Maybe it’s the idyllic scenery or the charming towns; the great food and drinks (craft beer, anyone?) or the public art; or the countless opportunities for outdoor adventure.
Western North Carolina has something for everyone, and it’s no surprise that it draws so many visitors from both in and out of state. If you’re venturing to the region in an electric vehicle (EV), there’s now more to do — and more places to plug in — than ever.
Cherokee, Maggie Valley
Sitting on the North Carolina-Tennessee border, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country, and getting there by EV is about to get easier. Thanks to Haywood EMC, there will soon be a DC fast charger off I-40 in Waynesville. It will be the westernmost DC fast charger in the state.
If you’re looking for more activities in the area, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad can be great family fun. You’ll also be near the ancestral home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. You’ll find a spot to charge up at the Cherokee Welcome Center, which is right by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. And maybe you can try your luck at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, which has multiple Level 2 plugs and Level 1 outlets.
For something a little quieter, you won’t want to miss the local shops and restaurants of Maggie Valley, which has a Level 2 charging station of its own.
Tail of the Dragon
On a scale of 1 to 10, Tail of the Dragon would rank a solid 12 when it comes to adventure. Considered America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road, the 11-mile stretch of U.S. 129 boasts 318 curves and is featured in numerous Hollywood classics. If you’re brave enough to slay the dragon, you can charge up as you take a stroll through the souvenir store or grab a bite at the restaurant across the street. Level 2 charging for Teslas and non-Teslas alike is available to the public.
More places to explore
Waterfalls and grand mountain peaks often bring travelers to western North Carolina, but some of the most surprising treasures are tucked away off the beaten path.
If you’re heading toward Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, take a detour in the surrounding towns along the way. Little Switzerland is quite the jewel on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It offers a quiet place to recharge (for you and your vehicle) at the Switzerland Inn.
Thanks to Blue Ridge Energy, you can visit the rural areas near the top of our state with ease and charge up in West Jefferson at the Hotel Tavern. For the best of both worlds — scenic lodging — there are many options to choose from. Various campgrounds trail North Carolina’s borders, including Mountain River Family Campground, River’s Edge Mountain RV Resort, and Catawba Falls Family Campground. Each offers plugs and activities for the family, even if you don’t stay the night.
Western North Carolina is also home to one of the Southeast’s most unique EV events: the Blue Ridge Parkway Tesla Drive in which more than 100 Tesla owners gather for a trip down America’s Favorite Drive. It’s quite an experience! The next meetup is happening in April 2022, so if you have a Tesla or are thinking about getting one soon, the event is worth checking out and a great way to connect with fellow EV drivers.
The adventure continues
This column wraps up our EV Adventure series, but the fun doesn’t stop here. As North Carolina’s electric cooperatives and others continue to build charging infrastructure, it is becoming more and more manageable to drive on electrons from the mountains to the sea. Visit ncdriveelectric.com to learn more.
This article was originally published in Carolina Country magazine.