KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Each year thousands of people gather near the Elkmont Campground to see the spectacle of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously.
From late May to mid-June, the fireflies can be seen lighting up the mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular places to see this display, due to the demand for the event the National Park Service uses a lottery to allow people an equal chance of getting a ticket. In total, 800 passes will be up for grabs during the eight-day event (100 per night).
The lottery winners will check-in near the Elkmont Campground kiosk on their date where they will be directed to their assigned parking spot. The main viewing areas for the firefly displays are Jakes Creek and Little River trails.
This year’s viewings will be held Friday, June 3 through Friday, June 10. The lottery to apply for viewing passes will open on April 29. The lottery will close on May 2 at 8 p.m. and the winners will be notified on May 13. To enter the lottery, visit this site.
The display usually begins around 9:30 p.m. and continues through the night. Throughout the display, the bugs will flash multiple times then stop flashing for 6 to 8 seconds leaving the area nearly pitch black, before beginning the flashing again.