Pacific Coast Scenic Byway by Electric Vehicle

June 19, 2015 (Updated July 28, 2015)

I love the kind of travel that puts me in touch with the many faces of Oregon adventure, so when the summertime mood to move strikes, I like to migrate to the Oregon Coast. There’s no finer way to explore it than the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.

But on this trip my mode of travel has switched: I’ve traded in my gas-powered Jeep for an All-Electric Nissan Leaf.


Ashley Horvat, VP of Plug Share, was on hand to get me started at one of the new fast-charge electric stations. With the swipe of her account card, Horvat demonstrated the ease of hooking up to the charge station. She said there are now enough charging stations between Astoria and Brookings to make the 363-mile long trip possible. “When you’re plugging in your EV at an Oregon charge station in Oregon, you are using renewable hydro-produced energy. If you think about it, when you’re driving through the Oregon coastal communities you’re not polluting the air so that’s a really immediate impact.”

Once behind the wheel, I quickly discovered that the EV “ride” was quiet; no motor noise and no exhaust fumes. I began my trip in Astoria and soon learned that the EV Leaf averaged about 55 miles between charges. Horvat noted that most people will charge up for just 15 minutes before moving on down the road to the next station.

But this trip was to be more than “driving” – it was also about discovering adventures at the many communities I would need to stop in for a re-charge. I wanted to make the most of my time in small towns I normally passed through.

At Garibaldi, I found a dandy adventure on Tillamook Bay. It’s just off the byway and where a minus low tide allowed me to dig supper from the sea: bay clams called Horsenecks, Quahogs and Steamers.

Mitch Vance, Shellfish Biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said that there are some simple rules to keep in mind: “If you’re 14 or older, you need an Oregon Shellfish License and you must also have your own container. There are daily bag limits: 20 bay clams per day per person and 12 of those can be the gapers or blue clams.”

Back on the byway I discovered a certain freedom from the gas pump where it seemed I always waited in line – the charging stations were always open and available for me to use, 24-7.

The driving experience did take some getting used to and for me it was similar to the difference between powerboating and sailing. When I’m in a sailboat, I put my mind in a totally different place so to go with the flow of the wind and the current. It’s about the journey, not just getting from point A to point B in a short period of time.

At Waldport, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway was easy walking distance for us to reach out and grab a paddle, a life jacket and discover a spirit of adventure at the nearby Kayak Shack.

The popular eco-touring kayaking company takes newcomers across Alsea Bay. Certified guide Phil Hawkins said it’s nearly a two-mile round trip into Lint Slough and it’s a trip that is best enjoyed on a flooding tide to help push you up the bay.

“When I first started coming up here, I would see elk, eagles, osprey, blue herons, kingfishers – most people are just surprised at how nice it is back in here. They fall in love with the place and the experience.”

Back on the Byway, you’ll fall in love with the dramatic giant rocks and offshore islands along the Southern Oregon Coast; they are magnificent!

At the quiet town of Gold Beach, I discovered adventure that touched Oregon history through high speed travel with Jerry’s Rogue River Jet Boats.

Jeff Laird has been leading folks up the Rogue River — Oregon’s fourth longest river at 215 miles — in a speedy jet boat for nearly 30 years. He said that jet boats used to be lifelines of food and supplies, but now they are lifelines of laughter and smiles that help folks connect with Oregon’s outdoors.

We motored up the Rogue River in half a foot of water – it was shin-deep shallow and amazing. Steep-walled cliffs and deep, towering canyons were always by our side and rule the river’s wild and scenic section where wildlife’s always by your side.

The Rogue River journey is a fine compliment to the Pacific Coast Byway and EV travel made the adventure relaxed and easy.

Horvat explained, “You’re forced to slow down and enjoy where you’re at. It also opens up smaller communities that people would normally skip over. That’s really what we’re trying to do: encourage people to stop and enjoy the time and place.”

Here’s a terrific surprise I discovered in my All-Electric Adventure on the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway: I saved a lot of money! On my travels, I drove a total of 928 miles over two weeks and the total cost of the electricity that I used was just $10. Wow!

About The

Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

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