Synchronous Fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains June 2023. These aren’t your average backyard lightening bugs; these particular bioluminescent beetles (Photinus carolinus) perform an extraordinarily silent symphony of lights in the warm, dark forest evoking images of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s truly a sublime experience.
They’ll be here for a week or two in early June 2023. However, the event has become so popular, bringing over 12,000 visitors to Elkmont, that some advance planning is definitely required. Utilizing scientific data on daily temperatures, park scientists have announced that peak viewing time will be June 4 to June 11, 2023. Here are a few tips to help with your planning:
- You can camp at Elkmont and have direct access to the trails where you can view the nightly light show. Campground reservations can be made up to six months in advance at www.recreation.gov. If you want to backpack, backcountry reservations are required and can be made at nps.gov up to 30 days in advance.
- Non-campers have limited to no access to the Elkmont area during the viewing period; however, nightly trolley Shuttles from Sugarlands Visitor Center.
- The Shuttle Operating Dates will be from June 4 to June 11, 2023.
- Visit www.recreation.gov during the specified time period to enter the Lottery. Parking passes may also be obtained by calling 877-444-6777, but National Park officials highly encourage the use of the online process.
- Remember to bring a chair or blanket, rain gear, and a flashlight because it’ll be dark. Keep your flashlight covered with either blue or red cellophane, usually available at the check-in table. Visitors are not allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance road due to safety concerns. For up-to-date info from the National Park Service, please visit GSMNP Firefly Event.