Synchronous Fireflies at Elkmont June 4th-12th

There are fourteen different species of fireflies (which are beetles) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but only one of those has the ability to flash in sync with one another.  This species can be found in abundance at Elkmont, so much so that they block the road and bring people in by trolley during the peak two weeks that the fireflies are mating.  This year, the peak firefly viewing will take place June 4th through the 12th.  This is a sight that you don’t get to see just anywhere!

If you are planning to go see the fireflies, there are a few things you need to know for a successful trip.  Although the trolleys do not start to run from the Sugarlands Visitor Center until 7pm, you probably need to get to the parking lot at least an hour earlier, if not two.  This has become a popular attraction and only so many people can go on a given night.  Once the parking lot is full, they close it off.  Also, they do not allow coolers or pets.  Remember that you are traveling on a trolley, so you can’t haul a lot of gear with you.  Listed below are some more recommendations from the Pigeon Forge site:

Light Show Etiquette

Flashlights disrupt the fireflies and impair people’s night vision. The light show is best when you:

1. Cover your flashlight with red or blue cellophane.

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

3. Point your flashlight at the ground.

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

Parking and Trolley Information

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that the Elkmont entrance road will be closed to motor vehicles and pedestrian use every night starting at 5:00 p.m. until midnight, June 4th-12th except to registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. The closure is to accommodate transportation service for visitors planning to spend the evening viewing the natural-occurring, synchronous firefly beetles at Elkmont.

The City of Gatlinburg, in partnership with the Park, will provide the trolleys for this activity. The trolley service, coinciding with the expected peak flashing period, will be the sole transportation mode for visitor access during this period; no private vehicles will be allowed to enter Elkmont. This year also new restrictions will be in place to prohibit motor vehicles from parking along roadsides, pullouts, or any other areas besides at the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area for the purposes of viewing fireflies at Elkmont. Only those visitors parking at the visitor center will be allowed to ride the trolleys.

The trolleys will begin picking up visitors from the Sugarlands Visitor Center RV/bus parking area at 7:00 p.m. The trolleys will continually run until the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area is full or until 9:00 p.m., whichever comes first. The last trolley to return visitors from Elkmont to the Sugarlands Visitor Center is scheduled at 11 p.m. The cost will be $1 round trip per person as in previous years. 

Recommendations and Rules
For those riding the trolleys, it is recommended that visitors bring flashlights with red cellophane covers to reduce white light. Visitors can bring lawn chairs, and carry food and water in backpacks which can fit on their laps in the trolleys; there are no services available at the site. In order to help prevent any disruption to the firefly show, or destruction to the National Park, visitors are prohibited from bringing coolers, alcoholic beverages, or their pets.

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