Electric vehicles (EVs) are hitting the mainstream. From small, compact cars to all-wheel-drive SUVs, car manufacturers are branching out to welcome all types of drivers. We’re seeing more and more EVs that are capable travelers, useful as a tow-behind on a motorhome or for family tent camping on the weekends.
The National Park Service (NPS) has taken note. As part of its Green Parks Plan, introduced in 2012, the NPS works with partners and funders to provide electric vehicle charging infrastructure for park visitors, employees, and fleet vehicles. Recharging is now possible at many locations thanks to the installation of charging stations at visitor centers, lodges, and partner properties.
While not every national park currently has a place for you to power up, many do. So whether you’re towing an electric vehicle behind your RV or car camping, here are some of the destinations where you can power up while visiting U.S. national parks and other NPS sites.
Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
Massachusetts’ coastline is a series of bays, the most pronounced of which is Cape Cod, ringed by a skinny, 57-mile strip of land that hooks into the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Cod National Seashore has miles of dunes, hiking trails, and salt marshes. Grab a bowl of clam chowder, settle into one of the historic, quaint towns, and catch a stunning sunset while you recharge.
Plugging in on Cape Cod is easy, with four SemaConnect J-1772 Level 2 chargers installed at Wellfleet Town Hall, thanks to a partnership between the National Park Foundation, NPS, the Department of Energy, and BMW of North America.
Camping options on the Cape include Shady Knoll Campground RV Park and Nickerson State Park, both located in the town of Brewster. Have a Tesla? Brewster’s Captain Freeman Inn has two 17 kW plugs for public use.
Everglades National Park, Florida
Floridians and tourists will find plentiful places to charge up in Everglades National Park, a sprawling tropical wetland and wildlife haven at the southern tip of the Sunshine State.
Power up with SemaConnect J-1772 Level 2 at Ernest Coe Visitor Center (one charger), Flamingo Visitor Center (two chargers), and Shark Valley Visitor Center (two chargers).
Camping is available at Flamingo Campground and Long Pine Key Campground. Just north of the Everglades is Big Cypress National Preserve, which has additional camping options—like the four-star reviewed Monument Lake Campground—as well as one SemaConnect J-1772 Level 2 charger at the Oasis Visitor Center.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Geysers, hot springs, bison, bears, and charging stations—Yellowstone National Park has it all. Thanks in part to a grant from the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition, charging stations are located at some of the most popular locations across the park’s gorgeous and wild landscape.
Yellowstone’s public charging stations are J-1772 Level 2 non-networked and free to use, providing 208/240-volt electric service. You can find charging stations at:
- Yellowstone Forever (at the Gardiner, Montana, park entrance)
- Mammoth Hot Springs
- Old Faithful (this one is popular, so be sure to plan ahead)
- Canyon Village
- Lake Village
- The Gray Wolf Inn and Suites and the Holiday Inn (at the West Yellowstone park entrance)
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion is so popular that access to its top destinations is by shuttle bus only—not private vehicle—for most of the year. Still, there’s plenty to do in and around the park with your electric car, including the stunning drive through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel.
Charge up at one of the park’s two J-1772 Level 2 stations, located at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center and the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. To use, purchase a $5 charging code at the Zion National Park Forever Project bookstore inside the visitor centers, which grants you 3 days worth of access to the chargers.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Tucked in the northwestern corner of Washington, Olympic National Park is almost too much to take in at once. Your electric vehicle can help you see more of the park, from the mountainous, rainforest-covered main part to the rugged and rocky coastline.
Thanks to a partnership between the NPS, the National Park Foundation, BMW of North America, and the U.S. Department of Energy, charging stations can be found at Sol Duc Hot Springs Lodge, Lake Crescent Lodge, and Kalaloch Lodge. Both Sol Duc Hot Springs and Kalaloch also have well-rated national park campgrounds.
Each of the lodges has free SemaConnect J-1772 Level 2 chargers installed—two each at Sol Duc Hot Springs Lodge and Lake Crescent Lodge, and four at Kalaloch Lodge.
Death Valley National Park, California
Death Valley National Park is famous for Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America (282 feet below sea level), and for its extreme heat. In the middle of summer, this desert basin rivals the temperatures of the Sahara—but in cooler seasons, it’s an enjoyable trip for RVers. You’ll find six free SemaConnect J-1772 Level 2 charging stations at The Oasis at Death Valley, near the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.
Can I Charge My Electric Vehicle at My Campsite?
Some national park campgrounds have electric hookups right at the campsites. These hookups can include a 240-volt/50-amp outlet (NEMA 14-50), a 120-volt/30-amp outlet (NEMA TT-30), and a standard 120-volt outlet. Power options vary by campground, so do a little research before you arrive.
With the correct adapter you can charge from electric hookups. There are plenty of options online that connect your specific vehicle’s charging port to those traditionally available at campgrounds. Some are simple adapters, while others have screens that display charging data and error warnings.
Charging at a campsite doesn’t have the same power as designated charging stations. Electric vehicle owners often report utilizing the campsite’s electric hookup just to give them a boost to make it to a more powerful charging station.
Electric vehicle RVers and campers, do you have any tips and tricks to share for traveling with an EV? Leave them in the comments!