Is Off-Roading Off-Limits in Alberta with an Electric Vehicle?

A few weeks back I found a thread on about EV vehicles called: Trade in Tacoma for an EV Truck?

Its had me thinking about an upcoming summer overland trip which I have been eyeing up for a couple of months now. It consists of a one-way drive of 1,552 kilometres (965 miles) which utilizes the Alaska Highway to explore northwest Alberta (AB), northeast British Columbia (BC) and the southwestern corner of the Northwest Territories (NT).

We would depart west out of Edmonton, AB driving roughly 45-minutes then connect up with highway 43 which is the start of the Alaska Highway. From this point onward its about a four hour drive up to Grande Prairie, AB (465 kms/288 miles).

Arriving into Grande Prairie you would continue west out of town then the highway would turn north and you’d drive another hour passing through the AB/BC boarder where you would cross the invisible boarder and the highway route number would change from #43 (AB) to #97 (BC). At this point you would notice your fuel gauge has diminished to 1/4 of tank of fuel and you’d need to stop in Dawson Creek, BC approximately 694kms (430 miles) from Edmonton.

If you were in the Rivian R1T (300 miles/482kms) you would have pulled over in Grande Prairie to “recharge” your power pack. The downside is you would have to locate either a destination charging station, or a 240-volt charger. If you went with the 240-volt charger than you would require an overnight stay at an RV Park.

Per the Rivian website: “Every Rivian also comes with our Portable Charger stored in the front trunk. It plugs into both a 240-volt outlet — used by many home clothes dryers and commonly found at RV parks — as well as a standard 120-volt wall outlet. With a 240-volt outlet, up to 16 miles of charge is delivered each hour.” Rivian website “Charging your Rivian”

Thus if you plugged the R1T into a 240-volt jack at the RV Park and were less than 1/4 tank full (75 miles to empty), then it would take approximately 14-hours to refill the 225 miles to a “full tank” of electricity in your power pack.

While the Rivian would be sitting in GP awaiting a charge, we would be cruising along the highway in our 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport. And within an hours time we would arrive in Dawson Creek, BC with a nearly empty tank. Thus we’d pull over and filler up.

If we had arrived in any Tesla vehicle (Cybertruck or S, 3, X, Y) models we would be searching all over , high and low for a destination charging centre. At the time of this writing, I’ve been able to locate one such charging station. The only farther north charging station would be back in Alberta, approximately 5 hours north of Grande Prairie in a small mining town called High Level. This would end your journey as there are no charging stations further up the highway. Sorry Cybertruck!

Today, in 2021 there is really only one off-road capable vehicle and that’s internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

There are two reasons for this.

First, you can find a petrol station in every town, along any highway and all you need is money to pay for the fuel. Second, and the more likely scenario for an overland and/or backcountry excursion is that you would have 2 to 4 jerry cans of fuel with you. Each jerry can typically holds up to 20-litres (5.3 gallons) of fuel.

On average a vehicle consumes 1 litre of fuel for 19 kms of distance. Therefore if you had 80 litres of jerry can fuel you could drive 1,520kms (944 miles).

From Dawson Creek, BC we will fill up the Tacoma and drive north in search of a camp site somewhere between Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson.

After a night of camping near Prophet River, BC we’d pack up our belongings and travel onward for approximately two hours until highway 97 splits. If you yield left continuing on 97 you will eventually reach Watson Lake, Yukon. Or if you yield right onto highway 77 you will eventually reach the British Columbia and Northwest Territories boarder for a photo-opp.

Continuing up the highway you will eventually reach Fort Liard which means you are now approximately an hours drive away from your true destination Nahanni Butte, NT. You will have traveled 1,522 kms (944 miles).

Let the adventures begin!

Camping, hiking, back packing, kayaking and exploring one of the most serene destinations in the Northwest Territories. If you have timed it well, you should be able to hop a biplane and head up to the scenic Virginia Falls inside Nahanni National Park which has been called The Niagra of the West!

Virginia Falls (Nailicho), Nahanni National Park Reserve, Northwest Territories, Canada

~ Aaron JacksonCrabb