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Synchronous fireflies in the Smokies expected to peak May 30-June 6

Everyone who wishes to see the fireflies during this time must have a parking pass distributed through a lottery system or be booked at a campsite at Elkmont.

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has announced the dates for one of the most spectacular natural light shows in the country.

The viewing for the synchronous fireflies event at Elkmont will be May 30 through June 6. Everyone who wishes to see the fireflies during this time must have a parking pass distributed through a lottery system or be booked at a campsite at Elkmont.

Elkmont is one of the few places in the world where you can see the Photinus carolinus, the special kind of firefly that flashes in unison. The event has become so popular over the years that the park has had to take steps to limit the number of people that could view the fireflies each night.

During that period, which is estimated by park scientists to be the peak time for the fireflies, a parking pass is required for evening access to the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area and the firefly shuttle to the Elkmont viewing area, according to the National Park Services.

People hoping to attend the annual spectacle are asked to submit their name to the lottery for parking passes on the Recreation.gov Firefly Event pageLottery applications will be accepted from Friday, April 26 at 8:00 a.m. until Monday, April 29 at 8:00 p.m. Results of the lottery will be available on Friday, May 10.

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The link is not visible at this time because the lottery is not open.

All lottery applicants will be notified that their application was successful and are awarded vehicle parking confirmation or unsuccessful that they're not awarded parking confirmation.

Only 1,800 passes are roughly available, and each year far more people apply to receive one than are readily available.

Credit: WBIR
A composite photograph shows 90 seconds of lightning bug flashes at Molly Branch Fireflies in Corryton.

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 parking pass permits visitors to park at Sugarlands Visitor Center and allows occupants to access the shuttle service to Elkmont. The $24.00 reservation fee covers the cost of awarding the passes, event supplies, one red-light flashlight per pass, and nightly personnel costs for managing the viewing opportunity at Sugarlands Visitor Center and Elkmont.

According to NPS, during the lottery application, you must choose to apply for a regular vehicle parking pass or large vehicle parking pass..

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A $2 (cash only) round-trip, per-person fee will be collected when boarding the shuttle at Sugarlands Visitor Center.

The shuttle service is the only transportation mode for visitor access during this period, except for registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. Visitors are not allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance road due to safety concerns.

Questions about the lottery can be found here.

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