GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — The dates have been announced for the 2023 viewings of the famous synchronous fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A limited number of park visitors will have the opportunity to watch the “lightning bugs” in their late-spring flash patterns up in the Smokies.
GSMNP will host the annual synchronous firefly viewings at Elkmont Campground beginning June 4 through June 11.
The public may apply for the limited viewing opportunity by entering a lottery for a vehicle pass through www.recreation.gov. The lottery for vehicle pass applications opens Friday, April 28 at 10 a.m. through Monday, May 1 at 8 p.m.
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.
Lottery applicants for the synchronous firefly viewings will be notified if their application was successful or not by Thursday, May 11. If successful, they will be awarded a parking pass.
Since 2006, the National Park Service has used the lottery system for synchronous firefly viewings in order to reduce traffic congestion in GSMNP while minimizing the disturbance of the glowing beetles during their peak mating season.
Overall, a total of 960 vehicle passes will be distributed for the eight-day event, which equates to 120 per night. Passenger vehicles with a maximum occupancy of seven people are allowed.
According to recreation.gov, “synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus ) are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and one of only a few species in the world known to synchronize their flash patterns. This insects’ reproductive display occurs for a couple of weeks every year throughout its range (southern Appalachians), and is typically in late May or early June in the Elkmont area of the park. Synchronous fireflies occur throughout the southern Appalachian region, and large populations of synchronous fireflies occur in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”