Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced. Great Smoky Mountains National Park synchronous firefly viewing opportunity in Elkmont will begin Friday, June 3, 2022 through Friday, June 10, 2022. The lottery for a vehicle passes can be entered at www.recreation.gov. The lottery opens for vehicle pass applications on Friday, April 29 at 10:00 a.m. through Tuesday, May 3 at 10:00 a.m. All applications, regardless of the time or date of entry, are considered equally in the pool of lottery applicants.
Every year thousands of visitors gather around Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously. Since 2006, access to the Elkmont area has been limited during the eight days of predicted peak activity in order to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe viewing experience for visitors that minimizes disturbance to these unique fireflies during the peak mating period.
800 vehicle passes, 100 passes per night, will be issued through the lottery process. Lottery results will be available by Friday, May 13, 2022. Vehicle passes provide admission for parking at the Elkmont viewing location for one passenger vehicle with a maximum of seven occupants. Lottery applicants may enter two possible dates to participate in the viewing opportunity over the eight-day period.
The lottery system uses a randomized computer drawing to select applications. Lottery applicants will be charged a $1.00 application fee. Successful applicants will automatically be awarded parking passes and a $24.00 reservation fee will be charged to the same credit or debit card used for the application fee. The $24.00 reservation fee covers the cost of awarding the passes, on-site portable restrooms, supplies, and nightly personnel costs for managing the viewing opportunity at Elkmont.
Parking passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued. There is a limit of one lottery application per household per season. All lottery applicants will be notified by e-mail by May 13, 2022 that they were “successful” and awarded a parking pass or “unsuccessful” and not able to secure a parking pass.
During the viewing period, access to Elkmont is restricted after 4:00 p.m. to passenger vehicles with a parking pass, registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground, or backcountry campers with a valid permit. Visitors are not allowed to walk or ride bicycles on the Elkmont entrance road or Jakes Creek Road after 4:00 p.m. due to safety concerns. Overnight parking at Little River Trailhead, Jakes Creek Trailhead, or the Appalachian Clubhouse is not allowed without a valid backcountry permit for backcountry campsites associated with these trailheads.
Source – GSMNP