Apr 26, 2024 - News

National Park lottery opens for annual firefly event

A stacked image of Photinus carolinus in the Smoky Mountains. Credit: Peleg Lab at CU Boulder

A stacked image of Photinus carolinus in the Smoky Mountains. Photo: Peleg Lab at CU Boulder

The National Park Service is opening a lottery on Friday at 10am to give people an opportunity to immerse themselves in the glow of thousands of fireflies.

Why it matters: For roughly two weeks each spring, visitors flock to Tennessee's Elkmont Campground at Great Smoky Mountains National Park (about five hours from Atlanta) to watch fireflies illuminate the night in search of mates.

How it works: The synchronous firefly viewing at Elkmont will take place June 3-10.

  • NPS uses a randomized computer drawing system for reservations to reduce park traffic that would disturb the fireflies.
  • 1,120 vehicle reservations, 140 per night, will be issued through the lottery. Each reservation allows one vehicle with seven occupants to park at the viewing location.
  • Applicants can enter two dates for the viewing. The application fee is $1, and the $24 reservation cost will be charged to the same card used in the application. The $24 covers the reservation, on-site portable restrooms, supplies, and nightly personnel costs.

What's next: Visit Recreation.gov to apply. The lottery closes on Monday, April 29, at 11:59pm. Applicants will be notified of their results in mid-May.

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