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Know the West

The great electric road trip


Blanding, a remote city of 3,504 in one of Utah's poorest counties, received the state's first Tesla Supercharger station in January. City Manager Jeremy Redd says it's an ideal spot to power up an $80,000 electric car: "We're halfway between Arches and Monument Valley," and within an hour of Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments. "You really need to stay a couple days and see all these places."

That's not what Tesla had in mind when it planned its first coast-to-coast Supercharger route, now totaling 73 stations. But towns like Blanding and Gallup, N.M., are practical plug-ins between places like Flagstaff, Ariz., where eco-chic Tesla owners actually live, and popular destinations like Moab.

For now, the journey is the destination. At midnight on Jan. 30, two Model S Teslas blazed out of company headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., intent on breaking the "least non-drive" time record for a cross-country trip by electric vehicle. The four drivers took turns sleeping and stopped only for the half-hour stints necessary to recharge their batteries – hardly enough time to peruse Blanding's visitor center, much less explore the surrounding canyons.