Smoky Mountain firefly event canceled.
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event Cancelled. National Park officials announced the cancellation of the popular synchronous firefly event due to the continuing threat from the novel coronavirus (COVID -19). The cancellation is part of a continuing push to support federal, state and local efforts to contain the spread of the virus by following the most recent guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control(CDC).
“The synchronous firefly viewing area at Elkmont simply isn’t spacious enough to safely allow hundreds of people to gather under the current health guidance,” said Superintendent Cash. “While disappointing, the safety of our employees, volunteers, and visitors continues to be our number one priority.”
Each year in May and June, thousands of people from all over the world make a pilgrimage to the popular Elkmont campground in GSMNP to witness the natural mating phenomena of the fireflies. The native firefly, Photinus Carolinus, blink simultaneously in an effort to attract a mate. Last year almost 30,000 people from 19 countries and 50 states took their chance in the annual lottery for shuttle access to view the fireflies. Lucky lottery winners were from 42 states, Canada and the Federated States of Micronesia. Approximately 1,000 people view the firefly display during its peak.
Park officials say the shuttle service to the event from Sugarlands Visitors Center will not support current CDC guidelines, especially the six-feet distancing requirement between individuals. Due to parking limitations, the shuttle service is the only transportation mode for visitor access firefly peak. Registered campers at the Elkmont normally have access to the fireflies but at this time, Elkmont Campground remains closed. Park managers will continue to evaluate regional conditions and work with local communities to assess dates for an orderly reopening of park facilities in a manner that provides for the health and safety of employees, volunteers, partners, residents, and visitors. The park will notify visitors when it reopens via the website NPS.gov.
Park rangers remain available to answer questions during business hours at (865) 436-1291, (828) 506-8620.
Since 2006, access to the Elkmont area has been limited to a shuttle service which originates at Sugarlands Visitor Center during the eight days of predicted peak activity. The shuttle is an effort to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe viewing experience for visitors that minimizes disturbance to these unique fireflies during the critical two-week mating period. Parking passes for access to the shuttle are normally distributed through the lottery that takes place in late April.
Source material – GSMNP