The Smoky Mountain Synchronous Fireflies
If you want to see a true “wonder of nature”, a beauty that can only be seen in a two known places in the whole world, then you need to see these fireflies. They are a rare species of firefly that seem to coordinate their blinking into a little Smoky Mountain show (all they need is some music!) around mid-June (the 6th through the 13th) each year. There’s only one other place in the world, Southeast Asia, in which this phenomenon can be seen. This species of fireflies has an internal “sensor” that let’s them know when a nearby firefly has lit, in which they respond with their own light as quickly as possible. It may take a minute for them to get in sync, but all of a sudden that start performing together with flashes that last as long as six seconds. This, in turn, presents an amazing wave of blinking lights that is truly astonishing.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will again feature a reservation system this year, like last year, for viewing the fireflies. The on-line ticketing system, operated through Recreation.gov, will provide visitors with parking passes to guarantee they will be able to park at Sugarlands Visitor Center without having to arrive hours in advance. This pass is required for all vehicles. The number of passes issued each day will be based on the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot capacity. Parking passes for this year’s event will go on sale on-line at 10 am April 29. Passes may also be obtained by calling 1-877-444-6777. Some additional passes may be available the day before each event as well.
The show begins at dusk (usually around 9:30 p.m.).
The following Gatlinburg trolley services will be provided for $1 (roundtrip) per person from June 6 through June 13.
-Starting at 7 pm, visitors may board the trolley from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Trolleys will run every 20-25 minutes. It will take you to the Little River Trailhead at Elkmont. The last trolley back leaves at 11 pm (no private vehicles will be allowed into the Elkmont entrance after 5 pm – the trolley is the only transportation in and out unless you are a registered camper at Elkmont… in other words, you won’t be able to simply drive up into Elkmont to experience this… you must either be camping in Elkmont or ride the trolley).
-Bring a blanket or a small lawn chair to sit on, a flashlight or two (cover them with red cellophane to minimize white lights), and a backpack with refreshments. The only amenities available are portable toilets.
-Park rangers and volunteers will be available in various locations for questions, guided walks, and assistance.
-No pets or alcoholic beverages allowed.
-If attempting to take pictures or video, do not use a flash. Not only does it disturb the fireflies, but your picture will turn our horrible. Try turning the flash off, setting your aperture to f11 and taking a long exposure of a few seconds. You’ll get a spooky looking glow…very cool!
-The last trolley services back will be at 11 pm.