Tesla Model 3 Maiden Voyage – Big Bend National Park TX

Find a more recent trip to Big Bend here.


I had made it to the Rio Grande. I was at 45% battery. The nearest supercharger was 150 mi away and the navigation said I would get there with -5%.IMG_2883IMG_2890Rewind back to that morning. I was at the Fort Stockton Supercharger getting ready for my journey to Big Bend. Putting the park into the GPS, it said it was 145 mi away and I would arrive there with 53%. It cut it a little close, but Plug Share said there was a wall outlet available about halfway there if need be. I wasn’t particularly excited about using a outlet as slow as that, but with it available for back up, I set off on my journey.IMG_2895IMG_2898IMG_2899After an incredibly relaxing drive through the desert, I arrived at the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center, and to my unfortunate surprise, the Rio Grande (which was where I wanted to go) was an extra 30 mi further than I had originally planned. I definitely didn’t have enough battery to get there and back to Fort Stockton but I definitely wasn’t going to NOT go to the Rio Grande.  Luckily there was the wall plug over in Marathon.


Arriving at the Rio Grande I was immediately overcome with a feeling of peace. The amount of life contained in this area was impressive. Flowers and yucca plants dotted the bank of the river while birds flew overhead and sang in the distance. There is a short hike (2 mi round trip) at the river that is a must. It’s a little strenuous at first, needing to cross a muddy bank and then climb switchbacks up the canyon, but it’s well worth it.IMG_2912IMG_2916IMG_2920IMG_2921

Arriving back at my car, I was at 45%. I knew that I would be using a little less battery on the way home though, as I was going to be going back down the mountains so less energy would be used as well as more regenerative braking for the same reason. Even though I knew I would have to stop at the Marathon wall outlet, I didn’t want to have to wait there long so I pulled up my energy usage on my display so I could constantly monitor it on my way back and make sure I wasn’t using an excessive amount of battery.IMG_2927IMG_2928IMG_2936IMG_2938

Arriving in Marathon though, my worst nightmare came true. The wall outlet didn’t work. At this point I had managed to save enough battery to get back to the charger with -3% opposed to -5%. Could I make it all of the way back by going slow and riding my brake? I honestly didn’t know, but what choice did I have? I didn’t really see any other option so off I went.IMG_2939IMG_2947IMG_2951

I had 60 mi to go but only 50 mi of battery. I obsessively watched my energy usage, riding the regenerative brake as soon as I would start to use a significant amount of power. I utilized autopilot to the fullest, drawing the conclusion that it would be better at conserving energy (as a computer) than I. I set it at 35 mph as that seemed to be the sweet spot. Luckily it was 1am so I was the only one on the road.IMG_2958IMG_2964

Slowly, my arriving battery level estimate rose. -3%. -2%.-1%.

Was I going to make it? I drove in silence to anxious to hear anything except for the sound of my voice in my head.

Finally I saw the Supercharger in the distance. I glided in with 0%, getting 347 mi out of a battery rated for 310mi.IMG_2985

Closest Supercharger Fort Stockton TX 100 mi (From Park entrance to charger)

Flying J Travel Center2571 North Front StreetFort Stockton, TX 79735



Big Bend National Park