Driving a Bolt on the open highway is still a challenge. Even in California, the number of quick-chargers along major highways is astonishingly small, so drivers face long stretches of highway where they must drive cautiously and make stops at precise locations, hoping the chargers are in good repair and not in use. (Next time, we will buy a Tesla Model 3, for which one can use the network of superchargers strung at strategic intervals along all interstates.)
So it was when my family decided to take a vacation to Zion National Park from our home in Irvine, a trip of 425 miles. Yet I found that the trip was rather easy and stress-free, once I planned our stops and accepted charging layovers in Victorville and Vegas.
It certainly helped that we used very little air conditioning, as temperatures were comfortable, in the 60s and 70s, in early March. I should also note that I monitored the charge status of the vehicle closely. For two legs of the trip, I found myself using the slow-moving vehicle lane (far right, with the truckers!) in order to save electrons.
Irvine (elev 56') to Vegas ( elev 2000'; 265 miles away) -- We charged up fully at home and drove at about average highway speed (about 75 mph) from Irvine (about 80 miles) to the quick-charger at Victor Valley Mall (elev about 3000'; EvGO quick charger behind Sears and JC Penney's). As luck would have it, no one was at the CCS charger, so we plugged in and charged from a starting 60+% until the car reported being about 90% full (and charging was proceeding slowly). At this point, the car showed an expected 220 miles of range. After meeting another Bolt driver at the charger who travels the LA to Vegas often, I drove a cautious 60 mph from Victorville to Vegas. But as it turned out, we made it easily, arriving in Vegas with about 80 miles of range reported on the meter. Since the meter estimates range based on prior driving technique, terrain, and heating/AC use, the meter jumped around a bit on the Victorville to Vegas leg. Note that you travel through a mountain pass that tops out at about 4700' between Victorville and Vegas. We used no climate control on this leg, as temperatures were comfortable.
Vegas (elev. 2000') to Zion (elev. abt 4000'; 160 miles away) -- We charged at the vacant EvGO quick charger at Terrible Herbst (Russell Rd. at Polaris Ave.), which is right off I-15 and very convenient. This time we again charged up above 90% (245 miles of range estimated by vehicle) and drove cautiously (55 to 60 mph) on to Zion National Park (actually a hotel in Springdale, which a few miles short of the park). We arrived with 45 miles of estimated range remaining. We used no climate control on this leg, as temperatures were comfortable.
Zion N.P. to Vegas -- Once at Zion, we found many unused chargers, despite full hotels. We charged overnight at one of 6 Clipper Creek J-1772 Level 2 chargers at SpringHill Suites Hotel. (All seemed to be in good working order, and only one was in use.) This charged us fully for the return trip to Vegas. Despite driving about average highway speed for that stretch (70+ mph), we arrived in Vegas with about 25% charge remaining and the Bolt estimating that we had 80 miles left. We used no climate control on this leg, as temperatures were comfortable.
Vegas to Irvine -- We again used the Terrible Herbst charger at Russell and Polaris. This time we charged to 97%, drove about 60 mph to Victorville, and arrived with 24% charge remaining. On this stretch, we used a little bit of A/C, as it got warm in the car.
In short, the Orange County to Zion trip is not bad in a Bolt, providing you plan ahead, charge strategically, drive at a moderate or slow speed (depending upon the leg of the journey), and accept that you will have to pause to charge at two places along the way. In summer, when you must use a lot of air conditioning, driving ranges will be shorter, and you will have to be even more cautious. Do not attempt this trip without adequate planning!