Synchronous Firefly Viewing Dates Announced by GSMNP

synchronous firefly

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the dates for synchronous firefly viewing in Elkmont. The ticketed event will take place from Tuesday, June 1 through Tuesday, June 8. Parking passes will be distributed via a lottery system administered through

Every year in late May or 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. All visitors wishing to view the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont must have a parking pass distributed through the lottery system.

The lottery will be open for applications from Friday, April 30 at 10:00 a.m. until Monday, May 3 at 11:59 p.m. You’ll be able to see the results of the lottery on Friday, May 7. A total of 800 vehicle passes, 100 passes per night, will be issued through the lottery process. 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 park’s lottery system will be utilizing 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. Parking passes are non-transferable, and good only for the date issued.

Firefly's light up in synchronously

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 the website and search for “Great Smoky Mountains Firefly Viewing Lottery” for more information and to enter the lottery. Parking passes may also be obtained by calling 1-877-444-6777, but park officials encourage the use of the online process. 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.

For more information about the synchronous fireflies, please visit the park website at

Media Access: To obtain media access for the firefly event, please contact Dana Soehn at or (865-436-1207)  in order to secure times, dates, and an access pass.

Film Permit Access: To obtain a film permit to photograph or film the firefly event, please contact Jamie Sanders at or (865-436-1209).

Special thanks to Dana Soehn and Jamie Sanders at the Public Affairs Office of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for providing the information for this article.

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