The Grand Canyon. The Rocky Mountains. The Everglades. Many have dreamed of taking the Great American Road Trip to visit this country’s most iconic landscapes. In search of big skies full of stars or the chance to spot furry little critters, millions of people each year venture to the special places found in every corner of our country. When I dream of taking the trip, I’m always thinking about the vistas and views at my destination. But at the same time, much of the road trip experience is centered around the car, driven for miles with good company, your favorite snacks and a stellar playlist.
As the climate crisis grows more urgent, however, it’s imperative that our cars stop burning fossil fuels, and instead run on clean, renewable energy. But can an electric car handle the Great American Road Trip? The electric car market is rapidly growing, with over one million electric cars on the road today. Electric vehicle sales surged by nearly 86 percent in 2018 over 2017. Though electric cars are growing in popularity, consumers are still concerned about finding a place to charge. For a long road trip, driving an electric car from national park to national park might seem impossible.
But that’s not the case. I learned that driving an electric car to our public lands was already possible when I visited Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico last year. When I parked outside the visitor’s center, I was delighted to see parking spaces where anyone can plug in and recharge their car.
Solar powered electric vehicle charging station at Petroglyph National Monument (Credit: National Park Service)
Then I started to keep an eye out for charging at other parks. When I was back home in Pennsylvania at Valley Forge National Historical Park, I found electric car charging was already available. It’s not just federally owned public lands either. When I went camping at French Creek State Park, there were electric car chargers there too.
Electric vehicle charging station in Valley Forge National Historical Park (Credit: National Park Service).
Every state park, national monument, national forest and national park could install electric car chargers and make it easy for visitors to recharge their cars while they recharge their souls in nature. And even better, the park system doesn’t always have to foot the bill for the chargers. For instance, BMW of North America donated 100 electric car chargers to the national parks between 2017 and 2019.
Electric cars can help us protect our special places from the worst impacts of climate change. Road tripping in an electric car can bring you to amazing natural wonders without tailpipe pollution that fuels climate change.
Generations have criss-crossed across America to enjoy the splendor of the great outdoors. Now, the future of American road trips will be in electric cars, especially if our favorite outdoor places have electric car chargers waiting for us when we reach our destination.