Firefly Viewing in Elkmont | Tickets go on sale Thursday, April 30

elkmont-loves-fireflies-heysmokiesPeak time to view the phenomenon this year is June 2 through June 9. The event has become so popular that the Park Service now limits car access to the campground to registered campers, but others may visit the site via shuttles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

As the purple shade of night draws across the darkening forest in late May and early June at Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it brings forth an amazing light display as slowly, then steadily, thousands of fireflies emerge from the lush undergrowth. Looking like tiny, twinkling earthbound stars, the fireflies blink in an age-old mating ritual. These unique fireflies (Photinus carolinus) are one of 19 species in the park and are the only ones that can synchronize their flashing lights, and by mid-evening around 9:45 p.m. visitors find themselves surrounded by a remarkable display uniquely arranged by Mother Nature. Male fireflies soar and flash while females remain stationary and respond with a different flash.


Synchronous Fireflies in Elkmont. Photo by Bernie Kasper of Indiana.


You must obtain a parking pass for Sugarlands Visitor Center as shuttle service is available only to the occupants of cars with a parking pass. Passes are free, but a $1.50 reservation fee is required. Passes are non-transferable (person named on pass must be present), non-refundable and are good ONLY for the date issued.  The first trolley leaves Sugarlands at 7 p.m. and returns (once filled to capacity) about 9:30 p.m. Trolley fees are $1 per person. NOTE: Tours are cancelled only when weather is threatening. Come prepared for inclement (and sometime unseasonably cool) weather. Alcohol is prohibited in the National Park. Portable toilets are available on-site.

There are three categories for parking passes which are available at

  • Advance: Tickets go on sale April 30, 2015 at 10 a.m.  There are 888 passes available for vehicles up to 19’ in length with no more than 6 occupants.
  • Day Before: (85 passes available) each day at 10 a.m. of the 8 day event for cars up to 19’ in length with no more than 6 occupants.
  • Day of: Large vehicles (36 passes only available) for vehicles up to 30’ with up to 24 occupants.

Visitors waiting for the big show which begins at dark around 9:45 p.m. Photo by Shawn Poyntner/The New York Times.

Firefly Etiquette

  • Take a flashlight (it will be dark) and cover the lens with blue or red cellophane tape. Shine directly on the ground and use only until you reach your viewing site.
  • Stay on trails to protect firefly habitats.
  • Pack out all garbage (your mother does not work here!)
  • Do not catch the fireflies!

Ole Smoky Moonshine Barn Presents Ashton Shepherd in Concert on June 13

ole-smoky-moonshine-logoCountry music’s Ashton Shepherd performs FREE Concert at Ole Smoky Moonshine Barn at The Island in Pigeon Forge on Saturday, June 13 at 7:00 pm.

Get there early and check out Ole Smoky’s newest 7,218 sq. ft. distillery and retail store, The Barn at The Island in Pigeon Forge and sample some fine shine in a variety of summer flavors like Sweet Tea. It’s located just across from the amazing dancing fountains at The Island…you can’t miss it!

Ashton Shepherd made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry in 2007 with her first single, “Takin’ Off This Pain” from her album Sounds so Good. Shepherd was nominated by the Academy of Country Music as Top New Female Vocalist of the Year in 2009. Her third hit single “Look It Up” from her album Where Country Grows hit the Top 20 Charts in 2011.  That same year, she also performed backup vocals on Luke Bryan’s hit “Tailgate Blues.”

Ashton’s latest CD This is America is available exclusively on her website

Originally from Clarke County, Alabama, Ashton began writing and singing songs at the tender age of 5. By the time she was 15, Ashton had released her first CD on her own. She won a talent contest in 2006 with the prize being the opening act for Laurie Morgan. At that concert, Ashton was spotted by MCA Nashville Records and set her on her path to country music fame. She’s since left MCA to form her own production company Pickin’ Shed Records.

For more info, visit Ole Smoky. Concert sponsored by Q100 Country radio.

Support Pets Without Parents’ New Donation Boxes at Local Businesses and Pets Without Parents announce their “HeySmokies Sticker Donation Box” partnership to raise needed funds for the local non-profit organization.


