GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Great Smoky Mountains National Park kicks off its annual synchronous firefly viewing opportunities on Tuesday.

Every year in late May to early June, thousands of visitors gather near the Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously.

Access to the Elkmont area has been limited during the eight days of predicted peak activity since 2006 in order to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe viewing experience for visitors that minimizes disturbance to this natural phenomenon. A limited number of vehicle passes for the event have been distributed through a lottery system.

The event at the Elkmont Campground begins Tuesday, June 1 and last through June 8.

“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.”