power for the epic coastal driving. They were doing construction work to the road leading to the Tesla Superchargers and wouldn’t let anyone pass through to get to them until after 5pm (when they were done working). This could have been much of a disaster for anyone traveling up from Atascadero (the next nearest Tesla Charger headed south), which is approximately 102 miles away. It would have been an especially close call with this Tesla Model X with an 80% charge.

I charged the X up to about 241 mi (100%) the night before from Del Monte Shopping Center, which has 10 Tesla Superchargers (120kW max). I must have done some other extra driving because by 1PM I determined I would need to charge for 10 minutes at the Ventana Supercharger (arrive with 30% per car) to have enough energy in the battery to reach my hotel (arrive with 26% per car). Do I head back at this point and miss out on other interesting spots or do I risk getting stuck and hopefully they let me use the charger after 5pm? I decided to start heading back because I was hungry and everything is very limited out in the Big Sur area. I reached road construction on a unmarked section of CA-1, which was one-way traffic and people would get out of their cars to enjoy the view and checkout the bridge. “Nevermind!”, I said to myself after 15 minutes… I whipped a U-TURN and headed back to Limekiln State Park to hustle along a trail to the Limekiln Falls.

 Limekiln Falls
Limekiln Falls

There were many down trees so this wasn’t much of an easy hike to the waterfall but worth it none-the-less!

Big Sur, CA – Ventana Supercharger

Big Sur California Supercharger
Big Sur California Supercharger (Ventana)

I made it back to the Big Sur, CA proper around 5pm(ish) and the road was clear to the Tesla Supercharger! Such relief was had. 1 hour & 10 minutes was the estimate to get the battery back up to 241 mi of range. I was only seeing 16 kW of charging power when I left the car there to check out their restaurant and bar.

Garrapata State Park

 Garrapata State Park
Garrapata State Park
 Garrapata State Park
Garrapata State Park

Last stop for the day of my Highway 1 tour was Garrapata State Park.

If you could kindly use my referral link on your purchase of a Tesla Model 3, S or X. I will use my extra Supercharging miles for photographing our beautiful country. ? See below:

Use my referral link to receive 1,000 free Supercharger miles with the purchase and delivery of a new Tesla car, or earn a $100 award after system activation by purchasing or subscribing to solar panels: Model S, Model 3, Model X or Solar Panel.

Superchargers used on this leg of the trip:

Del Monte Shopping Center –
1410 Del Monte Center – Monterey, CA 93940-6168

Big Sur, CA – Ventana Supercharger
48123 Highway 1 – Big Sur, CA 93920

Full Itinerary

  • Pfeiffer Beach
  • Bixby Creek Bridge
  • Partington Cove
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park / Vista Point
  • McWay Falls
  • Big Creek Bridge
  • Limekiln State Park
    Limekiln Falls
  • Willow Creek Picnic Area and Beach
  • Sand Dollar Day Use Beach
  • The Sur House (Restaurant with an amazing view)
  • Rocky Ridge Trail – Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA

Limekiln State Park Trail

Limekiln State Park Trail
Limekiln State Park Trail
Limekiln State Park Trail
Walking across a fallen redwood tree? on Limekiln State Park Trail.
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