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Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces synchronous firefly viewing dates

The event will take begin on Tuesday, June 1 through Tuesday, June 8 at Elkmont.
Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 9:00 AM EDT
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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host its annual synchronous firefly viewing event in June.

The event will take begin on Tuesday, June 1 through Tuesday, June 8 at Elkmont.

The public can apply for the limited viewing opportunity through a lottery for a vehicle pass online. The lottery will open Friday, April 30 at 10 a.m. and remain open through Monday, May 3 at 11:59 p.m.

A total of 800 vehicle passes, 100 passes per night, will be issued through the lottery process. Each vehicle pass will provide 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.

Individuals will find out the results of the lottery on Friday, May 5. The lottery system is generated through a randomized computer drawing to select applications. All lottery applicants will be charged a $1.00 application fee.

People who win the lottery will automatically be given a randomized computer drawing to select applications. All lottery applicants will be charged a $1.00 application fee.

“I’m pleased that we’re able to once again offer an opportunity for visitors to experience synchronous fireflies at Elkmont in a safe manner,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Last year, we canceled the viewing opportunity due to concerns about using shuttle operations during the pandemic. Our staff worked hard to develop a new operational plan that allows limited parking for passenger vehicles directly at the site for 2021.”

The synchronous firefly viewing event brings thousands of visitors to Elkmont Campground each year to see the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously.

During the event, access to Elkmont will be restricted after 4 p.m. to vehicles with a parking pass, registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground, or backcountry campers with a valid permit. Visitors will not be allowed to walk or ride bicycles on Elmont road or Jakes Creek Road during the event.

Photinus carolinus, the fireflies in question, are among at least 19 species of firefly that inhabit the park. The synchronized lights are a part of their mating habits.

During the event, GSMNP ask that visitors show the following etiquette:

• Cover your flashlight with red or blue cellophane.

• Use your flashlight only when walking to your viewing spot.

• Point your flashlight at the ground.

• Turn off your flashlight when you find your viewing spot.

• Do not catch the fireflies.

• Stay on the trail at all times.

• Pack out all of your garbage.

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