Jerry Maltese, owner of Nino’s Pizzeria & Eatery in Sevierville, proudly supports Pets Without Parents.

Although gives away its colorful round decals for free in local businesses, donation boxes are being set up to encourage contributions to Sevier County’s “no-kill” shelter which provides compassionate and loving care to dogs and cats in need while striving to place them with a forever family and home.

“The community has been so supportive,” says Lori Popps, Pets Without Parents board member and founder, “Every little bit helps meet the needs of the animals, so we really appreciate HeySmokies’ cooperation.”

Pets Without Parents has helped find homes for 2,000 homeless canines and felines to-date, with over 550 adoptions in 2014. It’s home to as many as 60 animals at any given time and costs between $10,000 – $12,000 each month to run the shelter, which is entirely dependent upon private donations.


Two furry friends with shelter director, Kylee Davis

“Our no-kill shelter and adoption center is entirely dependent on donations, and every dollar generated through the donation box program will help us save the lives of homeless, neglected, and abused animals,” says Karolina Ogorek, Pets Without Parents volunteer board member.

“We are so excited about our partnership with Pets Without Parents,” says HeySmokies’ Kelly Mott, “It’s a great partnership because visitors and fans get a free memento of their time here in the Great Smoky Mountains and Pets Without Parents receives the donations allowing hundreds of animals a chance at a healthy and happy life.”

Local businesses that would like a Pets Without Parents / HeySmokies Donation Box, email

Pets Without Parents LogoIf you are interested in adopting a pet, volunteering or donating directly to Pets Without Parents, call 865-286-9411 or email

Visit them online at
A Volunteer Orientation is held every Monday evening at 6:00 p.m. at The Barker Lounge on West Main Street in Sevierville.


Smoky Mountain Outdoors Announces the Launch of Extreme Rafting Adventures

smoky-mountain-outdoors-heysmokiesPerfect for daring adventurers, Smoky Mountain Outdoors now offers an Upper Pigeon Extreme Rafting Adventure! This trip is for maximum of 3 people + your experienced raft guide.  You will take on the intense rapids of the Upper Section in a 10 foot raft instead of the standard 14 foot rafts!  You’ll be running go-for-it lines and surfing all the big waves and hydraulics so be prepared to GET WET!

Guests must be 12 years or older and able to swim! Previous experience recommended but not required.

Be one of the first to experience the new Upper Pigeon Extreme trip AND save $25!

Simply book any Upper Pigeon Extreme trip at and use the coupon code EXTREME25 to save $25 per person!  Offer expires May 15th, so RESERVE TODAY!

Newfound Gap Road Travel Advisory in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced a Newfound Gap Road resurfacing project that is expected to create delays from now until June 15, 2015. The 4.3-mile section to be resurfaced extends from Sugarlands Visitor Center south to Chimney’s Picnic Area.


Be alert for workers and expect a road shift on Newfound Gap Road near Carlos Campbell Overlook.

In addition to the repaving, several drainage culverts will be replaced and two retaining walls will be constructed near the Carlos Campbell Overlook. The contractor will temporarily shift the road to the west by 2 to 3 feet to accommodate a drill rig used for setting the structural parts of the retaining wall near the pullout just north of the main Carlos Campbell Overlook. This lower pullout will be closed for approximately two months while the retaining wall is being constructed, but the main, upper overlook will remain open.

Motorists should expect delays due to lane closures through June 15. There will not be any daytime lane closures from June 15 through August 15, but nighttime lane closures may occur throughout the project. After August 15, daytime lane closures will again be allowed through September 30. No work of any kind will be permitted on federal holidays or during the month of October. Daytime lane closures will resume from November 1 through December 17.

For the most current road closure information, please follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter or call 865-436-1200 x 631.


Welcome to the new Park Superintendent Cassius Cash!

The scenic drive along Newfound Gap Road is enjoyed by millions of people each year and we are pleased to have this opportunity to improve road conditions,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We have made every effort to minimize the inconvenience to park visitors traveling along the road to reach both park destinations and our gateway communities. The contract includes a variety of work restrictions selected to minimize lane closures during the busiest periods.”

In related news, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail will reopen for visitors to explore on May 1, 2015. This popular one-lane, one-way road passes several historic homes and inspiring waterfalls.