Synchronous Fireflies 2015 Event at Elkmont

  • SumoMe

synchronous fireflies elkmont smoky mountainsIf you want to witness one of the most amazing sights that the Great Smoky Mountains have to offer, then be sure to check out the incredible synchronous fireflies in Elkmont beginning early June2, 2015 and lasting through June 9. Many people refer to them as “lightning bugs” or “lighting bugs”, but the Photinus carolinus is an amazing synchronous firefly that finds its way to a special spot in the Great Smoky Mountains each year near Gatlinburg in the first part of June. Elkmont is one of the only places in the United States to see the synchronous fireflies making it an incredibly special event that very few people get to witness! Below, we provide information on how to get to Elkmont during the event along with photos and synchronous fireflies videos!

Synchronous Fireflies Event at Elkmont Dates 2015

gatlinburg synchronized firefliesThe extremely popular synchronous firefly event in Elkmont for 2015 will take place June 2-9. During this time, the entrance road to Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be closed to motor vehicles and pedestrians (except campers who are staying at the campground) beginning around 5pm each of those nights. To get access, there will be a shuttle that will pick passengers up at the Sugarlands Visitor Center near downtown Gatlinburg, TN. In order to park at Sugarlands Visitor Center and ride the shuttle, you must purchase a parking pass, which goes on sale April 30, 2015 at 10:00am eastern time. These tickets sell out fast, so if you are at all interested, grab them while you can!

Click the link below to find out how to purchase a parking pass for Sugarlands Visitor Center:

smoky mountain synchronous fireflies gatlinburgThe trolley ride to Elkmont to view the Gatlinburg synchronous fireflies costs $1 per person for a roundtrip fare and is cash only in exact change. The first trolley will leave the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot around 7 PM. The trolleys will begin returning from Elkmont when filled to capacity, which will likely be after 9:30 p.m. The whole trip (from the time you park to the time you arrive back to your car) will take anywhere from 3-6 hours, so definitely plan on eating dinner before you depart!

Directions to Sugarlands Visitor Center

The visitor center is located two miles south of Gatlinburg, TN on the Newfound Gap Road, aka U.S. Highway 441. Their physical address is 1420 Little River Rd Gatlinburg, TN 37738‎.

Click here to view on Google Maps for directions

Synchronous Fireflies Photos

Here is a slideshow of some amazing synchronous fireflies photos taken by Stacy Champagne. You can view and even purchase her photos of synchronized fireflies at

Synchronous Fireflies Video

Capturing video of synchronous fireflies in Elkmont has proven difficult for visitors over the years and seeing a video of them doesn’t even come close to how amazing the “light show” looks in person! Below is a video that a visitor took that gives an idea of what the Gatlinburg synchronous fireflies look like when they get in sync. You’ll notice the first few seconds that a few fireflies light up and then around 10 seconds into the video a bunch of fireflies get in sync and start pulsating. Again, this is much more spectacular in person, but this will give you an idea of what it looks like!

Smoky Mountain Synchronous Fireflies Featured on CBS News

Finally, here is a news segment from a nearby news source in which a National Park entomologist explains how and why the Gatlinburg synchronous fireflies light up for a more details explanation of this incredible event.

How Synchronous Fireflies Work

One of the biggest questions that gets asked is how do synchronous fireflies work or why they sync up. We’re better off leaving that answer to the experts who provide a very scientific explanation on why it happens in the first of June, why the synchronous fireflies end up at Elkmont in the Smoky Mountains, why they sync their lights, and more. You can find all of the details of synchronized fireflies at the National Park Service website below:

Final Thoughts about Synchronized Fireflies in Gatlinburg

If you have had the pleasure of seeing the synchronous fireflies in Gatlinburg in person, then please share your experience in the comments section below!

Be sure to share this article on facebook, twitter, pinterest, Google+, etc to let everyone get a peek at this amazing event in Gatlinburg, TN…one of the only places in the world to see a synchronous fireflies display!


  1. angelajoy says

    So excited to have a vacation on the books for Great Smokie Mtn. National park. We don’t arrive until June13th. Is there any chance of being able to view the fireflies at this time? Shuttles will not be running then but will the roads be open to public?

    • Granny & Papa says

      We will be arriving on June 12 with our four grandchildren and would love to share this experience with them. Has anyone been fortunate enough to see this spectacular display a few days after the posted dates?

  2. Woodspile says

    I have the same questions as “angelajoy”. We won’t be arriving until June 16th, and am wondering if we can still view them on our own?

