Great Smoky Mountains Synchronous Fireflies

April 26, 2022

© Firefly Experience - Radim Schreiber

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One of the most exciting natural events in the Smokies returns.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual synchronous firefly viewing opportunity at Elkmont beginning Friday, June 3 through Friday, June 10. The public may apply for the limited viewing opportunity by entering a lottery for a vehicle pass through www.recreation.gov. The lottery opens for vehicle pass applications on Friday, April 29 at 10:00 a.m. through Tuesday, May 3 at 10:00 a.m. All applications, regardless of the time or date of entry, are considered equally in the pool of lottery applicants.   

Every year in late May to early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously. Since 2006, access to the Elkmont area has been limited during the eight days of predicted peak activity in order to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe viewing experience for visitors that minimizes disturbance to these unique fireflies during the peak mating period. 

A total of 800 vehicle passes, 100 passes per night, will be issued through the lottery process. Results of the lottery will be available by Friday, May 13. Each vehicle pass provides admission for parking directly at the Elkmont viewing location for one passenger vehicle with a maximum of seven occupants. During the application process, lottery applicants may enter two possible dates to participate in the viewing opportunity over the eight-day period. 

The number of passes issued each day is based on parking capacity and the ability to safely accommodate a large number of viewers on site, while minimizing resource impacts. The lottery system uses a randomized computer drawing to select applications. All lottery applicants will be charged a $1.00 application fee. Successful applicants will automatically be awarded parking passes and a $24.00 reservation fee will be charged to the same credit or debit card used for the application fee. The $24.00 reservation fee covers the cost of awarding the passes, on-site portable restrooms, supplies, and nightly personnel costs for managing the viewing opportunity at Elkmont. 

Parking passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued. There is a limit of one lottery application per household per season. All lottery applicants will be notified by e-mail by May 13 that they were “successful” and awarded a parking pass or “unsuccessful” and not able to secure a parking pass.  

During the viewing period, access to Elkmont is restricted after 4:00 p.m. to passenger vehicles with a parking pass, registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground, or backcountry campers with a valid permit. Visitors are not allowed to walk or ride bicycles on the Elkmont entrance road or Jakes Creek Road after 4:00 p.m. due to safety concerns. Overnight parking at Little River Trailhead, Jakes Creek Trailhead, or the Appalachian Clubhouse is not allowed without a valid backcountry permit for backcountry campsites associated with these trailheads. 

Visitors may visit www.recreation.gov and search for “Great Smoky Mountains Firefly Viewing Lottery” for more information and to enter the lottery. Visitors may also call 1-877-444-6777 to enter the lottery, but park officials encourage the use of the online process. For more information about the synchronous fireflies, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm

Important Dates and Information for the 2022 Firefly Lottery

April 26, 2022: Firefly viewing dates will be announced.
April 29, 2022: Lottery for vehicle passes opens at 8:00 a.m.
May 2, 2022: Lottery for vehicle passes cloese at 8:00 p.m.
May 12, 2022: All lottery applicants will be notified if their application was successful/unsuccesful.

Parking Confirmation will be distributed via a lottery on Recreation.gov – Firefly Event page.

During the lottery application, you may choose two dates you would like to attend - your preferred choice and an alternate date.

All lottery applicants will be notified that their application was SUCCESSFUL (and are awarded vehicle parking confirmation ) or UNSUCCESSFUL (and were not awarded vehicle parking confirmation)

**Lottery winners will be charged a $1.00 application fee. Successful applicants will automatically be awarded parking passes and $24.00 will be charged to the same credit or debit card used for the application fee.(collected on Recreation.gov) to help cover the cost of viewing supplies, and nightly personnel to manage the viewing opportunity at Sugarlands Visitor Center and Elkmont.

--NPS-- 

www.nps.gov/grsm 

www.Facebook.com/GreatSmokyMountainsNPS 

www.Twitter.com/GreatSmokyNPS 

www.Instagram.com/GreatSmokyNPS 

www.flickr.com/greatsmokymountainsnationalpark 

 

Media Access: To obtain media access for the firefly viewing opportunity, please contact Ashley Courtney at ashley_courtney@nps.gov or 828-506-0637.   

Film Permit Access: To obtain a filming permit, please contact Jamie Sanders at jamie_sanders@nps.gov or 865-436-1296. 

Photography by © Firefly Experience.

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