Those who grew up in the mountains can likely recall capturing lightning bugs (fireflies) in mason jars as children. Those who haven’t had the opportunity to see the vibrant glow of fireflies in person can do so without chasing them through open fields at a rare event that lights up the Smokies each June.
Synchronous fireflies flash in unison as part of a mating ritual, providing an amazing natural light show each year in May or June. When this occurs, thousands gather near Elkmont to view the rare firefly event in the Smoky Mountains. Though you can’t catch them in mason jars, you can enjoy seeing them up close. This year, park officials have announced the viewing dates will be June 4-11, and tickets will go on sale April 30.
To access the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot, you must have a parking pass. From there you’ll be shuttled to Elkmont, where the fireflies will be gathering. Access to the trolley shuttles will only be available to groups who have purchased a parking pass.
There are only a limited amount of passes available for the three parking categories. Since there is a limited number of passes available to the firefly event in the Smoky Mountains, only one pass can be purchased per household.
Sales for Advanced Parking passes will begin on April 30 at 10:00am. There are only 111 available for each day, so these are sure to sell out on April 30.
Day Before Parking passes will also be on sale at 10:00am the day before each of the eight days. Each day there will be 85 available to purchase for the following day.
Those who have a large vehicle can also purchase passes beginning April 30 at 10:00am. There are only 36 of these passes available, so be sure to call in as soon as possible to reserve your spot.
You can purchase your tickets online here.
Day of Details
Rangers will be on hand each day to provide information. Elkmont’s firefly viewing area is made up of easy walking trails and paved areas, so it is easily accessible for anyone.
The first trolley will take guests to Elkmont at 7:00pm. The trolley will continue running until everyone is taken to the site. Expect to arrive back at your vehicle within 3-6 hours.
Things to Know Before You Arrive
- When you arrive at the event, you must present a valid I.D. to claim your pass.
- There are no refunds or rain checks.
- Bring exact change for the trolley fee, which is $1 per person.
- Pets and alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
If you’re planning to see the synchronized firefly event in the Smoky Mountains, HearthSide Cabin Rentals invites your family to stay in one of our cabins near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To see this rare event, book your cabin by calling (888) 993-7655.