    • keidre shaw says

      You can certainly go on the trails…unfortunately, the synchronized fireflies last two weeks and and the end peak time is around June 10. While there’s a slim chance you could still see it…if you’re coming the end of June you might barely miss them.

  3. Michael says

    If I am staying in Gatlinburg can I ride the trolley out to the sugarlands visitor center & would I have to make a reservation to see the fireflies.

  4. Nita Bell says

    I can’t imagine wasting gas and time driving in traffic to watch bugs fly around. I did this when I was a child. I guess people do not have enough to do.

    • amanda says

      Nita, I grew up outside of the Smokies and spent many nights watching the lightning bugs as a kid as well. At the age of 10 we moved to a large city and I have since lived in several other large cities. Due to light pollution the display of lightning bugs became a distant memory of summer, unless I came home for a visit, that I shared with many others who had never seen such a thing. You should not take for granted what others may view only once in their lifetime. Gas and time are not “wasted” by those who appreciate the small things and society at large has too many things to do. Take a breath, enjoy the bugs, listen to nature and maybe life will bring you happiness. I wish that you find the peace within yourself that allows you to leave negativity towards others behind.

    • gale says

      because you have never seen it .you did not know just how wonderful it is…..and do you look at sunsets .or like rainbow ,or fireworks

    • Fay says

      How very sad for you… I too, saw fireflies at night as a child. Those days are gone, and I would LOVE to recreate this memory !

    • Cindy says

      I don’t want to be negative, but it’s sad that people feel this way about something so amazing. “Nothing better to do than watch bugs fly around”? Are you serious? I wish you could feel the way my family did while sharing this experience together. It was awe-inspiring and a reminder to turn off the screens and enjoy something that can’t be reproduced or captured as well with a camera as by the naked eye. I guess people get their jollies in different ways, but if you ask me, nothing on a screen, at a silly show in pigeon forge, at a bar in Gatlinburg, or anything else in hillbilly Las Vegas can even compare to what I saw this past Wednesday night in Elkmont. It’s beautiful and natural and not to be missed.

    • Commenter says

      Why waste your time and effort commenting negatively on a web site where people obviously don’t care to hear such negative comments? It’s a quick trip in the park, and a nearly magical trip back through distant warm summer nights, to a time before these guys disappeared from all of our suburban lives. It’s worth the short drive even past peak season. We went on 6/14. Synchronicity seems to be gone. We figured they were just the fellow geeks who couldn’t get lucky before closing time… but they seemed to be getting it right :)

  5. gwgottula says

    I was unable to make reservations online. does anyone know of an outside tour or group that might have seating for one person? looking for tonight, Sunday, or Monday.

  6. Jenny says

    Nita what a sad life you must have. I feel sorry for you!!!!
    . I have come from Australia to see this (once in a lifetime experience), we dont have fireflies back home. I have a friend in China that had a close up encounter with Pandas yesterday, It was an incrediable experience for her just as this will be for me.
    Do you think if you were born in China that they wouldnt want to see there own chinese pandas.
    Life can be wonderful, people like you should keep your terrible negative comments to yourself.
    For all we know you are just sitting on a computer all day tearing others down.
    To you I say. GET A LIFE

  7. BrettW says

    Saw the fireflies this past Saturday (June 7th) and it was amazing. It is incredible how many are out there and when they all start flashing at the same time it is truly a unique and amazing sight. It was nice to just sit outside in the mountains listening to nature and just relaxing without a care in the world. I could have sat for hours out there just soaking it all in.

    If you ever have the chance to see them, do it. I am sure we will be making a yearly trip up there to see this as it is truly an amazing sight.

  8. June Jones says

    I cannot believe how negative some people can be.I lived in Florida and we never see them fireflies anymore.I remember as a kid running around catching them and putting them in a mason jar and watch them light up.Enjoy every single thing you can see and hear in nature.Life is Precious.I can”t wait to next June 2015

  9. Terry says

    I remember as a kid watching and catching fireflies and at one time they used to pay people to catch them for studying them.
    It is one memory I can remember so well.I love nature and wish our children/grandchildren could see times in nature instead of video games and T.V.

    • Chris says

      We saw the fireflies on Friday, June 5 at the Elkmont viewing area. Words and pictures do not do it justice. It was a remarkable sight. The closest thing that I can think of to describe it is that it looks like someone went out and strung thousands of white Christmas twinkle lights on both sides of the road where we were sitting. It is very much how the rangers describe it. It had rained several times the day before we saw the display. Rain earlier in the day didn’t seem to affect the fireflies. It is a remarkable sight unlike anything that I have seen. Would love to see it again.

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