While Great Smoky Mountains National Park itself may be vast, it’s an easy place to plan an electric vehicle road trip. It’s surrounded by bigger towns like Knoxville, Tenn., and Asheville, N.C., which offer plenty of charging options, and lots of smaller towns and park entrances surrounding the park also house charging stations.
We’ve made it a breeze to plan your trip to the most visited national park in the country with our guide on where to charge.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has two main regions: North (Tennessee) and South (North Carolina). Read on to find places to charge in both areas.
North (Tennessee) EV Charging
The main Tennessee entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located just outside of Gatlinburg. At the Sugarlands Entrance, you’ll find the Sugarlands Visitor Center where there’s a J-1772 Level 2 charger at the far end of the parking lot just before the exit. You’ll need a Greenlots app or RFID card to access the charger. Greenlots cards can be purchased inside the visitor center.
While you wait for a charge, explore the exhibits at the visitor center as well as the outdoor exhibits of historic buildings including Cable Mill, a seasonally-operated grist mill. When the Gatlinburg trolley is operating (June through October), take the Tan Route from the visitor center to Laurel Falls trailhead. Check with the driver for the last return time.
In the gateway town of Gatlinburg, you’ll find several opportunities to charge including a J-1772 Level 2 charger at Bennett’s Bar-B Que (714 River Rd.) if you’re in the mood for lunch while you charge, as well as one at Rafting in the Smokies (813 East Pkwy.). You’ll have a full battery when you come back from a day on the river.
Pigeon Forge, 20 minutes north of the Sugarlands Entrance, has numerous charging locations. It’s also home to numerous tourist draws, such as Dollywood.
To the west, you can enter the park through Townsend, which is the fastest way to get to the Cades Cove area. In Townsend, charge your Tesla at the Dancing Bear Lodge & Appalachian Bistro (7140 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy.) while you spend the night or just dine as your car gets more juice from a 13kw Tesla Destination charger.
South (North Carolina) Electric Vehicle Charging
The main North Carolina Entrance, Oconaluftee, has a charger located at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The J-1772 Level 2 charger is located at the far end of the lot near the exit. This visitor center is a great place to wait for a charge as you can explore both the visitor center museum and the Mountain Farm Museum with log structures. Seasonal demonstrations will teach you more about farm life in the Great Smoky Mountains. You can also access the Mingus Mill, one of two seasonally-operated grist mills in the park, a short walk from the visitor center.
In the nearby gateway town of Cherokee, you can charge at the Cherokee Welcome Center (498 Tsali Blvd.) with both J-1772 Level 2 chargers and a 8kw Tesla Destination charger. While you wait, don’t miss the Museum of the Cherokee Indian across the street.
East of Cherokee, there are chargers in two charming towns that are worth at least a stop, or better yet, an overnight stay. In Maggie Valley, charge at the Maggie Valley Town Hall (3987 Soco Rd.) and in Waynesville, charge at either Ingles Market location: 1678 Brown Ave., or 201 Barber Blvd. All three spots have J-1772 Level 2 chargers. Don’t miss some of North Carolina’s favorite breweries in this region while you wait.
In the Fontana Lake area, there are multiple resorts, RV parks and campgrounds with NEMA 14-50 outlets, but for a Tesla HPWC charger, stop by the Wolf Creek Café (2620 NC-28). For a J-1772 Level 2 charger, visit the infamous Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap (17555 Tapoco Rd.) Both locations have restaurants to enjoy lunch at while you wait for a charge.